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

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When Wire Rope Isn't

1 89632By DON ARCHER

My unit five is an F-550 with an 882 Vulcan bed. The winter did a number on the driver's side winch cable and it had to be replaced. So I pulled out my towing product catalog and found a 3/8", 100' independent wire rope core with the swivel-hook that we always get. As I turned the page to see what else was available, I noticed that the same wire rope was displayed on the next page. But there were a few differences in the listing, with item number and the price was 2.5-times higher.

I flipped the page back and forth as I tried to figure out why there was such a huge discrepancy in price. Was I missing something? Was the wire rope on the next page better somehow than the one I planned on ordering? Was the working load limit higher or the swivel-hook more resilient on the higher priced item?

They both had the same working load limit (4,800 lbs.) and the same swivel-hook. The more expensive one did weigh 3 lbs. more, but not enough to justify the price—I wasn't buying it to sell for scrap.

So what was the difference?

As I read the detailed description of each, I finally caught up ... the less expensive of the two was imported. But that shouldn't justify the disparity in price, should it? I decided to call and ask why there was such a huge gap between what they were asking for these wire ropes.

The answer I got was that the imported wire rope is from China and some people believe it to be of a lesser quality than the wire rope manufactured right here in the U.S. of A.

"But what about the working load limits?" I asked. "They're the same, so what's the difference? Is China lying about the strength of their steel?"

There was no answer, so I decided to take it to a higher authority. I consulted Google, with "Why is U.S. steel so high?"

As I read article after article and cruised websites and blogs, I discovered some disturbing news. I know this won't come as a revelation to some of you, but China's economy is growing twice as fast as ours and we're buying everything they're building because it's cheap. China is running lean while we're lounging with a bag of chips in front of the television.

But then I questioned why it's so hard for the U.S. to compete? Is China enslaving their population? We've heard about the human rights abuses. Is that how they keep their prices so low?

In John Ross's Oct.27, 2013, article, "China has the world's fastest growth in living standards," he said, "China has the world's fastest growth of consumption while its population lives significantly longer than would be expected from China's level of economic development. These facts clearly establish China has easily the world's fastest rise in living standards."

If they're not forcing their workforce to accept a wage so low that they can barely sustain life then it must be that they're manipulating the value of their currency, which makes their goods cost less.

And yes...this they do, they print money and buy up U.S. debt and Dollars by the boatload. This artificially increases the value of the U.S. Dollar against their currency, the Yuan.

It's all very confusing, but to say that domestically produced winch cables are almost three times more expensive than Chinese-made cables because of the policies of their government is missing the mark. It's like saying that I should be held accountable when a competing towing company owner makes bad decisions and puts himself out of business.

The U.S. Steel Industry is infected by the same disease that the towing industry has: Government Intrusion. Instead of looking outward and blaming the policies of governments we have no control over, we should look at what our own government does to limit our ability to compete.

To begin with: The U.S. practices its own currency manipulation as the Fed continues to print billions of new Dollars every quarter, buying up its own debt. As each new Dollar is printed, the ones in our pockets become less and less valuable.

Think about it this way: The Dollars that steel workers in the U.S. are allowed to take home, after the unions and governments are done taking their share, doesn't go as far as it used to; they need more to get by. This means it costs more to produce goods in the U.S. than in China.

On top of that, the Environmental Protection Agency has a stranglehold on U.S. manufacturing companies as standards continually are increased and fines for noncompliance stymie progress.

"The Chinese companies can expect smaller fines for non-compliance of environmental standards... The maximum fine (per incident) in China is $14,000 compared to $450,000 in the United States," said Neil Chambers on

So what do we do about it?

On the individual level you and I could resolve to buy only U.S.-made products. In an effort to support U.S. manufacturers, you could let the made-in-the-USA tag guide all of your buying decisions. But is that really a wise decision? Besides going home empty-handed after not being able to find many of the goods you desire (because they are no longer domestically produced), you'll also pay quite a bit more.

And what's the point? To further enable the U.S. government's money habit as it taxes and spends to justify more taxation and spending?

Whatever happened to producing the highest quality product for the least amount of money and letting the consumer decide? It seems that the U.S. government is bad for business.

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

You Are the Culmination of Your Decisions

growthchart2 e21ffBy Don G. Archer

John Tatum was driving to what he hoped would be the last call of the day, a simple tire change. It was 5 p.m. in the middle of July, and the hot Arizona sun was taking its toll. The heat was bad, but what John disliked most about driving a tow truck was the way people treated him.

As he watched and waited for someone to notice him after almost eight months on the job, nothing had materialized. He'd done his part, he thought—but it wouldn't come today.

After 20 minutes of trying to get a lug nut off the wheel of a beat-up, last-century Toyota, John finally felt it start to budge. The excitement mounted as he anticipated getting out of the sweltering sun and back into the air-conditioned comfort of his truck.

He put all of his weight on the four-way.

He was about to win in his man vs. metal struggle for dominance ... when his hand slipped off the tire tool, and he hit the ground face-first.

Upset, he quickly lifted himself up and reached for the four-way. In disgust, he flung the iron cross discus-style into an adjacent field.

As his rage smoldered, he was reminded of an incident that happened weeks earlier. He had scratched the paint on a car while attempting to unlock it. Of course, he contended it wasn't his fault.

The locks on both doors were broken, making the task almost impossible. What made it even worse was the car owner's boyfriend attempting to coach him through the process. After a few minutes of ill-equipped direction, John became frustrated and mistakenly scratched the paint.

Walking to fetch the four-way, he thought to himself, "Why do I always get the bad calls?"

Then he remembered what his boss Terry had said while admonishing him for scratching the paint on that car: "It's not what happens to you, it's how you respond to what happens to you that matters," and one that really stung, "You are the culmination of all of your decisions up to this point."

John kicked the dirt and howled, "That's easy for you to say; you're the boss, you're already successful. I'm the one out here in the trenches getting my behind handed to me every day."

Two months later, he was let go. Eighteen months after that, John and his young family would travel more than 1,000 miles to end up at my door, looking for a job.
He seemed like a nice-enough guy, had experience and was willing to work as many hours as I could give him. As always, I did my due diligence.

A call to his old boss in Arizona revealed issues with anger and incidents of damages. What really struck me was after all the stuff Terry had told me ... he was sad to see him go. He said that he really liked John and tried to help him succeed and grow, but it was hard because he refused to take responsibility for his actions.

I did not hire John, but the discussion led me to thinking about my own reactions to my day-to-day struggles. How I continued to falter—even though I was the boss and somewhat successful.

When a customer would challenge a bill and it got up to me, it was hit-or-miss how I handled it. Some days I would take the time to explain the purpose of each line on the invoice and why it was required. However, on other days I might take offense, believing the customer was challenging whether or not the services billed were actually provided.

I was a (sometimes) benevolent boss with employees. Often I would listen and propose solutions to their concerns. Other times I might question their motives, believing their concerns were less constructive and more about work-avoidance or office politics.

This thinking slowly caused me to believe they were the problem. Because I believed outside forces kept getting in my way like John, I couldn't get closer to what I wanted: harmony in my business.

I needed to change, but that's easier said than done. One day you're Zen-like and you think you have a handle on it; then some new challenge presents itself and you lose it. Then you beat yourself up for losing it. It can become a wicked downward spiral if you don't get a handle on it.

The best approach, it seems, is to treat every moment as if you consciously chose to be there ... because the reality is, you did. We are the culmination of all the decisions we've made up until this point.

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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