The Week's Features
Three-time cancer survivor is doing what he loves
App, web-based service provides lien-holder contact information
Digital Recognition Network CEO lays out company's vision
Unit designed to bring greater awareness to Move Over law
Buddy's gets farmer's tractor with corn silage in open field
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Dallas, TX.
August 17-19, 2017
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Nov. 17-19, 2017
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Las Vegas, NV.
May 9-11, 2018
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Join Mike Stevens of AAA Texas for foundational training on lockout basics with a focus on damage prevention. Topics include: basic lockout guidelines, discussion of locking mechanisms, safety around airbags and more. It will take place as part of the Towing & Recovery Conference taking place at Tow Expo Dallas, August 17-19, 2017 at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas.

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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingAugust 23 - August 29, 2017

City, State
RATES
North:
Bronx, NY
$125
(Pop. 1,438,159)
South:
Charlotte, NC
$85
(Pop. 809,958)
East:
Baltimore, MD
$85
(Pop. 622,104)
West:
San Jose, CA
$200
(Pop. 1,015,785)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
homediv

The Urge to Splurge

howmuch eb25bBy DON ARCHER

I awoke without an alarm, sweating and confused; it was 2:14 a.m. And then the problem surfaced—my trucks are getting old.

On my journey to controlling costs, in order to make my business more profitable, my subconscious mind had, obviously, grasped, wrestled with and was now letting me in on a huge obstacle to the success I was seeking.

Lying there in bed I batted it back and forth.

"Newer trucks and less repair bills are worth going further into debt," I reasoned. "I'm spending a third of my monthly truck mortgage payments on repairs."

"Yeah, yeah ... I know repair bills are eating me up, but I can't justify the increase in expense right now," I countered.

"You need new trucks in order to keep up your business image and to ensure you can provide services. You don't want to be the one out there on the roads needing assistance," I badgered myself.

"But wouldn't it be nice to have no debt and more money every month instead of paying the bank?"

I jumped out of bed and headed to my computer.

Formerly, I banked at a huge national bank and was saddled with a commercial loan officer whom I didn't particularly like. It didn't feel like he understood, fully, the needs of my business. Now my loans are through a local bank and I've got a one-on-one relationship with the vice president. He's a pretty smart guy too.

2:21 a.m. I gave into the demands of my subconscious and banged out an email to Mr. VP. I explained the situation in detail stating both sides of the issue.

I told him I wasn't looking to increase the amount of money I pay every month and, certainly, wasn't interested in increasing the dollar amount I owe. I suggested maybe trading two older trucks for one new. If I did that, I could use my service truck more often to fill in where needed (we rarely use it now). I wanted to get his input and maybe see if he'd dealt with this issue with other business owners.

That was the first email.

2:45 a.m. I shot off another one to him. I told him trade-in values suck and buying used without a warranty, somewhat, defeats the purpose of trading up. I explained that you'll still incur out-of-pocket repair bills. I talked about the idea of buying a new chassis and doing a bed swap, but the costs there may not be much different than trading an old truck for a new one, and then you still have your old bed.

I then pulled out a 3x5 index card and wrote down the unit numbers of each truck and worked out what I could pare down to.

"I'd trade an older light-duty wrecker (that no one likes to drive) and the rollback with high miles for a new rollback. And an aged medium-duty wrecker could go with another light-duty wrecker for a new four-door wrecker with a Vulcan 894 ... this would allow me to tow almost anything the medium-duty could tow."

I thought about who would drive what and how that driver treated the truck they're in now. I worked out who would take what truck home when on-call, and how we could get by with two fewer wreckers. I had it all planned out—then my alarm went off.

It was 4 a.m. and time to get around for work. I had accepted my fate, believing that there was just no other way than to take on a little more debt, increasing my monthly payment.

Later that morning I received an email from Mr. VP. He said he'd do whatever he could to help, but reminded me that I didn't have too many more months left on my loan.

"I know you've been working hard on decreasing your expenses, but do you really want to go back into the fire?" he asked. This was a banker talking ... a guy who loans money for a living. Yes, he's a rarity.

The prospect of being without a payment struck me. I'd been carrying this weight so long it had become a part of me. I didn't really think I'd ever be without a payment. But now I could envision my business without debt.

Without debt, I could save and purchase used trucks with cash. Without debt, I could afford to pay repair bills. Without debt, I could compete with others without debt.

Of course there are disadvantages to not having a loan: My trucks aren't new and I can't depreciate as much, but I believe those costs will be offset by the absence of monthly payments.

I'll let you know how it goes.

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 don@broadwaywrecker.com.
hd-rates

When Lightning Strikes

e fb94dBy Randall C. Resch

Have you ever heard the safety phrase, "When thunder roars, go indoors?" It's a catchy ditty, but unfortunately we towmen respond to calls 24/7 regardless of weather or time of day.

Electrical shock ain't no laughing matter. Lightning—one of Mother Nature's extreme weather conditions—is capable of great bodily injury and death; strikes occur everywhere and oftentimes without notice.

Much of our work demands that we work outdoors during heavy rain and hailstorms, so there's a good chance that we'll have to face a lightning bolt that's moving faster than the speed of sound.

The Great Killer

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, lightning strike fatalities are the second greatest storm killer in the United States (flooding being No. 1). In extreme weather, it's recommended that you listen to local weather stations to know what is headed your way; especially where tornadoes are prevalent.

Weather changes quickly, and the best prevention is to be prepared. When storms start to roll in, stop the activity and take cover until the thunder, downpour, or hail stops.

There's not much known about the exact moment when or if lightning will strike; however, there are a few safety considerations to consider. Your life may depend on how you react to severe storms and lightning activity.

NOAA recommends that if you hear loud and close thunder, retreat to a safe, enclosed and heavily constructed location such as a house, school, store or offices. If a structure isn't close, the second safest location would be to climb into your tow truck or wrecker, keeping the windows up and doors closed.

If a lightning strike is probable, stay in the safe location for 30 minutes or more after hearing the last clap of thunder. Lightning tends to linger, so keep in mind that another strike may be forthcoming.

Avoid locations and activities that invite the most risk, such as elevated places and tall isolated objects. Don't retreat under trees to try and keep dry, stay low, and refrain from working water recoveries or standing in pooling water. Do not carry metal objects, even with gloved hands, including holding winch cables.

Although nearly impossible for the kind of work we do, try to keep dry; a full-sized rain suit will not protect you in a lightning strike.

When calls for service take you into the great outdoors, be smart when the presence of lightning is dangerously close and find that safe zone to ride out the storm. If you've got any doubt that lightning still lingers, stay safe inside and wait it out.

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