The Week's Features
El Paso Tower loses his life in semi-tractor recovery
A dump truck recovery with its passenger side wheels stuck rim deep in mud.
Sage advice on handling employees who test a tow owners patience.
Move-Over signage and a tribute to a fallen tower serve to send a message.
Users can access and manage both their vehicles and their in-vehicle cameras from a single interface. 
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing May 05 - May 11, 2021

A Mural Tribute to the Fallen

Sanchez b6954Edwin Sanchez proudly displays his mural made for fallen brothers and sisters.

By Randall C. Resch

It’s rare to learn of tow employees who step outside daily responsibilities to showcase off-duty talents.

Here’s an example of tower talent about one tow operator working behind his scenes to promote operator safety and slow down move over awareness. Edwin Sanchez, a veteran tow operator and aspiring artist working as night manager for San Diego’s Cortes Towing.

Cortes serves California’s highway patrol, the law enforcement community and the motoring public. They’re one of two evidence contractor’s for the CHP in the entire San Diego County and very active in San Diego’s towing and recovery community hosting tow operator safety courses and are a huge advocate of operator safety. They were a solid participant when American Towman’s, Spirit Ride, made its way through the southland.

Share the Message

Even as a kid, Edwin had a long time ambition of being recognized as a folk artist, hoping to create a small mural for the company’s office. To that, he saved his earnings to purchase an airbrush tool, compressor as well as supplies and colors needed for the project.

Because he’s the company’s third shift, night manager, Edwin spent most weekends working on the mural. Because he’s part of Cortes’ light- and heavy- operations, he wanted his mural to display heavy wreckers, safety striping and the visual presence to spread the message of slow down move over.

Edwin’s mural, “In Honor of the Fallen,” was painted in memory of the women and men who lost their lives in service of the industry. The brightly colored mural is a full-sized sheet of plywood with colors, arrangement and composition that deliver a solid message of safety. Ghosted in the mural’s center read the words, “In Loving Memory of Our Fallen Brothers and Sisters of the Towing and Recovery Industry.”

To left of the mural’s center appears a large, all-white, heavy wrecker, similar to the big rig that San Diego’s veteran tow operator Fred Griffith was operating the afternoon he was killed by a DUI motorist. California leads the entire nation in tow operator fatalities counting approximately 44 operators stuck and killed on California’s highways since 1934.

Finding a Home

Edwin estimates he invested over 2,000 hours in the project; and after about 18 months, his project is completed.

He asked me if I could help him find a home for the mural, so we took to a flurry of phone calls and e-mails. We initially contacted the International Towing Museum in Chattanooga, his first choice.

“It really would be an honor to the memory of the women and men who were sadly killed,” Edwin said. I’d really be honored if this could be displayed in the Museum in Tennessee.”

Unfortunately, the museum’s limited wall space didn’t allow for the mural’s physical size.

That wasn’t a stopper. In late May 2020, I contacted Quinn Piening, president of the California Tow Truck Association, asking if the CTTA would be interested in this one of a kind painting to display at CTTA’s new Sacramento offices? Within a day Quinn messaged me back eagerly stating, “We’d be honored to hang it at the office and have a spot picked out for it already.”

After a few shipping details were sorted out, Johnny Cortes, owner of Cortes Towing, made the appropriate arrangements to send Edwin and his mural to be delivered to Sacramento.

Soon after, Edwin personally delivered the mural to CTTA’s corporate office in Sacramento.

Edwin’s mural reflects a solemn reminder of the dangers towers face when working white line environments. It consists of multiple layovers of pattern, paint and art content, each met with substantial time to await layered paint to dry.

I admire Edwin’s commitment on this project, especially him giving of his time and weekends being a graveyard shift worker. Thanks to Edwin’s wife, Nicky, for supporting his vision and sharing his available time.

And thank you, Edwin, for having the resolve to complete a project of this magnitude: one that supports the towing and recovery community. If you’re ever in Sacramento, stop by CTTA’s new location to see Edwin’s mural.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week’s Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.


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WreckerMaster/TRAA Merge On Certification

Wreckmaster and Towing and Recovery Association of America, Inc. (TRAA) have joined forces to create the first of its kind certification program for the towing industry.

Called the Towing & Recovery Operator Certification Program (TROCP), its aim is to establish a unified certification body that certifies operators based on their knowledge and not what training they attended.

Beginning June 1, 2021, all TROCP exams will be hosted on towcert.com. The exam, which must be scheduled, is completed online. The exams are proctored, carrying the same weight as standards found at any university and college exam or government issued licensing.

Individuals with active WreckMaster or TRAA NDCP certification will be grandfathered into the TROCP program, given new certification levels based on the TROCP structure and retain their current expiry date. For more information, please refer to Towcert.com/FAQ.

Any individual who has been previously certified with WreckMaster / TRAA or has an outstanding certification exam available to take has been automatically registered for an account on Towcert.com. If this applies to you, you will receive an email on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 asking to you activate your account. Please watch for this email in your inbox and check your spam filter should you not receive it.

For more information on TROCP and an overview of the new certification level structure, please visit Towcert.com.


Friends First or Driver’s Only: Reaching the Middle Ground

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By Randall C. Resch

A notorious tow owner was known for rage and outbursts. When there were issues, this owner became a madman’s personality. Dispatchers and drivers were too afraid to approach him because they dreaded being belittled. Employee morale was at its lowest.

The owner was mean and nasty. As a norm, he displayed inexplicable behavior where people, including me, didn’t like doing business with him. His maniacal nature created huge turn-over where new employees quit after a few weeks.

I too personally distanced my business relationship with him believing no-person deserves to be verbally attacked by an owner who lacks common decency, compassion and understanding.

I had lunch with this tower and we talked about work and family. He mentioned one driver, his long-time personal friend, who caused three damages in a reporting period. Two damages were suspension damages and the other damage happened when the driver backed into another car during a live-auction.

The suspension costs weren’t something to send to his insurance provider and were paid in-house. The owner asked me for advice because he struggled with having to dismiss his friend.

That’s a hard choice. When experienced operators, have back-to-back damages in a reporting period, perhaps there’s something going-on beyond the work environment, home-life, or life in-general?

I recommended the owner go to lunch or have an informal talk with the driver beginning conversation with something like, “You’ve worked for me for a long-time and you’ve done a great job. I’m concerned about what’s happened recently. Can we discuss the damages?” Although it seemed like a risky segue in having a discussion, it was necessary.

I suggested conversation start with something like, “I’m here for you and I want to help.” In this case, they talked openly and determined there were relationship issues beyond the workplace, but the relationship issues were resolved.

Choking back tears, by the time everything was said, the emotional tower apologized saying he’d work on doing a better job. The driver was said to be, “Back-on-track” where a little communication was all that was needed. All that was required was the boss offering to lend an ear.

There’s a personality trait that tow owners should identify early in their business careers. How do you handle employee issues? Do you take issues personally? Do you think about what occurred and why? Is it about costs? Or, do you go high-order, explode and then fire the employee?

Firing without emotion is a difficult task, but for the bigger picture, ask what may be driving those problems and issues. I believe it’s important for owners to consider the employee’s relationship with the company.

Finding committed employees is a difficult process and costly reality. In this case, both boss and driver handled these issues respectfully and openly without emotion and argument. But, if damages were to continue without improvement, continued employment would have to be re-approached.

I was pleased that owner and driver were able to talk, ultimately coming to an understanding that easily could have resulted in dismissal.

From my conversations with the owner that lead to his breaking point, I recommended to him that all of the company’s carriers be outfitted with eight-point straps and ratchet’s to help quell future suspension damages.

The owner took my advice, purchased strap systems and initiated company-wide training for carrier operators using eight-point straps and no J-Hooks. As for the backing incident, I recommend that spotters be employed when backing actions are necessary. Everything worked-out for the better.





Will Europe’s AIRBAR curb Roadside Deaths in the Towing Industry? You Decide

By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


I work the non-traffic side of the wrecker/carrier:
seldom
maybe 30% of the breakdowns
half of the time
most of the time
homediv
Managing Editor: Steve Calitri
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
May 05 - May 11, 2021

Proposed Legislation for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

Families of truck crash victims with the Truck Safety Coalition today applauded U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) for introducing legislation, the Protecting Roadside First Responders Act (S.1386, H.R. 2867) to require advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) on all new cars, trucks and buses. These innovative technologies include automatic emergency braking (AEB) and forward collision warnings (FCW) systems, which could prevent more than 2 out of 5 crashes in which a large truck rear-ends another vehicle.  Equipping all new vehicles with these technologies also has been endorsed by the National Transportation Safety Board and was included in their April 2021 release of the “Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements.”

Last year alone, more than 5,000 people were killed in truck crashes in the U.S., representing a 46 percent increase since 2009. Additionally, nearly 150,000 were injured.  In fatal crashes involving a large truck and passenger vehicle, 96 percent of fatalities were car occupants, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  The annual cost of truck crashes exceeds $143 billion. “These crashes impose both a steep emotional and economic cost on our society,” the families stated in their letter to the Senate and House bill sponsors.
 
Many automakers offer ADAS on new vehicles, but they are often only available at additional costs, which many families cannot afford. Mandating these technological “vaccines” will make their crash prevention benefits available to all.  As with other auto safety features, mandating a federal safety standard typically accelerates widespread adoption of technologies, reduces the cost, and sets minimum performance requirements.
 
On the Hook with John Borowski - 9
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May 05 - May 11, 2021
Carlos “Flaco” Olague of AD Towing & Recovery

Recovery Mishap Takes Life of Tower

In El Paso, Texas, tower Carlos “Flaco” Olague of AD Towing & Recovery, was killed while trying to assist a semi-truck stuck on a sidewalk.

The tragedy happened late Sunday morning when the driver of a big rig, Joel Ramirez, failed to lift the trailer’s support wheels before exiting. The wheels got stuck on the sidewalk.

Olague attempted to remove the trailer but due to a miscommunication, Ramirez rolled the big-rig forward while Olague was between the rear axles that he was helping to move out of traffic.

Olague's right leg was run over by the rear tires of the trailer; he was taken to the hospital where police said he later died.

https://kvia.com/

Denver Couple Puts Heat on Tow Company

A Denver couple is seeking reimbursement from Colorado tow company Wyatt’s Towing, claiming their car was towed from a private lot despite having a valid permit.

The couple found the car listed on Wyatt’s website. Although they finally got their car back for free, they claim the incident cost them work wages.

“My partner had to miss work because all of her work gear was in the car. The lost wages hurt us because now we may not be able to get some groceries when we need them,” said Sarah Sersch. “We also had to pay for an Uber to go get the car.”

Sersch filed a complaint with Wyatt’s, asking for reimbursement of day’s wages and the Uber fare. The company told her she would receive a response within 48 hours. It’s been over a week since their vehicle was towed, and they haven’t heard back from Wyatt’s.

“I feel like they just tow vehicles, hoping people pay and walk away. I was reading the Google reviews, and there’s tons of people who seem to be in similar situations,” said Sersch. “Their Better Business Bureau grade is an F.”

Sersch also filed a complaint with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. The Transportation Section of the PUC is responsible for overseeing towing carriers that operate on a for-hire basis in Colorado.

https://denver.cbslocal.com/

Tower Removes Blazing Dumpster

Dean Mathisen, a 35 year old tower for PLC Towing & Recovery in Minneapolis/St.Paul quickly responded to a dumpster that was set ablaze by hooking it up and removing it from a nearby business to the middle of a parking lot.

The St. Paul Police Department says the 35-year-old tow truck driver reported the fire behind a tobacco store in a shopping center, which he also posted on TikTok. He told police he saw a man light the dumpster on fire and run away. The suspect was later arrested.

“People are saying I’m a hero, but I wasn’t even expecting the amount of attention that this has been getting — I was just doing what I thought was best at the time and trying to help out,” Mathisen said.

The burning dumpster was extinguished by fire fighters. No one was hurt and no property was damaged. The tower was deemed a “hero” by police.

https://minnesota.cbslocal.com

Tower Hit and Injured [b]in Modesto, Cal.

In Modesto, Cal., a tower sustained major injuries when an alleged drunk driver crossed into his lane.

Gabrial Fernandez, 34, of Modesto, was driving a Nissan, heading south, while the tower, Sammie Franks was eastbound. Apparently Fernandez went through the stop sign, colliding into the tow truck. After the impact, the tow truck struck a couple of other vehicles, as well as a support structure in front of a market.

Franks was taken by helicopter to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. Fernandez was flown to Memorial Medical Center with moderate injuries. Upon his release from the hospital, Fernandez was booked into the Calaveras County Jail on suspicion of DUI causing injury.

https://www.modbee.com/

Friends & Family Gather [b]for Nevada Tower Ryan Billotte

On Friday, April 9, family and friends gathered to remember Ryan Billotte by holding a candlelight vigil for him and raising awareness of the move-over law.

Billette was killed by a hit-and-run driver working on the shoulder of the 215 beltway just outside of Las Vegas.

Outside of a church, Billotte's wife, Becca Billotte said, “We want to push the ‘slow down and move over’ movement. People just need to be more aware this can’t keep happening, they need to come home to their families - we need them home.”

Shannon Jeffers, a close friend of Becca, described what Ryan was like. ”Ryan was very soft spoken, very funny, he had quick comebacks for everything. He was genuine, he took interest in you.

Ryan Billotte leaves behind four stepchildren, all he helped raise and six grandchildren.

https://www.fox5vegas.com/

Tow Truck Crash [b]Causes Power Outage

A tow truck that crashed into a power pole left thousands in the dark around Boise, Idaho, the morning of April 9.

According to Idaho Power, 6,500 customers were affected by the outage, primarily in Southeast Boise and downtown. No one was hurt in the collision, dispatchers say.

Idaho Power says the crash broke the power pole, sending the pole and wires to the ground. The accident caused a "a brief power surge or momentary outage" for a wider range of people around Ada County, most of whom saw their electricity go off, then immediately back on. 

Most of the outage area was restored by 11:30 a.m., an Idaho Power spokesman said, but about 500 customers are still without power.

https://www.ktvb.com/
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May 05 - May 11, 2021

A Mean Lean

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by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On March 27, 2020 B & F Towing Co. was called by the owner of a dump truck for a winch out in Salem, N.J.
B&F heavy recovery specialist Chuck Bonadio was dispatched. He informed, “We were contacted by the owner of the truck to recover it. I responded solo in my 2019 Peterbilt with an NRC 40 CS four winch.” The unit has dual 40,000-pound, two-speed planetary winches and two 15,000-pound auxiliary planetary winches.

When Chuck arrived he saw a 2020 Freightliner dump truck on the shoulder with its passenger side wheels more than rim deep in mud.

“It was at a mean lean,” he stated. “I rigged a doubled line from the tailboard of the tow truck to a tail wrap on the rear of the dump truck. I used a 16 endless loop for the wrap. Rigged a line to lift the low side to take the lean out of it and finish the recovery because I knew I was gonna run out of line on the tail wrap before it was all the way back to the road and I used my auxiliaries married together to the low side tow pin on the front to bring the front to the road.”

Once it was back on the road it was driven from the scene with zero damage.

Robert “Bob” D. Fenimore is the owner of B & F Towing Co., in business since 1967. Based in Wilmington, Del., they operate from two locations and provide a variety of towing services, including light-, medium-,heavy-duty and long distance towing, long distance hauling and transportation, equipment hauling and recovery, emergency and air cushion recovery, stuck equipment recovery, emergency response, load shifts and transfers, trailer stacking, used auto parts and salvage. 


Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Big Boom Recovery in Jersey

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by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On December 18, 2019, at approximately 1:15 p.m., Panek’s Service Center received an urgent call from the Essex Fells Police Department requesting a rapid response to a call of an overturned boom truck with a worker trapped under one of the outriggers.

Panek’s responded with a 2006 Peterbilt equipped with a 35-ton Jerr-Dan, and a 2001 GMC 3500 HD 4X4 Chevron twin line wrecker. While responding, the police captain on scene called and requested an expedited response, as time was a factor for the trapped worker.

Ted Panek called Livingston Collision and requested that they respond with their 2011 Kenworth with a Century 1140 RXP 40-ton rotator, Service Truck and Scene Support Trailer.

Once on scene, while setting up to free the worker, the Essex Fells Fire Department, First Aid Squad and the USA1 Urban Search and Rescue Team dug under the overturned boom truck to free the worker.

With the worker safely rescued and transported from the scene, Panek’s and Livingston Collision formulated an extensive plan to recover the casualty while waiting for the power company to cut the power to surrounding service lines, and for the OSHA officials to arrive and conduct their investigation along with the Essex Fells Police Department.

On scene were Essex Fells Fire Engines 1 & 2, Roseland Rescue, Verona Rescue, Engine 14, Utility, Montclair Truck 1, Rescue 1, Newark USAR Rescue 2, Rope Truck, BC4, Special Operations, Millburn Shoring Unit, West Essex First Aid 771, Rescue 773, Atlantic Medics, and Essex Fells PD.

On scene from Panek’s were Owner/Operator Ted Panek and T.R.A.A. Certified, G.S.T.A and Miller Industries Certified Heavy Towing and Recovery Operator Thomas “Tom” Daniello.

On scene from Livingston Collision were WreckMaster 2/3 rotator operator Clint Richards, Operator J.R Crawford, Scene Support/Photographer Bradley Crawford, Service Technician Dan Keenan and Service Technician Supervisor Ryan Condit.

Once the all-clear was given by the officials on the scene, Livingston Collision pumped off the hydraulic tank. Panek’s and Livingston Collision worked together to separate the boom from the turret by unpinning the boom, which was kinked in a number of places, making it impossible to draw it in. The left outrigger had to be cut off because it was bent, and unable to be collapsed.

“The truck was held in place by the rotator utilizing two doubled up winch lines, and the 86” boom was held in place by the 35-ton Jerr-Dan,” said Daniello. “During this point in the recovery, severe snow squalls had come through the area, along with 10 to 15-degree temperatures, which didn’t make for the best working conditions.”

With the boom unpinned, the truck was lifted and brought down to the roadway for the upright. The truck was uprighted by the 35-ton Jerr-Dan, and the rotator was used to catch the load. The truck was winched around to the back of the 35-ton and moved out of the immediate scene and transported to Panek's the same night.

Daniello informed, “It was now 2:00 a.m. After 13 hours on the scene, and due to the ice conditions, a decision was made by both tow companies to cut the boom in half and bring it down to the roadway where it would be left until dawn.”

The following day, Livingston Collision went back to the scene with their rotator and Eagle Auto & Truck Services of Parsippany, NJ with their Landoll trailer.

The boom was loaded onto Eagle's Landoll, transported to Panek's yard and unloaded by Livingston Collision.

Panek's Service Center in Livingston, NJ was established in 1931. Ted Panek is the owner/operator of the family business started by his grandfather John and continues to operate in its original location on South Livingston Avenue in Livingston Center.

Livingston Collision is a family-owned and operated auto body repair facility and towing service also based in Livingston, NJ. They’ve been in business since 1961.

Eagle Auto & Truck Services, based in Parsippany, NJ, is a full-service company that has provided towing, transportation, and auto body repair services for over 30 years with locations in Parsippany and Whippany.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Stone Dump Ditched

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by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

A loaded dump truck goes off the road and Rosenberry Towing is called into action. The accident happened on State Route 800 near Mineral City, Ohio at approximately 4 p.m., April 12, 2021.

Company owner Alex Rosenberry informed, “The call came in as a semi vs. a car. The semi was actually a 2017 KW T800 dump hauling 18-ton of stone in the bed and was said to be in a ditch. We were requested to respond by the trucking company owner.”

Alex and his dad Thad Rosenberry responded with their 2017 Peterbilt 389 with a 50-ton Jerr-Dan Integrated wrecker. Once on scene they found that the dump truck had taken out approximately 200-feet of guardrail.

Alex explained, “It was leaning very hard against the torn out guardrail on a steep, muddy embankment approximately 75-100-feet down deep. The guardrail was holding quite a bit of tension. The casualty however was only about 10-feet off the edge of the road.”

Once Alex assessed the situation and he called for long time heavy operator Craig to bring their 2000 International 9400 with a 25-ton Jerr-Dan wrecker. “Our 2021 GMC 2500 Service truck was also brought out to help with the removal of some flat tires and escort us back to the yard since it was dark for added safety,” he said.

Once given control of the scene by Ohio State Highway Patrol and ODOT, Alex ran a two part line from his Jerr-Dan 50-ton to the driver side frame to hold the unit for safety as he went to the low side to rig another two part line to the passenger side frame in order to lift the unit up the embankment.

Simultaneously a two-part line was rigged to the front spring hangers to the Jerr-Dan 25-ton wrecker to provide the necessary side pull on the truck to get it off the guardrail. “It came up nice and easy the way I did it,” said Alex.

Once the casualty was up on the roadway they began shoveling away at the mud that was packed into the unit and then chain slung the front of the casualty. Alex informed, “We then caged the brakes and moved the unit down the road to a pull off where it was safer to remove the flat drive tires in order to slowly transport the loaded dump truck back to our storage facility.”

We’d like to send congratulations to Alex and his lady Jeanette on the birth of their Princess Raelynn in March 2021. She is Priceless & Precious!!!

Rosenberry Towing, located in New Philadelphia, Ohio, is Tuscarawas counties largest towing and recovery provider. They offer light-, medium-, and heavy-duty towing services. Established in 1969 they have over 50-years of towing and recovery experience. All employees are WreckMaster trained as well as having Traffic Incident Management training. The Rosenberry Towing team is certified and trained to handle any situation that is thrown at them. Alex Rosenberry is the dynamic owner and lead heavy operator for the company. He does any and everything that needs to be done.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
homediv


MIDWESTERN – Nacogdoches, TX
$500
(pop. 34,047)

SOUTHERN – Lake City, FL
$250
(pop. 12,099)

EASTERN - King George, VA
$145
(pop. 4,457)

WESTERN - Brentwood, CA
$276.25
(pop. 53,673)

Heavy-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
May 05 - May 11, 2021

Friends First or Driver’s Only: Reaching the Middle Ground

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By Randall C. Resch

A notorious tow owner was known for rage and outbursts. When there were issues, this owner became a madman’s personality. Dispatchers and drivers were too afraid to approach him because they dreaded being belittled. Employee morale was at its lowest.

The owner was mean and nasty. As a norm, he displayed inexplicable behavior where people, including me, didn’t like doing business with him. His maniacal nature created huge turn-over where new employees quit after a few weeks.

I too personally distanced my business relationship with him believing no-person deserves to be verbally attacked by an owner who lacks common decency, compassion and understanding.

I had lunch with this tower and we talked about work and family. He mentioned one driver, his long-time personal friend, who caused three damages in a reporting period. Two damages were suspension damages and the other damage happened when the driver backed into another car during a live-auction.

The suspension costs weren’t something to send to his insurance provider and were paid in-house. The owner asked me for advice because he struggled with having to dismiss his friend.

That’s a hard choice. When experienced operators, have back-to-back damages in a reporting period, perhaps there’s something going-on beyond the work environment, home-life, or life in-general?

I recommended the owner go to lunch or have an informal talk with the driver beginning conversation with something like, “You’ve worked for me for a long-time and you’ve done a great job. I’m concerned about what’s happened recently. Can we discuss the damages?” Although it seemed like a risky segue in having a discussion, it was necessary.

I suggested conversation start with something like, “I’m here for you and I want to help.” In this case, they talked openly and determined there were relationship issues beyond the workplace, but the relationship issues were resolved.

Choking back tears, by the time everything was said, the emotional tower apologized saying he’d work on doing a better job. The driver was said to be, “Back-on-track” where a little communication was all that was needed. All that was required was the boss offering to lend an ear.

There’s a personality trait that tow owners should identify early in their business careers. How do you handle employee issues? Do you take issues personally? Do you think about what occurred and why? Is it about costs? Or, do you go high-order, explode and then fire the employee?

Firing without emotion is a difficult task, but for the bigger picture, ask what may be driving those problems and issues. I believe it’s important for owners to consider the employee’s relationship with the company.

Finding committed employees is a difficult process and costly reality. In this case, both boss and driver handled these issues respectfully and openly without emotion and argument. But, if damages were to continue without improvement, continued employment would have to be re-approached.

I was pleased that owner and driver were able to talk, ultimately coming to an understanding that easily could have resulted in dismissal.

From my conversations with the owner that lead to his breaking point, I recommended to him that all of the company’s carriers be outfitted with eight-point straps and ratchet’s to help quell future suspension damages.

The owner took my advice, purchased strap systems and initiated company-wide training for carrier operators using eight-point straps and no J-Hooks. As for the backing incident, I recommend that spotters be employed when backing actions are necessary. Everything worked-out for the better.





Job Hazard Analysis

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Brian J Riker

OSHA is not exactly everyone’s favorite federal agency and still the subject of many debates over their jurisdiction regarding towing operations. Like it or not, OSHA is here to stay and does apply to most of what we do as towers daily either directly or through a state managed plan.

Perhaps the most often overlooked compliance requirement I see when auditing towers is the lack of a job hazard analysis (JHA). A JHA is a prerequisite to determine what standards, if any, apply to a specific task and how best to safely accomplish that task.

Under the General Duty clause all employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace that is free of recognized hazards. This is a catch-all that is used when a specific standard does not apply to a known risk in a specific industry.

A good example of where the General Duty clause applies in towing is when using a wrecker as a lifting device to remove a wrecked or disabled vehicle. In general industry, which is what towing is classified as, when using a truck mounted crane both the crane equipment and operator must fully comply with OSHA standard 1910.180. However, there is a clear exception for wrecked or disabled vehicles found in 1910.180(b)(1).

Just because a truck mounted crane is exempted from this standard when using it for a wrecked or disabled vehicle does not mean OSHA does not apply. You still have a duty to provide as safe of a workplace as possible for your employees. This is an excellent example of where a job hazard analysis comes into play.

As an owner of a tow service you are experts in your chosen profession and should know the hazards of towing or recovery. It is your duty to control these risks with effective communication to your workers as well as implementing worksite safety protocols. The first step is by analyzing the known risks and attempting to determine both the predictable as well as unforeseen outcomes.

A JHA for accident recovery should cover the basics of scene safety such as traffic awareness, hazardous material awareness, hazardous energy awareness, lifting and rigging safety. Effective communication among all responding personnel - even across different disciplines such as fire, EMS and police - is also paramount to workplace safety.

In this JHA you would address the known risks of each category such as struck by accidents or fire risks and how to reduce or eliminate these risks. Perhaps your company will determine that a scene safety supervisor or that headset radios are required for incidents of a certain size. Maybe identify the need for in-house traffic incident management equipment rather than relying on already over-burdened public resources. I can’t speak for your particular operating environment as each area is unique.

A good job hazard analysis results in a safer work environment only when it is used as a basis for company policy and procedure documents and then enforced. Simply having a JHA will not make your team any safer if you ignore the recommendations or don’t train your team on how best to deal with the hazards. In the event of an incident, OSHA will look for these documents, the associated training and documentation of when you have caught employees not following company policy.

Self-discovery of violations that are documented and acted upon are your best defense against liability. No one is perfect but if you can prove you are actively taking steps to mitigate and manage risk, you will reduce the potential for fines and judgements, as well as help keep your employees safer.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility; however it ultimately rests on your shoulders as the company owner. It is your responsibility to set a culture of safety and not allow the task at hand to override basic safety protocols. No job is worth risking injury or death. Even when dealing with life-safety critical events, we can take the lead from the fire and rescue service. They maintain a protocol where their personal safety is the most important task at hand. An injured rescuer does no good and adds undue burden to the incident at hand.

You Damaged My Door

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By Randall C. Resch

Being sued for unlock damage is a laughable claim. Defending this type of claim is an easy process. An unlock service is simple. A tower responds to a location, conducts the service, then payment is collected COD, covered by insurance or an auto club’s membership.

Although unlock damage claims are rare, a single complaint can turn into a complaint from hell. One such on-line post trashed a tow company claiming their operator damaged a pickup’s door during unlock service. Although service ended without incident, a $175 repair estimate surfaced two months later.

This claimant alleged the operator “attacked” their pickup’s door using some “coat-hanger tool.” The experienced tower stated there was no difficulty opening the door; he used the same tools for nearly all unlocks. His practice was industry acceptable. Insert a plastic wedge, inflate the airbag and insert a long-reach tool to manipulate the lock.

In my fifty-years of business, two similar claims (against me) surfaced by vehicle owners. They cited my tow operators inflicted damages to door frames “using the wrong-tools.” In both cases, owners were arrogant and nasty having familiar “in yer’ face” personalities.

In the furtherance of their scam, they found body shops eager to write damage estimates. That’s an easy practice for unscrupulous body shops seeking to draw work to their shops. Damage claims are generally false and fraudulent, but because filing a small claims suit is easy, you’re forced to defend your company’s actions.

To protect yourself, the industry is full of accessory and equipment sales companies who sell lockout kits and tools. Use catalogs and product photos to your advantage. With a well-positioned digital camera, take a dozen photos of a like-type vehicle showing placement of tools start to finish.

Position a plastic wedge showing close-up photos of how wedges insert into the vehicle’s door-jamb. Position the air-bag and whatever tool into the gap. When the tool is inserted, include a measuring tape to show the gap’s spread. Present these photos in court.

For additional evidence, support your testimony with photo advertisements from suppliers of unlock tools and airbags. Bring a most recent copy of Zips/AW Direct’s catalog, testifying that lockout tools (of the same kind) were employed in methods considered “standard to the industry.”

Testimony should include a statement saying, “Tools were used in-accordance to standard lockout methods and techniques.” Compare your photographs with the same unlock tools and airbag depicted in the product’s catalog (similar product shots will work).

Knowing how these tools work is your best evidence. Don’t forget to ask the vehicle’s owner if their vehicle had been unlocked before in its many years? Chances are, the older the vehicle, the more likely the damage was inflicted by someone else.

One final detail. An internet search of auto repair labor rates varied widely across the US, even within the same city. It was reported that body shops in AAA’s approved repair network charged between $47 and $215 per hour. Based on most shop's hourly rate, I hardly think a sprung-door can be repaired in one hours’ time.

















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May 05 - May 11, 2021

Still Spreading the Word

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George L. Nitti

Owners Terry and Julie Young of Northern Lights Auto and Towing Service of Mattydale, NY, located outside of Syracuse near the NY Thruway, recently had their 2017 International with a Jerr-Dan 21ft steel deck wrapped, with imagery and language that spreads the Move Over message while giving tribute to their beloved brother, Todd S. Young, who lost his life roadside in 2011.

Todd took over the business from his father and ran the company since 1992, putting his heart and soul into it to build a great foundation. Looking to expand further, he offered his brother and his sister-in-law a role in the company in 2011, the year he was tragically killed.

Julie said, “He had gotten taken out by a tandem tractor trailer. We’ve been hit another 4 times since then. Fortunately nobody got hurt. So I’ve been wanting to do this wrap for a long time. I wish I could have done it earlier.”

The wrap is truly remarkable, clearly highlighting move-over awareness, beginning with the words “Slow Down, Move Over, Save a Life,” written on 3 lines in large red, white and yellow lettering.

Underpinning the words is a dazzling graphic, which according to Julie is nothing more that a busy freeway with fast moving cars that are shining lights, from their front and back ends, representing blinding speeds.

Also found on the side of the unit is a memorial to Todd, whose picture is visible along with his birth and death dates.

Julie said, “The night he was killed it affected our lives. It affected everyone who saw what happened that night. It affected the driver who hit him. It was very gruesome. There was no real closure for the family. He wasn’t supposed to be on that night.”

In addition to giving tribute to Todd, Julie, who spearheaded the design with the help of Wayne Design Signs, also wanted to give tribute honoring all towers who died roadside.

To do that, she used the imagery of the Wall of the Fallen on the unit’s hood which is found at the Towing International Museum in Chattanooga, Tn. On the toolboxes is the black, white and yellow flag honoring the Fallen Tower.

She said, “Let’s do a PSA with this truck. I call it ‘My PSA.’ I couldn’t get everyone’s name on it, but there are many names ghost written on it which I found on the Internet. Todd’s name is highlighted in blue. I really just wanted it to tell a story.”

On Facebook, one person commented:“Whoever owns this truck, thank you for all the people you may save.”

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in

Hooked on “Pink Hookers”

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The new reality tv show “Hustle and Tow” spotlights eight tow companies across the nation, including Pink Hookers Towing of New Castle, DE., an all-woman tow enterprise. Their one-year old business has quickly gained prominence with their new found recognition on A&E television.

Company owners, Myesha and Areesah, along with their lady drivers, who are all clad in matching pink uniforms, are shown making rounds to private parking lots, towing illegally parked cars with their Dodge 4500 with a Jerr Dan bed.

According to Myesha, company branding was a big part of being discovered by Hollywood producers looking to make a reality show about the lives of towers. She said, “We just put ourselves out there with our brand and stayed relevant on social media and they reached out to us.”

Ladies who wear pink who are in the towing business are a rare breed and command attention, as does a company name that offers other suggestive and salacious possibilities. “We get phone calls all the time because of our name,” said Myesha. “Somebody recently called and said, ‘Is that all you are doing is hooking up cars.’”

Indeed the company name is an attention grabber, easily hooking you in. The graphics, designed by Routh Signs of Greensboro NC, state “Pink Hookers Towing” and is creatively rendered, containing unusual font flair. If things are not clear, the tow chain, just under their name, helps spell things out.

Also on both sides of the truck is the slogan girlpower#, which encourages and celebrates women's empowerment, independence, confidence and strength. Myesha said, “My take on it is that this a male dominated field. Girls can do it too.”

No doubt the ladies at Pink Hookers have got it, particularly when they are up against hostile and irate people who don’t like to see their cars towed under the circumstances. Beware, these tough girls are brave road warriors, not afraid to carry licensed guns in an open carry state in the thick of mayhem that sometimes ensues doing a tower’s duty. Myesha said, “I know. A lot of danger comes with the territory.”

Finally, pink connotes breast cancer awareness, which these two gals can relate to, Myesha losing her mother from cancer at only 45 years of age and Aretha, fortunately, seeing her mother survive from a bout of cancer herself. They are “Towing for a Cure,” which is also stated on their trucks.

Show business has boosted their brand, bringing these two fresh faces and their company to the light of day. The phone is ringing a little more, and their brand, which includes coffee cups, water bottles, tee-shirts and more are flying off the shelves.

But it’s the love for what they do, the fact that towing is always something different every day, that keeps them hooked and on the road.

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

For the Love of the Dallas Cowboys

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By George L. Nitti

Not far from the Mexican border, in Laredo, Tex., Orozco’s Crane and Towing, one of the biggest tow companies in south Texas, expresses their love for the Dallas Cowboys on their Cowboy themed tow truck.

As a matter of fact, the company’s love of the Cowboys is right up there with loving one’s job and one’s family, according to office manager Nikki Ramirez who said, “At Orozco’s Crane and Towing there are 3 things we love: our job, our family, and our Cowboys.”

Although their heavy-duty trucks are red and white, this particular 2007 Peterbilt 379 with a 50 ton Century Wrecker / 9055 body style takes on the enduring blue and white colors of the Dallas Cowboys.

Of course, without the cowboy blue star, blue and white could signify anything, but to give it that mark of distinction, the easily recognizable cowboy star stands out on each side of the cabin of the unit.

Also standing out in blue against its white background is the truck’s lettering and phone number, with the company name written especially large, highlighting “Orozco’s.”

Ramirez said, “Mr. Joe Orozco (the owner ) treats all his 49 employees like family, which we in return, treat our customers as family.”

Promoting that “family feeling” is core to the company values, where it is further conveyed through their company slogan, “There is a Difference,” found on the side door.

Ramirez said, “Orozco’s stands by our service and we work our best to make sure our customers get professional drivers, with good clean tow trucks and the best service. We keep our word that everything is going to be safe and our drivers are always on point.”

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!
May 05 - May 11, 2021

WEBFLEET Video

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Webfleet Solutions launched WEBFLEET Video into the market. With the industry leading technology of Webfleet Solutions and Lytx, a leading global provider of video telematics solutions for fleets, integrated on one platform, users can access and manage both their vehicles and their in-vehicle cameras from a single interface. 

Road facing and optional cabin facing HD dashcam event footage is displayed alongside driving data to give users the full context of road incidents. Users can request video from a specific time and position of a previous trip or instantly livestream from the road, to take action immediately when an incident occurs. 

Accompanying WEBFLEET Video is the CAM 50 dashcam. This hardware uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to automatically identify risky behaviour such as distracted driving and mobile phone usage. When it does so, it notifies the driver with a visual and audio alert, helping them avoid dangerous situations. 

“For the fleets we serve, safeguarding drivers is crucial,” says Matt Gunzenhauser, Director of US Sales, Webfleet Solutions. “And the more accurate a picture you have of what’s occurring on the road, the more protection you can give them. This is what WEBFLEET Video delivers. With footage from the road, drivers get both clear examples of how they can drive safer. It further provides evidence to protect them
For more information please visit:  https://www.webfleet.com/en_us/webfleet/lp/webfleet-video/?cid=7015Y000002TNdrQAG&ls=mwd 
 

Lifting and Recovery Sling

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RimSling presents a synthetic lifting and recovery sling that is lightweight, strong, flexible and compact. It’s high-quality synthetic fibers ensure strength and durability. A special braided guard at the center of the sling and an external cordura sleeve add extra layers of protection when used as a basket. Featuring a high working load limit and slim design, the RimSling is suited for many lifting, rigging and recovery scenarios. It is also ideal for weaving through any small attaching point. With its soft, pliable material, the RimSling can be used in applications with delicate attaching points for reduced damage potential when compared to chain or wire rope. For example, the RimSling can be used with aluminum wheels and won’t leave damage like chains. With proper care, the RimSling lifting and recovery sling can provide years of successful, safe and reliable performance.

Matjack Landing Bags

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Since 2005, MatJack Landing Bags have provided users the ability to do recovery uprights on tractor trailers, heavy tracked equipment, box trucks, overturned mobile homes, etc… without the use of a “catch” vehicle.

Landing bags work due to a constant airflow and require it to stay inflated. Landing bags are placed under a load with the intention of not allowing the load to gain speed during uprighting operations and descent of the load past fulcrum point. Landing bags lift, support and control vehicles as they come over while allowing the air to escape through 3 ported openings in each cushion increasing control of the vehicle and rate of descent.

Matjack Landing Bags are typically used under wheels of vehicles to control descent but have also been used under frame sections to catch box trucks and mobile homes and even track drives on cranes.

Single lane uprights are now accomplished in a much easier fashion with less set up and quicker dismantle time for those “quick clear incident” situations. Any upright recovery is now quicker, safer and more professionally done when using Matjack’s Landing Bags!

Landing Bags come in complete sets or individually. Everything is included in each set to get you up and working within a matter of minutes.

Landing Bags are made of a special material designed to resist tearing but allow quick repair if damaged in the field. The large Camlock fittings provide for quick assembly and disassembly of the system.

All Matjack Landing Bag systems will provide you with years of trouble free use and come with the same outstanding warranty, service, training and care you have come to expect from Matjack.

https://www.matjack.com/landing-safelift-bags.html
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May 05 - May 11, 2021
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May 05 - May 11, 2021

Auto Finance Boom Reported

According to the Brookhaven Courier, a newspaper run by students at Dallas College, the auto finance industry has seen a boom since the emergence of Covid-19, particularly the used car market. Part of this spike has to do with stimulus check and unemployment benefits.

Inske Zandvliet, economics professor at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus, said the demand for used cars is higher due to COVID-19. “People want to avoid traveling on public transport, so they are purchasing cars,” she said. “This leads to the second reason – a new car is a larger purchase. Since economic times are now uncertain, in terms of employment, many people choose to purchase a used car since it is not as expensive.”

Due to the sudden demand for used cars, auto finance companies such as Vehicle Solutions Corp profited, according to CNBC Evolve. 

David Ricci, the company’s repossession manager, said his workload remained steady. “I was expecting to have to repo a lot more cars in the beginning,” Ricci said. “But as it went on, the collections teams ended up keeping the customers current or making payment arrangements, so they didn’t get repossessed.”

Because used cars were selling better, there was a demand for them. “The subprime market was pretty strong, so the cars we did repo sold for a good amount,” Ricci said. The proceeds of the sales helped to offset the losses from cutting back on funding.

https://brookhavencourier.com/107120/local-news/the-auto-finance-boom-during-a-pandemic/

Repo Leads to Arrest in Firearms and Explosives

A repossession of a Mercedes in San Francisco led to the discovery of cache of firearms and explosives in late February. The perpetrator, who had a criminal history, was eventually arrested.

The sequence of events started when 31-year-old Cameron Ybarra shot at a repossessor, missing him and putting a bullet in the driver’s side of his car. After he retrieved items out of the car, he went into his residence, where he retrieved an assault rifle and pointed it at the repo man.

The driver “disconnected the vehicle, fled the area and called 911.”

Police followed up, impounding the Mercedes but were unable to find the shooter until they converged on his residence.

According to a police report, “SFPD investigators from the Crime Gun Investigations Center (CGIC) and Gang Task Force (GTF), along with special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) responded to the suspect’s residence to arrest the suspect and serve a search warrant.”

After officers arrested him, they found inside the house an assault rifle, ammunition, bosy armor, a silencer, bomb making materials and other things.

Ybarra was booked for carrying a concealed weapon, possession of ammunition by a prohibited person, negligent discharge of a firearm, possession of a silencer, assault with a deadly weapon, possession of an explosive device and resisting arrest.

https://www.crimevoice.com/2021/03/09/firearms-explosives/

Repo Job Turns into Bizarre Arrest

75 year old John Beasly of Tenn., whose white Kia was repo’ed and then reported stolen, was arrested when pulled over driving his own car.

Though the car was registered as stolen, police confirmed Beasley was the registered owner of the car.

“It turns out the vehicle is his. He reported it stolen. It had been repossessed. He did not tell the police that it was not stolen and he got it back, so it could be removed from the system. So, it was still in the system,” said Belle Meade, Tenn. Police Sgt. Jon Carter.

It was then that police learned that Beasley had two warrants for his arrest, one for misdemeanor trespassing and the other for felony vandalism.

Sgt. Carter said, “Basically he called the cops on himself. He completely forgot he reported it stolen. Even when I told him it is still showing as stolen, he said, it is not, it is my car. And then it finally clicked that he reported it when it was repo’ed.”

https://www.wkrn.com/

Anticipated Turn-Around [b]in Repo Business

Although many consumers have been shielded by the federal government’s Covid relief act for delinquency of their mortgage, student loans and rent payments, the same may not be said about auto loans, which are not covered by the act. While the pace of auto repossessions has been slow since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, that may soon change.

“It really depends on how the next several months go,” said Matthew Bavaro, a partner at The Loan Lawyers law firm in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s depending on what kind of relief package Washington is able to pass. We definitely expect to see lenders get more aggressive as the months progress,” he said.

Robert Murphy, a Fort Lauderdale consumer lawyer and a University of Florida law school faculty member, fears tighter credit and more repos may be in store over the long term.

“People are becoming really desperate,” he said. “Longer term I am really concerned — depending on stimulus, this could get a lot worse. I think there is a likelihood we are going to see higher repossessions and a tightening in credit available which has real implications for consumers,” he added.

For those who are in the repossession business, that may be good news, as the industry has taken a hit, operating at 50 to 60% capacity.

“There’s no one in today’s business environment that’s operating at 100%,” said Les McCook, executive director of the of American Recovery Association, which is based in Texas and has members in Florida.

Source: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/
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