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Using the right towing equipment, an experienced team of towers from PA uprights a heavily burdened tractor trailer.
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A classic tow truck with origins dating back to World War II’s Lend Lease Program.
Removes rust, corrosion, and other build-up from stud-less vehicle hub assemblies and the wheel mounting disc within seconds.
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing June 09 - June 15, 2021

Against Loading Loops

340LoadingLoops 7747cBy Randall C. Resch

Towers typically use factory loading loops as the main, recommended tool when loading vehicles onto flatbed carriers. This process is typically recommended by vehicle manufacturers and passed down to motor-clubs and vehicle owners. But I believe using loading loops is a calamity waiting to happen and don’t recommend their use.

To illustrate this point, a west-coast tower experienced an on-scene catastrophe during the loading process of an expensive foreign car valued around $83,000. The operator was somewhat new and not thoroughly trained in advanced techniques necessary for loading high-end vehicles. Loading this vehicle was supposed to be nothing more than an easy winch-on, winch-off process, to be delivered to a dealership.

As the tower located the loading loop, he carefully removed the bumper’s plastic socket-cap, inserted the factory tow-loop, and tightened it into the front-bumper as required. He attached the winch’s cable to the loop and began winching it onto the carrier’s deck.

When the vehicle’s wheels rolled onto the carrier’s deck, without indication, the loading loop violently detached and ripped away from the bumper’s mount. Because the tower didn't include a catch-strap in his hook-up process, the rollaway car damaged two parked cars, a mailbox, and a residential yard full of landscaping. The subsequent insurance claim topped $19,000.

In early years, towing vehicles with a tow-rope, or, recovery-type straps, as a means of assisting disabled vehicles, was reasonably common. The process of flat-towing was nothing more than attaching a straight-line, rope, or strap, from service vehicle to the disabled vehicle and towing it at a slow-speed to remove it from the disablement’s location to a repair destination. Flat-towing is an easy process, yet, in many states, it’s still legal (on city streets) where motorists and users are subject to comply with relevant road rules and regulations.

At some point in automotive history, loading loops became standard as a means to facilitate carrier loading. I believe, however, that loading loops were only intended for flat-towing because of minimum pulling/rolling resistance on the pavement.

While the concept of loading loops is a good one (in load theory), they’re known to strip, pull-out of its mounting socket, or break the factory welds intended to hold them steadfast. And for the purpose of incline loading, a scary proposition.

When you’re loading a vehicle by rolling it onto a carrier, there’s approximately 10-percent surface resistance for the vehicle’s tires and about 25-additional percent for the 12 to 15-degrees of sloped carrier’s deck.  At this point, you would have approximately 35-percent load on a 25-percent rated attachment point.  

Peter Fuerst, a well-respected industry trainer, wrote, “In most cases the eye and the receptacle are not really a rated attachment point.  The only thing I have seen them rated for is a straight-line pull, for 25-percent of the vehicle’s weight. Then again some manufacturers say not to use them for loading onto carriers.”

Volvo’s owner’s manual, for many of its model year cars, says to not use loading loops for loading onto a flatbed carrier.

Because loading loops represent huge potential for property damage, runaway injuries, or ultimate fatality, I train away from using them. Rather, I teach alternative ways to load vehicles onto carriers such as v-bridles, back-hooking, motorcycle straps, round-sling straps and more. But because loading loops are recommended by some manufacturers, I teach the reality of past experiences and some basic lessons learned.

Owners, be smart and evaluate the risks. What works for you is your choice, but keep in-mind those accidental scenarios that were the direct result of a separating loop.  

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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Full Speed Ahead with AT Shows

American Towman’s Comeback Tour kicks off Texas-style with TowXpo  on San Antonio’s famed River Walk, August 6 & 7. Then like a freight train running full speed ahead, next stop is the American Towman ShowPlace – Las Vegas, Sept. 16 & 17. The Towman Games (Mid-America’s Tow Show) follows on Oct. 15 & 16 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Comeback Tour then chugs into its final station with the world’s largest tow show, the American Towman Exposition in Baltimore, Nov. 12-14.

“The sales activity for exhibit space at all four of our shows has accelerated significantly in the second quarter with the pandemic dissipating and restrictions on public gatherings eliminated,” A. T. Expo Corp. president Henri “Doc” Calitri states.

“Industry suppliers are eager to get in front of their customers and re-establish their one-to-one relationships with them,” he says. “Likewise, tow bosses are chomping at the bit, advance-registering for the shows, eager to pick up on purchase-activity of tow equipment, accessories and services they have put off for a year.” For more information go to towshow.com.



San Antonio River Walk

From Snowblowin’ to Towin’

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By George L. Nitti 

Although former auto repair shop owner and tower Mike Lagomarsino has been out of the business since 2001, when he had a couple of shops for 25 years in Fairview and North Bergen, NJ, he continues to stay connected to the industry with his love of classic vehicles, one of which is a dandy 1942 Ford 29T 1 ½ ton with a Holmes 460. 

The truck’s origins date back to 1942, purchased during the 2nd World War, as part of the Lend Lease Program that enabled the purchase of specialized vehicles to be used by the military. In this case, the 42’ Ford was used as a snowblower, leased to England to clear airports of snow.  

Lagomarsino merged the 42’ Ford 29T with a Holmes 460 he found on a 52’ Ford. 30 years since he built the truck, it is having a rebirth of a sort, showing up at a recent car show in Greenwood Lake, NJ, with plans for more. “I use it sparingly, but everytime I use it, it is like new again.” he said. 

Several key elements help to define this classic, one of which is its vibrant color.  

After its peak performance during the 2nd World War, leading us to victory over the Axis Powers of Germany and Japan, this unit went on to a more modest life in a local community where it was used to clear snow off roads. Lagomarsino said, “All town trucks used Omaha Orange.”  

As part of the restoration, Lagomarsino balanced the Omaha Orange with a fusion of white in key places: down the center of the hood, the front grill, the back rear fenders, behind the cabin, the vehicle hubs,  and the safety striping on the backside. 

The lettering, which was done by ID Signs, also stands out to highlight several textual features, one of which is the circular, classic ribbon themed logo found on the side of the unit accenting the owner’s name, his place of residence (Ringwood, NJ) and an established date (1927). 

Lagomarsino said, “I picked my father’s birth year.” 

To give tribute to his family, Lagomarsino added the names of his two boys, Pete and Tony, on the front side and his wife, Nancy, on the back. 

On the front black bumper, also is the lettering “Reckless.”  

He said, “Years ago I had seen it on an old truck and adopted that.” 

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! 

4 Towman Expos in 2021, Mark your calendars for The Comeback Tour!!!

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
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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
June 09 - June 15, 2021
Pink colored, florescent stickers to remind drivers to slow down/move over

Bumper Stickers/Posters to Remind Drivers in Jersey to “Slow Down, Move Over”

New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) along with a coalition of transportation agencies that comprise the NJ Traffic Incident Management (NJTIM) task force, launched a bumper sticker and poster campaign to raise public awareness of the Slow Down, Move Over Law. 

“The Slow Down, Move Over campaign is not just a catch phrase. For the emergency responders and others who serve the motoring public, the highway is their office,” NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. “We want everyone to get home safe, every night. The goal is to remind drivers approaching stopped emergency or work vehicles to please slow down and if it is safe to do so, move over. That simple act could save a life.”  

The eye-catching, florescent, pink stickers, which match the emergency incident sign color used at roadway incident scenes across the United States, will be placed on the bumpers of NJDOT and participating emergency response vehicles across the state.  

In addition to seeing these bumper stickers on state vehicles, Quick Chek, is partnering with the NJTIM coalition, and will be displaying the Slow Down, Move Over posters in the windows of 72 of their New Jersey stores and at 67 gas stations. 

There have been 22 emergency responders and highway workers struck and killed throughout the United States in 2021 as reported by the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, www.ResponderSafety.com. This number does not include injuries. 

“Our law boils down to simple courtesy and the care and caution we should all inherently be showing the folks that are working on and around our roadways,” said Eric Heitmann, Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “These folks already have a dangerous job – and we can all do something to make it safer for them – simple courtesy.” 

https://www.southjerseyobserver.com/2021/06/06/nj-traffic-incident-management-task-force-reminds-motorists-to-slow-down-move-over/ 

On The Hook 10: New Stuff
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June 09 - June 15, 2021
David Isaac Simmons lost his life from a driver who made an unsafe lane change.

Texas Towman Downed by Airborne Car

Tower David Isaac Simmons, who was pulling a disabled vehicle out of the center median of the highway using his 2020 Freightliner with a sliding bed, died a couple of days after he was struck by a car that careened off Interstate 45, south of Fairfield, Tx.  

Simmons was at the control box of his tow truck when a 22-year-old woman driving a 2020 Toyota Corolla made an unsafe lane change. The Toyota collided with a 2014 Volvo sedan driven by a 33-year-old Dallas woman, and then crossed back into the inside lane, shot up the tow truck’s sliding bed, went airborne and slammed into Simmons. 

https://www.kwtx.com 

Vigil for Downed Tower in Fla.

A vigil was held Monday night to remember 30-year-old tower Carlos Betancourt, who was killed while stopping to help a motorist in Orange Park, Fla on interstate 295 around 2:40 a.m. on Sunday.  

Troopers said Betancourt and the driver he stopped to help were standing near the tow truck parked on the left shoulder, partially blocking the left travel lane, when they were struck by a sport-utility vehicle. 

The impact sent the SUV careening into a concrete barrier. 

Betancourt died at the scene, according to FHP, and the 19-year-old driver he stopped to help was taken to an area hospital where he too was pronounced dead. 

Betancourt’s brother Kevin described him as the “best brother, son and friend.” Friends said the small business owner also beat cancer twice. 

“I woke up to it and my heart sank,” said Max Williams, a friend. 

During the vigil, dozens of tow trucks were lined up together with their lights on. A flag reminding drivers to move over was draped over a truck. 

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Transportation underscored the importance of obeying the state’s “move over” law, which requires drivers to change lanes when passing emergency vehicles. 

https://www.news4jax.com/ 

NJ Tow Company Calling it Quits 

The owner of Paterson NJ’s Classic Towing, John Kruse, is calling it quits after hauling away and impounding thousands of illegally parked vehicles over 36 years.  

“Believe it or not, you make a lot of friends in this business, even though you piss a lot of people off,” Kruse said. 

Kruse said “an accumulation of challenges” prompted him to shut down his company’s impound operation effective May 31. He said running the impound storage area had become a financial drain on his business, partly because so many people whose cars were towed in Paterson simply abandoned them rather than pay the fees. 

“I’ve got a lot full of derelict cars that were just abandoned by people,” Kruse said. 

https://www.northjersey.com/ 

Memorializing Towers with Processions of Honor

It's a good bet that any month out of the year, you will find stories about towman giving tribute and honor to fallen towers or recently passed veterans of established tow companies.

Last month a procession of approximately 100 tow trucks honored Kansas towman Joe Meyer who lost his life when he was crushed by a vehicle that fell off a tow truck. In March, the Las Vegas community came out for Ryan Billotte, who also lost his life roadside. In Montana, two towers that lost their lives have had several tributes in their honor. And just in the last few months, towers have come out in large numbers for veterans like Leo Rinwalski, Marvin Pardo, and Everett Hibler, considered icons in their respective communities.

This month towers from all over the Pacific Northwest were in Kelso, Washington on Sunday to honor Affordable Towing’s Arthur “Art” Anderson, who was killed last month when a driver crashed into a disabled car. Anderson’s daughter Sparkle Chism said, “These people came from all over to honor my dad. You can’t ask for anything better than that."

As memorial day approaches this coming Monday, TIW is proud to acknowledge the unity that towers express all year round to memorialize those who have fallen.

Chicago Reigning in Rogue Practices among Towers

Rogue towing practices in Chicago, which have come under intense scrutiny, are being addressed by Chicago City Council as new ordinances are revised and approved. Rogue practices include towers showing up to scenes of accidents unsolicited, ensnaring damaged vehicles and charging exorbitant release fees, practices that are likened to the “Wild West.”

The City Council’s Committee on License and Consumer Protection approved a revised ordinance that calls for the city to establish a first-ever license for tow truck operators, require a $250 license for every truck they use and license the locations where vehicles they tow are stored.

Meanwhile, the ordinance has been amended to accommodate AAA towing operations, freeing them for being responsible for individual towing contractors, and amended to waive the fees for city contractors.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th), who championed the legislation, said, “AAA didn’t want to be responsible for individual towing contractors. So, [I] struck that. If you’re a city vendor, you won’t have to pay the license. However, if you have other vehicles that are not working on the city contract, those vehicles would have to pay the license,” Villegas said.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/

Deadly Dispute Over Impounded Car

The owner of Florida tow company, Strapped Transport Towing and Recovery , located in Mulberry, Fla., is behind bars for 2nd degree murder after shooting Juan Barroso who came to the impound lot to pick up a car. He is charged with shooting him as he was running away.

According to police, Barroso showed up to get his vehicle early Monday night when tensions arose. Marshall Denn, the owner of the brother, started punching Barroso. Barroso rammed his vehicle and later rammed Marshall Denn. Then the owner, Michael Shane Denn, shot and killed Barroso with a shot to the back of his head.

A news release from the sheriff’s office says evidence collected at the scene suggests “the decedent exited his vehicle and was running away from the suspect, not towards the suspect, when the suspect fired his firearm at the decedent.”

Denn was arrested and charged with second-degree murder after deputies say they determined he intentionally fired at the victim who was running away.

https://www.wfla.com/
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American Towman Exposition Gallery
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June 09 - June 15, 2021

Double Dog Dare Recovery

Double Dog Dare Recovery TIW 9 ab70d

By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti 

In Upper Macungie Township, PA, on a road that has a double dog leg turn (two - 90 degree turns), the driver, hauling approximately 42,000 pounds of a name brand soda, took the turn too fast, causing the semi-truck and trailer to roll over.  

After another tower had been on the job for more than 7 hours and was unable to upright the casualty, Hauser’s Truck Service was contacted by the Upper Macungie Police Department. 

Hauser’s dispatched their 1990 Peterbilt with Nomar HD wrecker, 1987 Mack 35-ton Challenger HD wrecker and a 1988 Ford LTL 45-ton Challenger HD wrecker. They also brought out their recovery trailer with the USA air cushion recovery system they wanted to use on this job. Owner Tim Hauser, along with operators Jake Schrawder, Tim Moser, Bill Hillenbrant, Brad Hauser, and Kevin Krase responded to the scene.  

Tim informed, “We determined the best way to approach this recovery would be to bag the trailer from the roof side and rig the trailer from the floor side to pull it up with the Mack and Ford heavy-duty wreckers. The Peterbilt heavy-duty wrecker was used to stabilize the tractor as the casualty was coming up to keep everything in line.” 

Jake rigged the job, in part using extra wide 18-inch recovery straps to lend additional support as the casualty came up. The side of the trailer had been compromised and they felt it best to bag it, utilizing seven air bags to cover the square footage of the 53-foot trailer. Tim explained, “We find seven works great so there's no chance that the rib line of the trailer walls open up or "unzip.” 

“After the truck was recovered, we allowed the original tower on the scene to tow the tractor away and they also transported the trailer,” stated Tim. “We came in to do a job and we weren't looking to ‘poke the other guy in the eye.’ We felt it was the neighborly thing to do to allow the original tower called out to take the casualty from the point we had recovered it.” 

The recovery was completed from beginning to end in approximately 90 minutes. It was a great example of how know-how and years of experience, paired with quality equipment, gets the job done. 

_____________________________________________ 

Timothy “Tim” Hauser is the President and owner of Hauser’s Truck Service of Allentown, PA. The company is a third-generation family business, founded by Harold & Jean Hauser in 1971 out of their home and garage. Brad Hauser is the third generation of Hausers involved in the business. 

Celebrating 50 years in business in 2021, the company has grown into one of the Lehigh Valley’s largest towing and repair facilities with 18 employees and 26 vehicles in their ever-expanding fleet. 

Show Yours @ TIW 

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

Beemer Up Up & Away 

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by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti 

On May 28, 2021 at 4:30 a.m. in Lincoln, R.I., the Lincoln Police stopped a 2010 BMW 328 with a M3 style kit for suspicious activity. The driver attempted to flee, causing him to lose control, go up an embankment, bounce off a tree and put the vehicle on top of a stone wall and Dodge Ram pickup truck. The driver and passenger were taken to the hospital for minor injuries. 

King’s Towing operator Jason Mellen responded with their 2020 Hino 268 with a Jerr-Dan XLP bed to haul the casualty away. 

Heavy operator Andrew White of Sterry Street Towing responded with a 2021 Peterbilt 389 twin-steer with a Century 1075 75-ton 6 winch rotator. Andrew informed, “The Lincoln Fire Department requested a rotator be used to lift the BMW as it was on top of a wall, resting on its fuel tank and leaning on the back of a pickup.” 

When Jason and Andrew rolled in, the Lincoln Police and Lincoln Fire Department were on scene. Lincoln Fire was keeping an eye on the beemer’s gas tank. They requested the rotator because the pickup couldn’t be winched forwards or backwards without rupturing its fuel tank. It had to be lifted straight up and off the wall and pickup. 

The rotator and flatbed were staged and Andrew got busy rigging. Andrew explained, “I rigged it using a Miller Industries spreader bar using two BA Products 8-foot red round slings and a BA Products spreader bar kit. We also used green round slings through all four rims to protect the wheels from anymore damage and a tog line was used to control swing while the lift was being made.” 

The casualty was lifted straight up, rotated and set onto the Kings Towing Jerr-Dan flatbed. Jason tied it down and transported it to the yard for police hold. 

_________________________ 

King’s Towing out of Central Falls, R.I. serves residential and commercial customers with towing service, auto repair, accident recovery and roadside assistance. Serving Providence County since the 1931, they are a AAA participant and also offer emergency services. 

Sterry Street Towing was started in 1980 by John Martins with one tow truck. As the founder, owner and CEO John slowly grew his towing business by adding 2-3 trucks every year. He named his company after the street where he got his start in Pawtucket, R.I. After John passed away in 2015, his son Jamie Turmel took over ownership of the family business and continues the same strong work ethic he learned from his dad. Sterry Street employs over 30 full-time employees and have a large, varied and extensive fleet that includes specialized equipment along with several heavy-duty rotators. 

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! 

Lumber Truck Recovery

By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Uzek Susol, the owner of Orcas Towing, was called to recover a lumber truck from a ditch on May 18, 2021. 

Uzek informed, “I received multiple calls from property owners and neighbors asking me to help a loaded lumber truck that slid off the inside of a soft narrow curve near the top of its final unload destination.”

Uzek called the lumber company, which estimated a 50,000-pound gross weight between the truck and load of assorted lumber and two pallets of composite roofing. 

Uzek responded in his 1981 Kenworth W900A with a classic 1962 Holmes 750. It had hydraulic spades, 250-feet of 5/8-inch wire rope on each drum and a Z20 Zacklift.

“Upon arriving and evaluating the situation, my plan was to position the wrecker as far opposite from the casualty on the narrow road for a lift on the low side and side pull on the high side,” Uzek related. “My concerns were wrecker positioning due to the limited space on the narrow driveway and preventing the lumber truck from sliding backwards into my wrecker due to the steep 9-degree uphill grade.”

There was no way to get a truck in front of the casualty and no trees uphill of it for assist. The forklift mount at the rear of the lumber truck was dug deep into the soft edge of the gravel road, passenger side tires and toolboxes caught on the road edge drop off. 

After surveying the scene, the lumber truck driver offered to cut the load. Uzek explained, “Trucking company was at the job sight and suggested cutting the load free. Easier lift and slide for me.”

Uzkek informed, “I ran my passenger side winch line to the only nearby tree/strap/shackle/snatch block about 100-feet off the drivers side of the lumber truck. Then I terminated the wire rope to a grade 80 1/2” recovery chain that was run through the lumber truck’s driver’s rear outer wheel hand hole, wrapped around the inside of the dual wheels and out the same hand hole for stabilization and side pull.”

He blocked the front tires of the lumber truck and put a 4×6 block of wood between the lumber truck seat and brake pedal applying the front brakes to help prevent the truck from rolling backwards. The driver then cut the wood load at the rear of the deck leaving the two roofing pallets up near the headboard intact. 

Uzek ran a double line from his drivers boom sheave to the passenger rear low on the forklift mount for a high lift and pull. He lifted low side and winched the rear of lumber truck sideways back onto the road.

“There are times when I sure would like to have a shiny wrecker but this is not one of them as branches and brush were dragging across both sides of my wrecker backing in and driving out,” stated Uzek. “My Holmes 750 always gets the job done. She’s a good old girl.”

______________

Uzek Susol established Orcas Auto Tech DBA Orcas Towing in Eastsound, on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington State in 1991. Besides being a tower and rigging/recovery specialist, Uzek is an ace mechanic and fabricator who builds awesome rods and bikes and has transported pretty much everything.

Show Yours @ TIW

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

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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.
June 09 - June 15, 2021

Cyber Attacks: Are You Prepared?

cyberattack 08f9bBy Brian J. Riker

Cyber attacks are on the increase and small businesses are not immune. In fact, small businesses are more likely to be attacked than large corporations because defenses are usually much lower … even nonexistent.

According to a recent report by Germany-based Allianz Risk, cyber-attacks have now taken the lead as the top corporate concern globally, displacing business interruption which had held the top spot for the past seven years.

Cyber attack risks come not only from external hackers, but also from internal sources. It is important to make sure you have the proper security protocols in place to protect your data from both accidental and malicious loss.

Imagine how hard it would be to operate your impound yard if all of the vehicle records just disappeared one day? How about if your dispatch software crashed?

The modern tower has embraced technology, as it is a must to survive in today’s industry. With that technology comes risks that also must be managed. We routinely collect sensitive personal information about customers as well as employees that must be protected. Do you have adequate password protection and limited access for this information?

Gone are the days of keeping everything sensitive locked up in a file drawer tucked away in the back corner of the office. Now we have computer terminals at almost every workstation, all connected with a local network and then connected to the world via the Internet.

Most tow bosses can even access all their data remotely from their smartphone or laptop computer. Convenient, but very risky.

Now is the time to perform a cyber-risk assessment. Begin by making a list of who currently has access to what software and data, then determine if they really need that access and make changes as needed.

Next check for physical security issues. Are there computers that are not locked or password protected with access to sensitive info that employees or even the public can get access to?
Make sure any public Wi-Fi at your office is a completely separate network from your business computers. The No. 1 way hackers gain access to sensitive information is through unprotected public access points. Make sure your business Wi-Fi network is password-protected with a unique network key—not the standard one that came with your router.

Develop a security protocol that requires routine updates to all network passwords. Do not allow your team to write them down and leave them in their workstation or use autofill functions on their web browser. This defeats the purpose of having passwords!

Consider setting up a virtual private network for all your remote access needs. Cellphone and mobile data networks are ripe with security flaws that a VPN can protect against.

Many towers are now using virtual phone networks in place of traditional landline telephones. While these are great for flexibility and mobility, it pays to have at least one backup physical landline telephone when the system crashes. Don’t have all your communication dependent upon the Internet or other virtual systems. Always have a second, and even third, method for critical customers and team members to communicate.

These measures seem complicated and may require retaining a computer network specialist. What is the alternative if your data is held for ransom or destroyed? How hard and expensive would it be to recreate years of records? What about lost income because of the loss of supporting data such as pictures or purchase orders?

Lastly, check with your business insurance agent about the cost and availability of cyber attack insurance. It is an excellent supplement to business interruption insurance, which you should already have to protect against losses from fire, flooding and even loss of phone or electricity.

Brian J. Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC and is a contributing writer to American Towman Magazine and Tow Industry Week. He specializes in helping non-traditional fleets such as towing, repossession, and construction companies navigate the complex world of Federal and State transportation regulatory compliance. With 25 years of experience in the ditch as a tow operator Brian truly understands the unique needs and challenges faced by towing companies today. He can be reached at brian.riker@fleetcompliancesolutions.net

Scrappers? What, No Papers? 

C:UsersOwnerDesktopPic - Scrappers No Papers OK.jpg

By Randall C. Resch      

The opening picture depicts a brightly colored sign hanging from a pole where I live. While the sign was posted by a law-abiding tow owner, could that scrap item be the property of another? 

One business niche called “scrapping” is an action that could land you in hot-water. You wouldn’t think taking scrap is an illegal practice, but there’s a fine-line defining “scrap” versus “a hulk of metal” being the remains of a stolen car. 

A discarded car-body found in a field may not be that of an unwanted car, but the remains of a stolen and stripped vehicle. If the vehicle was stolen, its owner could be anticipating their property’s return. 

So, as a “Scrapper” drives around and find’s a rusty car body conspicuously parked behind a dilapidated store, does that “kid in the candy store” feeling kick in? While it’s admirable to rid the community of derelict cars, it’s prudent to think twice before taking possession.  

Driving in traffic, the scrapper gets stopped because there were no extension-lights or proper tie-downs. The officer asks about the car on the truck and runs the VIN in the national ARJIS System. To the tower’s dismay, the hulk was a stolen car.  

The end result: the tower goes to jail for possession of stolen property while the tow truck is impounded as evidence. That’s a possibility of “Scrapping.”  

An old saying suggests that if it’s free, it’s too good to be true. Even if it’s total junk, is that stripped car-hulk that of a stolen car or is it debris free for the taking? While its scale weight could mean potential profit for the tower, if the vehicle was delivered to a scrap-yard with no papers, is there violation of law? 

When accepting vehicles without papers, scrapper’s risk arrest and conviction if it was a reported stolen vehicle. In all reality, shouldn’t the tower obtain DMV documentation to prove ownership? Is there responsibility to determine whether or not the hulk was the remains of auto-theft? 

When towers scrap as a mode of business, being in-illegal possession of a stolen-hulk could result in an arrest. In most states, to be convicted of possession of stolen property, proving a defendant guilty of the crime, prosecutors must establish two elements: 

1.) The defendant took possession of someone’s property without owner consent, and 2.) when the defendant took the property, did they intend to deprive the owner of that property for any period of time? 

The bottom-line: Did you take steps to determine if the junk in your possession didn’t belong to someone else? How will you answer?  

While a Scrapper’s business intent is honest and upright, receiving vehicles without obtaining properly administered paperwork, i.e., lien-sale, abatement or assigned title could result in arrest. There is a responsibility to pre-determine that the scrap’s not stolen. 

 
 

Summer Safety Precautions

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By Brian J Riker

With Memorial Day fast approaching, thoughts drift to family vacations, warm breezes and traveling. Excellent conditions for towers to make some money; after all we know tourists are often not focused on anything except having a good time.

This travel season I expect to see a spike in crashes given it has been over a year since many folks have had the chance to get out. With COVID restrictions relaxing and everyone eager to escape reality for a bit, the air is ripe for disaster.

I suggest paying close attention for out of state license plates, vehicles with extra luggage or entire families as well as those that are making erratic or unusual moves in traffic. Tourists are usually unfamiliar with your area and may be distracted by their family or even fatigued from attempting to drive longer than they usually do.

With the warmer weather also comes more children. As schools begin to recess for summer break, children too fill their heads with thoughts of recreation and easily loose focus on the hazards surrounding them.

When there are children around it is more important than ever that we be aware of what they are doing and where they are doing it. Kids love trucks and do not have fully developed danger mechanisms, so they don’t think twice about climbing in, on or under trucks that they may find interesting.

This makes it especially important to always conduct a circle check every time you move your vehicle! Children and pets have been killed because they were under a vehicle that was placed in motion without the operator knowing. I have made it a habit to approach any vehicle I am driving from the passenger side, walking a complete 360 circle around it before entering the driver seat.

An old slogan I recall each summer is “behind each bouncing ball comes a running child.” I recall seeing this plastered all over trucks in the northeast when I started driving, and it is true. Keep a close eye between vehicles for kids that may be hidden from your view and unaware that you are driving nearby.

For the heavy-duty operators summer also means more children riding along in big rigs and extra children in truck stops. Perhaps even our own kids riding long for some family bonding time. Already familiar with big trucks, children riding along may be very comfortable in these situations and unaware of the true risk at hand, so please use extra caution when driving through truck stop parking lots or anywhere children are present.

Now is also a great time to assess the health of your truck. Pay particular attention to the tires, as the temperature difference will cause inflation to change and require adjustment. Inspect the cooling system, giving the radiator fins a good spring cleaning and make sure you have extra water onboard. Not just water for the cooling system, but also drinking water to keep yourself, and your customers, hydrated.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are very real possibilities and you must take precautions to protect yourself. These conditions occur when the body loses the ability to regulate internal temperature and can happen even in relatively mild conditions, with a heat index of just 91⁰F, or lower if you are in new area and not yet adjusted to the climate -such as when vacationing.

Summer means longer days, warmer weather and perhaps some well deserved recreation. With this change in the seasons we must not lose focus on safety, ours as well as that of the general public. Enjoy some time off, but please stay safe since tragedy doesn’t stop just because you are on vacation.

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June 09 - June 15, 2021

From Snowblowin’ to Towin’

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By George L. Nitti 

Although former auto repair shop owner and tower Mike Lagomarsino has been out of the business since 2001, when he had a couple of shops for 25 years in Fairview and North Bergen, NJ, he continues to stay connected to the industry with his love of classic vehicles, one of which is a dandy 1942 Ford 29T 1 ½ ton with a Holmes 460. 

The truck’s origins date back to 1942, purchased during the 2nd World War, as part of the Lend Lease Program that enabled the purchase of specialized vehicles to be used by the military. In this case, the 42’ Ford was used as a snowblower, leased to England to clear airports of snow.  

Lagomarsino merged the 42’ Ford 29T with a Holmes 460 he found on a 52’ Ford. 30 years since he built the truck, it is having a rebirth of a sort, showing up at a recent car show in Greenwood Lake, NJ, with plans for more. “I use it sparingly, but everytime I use it, it is like new again.” he said. 

Several key elements help to define this classic, one of which is its vibrant color.  

After its peak performance during the 2nd World War, leading us to victory over the Axis Powers of Germany and Japan, this unit went on to a more modest life in a local community where it was used to clear snow off roads. Lagomarsino said, “All town trucks used Omaha Orange.”  

As part of the restoration, Lagomarsino balanced the Omaha Orange with a fusion of white in key places: down the center of the hood, the front grill, the back rear fenders, behind the cabin, the vehicle hubs,  and the safety striping on the backside. 

The lettering, which was done by ID Signs, also stands out to highlight several textual features, one of which is the circular, classic ribbon themed logo found on the side of the unit accenting the owner’s name, his place of residence (Ringwood, NJ) and an established date (1927). 

Lagomarsino said, “I picked my father’s birth year.” 

To give tribute to his family, Lagomarsino added the names of his two boys, Pete and Tony, on the front side and his wife, Nancy, on the back. 

On the front black bumper, also is the lettering “Reckless.”  

He said, “Years ago I had seen it on an old truck and adopted that.” 

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! 

Bull’s-Eye Design Wrapped in a Flag 

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By George L. Nitti 

Throughout the towing industry, patriotic themed graphics abound. But what separates the stellar from the merely ordinary may come down to a simple, creative variation such as a change in color. 

Alberto Castellanos, owner of Alberto’s Towing of Santa Ana, Ca., recently purchased 5 new tow trucks, replacing his older trucks because California’s new law requires operating tow trucks that are made post 2010. 

Castellanos took the opportunity of purchasing the new trucks and then wrapping them all at once with a signature design that uniformly brands the company with a memorable patriotic display featuring the American Flag. 

On their new medium duty 2020 Freightliner M2 with a 16 Ton Century Wrecker, this design is clearly illustrated, but with a color variation of black, white and gold rather than the traditional red, white and blue colors of the American flag. 

Castellanos said, “I went with a gold color because it is similar to yellow. These are towing colors that stand out. That’s why I went with them. I wanted to do something different.” 

The stars on the hood are gold while gold stripes, interspersed with black and white stripes, carve out an image that might at first be easily mistaken for a camouflaged truck but upon closer examination replicates the American Flag.  

The colors are infused with a modern flavor of lines that are not drawn evenly with a gradient of colors promoting a more artistic sensibility. 

Another image that stands out on the truck is that of their logo, a bull, pulling a tow chain. This image stands center stage on the hood of their truck and can also be found on the side doors. 

Castellanos said, “The bull is a symbol of our towing company. Bulls are calm, powerful and even nice. Did you know that you can pet them? You just don’t want to piss them off.” 

The name Alberto’s Towing also stands out as does the slogan on the visor of their tinted windows: “If It Don’t Roll, We Tow.”  

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 print, too, in American Towman magazine!  

Branding “Stranded”

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By George L. Nitti

Most experienced motorists are acquainted with the sinking feeling of being stranded on the roadway.

To capitalize on this universal affliction, one towing company went so far as to name themselves “Stranded,” with hopes to reach a broader audience by creating a distinct brand capturing motorist angst.

In 1994, Charles Ellis started Stranded Towing, based out of Indianapolis, Ind., realizing a boyhood dream.

He said, “At 12 my father asked me what I wanted to do. I said, ‘Dad, I want to own tow trucks.’ I bought my first tow truck at age 13, customizing it in 1982, before I could even drive it. Today, our trucks set the standard for how clean tow trucks can be.”

Their 2019 Freightliner M2 with a 22 ft Jerr Dan bed sets a high standard, both in cleanliness and design, where it stands out with its bright, colorful lettering, which Ellis credits his daughter for creating 22 years ago.

“When she was in elementary school, I told her to color it in the way you see it on a business card. I wanted the letters in “stranded” to be put in blocks and in different colors,” Ellis said.

The “Stranded” name is now clearly visible on their four trucks, with unique lettering that stands out just as the bold, colorful lettering does on the Google brand.

Ellis said, “It’s catchy. It’s simple. It’s what we needed to say. And it’s easy to remember.”

Yet, Ellis maintained that he had a larger objective: to work with a network of companies under the “Stranded” name.

He said, “I don’t want a fleet of trucks. I want an influx of phone calls.”

Hence, Ellis’ strategy was to build a brand that dispatches calls for other towing companies, effectively bypassing motor clubs, so that towers can be paid now rather than later at fair market rates.

“We work with about 50 companies in different areas,” Ellis said. “There are GPS units on these tow trucks so the dispatch is a lot smoother and cleaner. There is one number to call when you are stranded and we use the local tow company to run those calls.”

Afterall, when you are stranded, does it matter the name of the truck that picks you up? Just call “Stranded” for relief.

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 print, too, in American Towman magazine!
June 09 - June 15, 2021

Hub and Disc Surface Cleaner  

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AME International, the leading supplier of tire changing tools and equipment, released a new automotive service accessory: the 37350 Hub Bro impact-rated hub and disc surface cleaner. 

The 37350 Hub Bro tool saves time with its 1⁄2” impact-rated fitting by eliminating the need to change tools. The 37350 Hub Bro instantly removes rust, corrosion, and other build-up from stud-less vehicle hub assemblies and the wheel mounting disc within seconds.  

“The Hub Bro is the much-needed answer for the other half of vehicles on the road that don’t use a stud and lug-nut combo. It is a huge time-saver with not having to change tools and reducing comebacks due to wheel balancing issues,” said Don Tinker, NA Business Development for AME Intl.   

To request additional information about the 37350 Hub Bro visit their website at www.ameintl.net.  

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.
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June 09 - June 15, 2021
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June 09 - June 15, 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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