The Week's Features
Tow Expo Dallas' winning trucks are highlighted
Towman Scott Shover is being called "a guardian angel"
Redi-Letters' lighted signs easily mount on wreckers
Suspending auto repos of clients impacted by Hurricane Harvey
Or, do government controls actually work?
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In his seminar, "Dispatching, GPS and Mapping Innovations," Todd Althouse of Beacon Software will take a look at how a dispatch office has changed in the last 20 years. He'll review modern tools available to dispatchers, such as GPS locations, PTO activity, computer-assisted dispatch for driver recommendations and much more to improve efficiencies. This Management Conference seminar will take place at the American Towman Exposition, November 17-19 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland–register today!
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingSeptember 20 - September 26, 2017

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Waterford, MI
(Pop. 72,166)
Auburn, AL
(Pop. 56,908)
Terre Haute, IN
(Pop. 60,785)
Loveland, CO
(Pop. 72,651)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.

Do Rate Caps Bring the Desired Affect?

money d0983By Don Archer

As a measure intended to do away with unscrupulous towers and exorbitant rates, many city governments enforce a maximum amount per tow, believing that if you take the money out of the towing business you'll only get honest, respectable businessmen doing the work.

Of course, you can't blame people for wanting to pay less.

The reality is, controlling costs has been tried before and it doesn't work. You need look no further than healthcare for an example.

"Forbes" contributor Chris Conover wrote an article in 2012 that explains exactly how attempting to control healthcare costs has had the opposite effect.

In his article he writes that, "In 1958, per capita health expenditures were $134. This may seem astonishingly small, but it actually includes everything, inclusive of care paid for by government or private health insurers. A worker earning the average wage in 1958 ($1.98) would have had to work 118 hours—nearly 15 days—to cover this expense."

In 1965 Medicare was established as a measure to control healthcare costs for seniors. Conover wrote, "By 2012, per capita health spending had climbed to $8,953.00. At the average wage, a typical worker would have to work 467 hours—about 58 days."

Conover's not just talking about inflation. The price of everything has gone up since 1958. He's using today's average wages compared with 1958's average wages to show that the price of healthcare is up by almost 400 percent, precisely due to measures aimed at controlling costs.

Some suggest that healthcare was an easy mark. And that the government became so deeply involved precisely because of its desire to widen its scope and power while increasing the dependency of the populace upon government.

Maybe that's why other city leaders are taking a different approach with towing rates. They're taking a play out of the federal government's handbook.

Rather than limiting the amount of money a tower can charge, many cities like Bridgeport, Conn., are bidding out towing services. Instead of looking at towers as a problem that needs fixing, they're taking advantage of this "common villain" and using them to collect tax dollars, somewhat covertly.

In 2013, Jim Arillo, of Jim's Auto, agreed to pay the city of Bridgeport $376 per car to win the city's towing contract. Separately the city takes in $1.5 million annually from their boot program.

In cities like Bridgeport, high "pay-to-play" rates have forced towers to raise towing fees. But in other places, the authorities have clamped down tight on the amount a tower is allowed to charge, forcing them to raise rates elsewhere.

If the desired effect of rate caps is to decrease the burden on the public, they don't seem to work. Maybe the question we should be asking is do government controls work?

Don G. Archer and his wife, Brenda, own and operate Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. Don is also multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at To learn more, email him direct at

Are You Ready for Paperwork Inspections?

buried.under.paperwork e62aeBy Randall C. Resch

A California tow company owner called me recently, disappointed that his company was being disqualified by the highway patrol. Not because his company didn't meet the tow truck fleet requirements or facility requirements; but because his administrative paperwork was not in order.

He felt the highway patrol tow boss was being too sensitive that the company's paperwork wasn't in the order he expected. He was disgruntled and felt the tow boss was picking on him due to perceived problems from an earlier rotation situation that resulted in his company being suspended.

After listening to him for some time, I came to the opinion that the tow boss may have been justified.

If you're seeking to participate as a first-time rotation tower or if you're a long-time rotation provider, there's tons of paperwork required by the highway patrol. It takes due diligence and attention to detail to stay on top of the paperwork pile.

While applying for any highway patrol or police rotation bid, knowing the amount of paperwork upfront is the difference between acceptance and denial, or acceptance and eventual removal. When required paperwork is lacking or not up-to-date, you're history.

Here's a simple description of what's minimally required for most new applicants or renewal applications:

• Permit Application. Every bid has a date of deadline application in the contract. Most contracts typically do not roll over annually and must be re-submitted every year or when stipulated.

• Driver Lists. Indicates all drivers who will respond to calls for services have completed a LiveScan or acceptable background investigations.

• Tow Operator Training. Proof that all tow operators are sufficiently trained in towing and recovery procedures. Proof of training may include a requirement that tow drivers have attained TIM training separate from tow operator's training.

• Drug Testing. Proof that all responding drivers are enrolled in an employee drug/alcohol protocol.

• Insurance. Company to provide evidence of minimal liability, worker's compensation and business insurance coverages, typically naming the agency as insured.

• Inspections. Proof that each tow truck and flatbed carrier has been inspected by the state and or agency of contract.

• Hours Worked/Logbooks. For companies providing big-rig or upper class tow operations, drivers who spend time behind the wheel must have an accurate accounting of time driving vs. recorded periods of rest.

Paperwork is an endless process that requires complete documentation and archiving. Most likely, each RFP or bid offering will include the requirement that the contracting city or entity has the right to request a review of the company's records with appropriate notice during work hours. There's potential of a surprise paperwork review somewhere down the line.

I believe it's the tow company's responsibility to have and maintain complete, accurate and honest paperwork that's ready for an inspection at any time. Accordingly, if paperwork isn't in order, suspensions of 30 days or more are possible to include possible removal from the contract for violation of performance.

Owners, keep in mind that if you have an operations manager, drivers, manager or shop supervisor you've tasked with keeping paperwork up-to-date, ultimately you still are accountable to ensure that all paperwork is in order. The agency isn't concerned with an excuse that you weren't aware that the paperwork wasn't complete, archived or readily available.

Remember, law enforcement will hold you to a higher standard than other kinds of contracts. It's not a matter of personalities or them not liking you. If you're not playing by the varsity rules, it's your choice. If you're not up-to-date as to what paperwork is required of your company, perhaps it's time to attend some tow coursework or consult your attorney.

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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