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Unit “boldly goes where few tow trucks have gone before”
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Detroit City Council Upholds Bans

The Detroit (Michigan) City Council voted to uphold bans on several local towing companies and their owners from doing business with the city, April 16.

City officials in May 2018 suspended Detroit tow companies Javion & Sam’s, Gene’s Towing and B&G Towing from the tow rotation after former Detroit Inspector General James Heath wrote a letter to Mayor Mike Duggan alleging the firms were secretly owned by towing magnate Gasper Fiore.

Heath barred Fiore and Boulevard & Trumbull from doing business with the city for 20 years. He also barred Fiore's ex-wife Joan Fiore, listed owner for Javion & Sons, and daughter Jennifer Fiore for 15 years each.

Also barred by Heath: Gasper and Joan Fiore's other daughter, Jessica Lucas, for 10 years; Paul Ott, Gene’s Towing Inc. and City Wide Towing Inc. for seven years; and Anthony Thomas and B&G Towing for seven years.

In response to council's vote, David Fraser, an attorney for Thomas and B&G Towing, said in a statement that members were "misled and misinformed" and vigorously denied that Fiore owns B&G.

Source: detroitnews.com.

How to Spot a Wrecker in Trouble: With AT Operations Editor Randy Resch

Low-Clearance Lifting Made Easy

o 2d001By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti Ever since they were introduced to the towing industry, rotators have become legendary for recovery work and a required piece of equipment by many highway authorities. They are worth their weight in gold, but keeping them busy is a priority. ’Tators are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in many fleets. Besides the recovery work, they are used for moving and loading heavy equipment, landscape design, setting and removing generators, air conditioning units and many other uses.

Such was the case on April 9, 2019, when Advanced Towing & Recovery of Honolulu, Hawaii, was called to handle the delicate lift and placement of a very large fiberglass tank in a tight space.

When owner Kenneth Tom was called to handle this tank it was another task to be handled.

“We performed this lift at the Honolulu Airport,” Tom said. “We were called out by the general contractor Watts Constructors. We've done multiple lifts for them and other contractors on this project.”

Kenny responded with “Da HIM,” his 2008 Kenworth T-800 with a 2012 NRC 60/80SR Heavy Incident Manager rotator. This mammoth unit with an 80-ton capacity is an oversize version of NRC’s Slider System, with a gigantic V-shaped boom and 60,000-lbs. planetary winches. This beast has a boom reach of 485”.

Tom has been certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators since 2005 and is also a WreckMaster 8/9R. Also rigging and assisting on this job were Operations Manager Al Pico (WreckMaster 6/7) and Neil Crabtree.

“It was a fiberglass tank with a water separator system built in,” Tom said. “Before seeing what we could do and what we had to offer, they had no idea on how they were going to get this tank into the ground due to the low clearances, the size of the excavation required and the size and weight of the tank. It was a 30,000-gallon tank that measured 53-feet long, was 11-feet in diameter, and weighed 19,700-pounds.”

The tank had been brought in on a trailer. Tom had backed the Da HIM ’tator in behind the tank. After surveying the situation, he boomed out over the center point of the tank and the Advanced team climbed up a ladder to rig the tank for lifting off of the trailer.

Da HIM is equipped with Samson K-100 synthetic rope. Made from a combination of high-performance fibers, K-100 is 80-percent lighter than the wire rope it replaces.

With its reach and lifting capabilities, Da HIM was able the lift the tank and place it in the tight space that the construction crew had thought was impossible.

“Da HIM making them believers after offloading and setting this separator tank at 35-feet off the side under the airport overpass,” said Tom, “Mahalo!”

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!

Blasting Off!

In two weeks, the American Towman Show season begins, blasting out of the gate with its first stop in Las Vegas, Nevada.

We’ve got some great things lined up across all three shows this year: Education, training, networking events, concerts, awards—you name it, it’s all there.

Though we won’t be in Baltimore this year (only), there is a lot of excitement brewing for Atlantic City. I remember when we had the show two years in a row in “AC,” and they were both very successful. I don’t doubt for a second that this year will be any different.

(Maybe I’ll get a chance to get to my favorite restaurant down there, Kelsey & Kim’s Southern Café; or maybe even the nightclub they own, Kelsey’s AC on Pacific Ave. But enough about me.)

There’s going to be a lot more for attendees to see. Booth space sales have increased, so attendees will not lack for opportunities to make deals in any of our three show locations. By the way, our show dates are: American Towman ShowPlace in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 8-11 at the South Point Hotel & Casino; Tow Expo-Dallas at the Gaylord Texan Hotel Resort & Convention Center in Dallas, Texas, August 15-17; and the granddaddy of them all, the American Towman Exposition, December 4-8 at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

So here we go! The 2019 American Towman rocket is all fueled-up and ready to blast off! Come along for the ride!

--Charles Duke

Dynamic's 701 B

701series 01 hero f441bDynamic Towing Equipment & Mfg.’s 701 B features a wheel lift capacity of 5,000-lbs. and a tow capacity of 7,500-lbs. The company said the 701 series also offers the optional super-lightning body and has many of the same standard features of its 601 series. The 701 series also offers a frame fork attachment as an added option. The warranty on all 701 series wrecker units is three years with the option to purchase an extended 4th or 5th year warranty. Come see all that Dynamic has to offer at the American Towman ShowPlace, May 8-11, at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

dynamicmfg.com
By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge
I get most of my tow industry news via:
my phone
my laptop/desktop computer
local newspaper
radio/television
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Editor: Charles Duke
Managing Editor: Brendan Dooley
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203,
William Burwell x208, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
ATTV Technical Production: OMG National
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
American Towman Wire • 04-24-2019

Towman, Neighbors Rescue Man from Lake Conroe

Authorities say a man drove his Jeep into Lake Conroe in Willis, Texas. The driver was reportedly backing out from a home when he backed down the boat ramp and into the lake. By the time officials arrived, a neighbor had jumped into the water and used a hammer to break the passenger window so the driver could escape. The driver said he came home from church and pulled into the garage. That's when he said he accidentally put the car in neutral and it started going down the ramp into the water. He said he couldn't get the doors or windows to work because the car was off. A towman from Jason Adamick's Wrecker Service had to swim to the vehicle with heavy cable and chains and go underwater to hook it to a tow truck. Source: abc13.com.

Towman Critically Injured in Hit-and-Run Crash

State police are asking for the public's help in a hit-and-run crash that critically injured a towman along I-95 in Henrico County, Virginia, Saturday evening. Troopers were called to the crash on northbound I-95 north of the Parham Road exit just after 5:20 p.m., according to Sgt. Keeli L. Hill with Virginia State Police. "The preliminary investigation reveals that the wrecker driver was assisting a disabled 2019 Newmar RV located on the right shoulder when he was struck by a vehicle," Hill said. "The striking vehicle did not stop and may have continued northbound I-95 or took the exit to I-295." The tower was transported to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries, Hill said. Source: wtvr.com.

Allison Acquires Vantage Power and EV Systems

Allison Transmission announced that it has purchased Vantage Power and AxleTech’s electric vehicle (EV) systems division. Both of these acquisitions will complement Allison’s existing capabilities to advance electrification adoption in commercial vehicles. Vantage Power is a London-based technology company specializing in developing electrified propulsion and connected vehicle technologies for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers. Technology company AxleTech designs, engineers, manufactures, sells and services axles and integrated electrified axle solutions for on- and off-highway heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Source: businesswire.com.


Don't Miss It!
Liquid debris cleanup is an untapped revenue resource for towers as first responders. “Billing for Liquid Debris Cleanup” seminar will also address the law and regulation, dealing with the insurer, proper cleanup and getting paid. Join Jim Figueira of Environmental Chemical Solutions for this informative seminar taking place during Tow Industry Week at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Friday, May 10 at 9 a.m. atshowplace.com

atshowplace.com
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April 24 - April 30, 2019
Lobbyists Brooks Ellison and Kirk Blackburn (left and second from left) of Ellison, Whalen & Blackburn, Joanne Blyton (third from left) of TRAA’s Legislative Advocacy Network, and Sam Johnson (right) of CTTA’s Towing Regulatory Oversight Council, will address the “Working With Legislators Conference,” taking place during Tow Industry Week in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 9.

Legislators Conference, [b]TIM Training in Las Vegas

The “Working With Legislators Conference,” taking place during Tow Industry Week in Las Vegas, Nevada, will be highly anticipated two-hour session for officers of state associations and tow company owners to attend.

Lobbyists Brooks Ellison and Kirk Blackburn of Ellison, Whalen & Blackburn, Joanne Blyton of TRAA’s Legislative Advocacy Network and Sam Johnson of CTTA’s Towing Regulatory Oversight Council will all give presentations centered on how the towing industry can be a more powerful voice in local, state and federal legislators.

Attendees will receive tools to effectively interact with your state legislators that will help get laws favorable to the towing profession passed.

Taking place the day before on May 8 will be the free four-hour Federal Highway Administration’s SHRP2 TIM Training. This multiagency incident management class is being required all over the US for towing providers that participate in law enforcement tow rotation. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to receive a Certificate for participating in an excellent hands-on training.

Jose Norena, Big Valley Towing in Las Vegas will facilitate the four-hour session, along with representatives from Nevada Highway Patrol, NDOT Maintenance, Las Vegas Fire Department and Parsons Transportation.

Both sessions will take place at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the SHRP 2/TIM Training on Wednesday, May 8 from 1-5 p.m. and the two-hour “Working With Legislators” Conference taking place May 9 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Source: AT Staff.

Hettmann Family Honored [b]at Awards Ceremony

Brown County’s (Wisconsin) Department of Public Safety honored the family of the towman killed on on I-41 in January. 

The family of Jesse “Bil” Hettmann received the “Citizen Award” at the 2019 National Public Safety Telecommunicators Award Ceremony, April 17. Hettmann died after stepping into traffic to remove a piece of wood on I-41 in Ashwaubenon.

Owners of Glenn’s 24HR Towing, the company Hettmann worked for, were also honored with the award. Hettmann’s name will be added to the International Towing & Recovery Museum’s “Wall of the Fallen” on October 12 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“I guess I don’t want to ever have to add another person to that wall … The fact that I had to add somebody, I’m glad they’re not going to be forgotten,” said Darrell Henninger, president of Glenn’s 24HR Towing. 
He plans to be at the ceremony in Tennessee in October. 

Source: wbay.com.

APTO/Miller Industries to [b]Hold Heavy-Duty Training

The Association of Professional Towers-Ohio invites towmen to join industry icon Tom Luciano for its annual two-day APTO/Miller Industries advanced heavy-duty training, June 11-12. 

Space is limited, so towmen are urged to secure reservations as soon as possible.

“Learn best practices from one of the industry’s most respected equipment instructors – both hands-on and classroom! Ideal for owners and heavy-duty drivers,” said an APTO release.

The event is sponsored by Miller Industries and Matheny Tow Trucks and will take place at Crowne Plaza in Middleburg Heights. Matheny Tow Trucks will host a free happy hour, June 11, at 7 p.m.

To RSVP, tickets can be purchased at aptohio.com.

Source: aptohio.com.

Police Use Drone for [b]‘Move Over’ Enforcement

An Illinois sheriff has shared unique drone footage showing just how quickly and efficiently they are pulling over drivers who fail to move over for emergency vehicles.

On April 15, the Clark County (Illinois) Sheriff’s Office shared a video clip featuring a major “Move Over” or “Scott’s Law” enforcement detail. In the video, you can see police pulling over a semi and a passenger vehicle.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office says that they caught 10 drivers in violation of Scott’s Law in just two hours. Law enforcement agencies across Illinois are ramping up Scott’s Law enforcement after 16 state troopers were hit by vehicles while performing traffic stops just this year. Three of those troopers did not survive.

Source: cdllife.com.

It Takes 10 Robot [b]Dogs to Tow a Truck

Boston Dynamics has been producing impressive yet unsettling robots, often in vaguely humanoid or animalistic forms. One of their robots, a canine-like machine called SpotMini, will be available for sale later this year.

If you want to use these robots to tow trucks but aren’t sure how many you’ll need, Boston Dynamics has tested that. You’ll need to buy 10 of these dogbots to tow a truck, specifically a medium-sized box truck, up a 1-degree slope, with the truck in neutral.

Cost of the SpotMinis hasn’t been determined yet; however you can almost guarantee that 10 of them will be more than finding a used tow truck on Craigslist, and the tow truck will likely be faster.

Then again, that tow truck can’t split up into ten parts which can bring you drinks or break down doors or love you or whatever these robots are supposed to do, so there’s that.

Source: jalopnik.com.

Towman, Neighbors [b]Rescue Man from Lake

Authorities say a man drove his Jeep into Lake Conroe in Willis, Texas. The driver was reportedly backing out from a home when he backed down the boat ramp and into the lake. 

By the time officials arrived, a neighbor had jumped into the water and used a hammer to break the passenger window so the driver could escape. The driver said he came home from church and pulled into the garage.

That's when he said he accidentally put the car in neutral and it started going down the ramp into the water. He said he couldn't get the doors or windows to work because the car was off. 

The Jeep sank to the bottom of the Lake which was about eight feet. 

North Montgomery County Fire responded by both land and boat. 

A towman from Jason Adamick's Wrecker Service had to swim to the vehicle with heavy cable and chains and go underwater to hook it to a tow truck. 

Source: abc13.com.

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April 24 - April 30, 2019

Low-Clearance Lifting Made Easy

o 2d001By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti Ever since they were introduced to the towing industry, rotators have become legendary for recovery work and a required piece of equipment by many highway authorities. They are worth their weight in gold, but keeping them busy is a priority. ’Tators are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in many fleets. Besides the recovery work, they are used for moving and loading heavy equipment, landscape design, setting and removing generators, air conditioning units and many other uses.

Such was the case on April 9, 2019, when Advanced Towing & Recovery of Honolulu, Hawaii, was called to handle the delicate lift and placement of a very large fiberglass tank in a tight space.

When owner Kenneth Tom was called to handle this tank it was another task to be handled.

“We performed this lift at the Honolulu Airport,” Tom said. “We were called out by the general contractor Watts Constructors. We've done multiple lifts for them and other contractors on this project.”

Kenny responded with “Da HIM,” his 2008 Kenworth T-800 with a 2012 NRC 60/80SR Heavy Incident Manager rotator. This mammoth unit with an 80-ton capacity is an oversize version of NRC’s Slider System, with a gigantic V-shaped boom and 60,000-lbs. planetary winches. This beast has a boom reach of 485”.

Tom has been certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators since 2005 and is also a WreckMaster 8/9R. Also rigging and assisting on this job were Operations Manager Al Pico (WreckMaster 6/7) and Neil Crabtree.

“It was a fiberglass tank with a water separator system built in,” Tom said. “Before seeing what we could do and what we had to offer, they had no idea on how they were going to get this tank into the ground due to the low clearances, the size of the excavation required and the size and weight of the tank. It was a 30,000-gallon tank that measured 53-feet long, was 11-feet in diameter, and weighed 19,700-pounds.”

The tank had been brought in on a trailer. Tom had backed the Da HIM ’tator in behind the tank. After surveying the situation, he boomed out over the center point of the tank and the Advanced team climbed up a ladder to rig the tank for lifting off of the trailer.

Da HIM is equipped with Samson K-100 synthetic rope. Made from a combination of high-performance fibers, K-100 is 80-percent lighter than the wire rope it replaces.

With its reach and lifting capabilities, Da HIM was able the lift the tank and place it in the tight space that the construction crew had thought was impossible.

“Da HIM making them believers after offloading and setting this separator tank at 35-feet off the side under the airport overpass,” said Tom, “Mahalo!”

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!

The Catch of the Day

0 Crippled Creek ea070By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Jae Jones started Jae’s Towing & Recovery in 1992 in Heath, Ohio. Jae’s son Nick Jones is the Operations Manager and rotator operator for the family business.

On February 25 Jae’s was called by the local sheriff’s office asking them to respond with a heavy unit to recover a pickup truck in the creek.

“It was an early Sunday morning fishing trip in the creek for dad, Jacob and me,” Nick said.

Nick responded with his 2016 Kenworth T880 Century 1150 50-ton rotator. Jae and Jacob headed to the scene in their Century flatbed.

“The incident happened in Licking County on Licking Trails Road,” Nick informed. “The pick-up driver had been drinking and speeding, lost control and went into the water.”

When the recovery crew arrived on scene they saw the pickup over the guardrail lying on its belly with its driver’s side leaning under water. The front-end, hood, windshield and roof were crushed.

Jae and Jacob went into the creek with two rim slings and rigged to the rear axle of the pickup. Rim slings are rigging/recovery product that are for attaching to aluminum rim hand holes when traditional round slings won't fit. It’s made from a high-quality synthetic rope with a cordura protective sleeve to prevent premature wear. It maintains a high working load limit and has a greater lifespan then a round sling.

Once it was rigged Nick fished the casualty out of the water by its rear axle. Hanging from both lines, it was the catch of the day. He lifted it up over the guardrail and set it onto the roadway. The rigging was disconnected from the pickup and it was winched onto their Century flatbed and Jacob towed the truck back to their lot.

Nick jested, “High water and vehicles don’t mix, I didn’t get wet and dad didn’t even mess his hair up.”

(Note: this article originally ran in the March 7, 2018 edition of Tow Industry Week)
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!

I-75 Bridge Collapse

0 IMG 1817 copy c8f20By Brendan Dooley

On April 1, 2019, a chunk of concrete beam fell from a bridge over Interstate 75 South in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at the Interstate 24 split. It hit a car and injured the driver, who was extracted and taken to hospital.

The large beam however was blocking the interstate as it leaned against the bridge above. Officials called on nearby Doug Yates Towing & Recovery to respond to the scene and help get the road clear.

Shannon Yates, VP of Doug Yates Towing 7 Recovery, said they sent two rotators to the scene, expecting to rig and lift the concrete beam off the structure it was leaning on and out of the way.

“They called us immediately because they knew we could respond more quickly respond than a crane getting there,” Yates said. “First we had to get the beam off the bridge where it was still hanging.”

Officials on-scene decided it was too dangerous for anyone to try and rig the top of the beam, so the Yates crew was instructed to drag the concrete off the bridge. They used their Peterbilt twin-steer/Century 1075 75-ton rotator to do the work.

“We hooked it from the bottom and winched it until it fell and hit the roadway; once it did that it broke in two and we went in with torches to cut the rebar loose,” Yates said. “When the concrete was one big chunk, it was about 83,000 lbs., but it broke in two pieces. We used torches to cut through the rebar.”

Yates said the big piece weighed 50,000 lbs. and the little chunk weighed about 33,000 lbs.

“When the two pieces were free of each other, we picked each one up and set it over the guardrail and out of the way,” Yates said.
There was lots of media coverage of the event.

“It seemed like we had everyone from the city of Chattanooga out there, from the mayor to state engineers and anyone else,” Yates said. “It was like five hours for total of us on scene getting it cleaned up doing what we had to do as those other people did what they needed doing like investigation and pictures and documentation on what they thought caused the bridge to fail.

“We’d move it a little bit, and then they’d go back and do more investigations and check things over again. … Originally we just thought we were going out to lift the beam off and set it down.”

Other than that winch-and-drop development, it was just a heavy-lift scenario, said Yates.

“It was just basic heavy lifting; we used our 75-ton Miller rotator to pick up the chunks and pieces and rotate them over the guardrail and set ’em down out of the way,” Yates said.

“Then they brought in an excavator with a big hammer and broke it up into pieces and buried it.”

Brendan Dooley has been the editor of American Towman since 2011after serving as the editor of two magazines covering the auto repair industry for shop owners, techs and tool distributors.His experience includes hard news on daily newspapers and editorial leadership at vintage motorcycle and car magazines. Brendan is WreckMaster 6/7A certified.
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City, State
RATES

Hanover, MA
$90
(Pop. 13,879)

Lake City, FL
$120
(Pop. 12,046)

Yankton, SD
$80
(Pop. 14,454)

Centralia, WA
$178
(Pop. 16,336)

Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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April 24 - April 30, 2019

It’s OK to Say No

no 1513027 640 273a7By Brian J Riker


“No” is a complete sentence. Uttering that word when we think we need to always say yes is difficult.


There are only 168 hours in a week. The only way to increase the number of available hours in a week is to either sacrifice elsewhere … or multiply ourselves.


Recently having had a change in perception, I now look at a “no” as a “YES” to a different question. We can’t do everything ourselves.


Learning how to properly classify tasks is key to better time management.


The first thing we need to do to better manage time and accomplish more is stop. By stopping to evaluate we can properly categorize tasks, effectively deciding which must be done personally, which must be delegated and which should not be completed at all.


Most experts agree that tasks can be classified into one of four categories:


Urgent and Important tasks are those that must be done now. Responding to an emergency call from law enforcement is a good example; there is no time to put that on hold. Urgent and important tasks don’t necessarily always need to be completed by you every time. Evaluate your response to these events after the fact and plan for a better response the next time a similar situation arises.


Important but not Urgent tasks are a part of your long-term plans. Education, saving for retirement, succession planning and other tasks that feed the greater good of your life are all in this category. These are tasks that must be done but need not consume all your available time.


Urgent but not Important are often the biggest interruptions to our day. These tasks are often urgent for someone else, not you. These tasks are perfect candidates for delegation. Yet, often these are the tasks we focus on ourselves saying “it’s easier to do it myself than show someone how.” Once you have taught someone how to do these tasks, they will be able to handle these mini-crisis issues without interrupting your day.


Neither Urgent nor Important tasks are our biggest time wasters. Checking social media, watching television, chatting with acquaintances or otherwise “killing time.” Finding ways to maximize efficiency and success means these tasks have little to no place in your life.


A recent study by comScore shows that Americans spend an average of 2 hours 51 minutes on their smartphones daily.


Imagine what one could accomplish choosing to spend the nearly three hours learning new skills or improving upon what’s already known? Imagine what devoting just a little bit of your down time to self-improvement could do for whatever troubles you.


I am not saying we need to give up all social interaction or work from the moment we wake up until we go to bed; but evaluating how we use the 168 hours given to us each week surely will help.


It is impossible to attend all the social functions you may be invited to. Even something simple like having lunch with someone may not fit into your schedule. You don’t need to be mean about saying “no thank you,” although you need to be clear. Explain that you appreciate the offer, but it would be unfair to take time away from other obligations during your work day or family time.


I have begun using a daily planner again, scheduling time for work and social activities. I spend almost 200 days away from home each year for work, meaning the little bit of time I have at home is important to me. It would be unfair to my family if I decided to use this time to have lunch with someone I barely know or waste it in front of the TV.


As towmen we can easily overwhelm our team and ourselves if we do not use caution. A work-life balance must be reached; or we face losing one or the other. With owners it’s usually the family that suffers. Employees change careers if they can’t find a good balance that keeps their family happy while meeting their financial obligations.


When a team member leaves, this puts even more strain on our already overwhelmed schedule—creating a destructive cycle of poor time management simply by trying to keep up with the call volume at work. In the long run, it is better to work towards a balanced schedule rather than suffering from the constant churn that burnout causes, especially among drivers.


Make a plan and stick to it. Learn to share the tasks you can with others, and prioritize the important over unimportant. You will feel like you’ve gained a whole extra day in your week. Lastly, make the time to recharge and relax so you can stay safe!


Brian J Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC. 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

Towers Need Law Enforcement On-Scene More

DSCN11634 600x450 0e3beBy Randall C. Resch
Image – Null’s Towing; Cochranville, Pennsylvania

In a perfect world, law enforcement should be on-scene at highway-related tow events; all tow trucks should have red and blue emergency lighting, and traffic breaks or slowed escort of traffic should accompany every load operation—even if only for a few minutes until the tow truck is loaded and safely on its way.

We need help from law enforcement to recognize the need for on-scene highway protection. We agonize over the repeated failures of current highway protocol to protect tow operators working highway shoulders.

I’ve written for American Towman since 1996 and have confirmed as many as 225 highway-related operator fatalities in 22 years. I’ve taught thousands of tow operators and police officers the value of not walking, working, or standing on the white-line side. I’ve arranged and attended numerous funeral processions and written many safety articles on this topic. Unfortunately, towmen still work the white-line side and continue to be killed.

Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Apply this quote to on-highway response and see how our actions fit the definition.

Why hasn’t the towing and recovery industry not attacked this problem?

Recommendations Still Ignored

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the U.S. is the federal agency responsible for researching the prevention of work-related injury and illness. In numerous tow-related investigations, findings recommended need for law enforcement on-scene.

The following two operator fatalities held similar recommendations by NIOSH:

Example One: October 3, 2016, a tow truck driver loaded a disabled pickup onto his flatbed carrier on the southbound shoulder of a four-lane, undivided highway. As the victim was entering the tow truck’s cab on the traffic-facing side of the truck, an oncoming van swerved into the emergency lane and struck him, causing fatal injuries.

Example Two: September 19, 2016, a tow truck owner-operator was loading a disabled vehicle onto his flatbed tow truck on the westbound shoulder of a four-lane controlled access highway. The victim was on the traffic-facing lane side securing the vehicle to his tow truck when the operator of an oncoming car traveling in the same direction failed to move over, veered over the edge-line, striking the tow operator and the side of the tow truck.

NIOSH Recommendations were:

• Tow truck drivers should limit the amount of time spent on the traffic-facing side of the truck.

• High-visibility such as safety vests should be worn at all times while working at roadside.

• Law enforcement should be present to aid in traffic control when vehicles are towed from the roadside.

• There should be increased public awareness of the “Move-Over Law”

• Tow truck operators should utilize portable emergency warning devices such as bi-directional reflective triangles.

• Tow truck operators and owners should consider attending National TIM Training.

The towing and recovery industry would like to see protocol initiated that suggests law enforcement accompany highway related tow scenarios. If red and blue lights are restricted to law enforcement, towmen don’t have the color advantage that red and blue lights solicit.

As law enforcement is tasked with being parked at highway construction zones during day and night construction hours, why are we towers left unprotected?

Having that in-mind, I’ll ask the law enforcement community: Why don’t towmen have the luxury of on-scene police protection in the same manner?” Doesn’t that scream the definition of “insanity”?

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.

Taxes: Are You in Trouble?

tax money 6b396Brian J. Riker

No matter if you are an owner or an employee, it is easy to fall behind on your tax obligations.

I recently had a chance to sit down with Mike Allbright, an enrolled agent who specializes in helping small businesses and employees in the transportation industry with their tax issues. An enrolled agent is a highly trained specialist who is authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS. This is important if you are facing IRS collections or other tax liens, as not every tax preparer is authorized to negotiate on your behalf.

Our discussion revealed that when most folks unintentionally get in trouble with their taxes, it usually is due to a failure to keep accurate records. It is also very common for the self-employed to not put aside enough of their income to make their quarterly or even annual tax payments.

“Maintaining records does not need to be complicated, and while software helps, a simple spreadsheet with the receipts for the month attached is just as effective,” said Allbright. “Make sure you put a note on each receipt to indicate what business purpose it was for, and be sure to scan or otherwise preserve the thermal receipts before they fade.”

He further advised that small business owners maintain two separate bank accounts, one personal and one business. Make all your purchases out of the proper account, even if it means making the cashier at Wal-Mart or Costco split your order into two transactions.

As a self-employed person or business owner, it is best to make your quarterly estimated tax payments on time. By making your estimated tax payments, you have already pre-paid a large chunk of your tax liability and are much less likely to fall behind or be unable to pay your taxes in full each year.

Employees can get in tax trouble as well. For employees, the most common issues Allbright sees are a failure to keep receipts to support itemized deductions or trying to claim expenses they are not entitled to.

“If you are going to itemize your tax return you must keep receipts and other proof to support the claim,” Allbright stated.
There is also great confusion over being a true employee vs. contractor, commonly referred to as a 1099 employee.

Unless your contract meets all the points of the IRS test to determine true independent contractor status, it is most likely inappropriate to be paid as a contractor and receive a Form 1099 at the end of the year. If you are working as an employee under this arrangement; you are fully responsible for all your own taxes—including the employer’s share.

For tax year 2018 many employees will notice a difference in their actual tax liability. Many will see much smaller refunds, if any refund at all. This is due to a change in the tax withholding tables combined with modification of a few standard deductions.

OTR drivers have lost the ability to claim a blanket per-diem rate for each day away from home while subject to hours of service regulations. Instead, the standard deduction has been doubled, although this does not fully make up for the per diem deduction that full time OTR drivers previously were entitled to.

Many work-related deductions such as gloves, shoes and other tools will no longer make sense to claim, as many towers will opt instead for the higher standard deduction. With the 2018 tax code changes, if you normally complete and file your own taxes it may be the right time to have a professional tax preparer look over your return. The few hundred dollars in fees may very well be offset by the discovery of extra deductions or mistakes that could result in high IRS penalties.

Tax professionals are the experts in their field. A good consultant will always save you more than their fees are. It is a great feeling to be at peace with taxes, knowing that even if Uncle Sam comes knocking you have nothing to worry about.

This column is not intended to be financial or tax advice; I am not a professional tax preparer. Please consult a tax professional of your choosing before making any changes to your situation.

Brian J. Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC. 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
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April 24 - April 30, 2019

The Voyager

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By George L. Nitti


“I’m a trekkie,” said Steve Gale, owner of Gale Towing & Recovery of McMinnville, Oregon. “I can’t deny it. I grew up watching the Star Trek TV series, all of the re-runs, including the later series.”


Which is part of the reason why you will find the Star Trek Voyager on the side of their 1991 Kenworth with a 1997 35-ton DeWalt unit.


Although not the iconic Enterprise starship typically associated with the franchise from the original TV series, the Voyager ship gained popularity as part of a later spinoff called “Star Trek: Voyager.”


When Gale first started the company with his late brother Richard in 1990, one of the designs on the company’s earlier tow trucks in the mid-’90s included a custom-painted rendition of “The Enterprise.”


Gale said, “This one is a wrap. I scoured the Internet to find a design I liked and had it done by PDX Wraps in Portland.”


The unit stands out with its green-and-black schematic.


“The green is called a ‘Big Bad Green,’ ” Gale said. “When I was in high school, I drove a ’59 Ford pick-up that was painted the same color. Friends of mine wanted to know what I did with that ‘ugly, green truck.’ ”


Although he resisted using the color green on the company tow trucks, preferring a radiant blue, Gale realized that green was an attention grabber.


“It was a gimmick to get noticed. I found out that people remembered our green trucks,” Gale said. “Police said ‘Don’t change the color.’ Customers would say to them, ‘We don’t know the name of the company. It’s the one with the green trucks.’ That’s kind of when we knew that green was working for us.”


On top of the black paint job, are green flames with two eagles on the hood of the unit, reflecting the company’s patriotic spirit. The company’s slogan can be found on the boom, “Experience the Difference.”


For Gale, becoming a towman was part of a longer journey that included a career as a journeyman painter, firefighter and paramedic. He said, “You might say the whole towing thing was part of a much longer voyage.”


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

Merging Image to Letters

0 jandmtowing 11f9eBy George L. Nitti

J&M Towing of Wayne, New Jersey, has graphics on their tow trucks that stand out because of a very simple masking technique they have been using for years. The technique is to insert images inside its lettering, then have those images conform to the shape of the letters.

“We always put pictures inside our lettering,” said manager Joey Laborda, son of owner Joe Laborda. “When I was younger I always liked to draw. I drew pictures inside the lettering. We’ve been doing it for many years.”

This technique is illustrated on a couple of their units: their 2005 Peterbilt/Century 5130 and their 1988 Chevy/Hackney service truck specifically designed for heavy-duty clean-up.

The most prominent element of the design is the J&M name. On the 30-ton wrecker, inside the lettering is a military-themed tribute. It depicts a graveyard scene where a soldier is visiting fallen troops, a helicopter skying upward and soldiers pushing up the flag at Iwo Jima.

Laborda, who has been driving for the company since the day he got his license, said, “With the images we used as part of a tribute to veterans, we wanted to tell a story.”

On the service truck the J&M Logo hosts heavy-duty recovery scenes, mirroring the work the company does on a day-in/day-out basis.
“The service truck, like a beverage vehicle, was built for a fire department,” Laborda said. “When we purchased it, it had only 100,000 miles. We stripped it and put new style lights on it and painted and lettered it up.”

The service vehicle carries all of their extra equipment, including air cushions, saws, safety cones, clean-up materials, torches, roll-up cords, gas cans and more.

“It has everything that you possibly need,” Laborda said.

On the tribute along the Century body, a scene of a row of helmets hanging on guns are shown positioned inside boots, honoring fallen veterans.
The back of the service vehicle shows imagery of a fleet of trucks, showcasing the depth and power of the company, while a metal-textured design highlights the J&M name.

Helping to enhance the design is blue and pink neon striping and retro lettering.

On both units their slogan boasts, “If we can’t do it … It can’t be done.”

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

Clean Simplicity

0 IMG 2340 a3478By George L. Nitti

One key element that helps any tow truck stand out is its complementary colors. Two colors that blend well are orange and black, which are the colors of Topel Truck Center’s fleet.

Located in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, Topel’s heavy-duty unit was taken over by Sean Topel in April of 2000.

“It was part of a family business,” said Michelle Topel, co-owner and wife of Sean. “Sean grew up in it with his uncle, who owned a service center. Then he bought the heavy-duty portion.”

According to Michelle, the colors of the units at the time were orange, but that they added black.

“Black made the orange stand out and we wanted our trucks to pop,” she said.

The company chose to stick with a simple and clean design, minimizing the graphic elements while accentuating the complementary colors of black and orange.

Their 2008 Kenworth/Century 60-ton rotator highlights this concept, with simplicity of design the goal.

The Topel name is written in orange on the side against a black background, with the top portion of the letter “T” elongated over the other letters of the name, instantly giving it brand recognition.

The company name also is written large in black on the orange boom and on the back of the unit. The stainless steel ‘T’ on the grille adds character.
What Topel calls “the old school stripes” are found along the sides, in blue and orange. The blue adds another complementary color to the mix while the stripes add to its simplicity.

“Simple is good. It keeps it clean and easy to read,” Michelle said.

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at bdooley@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine.
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April 24 - April 30, 2019

Chevrolet’s New 2020 Silverado HD

Chevrolet 4d116The all-new 2020 Silverado HD is longer, wider and taller than its predecessor with a wheelbase that’s been stretched 5.2” on Crew Cab models and is scaled for HD customers. Max towing capability has been increased 52 percent to an available 35,500 lbs. The Silverado HD will be available in five distinct trim levels—Work Truck, Custom, LT, LTZ and High Country—available across 22 cab, bed, chassis and driveline configurations. It features a new 6.6L V-8 gas engine with direct injection for greater performance and stronger trailering capability with 22 percent more torque and up to 18 percent more towing compared to previous 6.0L gas engine. The all-new 2020 Silverado HD goes on sale this summer.

chevrolet.com

Maintenance-Free Dollies from In The Ditch

In the Ditch a00a1In The Ditch recently released its all-new X-Series Dolly, the XL. The XL models offer eXtended Life automotive sealed hubs that never need grease. The X-Series Dolly sets come in two sizes: standard SD and larger XD. Ergonomic and lightweight, both SD and XD models include bolt-on, easily replaceable spindles with high-wear bushinngs.

intheditch.com
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April 24 - April 30, 2019
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April 24 - April 30, 2019
RISC President/COO Holly Balogh said that the organization is “excited” to provide thorough and up-to-date educational material to repossession agents through its relationship with law firm Hudson Cook.

RISC Updates CARS [b]Certification Program

Through its relationship with Hudson Cook, Recovery Industry Services Co. announced it has completed a significant update to the Certified Asset Recovery Specialist National Certification program. Improvements include detailed information about repossession insurance, relevant case studies and updates to the laws that govern the self-help repossession process. 

“The updates include a comprehensive review of repossession laws to ensure recovery agents are getting the most relevant and recent compliance education,” said Hudson Cook partner Eric Johnson, who will continue to oversee annual updates to the CARS and CARS Continuing Education courses.

RISC president/COO Holly Balogh added, “We are excited to continue to foster our relationship with Hudson Cook to provide the most thorough, up-to-date educational material to repossession agents.

RISC CEO Stamatis Ferarolis emphasized the relationship as well:

“Our partnership with Hudson Cook means agents who invest in the CARS program are receiving the most recent and relevant training for collateral recovery. Anyone who becomes certified on the CARS program can be confident that the material is widely accepted and sought after by creditors in the repossession industry.”

Source: autoremarketing.com.

DRN Announces 2019 [b]National Affiliate Awards

Digital Recognition Network presented its annual awards to its top affiliates at its appreciation dinner during the 2019 North American Repossessors Summit. The awards honor companies that have demonstrated excellence in the repossession industry.

“We are honored and humbled to recognize this year’s affiliate award winners,” said Andy Cameron, SVP of FinTech, DRN. “Our affiliates serve as profiles in excellence within the repossession industry, and our award winners literally go the ‘extra mile’ to provide the license plate scans that serve as the backbone of our organization.”

This year, two affiliates—Associates Asset Recovery and Specialized Towing and Transportation Inc.—tied for the National Affiliate of the Year Award, which recognizes excellence in repossession operations and performance throughout the prior year.

DRN also honored eight affiliates with “Top Gun” awards—regional awards that recognize the companies for their innovation and leadership within the repossession industry in their regions.

Source: repo.buzz.

RISC Taps ‘Skip Guru’ Price for Training

Recovery Industry Services Co., a provider of compliance education and training services, is releasing an updated version of the Skip-Tracing Certification Course at the North American Repossessors Summit. The event is set begin Thursday in Irving, Texas.

The new course is authored by Alex Price, who is the director of risk solutions at Digital Recognition Network and also known as “The Skip Guru.” Price delves into the methodologies and practices of skip-tracing to teach how to effectively locate skips while staying in compliance with state and federal regulations.

The course will be available in RISC’s online learning management system and covers all aspects of modern skip-tracing, communication tactics, human nature insights, applicable federal law, data security and the “big three” of skip-tracing.

The updated course will be available as a standalone certification program for skip-tracers and to recovery agents as part of continuing education for the CARS program.

Source: autoremarketing.com.

Man Alleges Repo Company Breached Peace

A Bradley, West Virginia, man alleges a repossession company breached the peace when it repossessed his vehicle.

Christopher Ryan Quesenberry filed a complaint in Raleigh Circuit Court against Wells Fargo Dealer Services and F-5 Investigation Inc.

The suit stated that on March 1, 2017, at 11:15 p.m., F-5 Investigation was attempting to repossess a vehicle that had been financed by Wells Fargo and was located at Quesenberry's home. He alleged F-5's agents/employees "pounded" on his door, woke him up and failed to identify themselves, and that employees then started a verbal altercation, intimidated him and refused to tell him where they were taking his vehicle.

Quesenberry also alleged Wells Fargo breached its duty by failing to ensure F-5 did not breach the peace when it repossessed the vehicle.

Source: wvrecord.com.
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Ultra-Heavy-Duty Class, Jan. 21-23

Trainer Tom Luciano will be conducting an Ultra-Heavy-Duty Class for the Sunshine State Towing Association on Jan 21-23. Limited space is available, so make your reservations now.

The training class will be at Crouch's Wrecker Sales; 751 Jet Stream Drive; Orlando, FL 32824. Accommodations are set for Springhill Suites; 5828 Hazeltine National Drive; Orlando, FL 32822. Call 407-802-1127, or go to www.sstassociation.com.
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