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September underscored a hot used car market where demand exceeded supply.
Multi-vehicle recovery that includes a big clean-up job.
Upcoming regulations and what it means to the tower.
Despite a setback prior to entry into a Wrecker Pageant and no consolation prize for its outstanding colors and design, this rollback keeps moving
RimSling presents a synthetic lifting and recovery sling that is lightweight, strong, flexible and compact.
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing October 04 - October 11, 2021

Raising Awareness for [b]Tower Safety

Tow truck drivers from across the Northwest joined in a memorial ride to remember Raymond Mitchell who was hit and killed on I-5 last month. Mitchell was pinned against his tow truck when the rear trailer of a log truck swerved and struck him. The young father was only 33.

“We’re all in this together,” tow truck driver Cory Wells told KOIN 6 News. “We want to go home, too. Slow down and move over.”

The memorial ride for Mitchell began and ended at a casino, where there were food carts. All the proceeds went to help the Mitchell family.

https://www.koin.com/


Click here to read more

Exhibits & Quick Clearance Training in Cleveland

Along with supplier exhibits, one of the highlights of the Towman Games in Cleveland, Ohio this week, 10/14 – 10/16, will include a couple of hands-on heavy duty training courses in addition to an advanced carrier & wrecker quick clearance training course (ERSCA) and a quick clearance certification class taught by Police Towers of America's Ron Myers.

The rotator training course, taught by Wreckmaster’s Bruce Campbell and Jeff Martin, is an intensive 16-hour class spanning two days, 10/14 and 10/15, and covers many facets of rotator recovery.  Among the topics addressed will include proper setup and rotator staging in various situations, calculating angles and loads, and implementing best practices for incident management. Campbell developed WreckMaster’s first rotator course in 2013 and the course has been further upgraded, now considered the nation’s premier Rotator Training course.

Also, the CIRT 16-Hour Advanced Heavy-Duty Training Class with veteran tower and instructor Bobby Tuttle on 10/14 and 10/15 will cover topics such as quick clearance strategies for traffic incident management, review of various heavy-duty recovery techniques and various rigging and attachment methods for recoveries. For a complete breakdown of what each of these courses covers, visit http://towmangames.com/#training-page.

In addition to hands-on training, on Saturday, 10/16, tow operators can get certified in quick clearance methods, on-scene incident management preparation and American Towman Quick Clearance certification. This certification class draws on the expertise of 35 year towing and recovery specialist Ron Myers, whose background includes experience in quick clearance recovery.

The Towman Games will feature over 100 exhibitors accommodated inside the world class Huntington Convention Center. The industry’s wrecker, carrier, trailer and chassis builders all exhibit. The suppliers exhibiting cover an amazing sprectrum of products and services, everything needed to run a successful towing business, plus revolutionary products and services new to the market. Tow business owners have come to rely on the AT Expositions for staying on top of their game and becoming first-class towing operations. For more information about the show, visit, http://towmangames.com/



Clean Up On Aisle 69

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By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Around 12 noon on June 25, 2021, the Henderson County Sheriff dispatched Tri-State Towing and Recovery to respond to a multiple vehicle accident on Interstate 69 in Robards, Kentucky.

Heavy operator Lance Wayne informed, “We were told a vac truck had crossed the median of Interstate 69 at the 140-mile marker and a tractor-trailer was in the ditch just south of that. We were dispatched for the tractor-trailer and another company was getting the vac truck.”

Tri-State dispatched operators Frank Hammond in their 2020 Kenworth T880 with an NRC 50/65 65-ton sliding rotator, Lance Wayne in their 2018 Kenworth with an NRC 50/65 65-ton sliding rotator, Steve Bell 2001 Kenworth with an NRC 50/65 65-ton sliding rotator and Gary Crawford with a 2018 Ford F150 and traffic control unit.

When Lance, Frank and Steve arrived on scene, they found a tractor-trailer on its side through the guardrail lying on the passenger side. Lance had been the first to arrive, so when he saw that the trailer loaded with plastic pellets was destroyed, he called the shop and requested the roll-offs, the vacuum and mini excavator.

Stephen Payne was the operator of the 2020 Bobcat mini excavator, Mike Jones drove the 2012 Freightliner with the rolloff trailer and Kale English, Eric Crawford, along with Lance’s young son Luke Wayne were on scene as laborers.

“Hazelwood Towing handled the vac truck themselves as we worked the rollover at the same time. It was north of us,” advised Lance. “We took two rotators and unhooked the tractor to get the unit out of the way. We set up lane closer cones signs and arrow boards so the highway did not have to be closed and everyone was able to work in one lane for safety.”

After they removed the tractor, they began to vacuum up the product in the front half of trailer that was broken away and then loaded it on their Landoll trailer. They loaded the trailer tandems on the rollback then vacuumed the product into the roll-offs container. Once the trailer was empty, Frank and Lance grabbed the rest of trailer and loaded it onto another Landoll trailer.

“We worked until approximately 1 a.m. to finish the recovery and clean-up,” stated Lance. “We came back the next day and cleaned up the brush and ditch line and what debris that was left from the accident.”

Tri-State Towing and Recovery, based in Evansville, Ind., started as Rideout's Service Center in Henderson, Kentucky. They have been serving their area for over 35 years. With locations in Evansville, Indiana and Henderson, Kentucky they cover a large area and provide a variety of services. At their Henderson location, they offer full service automotive repair and maintenance on all makes and models, both foreign and domestic.

Hazelwood Towing & Recovery Inc., also based in Henderson, Kentucky, is owned by brothers Kevin and Kirk Hazelwood. The business, incorporated in 1996, handles light- through heavy-duty towing and recovery. They also offer 24-hour rollback and AAA service and work closely with the Henderson City/County Rescue Squad.

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!
TOWERS GATHER IN LAS VEGAS AT THE WESTGATE, WE GIVE YOU AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE SHOW
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
October 04 - October 11, 2021
Tower Luke Harris, who passed away Sept. 18, was honored by his four sons and a tow truck procession at his funeral on Oct. 1.

Black Tower Honored as Trailblazer

76 year-old Luke J. Harris, who passed away on 9/18, was honored with a tow truck procession on Oct. 1 as 18 trucks from several tow companies passed by a Dover funeral home where one of Harris’s tow trucks was parked. Harris is considered to be the first black tower in Delaware and a business trailblazer who served as a role model for other black entrepreneurs.

“He did it for a long time,” said Jon Harris, one of Mr. Harris’ four sons. “He’s probably was one of the senior tow companies in the area and at one point was the biggest towing company in Kent County.”

His sons, Jon, Michael, Joseph and Luke Anthony, were all trained in the towing business, and all worked for his company at one point. Michael remembers his father as someone who would sacrifice anything he could to give a hand-up to others. “Just the simple fact that he was kind of like a trailblazer for people to see him and start a business,” he said. “He started with one truck and a dream, and it took off from there.”

After starting an auto repair business, he needed to get a tow truck to move the cars to get to him (for repair), and it transitioned from auto repairs to towing/auto repairs. Over time, he eventually grew from that first tow truck to a fleet of nine.

Son Luke Harris was very appreciative to the other tow truck operators who came out to pay their respects to his father. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” he said. “My dad is my hero, and he’s a legend in my book. The man taught me everything I know. He’s a great man, and he was willing to help anybody and everybody.”

“He made a lot of other people realize that they can go out and start their own business, especially in the Black community, where a lot of people don’t realize that they could be entrepreneurs,” Jon said.

https://www.westport-news.com/
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October 04 - October 11, 2021
Used car lots have less inventory as demand for used cars remains hot.

Used Car Market on Fire

The used vehicle market is on fire again, spiking 5.3% in September, after 3 months of declines. The report comes from Manheim, the largest auto auction operator in the U.S.

Several factors are a play causing an increase in demand of used vehicles and the spike in prices. First, tight supplies of new vehicles due to chip shortages and factory closures resulting from the covid crisis. Normal supply for used retail is about 44 days of sales. In September used retail supply was 37 days. Wholesales supply, which normally is 23 days, was 18 days.

The low supply is also a result of a sharp decline in sales at auctions by the three largest categories of sellers in the wholesale market – rental vehicles, off-lease vehicles and repo companies selling repos. Since rental companies are having a harder time getting their hands on new vehicles, they are holding their rental cars longer. For the repo business, low lending rates and a moratorium on repos during the covid crisis have reduced the numbers of cars at used car auctions.

Further augmenting used car sales is the federal stimulus money disbursed over the last year and a half. The covid crisis has created a “wealth effect” leading people to be flush with cash and willing to pay whatever price for a used vehicle as dealers make record gross profits along the way.

In a telling sign, although it is often assumed that resale value of a new car plummets once sold, resale value of a 1-year old car is up 25%, over $7,759 according to Cox Automotive.

https://wolfstreet.com/

Raising Awareness for [b]Tower Safety

Tow truck drivers from across the Northwest joined in a memorial ride to remember Raymond Mitchell who was hit and killed on I-5 last month. Mitchell was pinned against his tow truck when the rear trailer of a log truck swerved and struck him. The young father was only 33.

“We’re all in this together,” tow truck driver Cory Wells told KOIN 6 News. “We want to go home, too. Slow down and move over.”

The memorial ride for Mitchell began and ended at a casino, where there were food carts. All the proceeds went to help the Mitchell family.

https://www.koin.com/

Nonconsensual Towing Fees [b]May Rise in Auburn, Ala.

In Auburn, Ala., nonconsensual towing fees may be on the rise as the Auburn City Council mulls an amendment coming up for vote on Oct. 19. According to David Dorton, director of public affairs for the city, fees haven’t gone up since 2008.

Proposed changes would raise nonconsensual towing fees from a $100 maximum towing fee to a $150 maximum fee, and the maximum wheel locking fee would be raised from $50 to $75.

Passage requires unanimous consent by the Council before moving to a vote and a public hearing before the amendment can be voted on. However, not all council members are in agreement, such as councilperson Tommy Dawson.

“I want to make sure it’s fair to everybody involved, especially somebody visiting Auburn with their kids and not know they have to pay $150 to get their car back,” Dawson said. “$150 to get your car back seems a little excessive to me.”

Dawson said he believes the City Council should reconsider the dollar amount of increased fees and feels a middle ground of $125 would be more balanced for the vehicle owner.

https://oanow.com/

Tow License Revoked

Victoria council has revoked the business license of a tow-truck driver who staff say operated with “misleading business practices.” City staff recommended revoking the licence of John Mueller, as I-Tow Group, because, they say, he has “demonstrated a disregard for city bylaws.”

Mueller is accused of repeatedly overcharging people, failing to adequately identify his ¬vehicle and failing to display fees charged for vehicles towed.

In April, he pleaded guilty to five charges and entered into a provincial court order with several conditions, such as properly marking his vehicles with his business name and phone number, and prominently displaying fees charged where towing occurs. City staff say he has not fully complied with that order and he has avoided attempts by bylaw staff to inspect his company.

Bylaw manager Shannon Perkins told councillors on Thursday staff recommended the licence be revoked after “having exhausted all other avenues to gain voluntary compliance.” She said the public is not being given clear information about where their towed vehicle has been taken and how much they will be charged.

Hans Doehring, Mueller’s lawyer, painted a picture of a successful small business owner of more than three decades, working in a business where people tend to complain. “Nobody likes to get their vehicle towed,” Doehring said. “So, in that sense, complaints are exaggerated, and they’re angry, and they’re quite frustrating for the individuals admitted, but the complaints are from disgruntled people who had their car towed from where they were parking.”

Doehring said his client is concerned about “selective enforcement,” and argued tow-truck competitors have similar issues with their signs. Doehring accused Perkins of not giving Mueller opportunity to respond to allegations of non-compliance with bylaws before suspending his licence in July.

Perkins countered with a list of attempts by bylaw services on three separate dates to notify Mueller of an inspection of his towing business to determine whether he was complying with conditions of his court order.

https://www.timescolonist.com/

NYPD Officers Plead [b]Guilty to Tow Truck Scheme

Three former New York Police Department officers have pleaded guilty in two bribery schemes, the Department of Justice said in a press release on Oct.7. Robert Hassett, Heather Busch and Robert Smith all acknowledged their roles in the "Tow Truck Scheme," in which they were paid to direct damaged vehicles to a certain tow truck company, and the "Victim Database Scheme," in which they sold crash victims' personal information.

On Oct.7, Hassett became the third officer involved in the schemes to plead guilty, admitting to investigators his role in accepting bribes between 2016 and 2017 and 2019 to 2020, the press release said. Busch pleaded guilty on August 5 and Smith pleaded guilty on Oct. 6. Both Busch and Smith admitted to investigators that they accepted multiple forms of bribes, the press release said. Smith also admitted to attempting to distribute at least one kilogram of heroin.

"The defendants' guilty pleas to accepting bribes are also acknowledgements that they abused the public trust and dishonored the NYPD by their actions," Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said Thursday.

According to investigators, Hassett and Smith took bribes in 2016 and 2017 to refer vehicles that had been in accidents to a specific tow truck company, going directly against NYPD procedures. When Smith retired in March 2020, he "recruited" Busch, who continued the scheme after he left, according to the press release.

Smith faces up to 25 years in prison for bribery and attempt to distribute heroin charges. Hassett and Busch could serve up to 5 years in prison with their sole bribery charge.

https://www.cbsnews.com/

Tower Encounters Barrage of Bullets 

In Durham, N.C., on 9/26, a tow truck driver was shot at by a man after an argument ensued between the two.   

The tower said 33-year-old John Faltass fired 30 shots at him. He was in the process of delivering a vehicle to the location when Faltass, the registered owner of the car, started a verbal argument. Faltass then became “physically combative with the tow truck driver,” the sheriff’s office said. The tow truck driver tried to leave when multiple shots were fired by Faltass, the sheriff’s office said.  

The victim then ran into nearby woods and called for assistance. Faltass then fired more shots at the truck, officials said. 

Durham County deputies responded to the scene and arrested Faltass without incident. The tow truck driver was not injured. Faltass was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, injury to personal property, simple assault, and communicating threats. 

https://www.cbs17.com/

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October 04 - October 11, 2021

Clean Up On Aisle 69

cleanup1 d8600
By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Around 12 noon on June 25, 2021, the Henderson County Sheriff dispatched Tri-State Towing and Recovery to respond to a multiple vehicle accident on Interstate 69 in Robards, Kentucky.

Heavy operator Lance Wayne informed, “We were told a vac truck had crossed the median of Interstate 69 at the 140-mile marker and a tractor-trailer was in the ditch just south of that. We were dispatched for the tractor-trailer and another company was getting the vac truck.”

Tri-State dispatched operators Frank Hammond in their 2020 Kenworth T880 with an NRC 50/65 65-ton sliding rotator, Lance Wayne in their 2018 Kenworth with an NRC 50/65 65-ton sliding rotator, Steve Bell 2001 Kenworth with an NRC 50/65 65-ton sliding rotator and Gary Crawford with a 2018 Ford F150 and traffic control unit.

When Lance, Frank and Steve arrived on scene, they found a tractor-trailer on its side through the guardrail lying on the passenger side. Lance had been the first to arrive, so when he saw that the trailer loaded with plastic pellets was destroyed, he called the shop and requested the roll-offs, the vacuum and mini excavator.

Stephen Payne was the operator of the 2020 Bobcat mini excavator, Mike Jones drove the 2012 Freightliner with the rolloff trailer and Kale English, Eric Crawford, along with Lance’s young son Luke Wayne were on scene as laborers.

“Hazelwood Towing handled the vac truck themselves as we worked the rollover at the same time. It was north of us,” advised Lance. “We took two rotators and unhooked the tractor to get the unit out of the way. We set up lane closer cones signs and arrow boards so the highway did not have to be closed and everyone was able to work in one lane for safety.”

After they removed the tractor, they began to vacuum up the product in the front half of trailer that was broken away and then loaded it on their Landoll trailer. They loaded the trailer tandems on the rollback then vacuumed the product into the roll-offs container. Once the trailer was empty, Frank and Lance grabbed the rest of trailer and loaded it onto another Landoll trailer.

“We worked until approximately 1 a.m. to finish the recovery and clean-up,” stated Lance. “We came back the next day and cleaned up the brush and ditch line and what debris that was left from the accident.”

Tri-State Towing and Recovery, based in Evansville, Ind., started as Rideout's Service Center in Henderson, Kentucky. They have been serving their area for over 35 years. With locations in Evansville, Indiana and Henderson, Kentucky they cover a large area and provide a variety of services. At their Henderson location, they offer full service automotive repair and maintenance on all makes and models, both foreign and domestic.

Hazelwood Towing & Recovery Inc., also based in Henderson, Kentucky, is owned by brothers Kevin and Kirk Hazelwood. The business, incorporated in 1996, handles light- through heavy-duty towing and recovery. They also offer 24-hour rollback and AAA service and work closely with the Henderson City/County Rescue Squad.

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!

Clothesline Aerator Recovery 

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By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti 

On August 19, 2021, Lisi’s Towing & Automotive Inc. received a call from a lawn care company informing them that one of their aerator machines went into a ditch while they were doing a job at a residence in Pleasantville, N.Y. 

Operators Tim Thomas and Tony Lapolla, both WreckMaster certified recovery specialists, responded with a 2006 Chevrolet 3500 with a Century 412 light-duty wrecker. The Century 412 has a low-profile recovery boom with two 8,000-pound worm winches and a 4,000-pound underlift with a 3-way pivoting L-arm system. Tim was the main rigger and scene coordinator on this job. 

Violet Lisi, Lisi’s Assistant Operations Manager informed, “When Tim and Tony arrived, they found their customer’s damaged and disabled aerator/spray machine located off of a residential lawn. It was positioned on a down-hill steep grade in a large drainage ditch approximately 100-feet from the residence driveway.” 

After surveying and assessing the situation, Tim and Tony decided on the clothesline method to recover the aerator. To successfully move the aerator, they calculated the resistance and distance. Knowing the working load limit of their equipment, the team positioned the Century 412 light-duty recovery unit in the residence driveway. It was steadied with wood shoring planks and the hydraulic rear stabilizer. Then, the recovery boom was elevated and fully extended with 130-feet of winch line deployed. 

The lawn care customer’s utility trailer was disconnected from their pickup truck and was manually positioned at the end of the residence driveway behind the Century 412 recovery unit into a position to load the aerator once it was lifted out of the ditch. Using an extension ladder, the team attached synthetic recovery slings approximately 25-feet midair onto a large tree. A running snatch block with chain bridle was attached onto the aerator. A second winch line with a directional snatch block was deployed to a large tree and back to the aerator. All of this was done to perform and execute the clothesline recovery. 

With all of the prep and rigging in place, the aerator was vertically lifted and simultaneously winched out from the drainage ditch, over a retaining wall and over a split rail fence. Once clear from the retaining wall and fence, they disconnected the directional snatch block and winched the suspended aerator to the recovery unit. 

Finally, the aerator was set onto the waiting utility trailer. Tim and Tony stowed away all equipment utilized in the recovery and the Century 412 was re-positioned to the road. 

Violet said, “The casualty aerator was secured to the utility trailer and the trailer was reconnected to the lawn care customer’s pickup truck. They transported it back to their company terminal.” 

______________________________________ 

Lisi’s Towing & Automotive Inc. of Brewster, N.Y., was founded in 1970 by Remo Lisi. Remo is retired, but the family tradition continues. His son Anthony Lisi now runs the day-to-day operation of the business with his son Anthony Lisi Jr. (Operations Manager) and daughter Violet M. Lisi (Assistant Operations Manager). Lisi’s provides all services from simple roadside repair or an elaborate transportation operation to heavy recovery to the tri-state area.  

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! 

Camper Recovery

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by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On July 27, 2021, Big Wheel Towing & Recovery received a call from the Mass. State Police to respond immediately to a large rolled-over camper on Rte. 195E in the vicinity of exit #17 in Westport, Mass.

Big Wheel owner Eric Fouquette informed, “They stated that the camper trailer in question was being towed behind an SUV when the unit began to sway uncontrollably as it was being towed down the highway. As a result, the SUV lost control, impacted the steel guardrail system, and rolled over several times before coming to rest in the center median strip. During the overturning process, the large camper trailer became detached from the SUV and flipped over in the middle of the highway before sliding and coming to rest blocking all three travel lanes on the eastbound side. They are very lucky nobody got killed. The SUV flipped a few times, not the camper.”

Eric, along with operators Nathaniel Wing and Kevin Whittle responded with their 2017 Peterbilt 589 with a Century 1150R 50-ton rotator, a Landoll tractor-trailer unit and their Rapid Response HAZMAT / Isuzu Traffic Control Unit to assist with the cleanup operations and roadway closure. Big Wheel big boss Bob Fouquette was on scene as well.

Eric explained. “Once our equipment and personnel were able to navigate through the gridlock traffic and access the scene, our traffic control unit was positioned at the rear of the crash scene and the LED arrowboard/advanced warning indicator was illuminated and raised in order to warn oncoming motorists of the incident ahead.”

Once they established a perimeter around the overturned camper trailer, they positioned and setup the Century 1150R rotator in front of the camper to begin the recovery. A heavy-duty recovery strap was installed around the camper trailer and ran back through the underside of the unit while an additional heavy-duty recovery strap was installed separately onto the underside of the camper trailer which would be used as a catch line. Once all of the necessary rigging was properly installed onto the overturned camper trailer, the operator rotated and extended the rotator's boom out towards the camper until it was directly overhead. Both of the upper winch lines were lowered down and attached to the rigging.

Eric explained, “The operator slowly began to apply upward tension onto one of the recovery straps, which began to upright the entire camper trailer. Once the camper trailer reached its natural tipping point, the operator utilized the other winch line to catch the weight of the camper trailer and slowly release the tension on that line which allowed for a gradual descent back down onto the pavement.”

With the camper trailer now upright, the next task was to load it onto the Landoll trailer. During the crash, the axles had twisted and the tongue had sustained damage, which prevented the camper trailer from being towed. The Landoll trailer was backed alongside the rotator and in front of the camper trailer. The Landoll trailer was then lowered down to the ground and the 1150R rotated the front of the camper trailer until it was facing completely forward. The rotator then elevated the front of the camper trailer so that it was on top of the Landoll trailer.

The winch located at the front of the Landoll was then attached to the front of the trailer and the Landoll and rotator worked in tandem to get the entire camper trailer up onto the Landoll. As the Landoll was winching the camper trailer up onto its deck, the rotator was simultaneously assisting with lifting the front of the camper trailer as well as rotating it up the remainder of the way. Once the camper trailer was completely onto the Landoll, it was secured for transport.

All of the rigging used was un-installed and placed back within the Century rotator. The large amount of debris which littered the roadway that had spilled from inside the camper was collected and placed into a DOT Approved HAZMAT drum. The entire roadway was blown off to ensure that no debris was left behind. At that time, the entire affected area was returned to its pre-accident condition and the roadway was re-opened to its full traffic capacity.

“The camper trailer was then transported back to our Freetown storage facility. Once there, our heavy-duty front end loader was used to assist with offloading the camper trailer from our Landoll. After the camper trailer was offloaded, our loader was used to place it into storage,” stated Eric. “Just a little recovery at the end of the day with Nathaniel Wing and Kevin Whittle. Even had my dad out there helping. Great jobs guys. Thank you for the help as always.”

Big Wheel Towing & Recovery, located in East Freetown, Mass., is one of the largest and most respected towing and recovery companies in New England. Bob Fouquette started his family business in 1980 and now has three generations actively working including his sons Eric and David. Their extensive fleet of over 30 pieces of equipment and numerous other units, painted in their signature yellow, are familiar sites on the highways of the Northeast.

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!
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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.
October 04 - October 11, 2021

Critical FMCSA Updates for 2022

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By Brian J Riker

As towers we often forget we are also fully regulated interstate motor carriers in many instances. This causes trouble for the average tow boss when new regulations are proposed or enacted without their knowledge. We do our best to track and report on these changes to help keep you compliant. There are two key changes for 2022 that may become problematic for towers with CDL drivers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had delayed implementation of the Training Provider Registry and Entry Level Driver Training Requirements, which were to become effective in 2019, until February 7, 2022. This regulation requires states to have proof of entry level driver training provided by a listed provider before granting a new commercial driver license or upgrading class of CDL for any applicant beginning the process after February 7th. This will also be required for adding passenger, school bus or hazardous materials endorsements to an existing CDL.

What this means for towers is any driver that you hire without a CDL then want to help them obtain one will need training by a listed provider, which typically will be a full school. There is no workable exception for in-house training, even motor carrier provided CDL training will need to meet the entry level requirements. This has the potential to add time delays and financial burdens to your operation if you do your own training to create CDL licensed drivers.

Another CDL related regulation that is going into effect on November 8, 2021, with a state mandated compliance date of November 18, 2024, requires each state to not renew, transfer, process or issue a new CDL/CLP to any CDL driver that has had a positive drug or alcohol test result, or failure to test reported to the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse without completing the return to duty process. This regulation also requires the states to downgrade (remove the CDL privilege) from any driver that fails to complete the return to duty process.

This regulation is the latest attempt by the FMCSA to remove unsafe drivers from our roadways. Currently there are over 100,000 drivers reported to the Clearinghouse as disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle due to a drug or alcohol test. Of those, more than 95,000 have not even started the return to duty process which means they could still be operating a commercial motor vehicle without proving a negative drug or alcohol result or receiving treatment for their condition. This new regulation aims to prevent that by removing their CDL privileges until they have proven they are no longer out of compliance with the drug or alcohol requirements.

Where this could have a negative effect on towers is if you hire a CDL driver without checking their history in the Clearinghouse (as required by current law) then their CDL is suspended or downgraded without your knowledge. Not only could you have employed a driver with a serious problem, but you could face severe fines or other penalties for allowing them to operate a CMV. Keep in mind, although drug and alcohol testing is not required for non-CDL drivers it could be argued that a downgraded CDL driver, when downgraded for a drug or alcohol issue, should not be allowed to operate any commercial vehicle, even the little trucks that don’t require a CDL but still are DOT regulated.`

Credit Card Machines: A Thing of the Past

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By Randall C. Resch

In a dusty ole’ box, deep in storage, I discovered an old-style credit card machine similar to those mounted at the pumps of Dad’s gas station. I thought this a fun opportunity to peek back as to what services, processes, and technologies were available to towers forty-year’s ago compared to today’s market.

On the contrary, they weren’t “machines” as known in the current sense as these manual devices weren’t power operated. If you worked in a gas station back then, you’ll remember credit card machines as large, clunky, number adjusting, slide handled devices that were part of the island’s cash drawer.

With the customer’s card in-hand, machines mechanically rolled over the card’s raised numbers and info on to a three-inch by seven-inch, multi-sheet form, typically bearing the company’s logo and info. The form’s top copy was “tracing paper,” followed by the same size sheet of carbon paper. The bottom sheet was the thickness of business card stock.

The form and the customer’s credit card laid into an elongated slot where the user adjusted rows of sliding numbers to reflect the purchase amount. Once the form was seated and amount set, the user operated the machine’s slide handle right to left.

With little effort, rollers rolled-over raised numbers leaving the card numbers and customer’s name embossed through carbon-paper. To complete the transaction, the customer received the only the top copy. The carbon and hard copy were turned in.

When it came to day-to-day use, all of my tow trucks and the dispatch office had portable machines. Once considered state of the art (beyond hand printing), these machines were awkward to use and required diligent inspection to ensure the credit card’s raised numbers were visible and complete.

Honestly, I hated using them, yet there were no chips to deal with and no plug-in modules; they didn't stall and a server wouldn't go down. They were problematic in the rain and when stored under the tow truck's seat, dust caused even more problems.

Looking Back

While there’s not much history as to where credit card machines originated, business historians suggest credit card machines morphed out of a need to formalize countertop banking transactions. My research didn’t determine a better explanation, but lore suggested, in 1949, a businessman forgot his wallet and couldn’t pay his client’s dinner. Out of an embarrassing situation came “Diner’s Club,” where merchants retained the card’s information and customers were charged.

Once transactions were completed, if the company’s employee wrongly tossed trashed the carbon copy, an enterprising thief could rifle the trash, retrieve discarded carbon sheets and gain access to credit card information. Forgery became a cottage industry.

Here’s Your Reward

Because credit card forgery was easy business, Dad’s station had this “phone book-sized” manifest listing stolen credit card numbers. Part of every transaction’s process required the station’s attendants to watch for stolen cards that were listed in the manifest. If a card was listed as stolen, the finder received a $5 reward in their weekly paycheck … cha’ ching!

Credit card machines had their problems, but when they worked, they worked well and were far better than trying to cipher a driver's scribbled printing. But as we all know, they went the way of the dinosaur as technology marched on. For a fun look at what the process was about, watch the movie “The Jerk” and see what I’m talking about.
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Operations Editor Randall C. Resch is a retired California police officer and veteran tow business owner, manager, consultant and trainer. For 51-years, he has been involved in the towing and recovery industry. In 24-years, he has contributed more than 625-articles for American Towman Magazine and TowIndustryWeek.com. He was inducted to the International Towing and Recovery Industry Hall of Fame and was the 3rd recipient of the industry's, "Dave Jones Leadership Award." Email Randy at rreschran@gmail.com.

Unified Carrier Registration Updated 

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By Brian J Riker 

Perhaps you have heard of the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) before but were unsure if it applies to your towing company, or maybe you are based in a non-participating state and slightly confused. Either way, below are some basics on the UCR program and its applicability to towers. 

UCR is a program administered by the UCR Board to monitor interstate motor carriers, truck rental companies and Brokers of Property for compliance with the Federal insurance and operating authority requirements. In its simplest form UCR applies to anyone that operates a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce. The catch is how they define a commercial vehicle. 

Commercial vehicle is defined as a self-propelled vehicle used on the highways in commerce principally to transport passengers or cargo, if the vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of at least 10,001 pounds, whichever is greater; or when connected to trailing equipment has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of at least 10,001 pounds, whichever is greater; or carries placarded amounts of hazardous materials, regardless of the vehicle’s weight; or is designed to carry more than 10 passengers, including the driver. 

What this means to towers is most all of your on-highway vehicles will be qualified under the UCR Plan if you engage in any interstate commerce. As I have discussed in previous articles, most towers do engage in interstate commerce almost daily given the broad definition of interstate commerce which includes any trade or traffic originating from out of state, destined for out of state or even part of the traffic within one state that is known to have originated or be destined for out of state. This is what gets even the local tower, when servicing an out of state motorist it is known, or likely to be known that they are from out of state or are leaving the state. 

Yes, emergency services ordered by law enforcement and some disabled or wrecked vehicles may be exempt from Federal regulation, but there are plenty of instances where the vehicle or its cargo are not exempt; it is my recommendation to always error on the side of caution when dealing with compliance issues that could place a company or vehicle out of service. 

The 2022 UCR registration period is scheduled to open on October 1, 2021 and registration must be completed no later than December 31, 2021. Enforcement will begin on January 1, 2022 and can result in significant fines. If you are an interstate motor carrier (have a US DOT number registered as interstate) roadside enforcement officers may check for compliance. Fees are based on the number of qualified vehicles a carrier operates and you may exclude vehicles used solely in intrastate operations. Fees are tier based and range from $59 for 0-2 vehicles up to $56,977 for over 1,000 vehicles. 

All but ten states participate in UCR. If you are based in one of these ten states and engage in interstate commerce you must register for UCR using a neighboring state to be in compliance. 

Lastly, don’t fall for the unsolicited letters and emails you receive over the next few months. You do not need to pay a service to file UCR for you. It is an easy online application with nothing but a small credit card convenience fee. UCR can be filed online at their official website www.ucr.gov  

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October 04 - October 11, 2021

The Show Must Go On

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By George L. Nitti

With a 2021 Kenworth T880 NRC 40 TB Bed enroute to TowXpo San Antonio, and sporting a fresh killer wrap designed by Juls of B & B Signs, Michael Budzinski of Tri-City Towing of Pflugerville, Texas was moving along the center lane of highway 35 at 70 mph when suddenly his front passenger side tire blew.

Budzinski said, “Body parts were flying everywhere. We got it off the side of the highway.”

Fortunately, Budzinski was driving alongside other company tow operators, including owner Mark Chapla, who came to the rescue with his truck that was also an entry in the Xpo’s USA Wrecker Pageant.

Just another day in the life of a tower with all its twists and turns.

The semi-beaten up bed was already entered in the carrier class category but the damage was done. Despite all the work invested in upgrading its tires, fenders and bumper. Despite the cleaning, polishing and detailing of the exterior/interior. Despite all the time it takes to ready one’s unit for intense competition.

Result: no trophy this year for Budzinki’s rollback, done in a glittering patina wrap, with its arresting colors of aqua and rust pulling the eye of any onlooker caught staring in its direction.

“As for the color, it all depends on how the sun hits it. Sometimes its teal. Sometimes aqua. But if you ask me, it’s more like a sea green.”

The design itself, which also includes a rusted theme, was a trait that was in accord with Budzinski’s liking.

“I was split between the Texas and American Flag or the rusted theme. Mark gave me the choice on what to put on the truck,” Budzinski said. “I went for something different, something that stands out and is like no other tow truck.”

Including the creative flair of the tri-city name found on the side doors, popping out in yellow against its teal background.

Winning isn’t everything, although Budzinski laments that there was a time when two trophies were given. And that the work of prepping a wrecker doesn’t stop with a pageant.

Indeed, the show must go on.


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!

Uplifting to the Sky 

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By George L. Nitti 

At TowXpo San Antonio, in the 2021 USA Wrecker Pageant, several units vied for Best in Working Class, the winner Commercial Towing Services of Buda, Texas. Tow owner Jonathan Cleaver said, “We were shocked to have won. There were many beautiful trucks.” 

Winning though wasn’t accidental, as several factors came into play to sway judges’ opinions. One factor is cleanliness and how well the truck is groomed. Cleaver said, “We pulled it about a week ahead of time and did a lot of work prepping it.” 

With 54,000 miles, their 2020 Kenworth W990 Century 1150 rotator with 5 winches and a kneeboom (a new style underlift) still looks brand new. Cleaver acknowledges there was some anxiety about its steep cost when he purchased it, but that the investment has paid off. 

He said, “Either we purchased it or our local competitors would have moved in and performed these big jobs.” 

In addition to babying the rotator by keeping it spotless, the company did a make-over of their graphics, leaving it up to the creative freedom of The Print Shop/Wrap Genius of Georgetown, Texas to provide that “Wow” factor that Cleaver knew was essential. 

“We realized we needed something that popped. Prior, our logo and graphics were simple that included only riveted sheet metal with text,” he said. “The Print Shop proposed making changes. Now we get compliments on the truck every day.” 

One “Wow” factor is the bright, cheery yellow striping that emanates upward on the unit’s front side, as if the sun were rising, casting its rays in all directions. The yellow clearly brightens and turns heads and is further accented on the rear and side outriggers along with other key spots. 

Adding juxtaposition next to the vibrant yellow are the more grounded gray and black features that include striping and lettering. This contrast is clearly visible in the company’s name, written large on the side of the rotator, the word “Towing” popping out in creative yellow lettering while “Commercial” is written in a more straightforward black lettering. 

Completing this uplifting design is a hook with dollar symbols inside. Yes, nothing like the sound of “Ka-Ching” when the call comes to move that rotator’s potential from the garage to the bank. 

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! 

Somber Themed Patriotic Wrap 

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By George L. Nitti 

When tow owner Tommy Gass of Gass Auto of Santa Fe, Texas was in the market for a rotator, his driver Eric Dierdorff knew that he was interested in a wrap that had a military theme, but one that was more understated.  

Turning to the graphics team at Siddons-Martin, which specializes in outfitting fire trucks, Gass and Dierdorff worked together for a couple of weeks with their graphic designer to come up with an eye-catching, subtly decorated, patriotic theme on their 2021 Kenworth T880 with a Jerr Dan 50/60. 

Packing significant punch on the side of the rotator is a bright, red, white and blue, stars and striped American Flag - simply embedded in the “Gass” part of the company name, over a black outline of the United States.  

“I definitely wanted the flag incorporated, but didn’t want it all over the truck,” said Dierdorf. “It’s the same logo we have on our other trucks, but without the flag.” 

That same colorful logo, although small, also stands out against the unit’s red background on the side doors. Towards the backend of the rotator, the same “Gass” name appears, but understated, in black and white, without the flag. 

As a former fire fighter and a member of a motorcycle club promoting awareness of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), Dierdorff was also intent on including a soldier kneeling before a helmet-topped rifle stuck in the ground.  

A powerful and enduring image found on other military themed wraps, this is a tribute to soldiers killed in battle, symbolizing loss and closure for the surviving soldiers as they honor their comrades who sacrificed their lives for their country.  

Across the rotator, other soldiers are found in silhouette, as the crimson red background provides a somewhat darker themed twist on patriotism.

The subtle flavors of the faded, black scripted words from the American Constitution run their way across the unit and are further enhanced by contrasting areas of torn out metal and marble mesh background. 

Somberly rendered, this wrap particularly stands out at night, with reflective lettering.  

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! 

October 04 - October 11, 2021

Lifting & 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.

Series G2 Wireless Remote Kit from Warn

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The WARN Series G2 winches are made for industrial applications. Now, they also have the ability to be controlled wirelessly with this versatile wireless remote kit.

This control solution can be easily integrated into 12-volt and 24-volt WARN Series G2 winches. The easy bolt-on solution provides users the ability to securely mount the receiver directly to the winch’s control pack.

The system features easy plug-and-play installation and lets users effortlessly control the winch from up to 50’ (15.2m) away for increased winching options. The system is sealed for protection against the elements providing exceptional reliability. Plus, a two-color LED provides clear operator feedback, and the two-button activation sequence guards against accidental power-ups.

The kit includes a wireless transmitter, receiver, holster, mounting bracket, and hardware.

For more information, visit www.warn.com

EZ SPARE WHEEL


whybuy 11d0aThe wheel engineering design team, having extensive experience producing premium aftermarket wheels, created a patented and proprietary design and manufacturing process for a spare wheel and used the OEM recommended tire sizes and matched them with the specified rolling diameters required for specific vehicles. Company engineers made sure the recommended size would not put any excess strain on the vehicle’s drive train. Also, brake caliper clearance measurements and a range of specific bolt patterns were utilized to achieve the perfect fit for thousands of types of various years of vehicles.

Features

  • 30% lighter than the traditional steel donut spares
  • Made of a high-quality aluminum
  • Can travel greater distances than the recommended factory spares
  • Carry a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty and will most likely outlive most vehicles
  • Solid proven track record of providing a quality spare wheel and tire
For more information on this product, visit https://ezsparewheel.com/
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October 04 - October 11, 2021
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October 04 - October 11, 2021
The demand for used cars spiked in September.

Used Car Market on Fire

The used vehicle market is on fire again, spiking 5.3% in September, after 3 months of declines. The report comes from Manheim, the largest auto auction operator in the U.S.

Several factors are a play causing an increase in demand of used vehicles and the spike in prices. First, tight supplies of new vehicles due to chip shortages and factory closures resulting from the covid crisis. Normal supply for used retail is about 44 days of sales. In September used retail supply was 37 days. Wholesales supply, which normally is 23 days, was 18 days.

The low supply is also a result of a sharp decline in sales at auctions by the three largest categories of sellers in the wholesale market – rental vehicles, off-lease vehicles and repo companies selling repos. Since rental companies are having a harder time getting their hands on new vehicles, they are holding their rental cars longer. For the repo business, low lending rates and a moratorium on repos during the covid crisis have reduced the numbers of cars at used car auctions.

Further augmenting used car sales is the federal stimulus money disbursed over the last year and a half. The covid crisis has created a “wealth effect” leading people to be flush with cash and willing to pay whatever price for a used vehicle as dealers make record gross profits along the way.

In a telling sign, although it is often assumed that resale value of a new car plummets once sold, resale value of a 1-year old car is up 25%, over $7,759 according to Cox Automotive.

https://wolfstreet.com/

Repo Agent Killed in Oakland, Ca.

 Tim Nielsen, a repossession agent for Any Capital Recovery Inc., was shot and killed in Oakland, Ca., on 6/14 while working on assignment.  

According to Nielsen’s boss and friend Lerron Payne, he was shot at an intersection writing a report in his truck. He then managed to drive away, but crashed into a building in East Oakland, a couple of blocks away.  

Payne said, “He wasn’t even hooking a car. Everything went south. It’s a rough industry, don’t get me wrong but this is pretty much the extreme.” 

Family and friends described Tim Nielsen, a father to four, as their rock and their hero. 

“This is a man that I can say gave unconditional love to everyone and all he ever wanted to do was help people. That was his dream, his purpose in life,” said Jennifer Huff-Wensmann, the victim’s girlfriend. 

Oakland police said no one has been arrested in the case. They are looking at all possibilities, from a random attack to the possibility it was related to a repo assignment. 

https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com

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/
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