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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJune 21 - June 27, 2017

City, State
Sheridan, IN
(Pop. 2,665)
Eastsound, WA
(Pop. 4,500)
Blackwood, NJ
(Pop. 4,545)
Byron, GA
(Pop. 2,887)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.

New Beginnings

buysell 518d8By DON ARCHER

He arrived early at their secret meeting place, picnic bench No. 3 at Longley Park. It was usually quiet at around 3:30 p.m., a few dog walkers and the occasional late-luncher or other lurking in the parking lot.

It was all kept hush-hush; they needed no prying eyes. That could cause the whole thing to unravel. He should have known—by the seller's desire to keep it quiet—that he was in store for more than he bargained. But he believed he was making a positive change in his life; it was a good move for his family. They were moving up in the world, they were going to be somebody and do some good, rather than just fixing cars. He'd been a mechanic for the last 17 years and jumped when he heard about the opportunity to buy a successful towing company.

The plan: One man would take the reins and the seller would bow out—for a fee of course.

The seller brought his wife—she was anxious as she shifted in her seat. The seller played the game well, but his wife could hardly contain herself. In every meeting she was up on her knees, twisting this way and that, unable to keep still. Not out of discomfort, he would later learn ... but out of excitement mostly. She was excited to be getting out and it was obvious to all but the man.

Weeks and more meetings went by, they agreed on a number, pulled the trigger and signed.

The seller and his wife went on a cruise and the man and his wife went straight to work. And in no time at all their eyes were opened—not to opportunity, but to the reason why the seller and his wife wanted out so bad.

He'd been warned by the seller that there were some obstacles—law enforcement and city politics mainly. The seller told him this, but he didn't understand what it really meant. He thought, "As long as we do a good job, we'll be recognized for our work and there will be no problems." Maybe the seller had been lax on the employee side of the equation, he thought. He decided to approach the issue as an internal problem and as an opportunity to shine.

But as the months went by and nothing began to change, he learned that just doing a good job wasn't good enough. He'd gotten mixed up in a hornet's nest of "good ol' boy" politics. Nepotism and favoritism reigned in this small southern town.

This wasn't what he bargained for, but he doubled-down anyway and poured the rest of his life and savings into the business. He continued working on improving the quality of service, investing in employee training and attempting to make political in-roads. He cut costs and wooed new customers, but politically speaking, because the deck was stacked against him, he foundered.

But he didn't give up. Over the next few years he called troopers, then their supervisors, and then their supervisors' supervisors ... but for nothing. He contacted City Hall, his councilmen, and the mayor ... no luck. He then tried his local towing association, his attorney, and state reps ... still nothing changed. Those in charge were going to do what they were going to do and he had to live with it.

Or did he?

Continually frustrated and at the end of his rope, he made a call, determined to make a change.

While driving to the meeting he remembered the last time he felt in control of his destiny, it had been so long. His mind filled with thoughts of better times. "I'd give it all away to have one more day like that."

As he turned into the parking lot, they were already there waiting for him. As he placed the packet of information on the table, the first thing that came out of his mouth was, "There will be some obstacles here ... law enforcement and city politics mainly."

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

Managing Time-Off Requests

timeoff dcf66By Randall C. Resch

Today's work schedules are oftentimes difficult where it seems you're at work more than at home. If you're a tow company employee, children may suffer because you're forced to work odd hours only to bring home the bacon. Parents ultimately feel guilty because they can't arrange time to participate in their child's activities because they have to work.

Unless you're the company owner, reporting to work is a fact of life and limits your ability to be with your children as much as you'd like. Although you're doing everything you can to provide for your family, balancing work-home life can be difficult.

Although your kids come first, employees have a responsibility to the employer not to abuse time-off requests.

From the onset of your employment with the company, negotiate reasonable agreements with your employer that enable you time off. When you're aware of school activities, make every attempt to ask for time off well in advance or get approval to have another employee cover your shift. Most bosses will authorize requests in advance when they are not abused.

Spending time with your kids takes extra effort on your part as well as planning with your significant other. For single parents, the process may be even more difficult to find babysitters or daycare.

Be sure you're doing everything you can to be involved in their lives as much as possible. As your child grows towards teenage years, there may be resentment for parents who work too much or don't seem to care about the child's growth, self-esteem or their ever-changing set of hormones and confidences.

What does your company's policy manual say? Looking at this topic from both sides, I've found that the following practices work well:

• Bosses should be understanding when considering reasonable time-off requests for unforeseen situations like illnesses, emergencies or immediate school incidents.

• Owners have to stay within the boundaries of law enforcement or contract stipulation for minimum staffing.

• Contract requirements may not allow ride-alongs of family members; kids generally are not allowed to ride on calls.

• Consistency is mandatory when balancing kids and schedules to work around inconveniences.

• For employer and employee, it's a give-and-take situation.

There's another side of this coin where there are parents that abuse the system using their kids' activities for an excessive amount of time away. Because every employee's presence is important to the company's smooth operations and productivity, parents shouldn't abuse time off.

While no boss wants to be the "hard ass" and deny time-off requests, someone has to cover all aspects of field and office operations. Accordingly, time off requests should be authorized if there's ample time to cover an employee's absence. That also means what goes around comes around: when others need time off for justifiable reasons, everyone should step-up to cover time-off requests. It's a shared responsibility.

A well-balanced plan that allows you to spend as much time as possible with your child is healthy. There's no doubt that being a tow company employee means that there will be long, long hours away from the kids. It's what you do to make time off quality time when you're together that matters.

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 online, and is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame.
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