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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingAugust 16 - August 22, 2017

City, State
Bronx, NY
(Pop. 1,438,159)
Charlotte, NC
(Pop. 809,958)
Baltimore, MD
(Pop. 622,104)
San Jose, CA
(Pop. 1,015,785)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.

Turning Price Shoppers into Customers

Mechanic 9bd27By Don Archer

Darian called from the college, his SUV had issues and needed to be taken to St. Louis. I figured the mileage and told him our rates—and could have just stopped right there—but his disappointment drew me in.

It was obvious that he couldn't afford to have it towed the 120 miles; so I asked what was wrong with the vehicle. He told me the transmission was out and his parents wanted him to shop around for a good rate on towing. I suggested that he take it to a local shop and save on the tow bill. He said he'd call me back.

In the book "How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life," author Russ Roberts uses the example of a flooded basement to explain how we can sometimes be blind to our own faults. He does so by demonstrating how those in different lines of work would propose to solve the same problem.

A foundation repairman might suggest $30,000 worth of work; trenching and re-peering to solve the problem of a flooded basement. A gutter installer would say that the old gutters were the problem. A sump-pump salesman might insist a sump pump is the answer, while a landscaper would say that building a berm would do the trick. They all see the solution through their own lens.

In his assessment, Roberts isn't suggesting that these professionals are doing anything unscrupulous; it's just that—to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. We in the towing business are no different. When you drive a tow truck, every vehicle issue can be solved with a TOW to a repair shop—or junkyard.

With Darian I could have just blurted out our rates hoping to get the long-distance tow; and, most likely, he wouldn't have called back.

But he did call back, and with his grandmother was on the line. So with an eye on serving FIRST, I took the opportunity to explain that if their plan was to get the vehicle fixed and money was tight, she might as well consider taking it to someone local. For the amount she'd pay for the tow bill to get the thing back to her neck of the woods—she could have had a portion of the transmission paid for already.

She was slow to trust me or the repair shops in my area, but did take the numbers I provided and said she'd call back. An hour later she called back and we towed the SUV to a shop in town.

Darian's grandmother was surprised and happy, and we snagged a tow we might have lost to a low-baller. Not only did she save money on the tow bill, but the cost to fix the transmission locally was considerably less than anyplace she could find in her area.

Don Archer lives and works in Jefferson City, Mo., where he and his wife, Brenda, own and operate Broadway Wrecker, a 12-truck operation that's been in business since the 1950s. Email him at

No-Look Pass

MichaelJordan a745aBy Don Archer

Back in the '90s, I was a Chicago Bulls fan. I was amazed at the prowess of Michael Jordan, how he dominated the court. He could hit three-pointers one after another with ease. He would climb invisible stairs from half court over his opponent's heads slamming the ball into the basket. To me, he was more magic than Magic Johnson.

But what I loved the best about watching the games was the no-look passes.

Sometimes Jordan would be up against a formidable defense and not be able to get to the basket; it was no problem, because he had Scottie. Scottie Pippen was his right-hand man and they played together like each knew what the other was thinking. When Michael would be boxed out, he'd fake right and then—without looking—bounce-pass left to Pippen, who would inevitably score. It was a thing of beauty, teamwork.

Fast-forward 20 years and I reminisce about the Scotties I've had in my life. You know, the kind of guys you can trust with anything.

One occasion was a snow day. We were swamped. Everyone was busy helping someone, somewhere and the calls were stacking up. Law enforcement called and asked if we could respond to a tractor-trailer that was blocking traffic. It was stuck in the snow on one of the main arteries into the city.

We couldn't respond.

We had to tell them that all our heavies were already out and that we couldn't get to it for at least two hours, maybe longer. We suggested that they call the only other company in town with heavies to respond. Five minutes later they called back and said that the other company couldn't get to it until the next day.

I was on the road in a Ford F-550/Vulcan 882, and hadn't gotten word yet about what was going on. I was approached by one of the officers, a friend, and he told me what was going on. I called dispatch to see where the heavies were and learned that there was no way they were going to be able to respond. That's when I thought of Scottie. But my Scottie's name was Tom.

I called Tom and told him the situation and he said, "Let's go and take a look."

Tom was a real laid-back type of guy. He rode motorcycles, played the guitar and had been towing since the early '80s. Nothing under the sun was new to him.

When we arrived we assessed the situation. Tom chuckled, "Well buddy, this is going to be as easy as shoving a wet noodle up a goat's ass."

But it wasn't.

The tractor-trailer was fully loaded on a substantial grade. The driver had become stuck in the snow because she failed to accelerate up the hill, while entering the flow of traffic. There was no way we were going to PULL her out.

That's when Tom got out his grain shovel and started removing the snow from around the drives.

Now most guys seeing an insurmountable task would just shrug their shoulders and say, "There's nothing we can do."

Not Tom.

I'm not saying that Tom had all the answers, but he was willing to give it a shot.

We both started shoveling the snow, removing it from around the drives. As we did, I came up with a plan. It may have been Tom's all along—we never discussed it.

First thing in our favor was the snow was wet: we could easily move it. The second was the trailer was straight, and so was the road.

While continuing to remove the snow we re-routed the traffic that was behind the truck. This way, the driver could back up and take a better run at the hill. It was hard work and it had to be done as quickly as possible, but I never heard one complaint out of Tom.

At first it didn't work; the drive tires kept slipping in the snow and I started to think that our plan wasn't working. Then out of nowhere, Tom pulled a 5-gal. bucket of oil-dry out of his truck and started spreading it in front of the tires. I followed suit and it worked. She finally made it up the hill and out of the way.

American Towman Field Editor-Midwest Don G. Archer is also a multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. E-mail him direct at
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