The Week's Features
In a massive pile up in Texas, tow companies unite to clean up mess from Mother Nature’s Wrath.
When lending a helping hand is taken the wrong way.
Tablet with advanced technologies promises to bring workflow efficiency to new heights.
Events
San Antonio, TX.
Aug. 5-7, 2021
Las Vegas, NV.
Sept. 15-17, 2021
Cleveland, OH.
Oct. 14-16, 2021
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 11-14, 2021
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing February 24 - March 02, 2021

Eye Candy Camouflaged Design

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George L. Nitti

Although a camouflaged design is often meant to conceal an object or person from discovery, when displayed in the open, like a tow truck, you can bet it catches the eye.

In the case of Mr. C’s Towing, with a main location in Los Alamitos, Calif., that is good news, as their latest wrap, done in a blue, gray and white patterned camouflage, turns heads and leaves a memorable impression.

According to Mr. C’s general manager, Ricky Northcutt, a 17-year veteran of the company, Mr. C’s tow trucks are uniquely wrapped, including their 2019 Chevy 6500HD with a Vulcan lift.

Northcutt said, “The inspiration behind the wrap came from a YouTuber called Daily Driven Exotics that drives around in a Lamborghini. We copied the design. He goes to shows and does documentaries on his adventures. When his car breaks down we come to pick him up. He has an audience in the millions.”

Like the wrap on the Lamborghini, Mr. C’s newly minted Chevy was wrapped by the same company, Protective Film Solutions of Costa Mesa, Calif.

Outside of the highly immersive, eye candy camouflaged pattern, the white lettering is easy to read, clearly presenting the company name on the side of the unit, large lettering spelling out 24 hour service, several of its other locations, it’s phone number and the purpose that it serves: official police towing.

For Mr. C’s, this is the 3rd time they have switched out their recovery truck, keeping the same Vulcan wrecker originally purchased in the 90’s.

Northcutt said, “Although Ford commands about 85% of the light duty market, we are ‘Chevy Guys.’ For a while Chevy was out of the towing market but now they are back in.”

With approximately 50 units in their fleet, the bulk of Mr. C’s work includes police impounds, recoveries, and high-end towing, where they transport as far as Santa Barbara and Las Vegas.

“Orange County Calif. is the exotic car county of California,” Northcutt said. “We do about 20 cars a day transporting cars to and from car shows and old vintage porsches to people like Jay Leno.”

Northcutt further added, “To do this kind of work, you have to gain trust with the customer. In Orange County, everyone knows who we are.”

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!


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Pandemic in Sharp Decline

By Steve Calitri

The U.S. is on a trajectory of herd immunity, due to the vaccination rollout successfully underway and the number of people today with Covid-19 antibodies in their system. While the mainstream media still colors its reporting in doom and gloom, there are qualified voices predicting that the current downward spiral of infections will lead to the end of the Pandemic by the Spring.

“There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection,” Marty Makary wrote in the Wall Street Journal on February 19. Makary is a surgeon and professor at John Hopkins Hospital and University. He also teaches at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect COVID will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.”

Based on random surveys of people testing positive for Covid 19 antibodies, the number of actual cases of infections, including those non-symptomatic, is anywhere from ten to twenty times of reported cases. Herd immunity kicks in when a population is over 60% immune from the virus, which thwarts the spread of the disease.


Timber Tumble Trucking Mishap Solved by Towman Thinking Tree Trunk Assist

The Joker’s Wild

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Like a "Joker's wild" in card games, some people could stand in for many occupations, being handy or simply a jack of all trades. Covid times require not only resilience, but the ability to adapt to new environments.

These days, Mike Stanley, owner of the newly created Back It Up Towing of Decatur, Ill., is plying a new trade, after years of working in the construction business.

“I had a construction company for a long time, but really enjoyed running a wrecker. I’ve towed on and off for about 5 years,” he said.

To get things underway, Stanley trekked out to Manchester, NH, where he purchased a black and purple 2007 Ford F350 Diesel Vulcan 810 self-loader from Joker’s Towing.

“I found it on Facebook Marketplace,” he said. “It had low mileage on it, was a diesel 4-wheel drive, came with strapped chains and had nice wheel dollies.”

Although he really liked the truck, particularly its black and purple colors, he acknowledged he wasn’t sure about the fate of the Joker that sits as a decal on the hood of the unit, as well as the side doors.

“I’m going to take the joker off the side and put the name of my company in its place,” he said. “Will keep the 24/7 service on the truck.”

The company name, Back It Up Towing, came after discussions with his family and doing a google search where he discovered that there was no tow company under such a name in Illinois.

But as far as leaving the joker on the hood, he hasn’t made up his mind. He said, “My kids tell me to leave it. It does make the truck stand out.”

Also standing out is the purple grill at the front of the unit.

Stanley said, “It’s powder coated. It keeps it from rusting, like a lot of people do with their wheels.”

Since starting the new business, Stanley has gotten some good press in the wake of severe weather conditions across the U.S. through his good will by offering free tow services to veterans, senior citizens and first responders.

He said, “I love helping people.”

With his new wild card in play, regardless of its fate, Stanley will be able to maneuver in all kinds of environments.

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


Have you diversified into any new revenue streams to cope with the pandemic?
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Managing Editor: Steve Calitri
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
February 24 - March 02, 2021
Between 50 and 75 tow truck drivers took part in a memorial ride to honor a fallen colleague and his family.

 Memorial Ride in Vegas Honors Fallen Tower

On Sunday, between 50 and 75 tow trucks gathered in Las Vegas to honor fallen tower Mike Moore. His family was in attendance.

"We just wanted to show them how much love -- how big of a family we actually are," said tow truck operator Clayton Agner. "We're a brotherhood. We're a sisterhood. But it's a family out here, and as you can tell, there was nothing but love out here tonight."

Moore was working in Anchorage, Alaska last summer when he was struck by an impaired driver.

"He was on the side of the road, just doing his job," said Agner. "Had his lights going just like we do right now, and a DUI motorist went through a closed part of the road and struck and killed him."

Besides honoring Moore's memory, Agner said they hope the ride will bring attention to "Slow down, pull over" laws across the country, which require motorists who see emergency vehicles to reduce speed and change lanes if possible

"If you can't move over, we understand," said Agner. "All we ask is that you just slow down, you just pay attention."

https://news3lv.com
On the Hook with John Borowski - 8
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February 24 - March 02, 2021
Between 50 and 75 tow truck drivers took part in a memorial ride to honor a fallen colleague and his family.

Massive Pile-up in Ft. Worth/Dallas

Winter storms and dicey weather conditions in Dallas-Fort Worth early Thursday, 1/11, led to a 133-car pile-up on Interstate 35, leaving at least 6 people dead in car crashes. It was one of numerous pile-ups reported throughout the area.

Fire Chief Jim Davis said at least 65 people sought medical treatment at local hospitals.

Matt Zavadsky, spokesman for the MedStar ambulance service, said numerous patients were treated and released on the scene.

Also injured were four officers, three of whom were involved in the crash as they were heading to work. One was injured while working the scene, according to the police chief.

The pileup was over a 1.5-mile area, requiring multiple sectors to be set up including extrication, triage, treatment and transport, Davis said. 

Many people were trapped in their vehicles, requiring hydraulic equipment to free them, according to Davis.

Zavadsky said 13 ambulances were at the scene along with critical care paramedics and supervisor units.

https://edition.cnn.com/

Louisville Tow Company Hit with Lawsuit

Tow company Suburban Towing was hit with a lawsuit claiming that they engaged in illegal tows in the city of Louisville.

The plaintiffs claim that vehicles were illegally towed, damaged and charged excessive rates. The suit seeks financial compensation for the plaintiffs and names as defendants Suburan and two members of LMPD's Vehicle Impoundment Unit: Ron Glynn and Richard Isham.

It alleges Glynn and Isham "routinely deem vehicles 'abandoned' and have Suburban tow vehicles to Suburban lots without first affixing any notice of violations to the vehicles, let alone confirming that the vehicle was parked for three consecutive days on a public way." 

In the lawsuit, there are claims that "a substantial number" of the roughly 30-70 vehicles Suburban tows per day "at the request and direction of Metro employees" do not fall within the company's contract with the city. The attorney argues that the city's "lingering abandoned vehicle accumulation" can be attributed to Suburban towing "vehicles which will result in immediate revenue, rather than those truly warranting a tow."

Suburban was contracted by the city of Louisville in 2020 to remove abandoned and junked vehicles in a city rife with more than 5000 scattered throughout the city. The company has not commented on the suit.

https://www.wdrb.com/

Leo Rinwalske Honored with Tow Truck Procession

A procession was held in Elmira, NY for Leo Rinwalske, the owner of Rinwalske Towing. He owned and operated Rinwalske Towing for over seventy-five years, succeeding his father who founded the company in 1945. Rinwalske passed away on February 3.

Several tow trucks drove through the neighborhood on Saturday afternoon with sirens flashing and beeping horns in honor of him.

"He lived and breathed Rinwalske Towing, old cars, and especially his family. He deserved to be honored. We want to thank everyone that participated and came out and supported the family and the industry. The love was wonderful. He was our hero,” said his daughters, Michelle Dart, Terri Roberts, Cheryl Rinwalske, and Christine Couse.   

https://www.weny.com/

Quest to Find Home for Purple Heart

A couple of years ago, a purple heart was found laying in an abandoned car at All Points Towing at their tow yard in Reno, Nev.

“You don’t find Purple Hearts laying in abandoned cars, I mean it’s just so unusual,” said Frank Greenwood, with the Disabled American Veterans Reno Chapter #1.

Subsequently, the medal was given to a neighboring business owner, Howard ‘Mac’ McField, a retired marine who owns a window tinting business.

“I was surprised that a medal like that was left in a car,” McField said. “And I wondered, did the person lose it, misplace it, was it stolen? So I just felt it was just right to get it back to its rightful owner.”

With nothing to go by except the name on the back of the medal, Charles N. Lincoln, United States Navy, McField and Greenwood have been on a 2 year quest to find an heir of Lincoln’s. Lincoln died at the end of the 2nd World War in a kamikaze bombing of the U.S.S. Bismarck, soon after receiving the honor.

“It’s so important that we get this back to the family,” Greenwood said. “It’s an heirloom. You know the family should be proud that he gave his life for this country.”

However, the two men continue to search, disappointed at not being able to give it to a family member while the pandemic adds another challenge with agencies closed.

But that doesn’t stop McField and Greenwood from refusing to leave a man behind.

“A Purple Heart is a special story,” Greenwood said. “Purple Hearts are given to special people who do special things, and the family needs to know what he did.”

https://www.kolotv.com/

Tow Trucks Hit with Bullets

Six tow trucks parked outside Big Boy’s Towing and Recovery, in Eureka, Mo., were struck by numerous bullets. The company’s owner contacted police on Jan. 4 after discovering the damage to the trucks, estimated to be around $40,000.

Two men are suspects in these shootings as they were seen firing guns toward the trucks from surveillance footage captured near the business.

The damaged trucks included a 2020 Peterbilt, a 2013 Peterbilt, a 2020 Dodge Ram and three 2019 Freightliners, police reported.

https://www.myleaderpaper.com/

Nor’easter Brings Parking Bans

With parking bans in effect across western Mass, cars parked on the street are fair game towing.

According to General Manager Stephen Gonneville of Interstate Towing, “People don’t follow them. We will be out enforcing them tonight, so be prepared if you live in a town where there’s a parking ban. They will be towing and we will be out there.”

Gonneville preaches the same story every time bans are put into effect, cautioning drivers to stay home and off the roads.

Acknowledging he sounds like a broken record, he maintains that the bans keep roads safer, helping emergency vehicles get up and down the streets.

Even though the snow has been light this season, Interstate Towing said they’re staying busy with not only parking ban enforcement, but also accidents and cold weather car troubles, jumpstarting in excess of 250 vehicles.

https://www.westernmassnews.com/

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February 24 - March 02, 2021

Clearing Chaos in Fort Worth

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by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On February 11, 2021, hell broke loose on I-35W in Fort Worth around morning rush hour. 135 vehicles were involved in a massive wreck, leaving six people dead and dozens injured. The scene stretched for nearly a mile in the southbound lanes of the interstate, north of downtown. The roads were so bad firefighters had to use their own salt and sand to get to the scene.

Texas was amidst a frigid, horrific weather pattern and the highway became a sheet of ice from freezing rain that had fallen overnight and into the early morning hours. This led to a massive chain-reaction pileup, which appeared to have started at around 6:15 am, with cars slipping, sliding and crashing into each other. Multiple 18-wheelers, also involved in the pileup, crashed violently into and in some cases rolled over passenger vehicles.

I-35 became a massive search and rescue operation with temperatures making it challenging. People developing hypothermia was a concern and rescuers were slipping on ice while searching for survivors in the wreckage.

Paramedics brought in buses to keep the survivors warm in the freezing temperatures and a reunification center was set up for people involved in the pileup to reconnect with their families. Fort Worth Police deployed more than 80 vehicles to block traffic and assist wrecker companies removing cars from the pileup.

The emergency response was just as massive. In the midst of this tragedy towers answered the call responding with an awesome display of manpower and equipment and were on scene working alongside 80 police officers and close to 70 firefighters. Towers not only cleared the mangled wreckage, but lifted thousands of pounds of crushed vehicles so that firefighters could rescue people that were trapped.

In charge of this effort was James Bennett Jr., the owner of Beard’s Towing, the biggest of the many tow companies on the rotation handling this mess. James Jr. is the “Incident Management Commander” for the Traffic Incident Management System in the area. He oversaw coordinating the response of close to 90 tow trucks that were on scene helping with the crash.

James Jr explained, “We were called in by Fort Worth PD and Fire. If you have something that weighs from 45,000 to 80,000 pounds on top of something that weighs less than a ton, we need to be able to remove that carefully and safely so firefighters can get in there and do their job.”

This was a tremendous undertaking with towers collaborating with other first responders in a coordinated recovery and rescue effort to clear the chaos with an impressive array of equipment. Tow companies involved were Beard’s Towing, Texas Towing, A-1 Wrecker Service, Edd’s Towing, ABC Wrecker, Cornish Wrecker, Perrfect Towing, Milliner Wrecker, Guy Simmons Towing, Bevins Wrecker Service, Lonestar Towing and Advanced Recovery.

James Jr added, “As far as individual drivers operating rollbacks, they were definitely too many of them to know all of their names. We reference all of our towers as "The Fort Worth Towing Alliance."

Heavy-duty wreckers and rotators lined the scene to lift vehicles stacked on top of other vehicles. All of the heavy-duty rigging of the casualties that were on top of other casualties and victims was done by James Bennett Jr., Richard Knadle, Allen Knadle, Jac Clay and Chris Akers.

For each of the fatalities involved the rigging was done by James Bennett Jr. He explained, “To rig some of the casualties I had to crawl over and actually lay on some of the victims to get the rigging in the right place so that it would not drop and damage the victim further.”

James Jr informed, “On the picture where you see the rotator lifting two vehicles at once...The reason for that was due to the victim underneath the white van. The driver side door was ripped open increased underneath the van with a corner of it going into the victims back. The black Toyota pick up was wedged on top of the van in another vehicle pushing down on the victim. The rigging was done so that we could lift the black pick up in the van simultaneously without it dropping and damaging the victim any further. If we had moved one of the vehicles at a time it would have dragged the victim.”

In total, towers cleared 135 vehicles and recovered six victims in 16 hours. James Jr and his crew were first on scene and were there for the duration. He stated, “We were out there the whole time. We were the last to leave.”

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Wisconsin Winter Wreck

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by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On February 1, 2021 Lanser Garage & Towing Inc was called by the Wisconsin State Patrol for a wrecked tractor-trailer. Third generation tower Jamon Ingelse advised, “This was an empty T/T unit out on I43 northbound at 138 MM in Cleveland, Wisconsin. The Volvo tractor tandem bent 90° to the cab around a tree. The trailer stayed attached.”

Jamon responded with his 2009 Mack with a Vulcan V100 50-ton equipped with a SP850 side pull unit, along with operator Scott Winkle in their 2018 Mack with a Century 9055 50-ton and operator Hunter Gottschalk with their 2018 IHC 12 Series rollback.

Jamon informed, “This accident happened two days prior to us doing the job, in negative temperatures and wind chill to -40. Multiple semi accidents were left to do a scheduled recovery throughout the entire county in cooperation/coordination with Wisconsin State Patrol, Manitowoc Sheriff's Dept and Highway department. Recovery day was still high temps below zero.”

Due to wind, ice and blinding conditions, the semi lost control, sliding down the hill and jack-knifing, hitting the tree on the passenger side ahead of the tandem. At the point of impact the tandem bent 90° around the tree with the trailer still attached behind the tree. The entire unit was approximately 60 feet down a hill with the trailer parallel to the interstate.

The Lanser recovery team positioned the Century 9055 forward of the wreck to winch out after it was removed from the tree. The Vulcan V100 turned around and faced the opposite direction of traffic to be in the correct position to remove the wreck from the tree and be in the right position to towing to Lanser’s holding facility.

“The V100 was rigged to the front axle area and to the fifth wheel area with separate lines to straighten the Volvo out and "unwrap" it from the tree,” said Jamon. “After it was clear of the tree, our 9055 rigged to winch unit to the interstate as the V100 stayed hooked to the fifth wheel plate area and re-rigged the second line to the rear of the trailer.”

As the entire unit approached the interstate, the Vulcan V100 winched the rear of the trailer onto the shoulder of the interstate. They used the Century 9055 to separate the units and re-positioned to tow the trailer and the V100 backed up to the rear of the Volvo.

Using a cut-off saw, the crew removed broken, bent and twisted metal and plastic to assist with the tow to Lanser. The Volvo was chained together from the rear tandems to transmission cross members with support blocking under cross members and frame rails where possible to keep it together during transport.

Jamon explained, “The unit was towed approximately 35 miles to our storage/holding facility where a salvage yard, contracted through the insurance, came and cut the unit into manageable pieces for transport to Minnesota. Total time was 3 hours and only one lane was closed for this recovery. Great work with everyone involved.”

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Lanser Garage & Towing Inc, based in Belgium, Wisconsin, was founded by George and Grace Lanser in 1951. The family-owned company is currently owned by George's daughter Donna and son in law, Randy Ingelse, with their son, Jamon Ingelse, representing the very involved third generation.

Lanser handles light- and heavy-duty towing and recovery, local and long distance and also offer forklift sales, rental and service. They are proud members of the Wisconsin Towing Association.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Handling a Jack-knifed Semi TT

Jackknifed Semi TT TIW 4 3f2e1by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On November 1, 2020, Janeway Towing was dispatched for a tractor trailer jack knifed into the left guard rail.

Janeway owner Jamie Dougherty informed, “This was on Interstate 476 Northbound as it prepares to cross the Schuylkill River at mile marker 16.7. From the images obtained by the traffic cameras, two heavy-duty wreckers, rotator, recovery support truck, telehandler with forks and bucket, traffic control and emergency spill clean up were dispatched to the scene.”

Jamie, along with operators Rick Royles, Brian Bowe, Mike Notes, Joe Rudnick and Craig Amendt responded to the scene with their Century 1075 75-ton rotator, Zips RSB unit, V100 Vulcan 50-ton heavy, 7035 Century 35-ton heavy, JLG Telehandler and a Century 12 Series LCG carrier.

When the Janeway recovery team arrived on scene, they observed that the fuel tanks were breached and leaking fuel as well as the oil pan spilling fuel and motor oil. The recovery could not begin until a safe traffic pattern was set.

Once the traffic pattern was set, they first separated the trailer from the tractor, rotated it around and set it in the center travel lane where it was hooked to the awaiting Century 7035 35-ton heavy-duty wrecker and towed back to Janeway for storage.

Jamie informed, “The guardrail was tangled throughout the tractor and in between the dual tires, so we had to cut away the guardrail from the tractor and surrounding area. We placed it across the roadway for the guardrail crew to haul away.”

The recovery team than rigged the tractor, lifted and rotated it off of the guardrail posts into the center lane and prepped it for towing with the Vulcan V100 50-ton to Janeway for storage.

With the casualty hauled away, the crew got busy cleaning up all debris and swept the roadway.

Jamie stated, “We were limited on time so didn’t get to take too many pics. It was hurry up and get the job done and we did!”

James “Jamie” H. Dougherty, Jr., the President and CEO of Janeway Towing in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, was born to be a tower. Jane Dougherty, Jamie's mother, the Jane in Janeway Towing, said he ate, slept and dreamt tow trucks since he was 3 years old. If you have the pleasure of knowing him, you know he is an insane workaholic. He has a great passion and takes great pride in his chosen profession.

Since Janeway Towing was established in 1980, Jamie and his crew, all certified WreckMasters, have handled towing, transportation, consulting and have recovered anything and everything they’ve been called to respond to.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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MIDWESTERN – Nacogdoches, TX
$500
(pop. 34,047)

SOUTHERN – Lake City, FL
$250
(pop. 12,099)

EASTERN - King George, VA
$145
(pop. 4,457)

WESTERN - Brentwood, CA
$276.25
(pop. 53,673)

Heavy-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
February 24 - March 02, 2021

Helping Hand or Unlawful Touch?

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By Randall C. Resch

A woman’s car was towed from a crash and held for her insurance. Four months later, she claimed, “The driver groped me when I climbed into the truck’s cab.” The case seemed to be a “set-up” by someone seeking easy money. Her story wasn’t credible. Was hers an accidental mis-step or was she groped?

The claimant described she mis-stepped, started to fall, yet the fall was halted by the tower standing directly behind the truck’s opened door. Wreckers and carriers have really tall cabs where entry can be problematic. She focused on, “The driver didn’t tell me how-to get into the cab,” not that there’s a mystery about doing so.

After regaining balance, she entered the cab with no issue. At the time, she mentioned telling the driver she wasn’t hurt. If a mis-step did happen, she was lucky that the tower protected her from falling to the pavement.

An inquiring attorney asked if the tow industry practiced “unlawful touching.” My answer was simple. A fall from a tow truck’s elevated step is always perceived as an accident that could inflict injury or death. Towers are trained to recognize this.

If the claimant’s story had merit, a police report should have been her first order of business, but nothing was filed even after speaking to her attorney. I told the attorney I found the tower’s actions reasonable.

My towers instruct customers that the safest place (to ride) is in the tow truck’s cab with a seatbelt on. From the non-traffic side, the customer gets escorted to the cab, shown where the steps and hold-handles are. Customers are told, “I’ll be behind you in-case you fall or mis-step.”

If riders are elderly, physically challenged, or otherwise have difficulty getting in, it’s OK to ask if you may assist them. Drivers never touch someone unless given permission as that action can result in a “He said she said,” scenario.

Should tow companies make it policy to not provide rides to customers? These easy-money situations occur all the time, especially in California where attorney groups aggressively specialize in personal injury cases. While it’s been the industry’s courtesy to provide “rides” for customers, is it fair that towers be subjected to false accusations simply for others to make a buck?

If a fall did happen, I salute the tower’s immediate reaction that prevented her injury. But, if this lawsuit were to settle out-of-court, it’s one more reason why insurance premiums are incredibly high. So, as Covid restrictions subside, will you go back to providing rides to customers?

Note: The lawsuit was dropped.

Do You Know Your Tire Ratings?

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Brian J Riker

Tires. We are around them so often in the towing world we tend to take them for granted until they are flat or fail while going down the road. This attitude can lead us down a dangerous road-especially when dealing with the heavy weights imposed by the largest of tow trucks and rotators on the market today.

Like everything else we use in our industry, tires have ratings and characteristics that make them more or less suitable for our environment. Not all tires of the same size are equal! This is especially important to consider when sourcing replacement tires for your trucks. Sure, you may save a few hundred bucks, but at what real cost?

Load Rating – Historically known as the “ply rating” because it represented how many layers of cotton fabric were used in the construction of the tire, this figure indicates the designed load carrying capacity of a tire at its specified maximum inflation pressure. This figure can be expressed in letters or numbers using agreed upon standards. Generally, the higher the value the more weight carrying capacity the tire has. Always install replacement tires with a load rating at least equal to the original equipment tires specifications.

Speed Rating – This is a critical value on heavy duty trucks, especially those with wide base or floatation tires. While most standard truck tires are now rated for 75 MPH, some specialty sizes such as the popular 425/65 R22.5 still have speed ratings as low as 68 MPH under ideal conditions, reduced even more for some surface types. With speed limits in excess of 75 MPH in some parts of the U.S., towers need to be especially aware of their speed ratings and how inflation pressure can affect their tire’s ability to handle the heat generated by higher speeds.

Application – This rating determines what type of operation the tire manufacturer intends a specific tire to be used in. There are several different variants here but mainly they deal with the differences between local/short haul, regional, long haul or severe duty service. As towers, most of us operate in short haul severe duty applications and as such we should spec our tires accordingly if we expect to get the best wear and overall life out of our investment.

Tires are usually one of the largest operating expenses for any fleet right after fuel and labor. This expense can be managed in part by selecting the proper tire for your application then closely monitoring inflation pressure and wear. Frequent inspection of your tires is critical to maximum life span.

Tires should have their pressure checked daily, with a tire gauge, when cold (before driving). Keep in mind ambient air temperature changes can quickly cause tire pressure changes. Example, when you check your tires after the first frost in the Fall you may notice a significant drop in pressure. This doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your tires, just the outside air temperature has dropped enough to cause the air inside your tires to “shrink” in response. For every 10 degrees F the ambient air temperature drops tires tend to lose 1 PSI inflation pressure.

There are even motor carrier enforcement issues regarding tire speed, load and inflation ratings. During a routine roadside inspection or crash investigation, officers can cite a motor carrier for violations of any of these ratings. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety Measurement System goes as far as assigning weighted points to these types of violations with exceeding speed ratings or operating with flat tires assigned 8 out of 10 points, meaning they are severe violations likely to cause a crash. It is important to note that the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the group that sets the Standard North American Inspection Process, considers a tire underinflated by 20 or more PSI to be flat. This could easily occur due to ambient air temperature changes if the tire’s inflation has not been checked in a while and is a small enough different to go unnoticed by eye or the old fashioned “tire thumper.”

Your tires are one of the most critical components on your vehicle and should receive regular maintenance to ensure safety, long life and the best possible return on investment. It is often said lower upfront costs do not always equal the better deal and this is especially true with tire purchases. Stay safe and keep the rubber on the road!

Make It a Clean-Sweep

powerbroom b4d10By Randall C. Resch

I worked an old-style Pepsi truck that over-turned in a busy beach intersection. What caught my attention were thirty-cases of soda bottles that ejected from the truck’s side racks when it rolled.

I estimated that 700-glass bottles were scattered hundreds of feet across the sidewalks and down the street. Summer’s heated pavement made spilled Pepsi-drink thick-like syrup capable of gumming-up a good pair of boots!

Having completed the recovery faster than anticipated, the task of sweeping and collecting debris was next. I swept and shoveled glass bits for two hours, noting that for even the most in-shape tower, sweeping was exhausting.

I typically don’t write product reviews unless products or equipment items lend benefit to the industry. But a tow company friend shared a recovery photo of multi-vehicle wreck that deposited a fair amount of debris in highway lanes.

Being from the midwest, he commented how area tow companies had power brooms on their wreckers for large scale scenarios. I agreed this (equipment) item would be a welcomed addition to ease on-scene time and clean-up efforts that included large debris fields.

You may have noticed a few heavy wreckers equipped with power brooms at American Towman’s tow shows. Towers who use these machines swear by their ease and efficiency. One pageant participant told me, “Power brooms work really good especially on wet pavement.”

Most popular for towers are Echo’s “Pro-Paddle Attachment” and Stihl’s “Power Sweep Attachment,” priced around $300. Both attachments can be added to a weed-whacker’s power head. Sweep-heads typically measure 22.5 to 25-inches wide.

Also available for larger crash scenes, commercial sweepers like Bissell’s “Big Green Commercial Push Sweeper” are higher priced.

Like using a weed-whacker, power sweepers are easy to operate. To ease operator fatigue, convert (weld) an old furniture dolly to the power brooms frame making it a detachable, rolling sweeper.

From manufacturer’s websites, there’s no reference of use during accident remediation. One downside exists; storage is problematic on light-duty wreckers and carriers due to smaller boxes. Quick accessibility may not be as fast as one would like, suggesting a detachable head is better suited to small storage spaces.

True to gas powered machines, they’ll need to be routinely started, gassed and maintained to stay in optimum working order. However, for those “just in case moments” where that fancy sweep-toy doesn't pull-start, a good old-fashioned push-broom works too.

For towers who outfit their wreckers and carriers with gadgets, bling and cool stuff, power brooms or power sweep’s “… are the bomb.” They’re an affordable accessory that creates quick productivity working huge cleanup tasks. If you work in areas of heavy rain and winter slush, a power broom may be the next toy on your list.  

Reminder, don't forget to return the sweeper to the tow truck’s stowage when finished. Leaving behind any power accessory is a sad (and costly) state of affairs; one sure to upset the company’s owner.
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February 24 - March 02, 2021

The Joker’s Wild

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Like a "Joker's wild" in card games, some people could stand in for many occupations, being handy or simply a jack of all trades. Covid times require not only resilience, but the ability to adapt to new environments.

These days, Mike Stanley, owner of the newly created Back It Up Towing of Decatur, Ill., is plying a new trade, after years of working in the construction business.

“I had a construction company for a long time, but really enjoyed running a wrecker. I’ve towed on and off for about 5 years,” he said.

To get things underway, Stanley trekked out to Manchester, NH, where he purchased a black and purple 2007 Ford F350 Diesel Vulcan 810 self-loader from Joker’s Towing.

“I found it on Facebook Marketplace,” he said. “It had low mileage on it, was a diesel 4-wheel drive, came with strapped chains and had nice wheel dollies.”

Although he really liked the truck, particularly its black and purple colors, he acknowledged he wasn’t sure about the fate of the Joker that sits as a decal on the hood of the unit, as well as the side doors.

“I’m going to take the joker off the side and put the name of my company in its place,” he said. “Will keep the 24/7 service on the truck.”

The company name, Back It Up Towing, came after discussions with his family and doing a google search where he discovered that there was no tow company under such a name in Illinois.

But as far as leaving the joker on the hood, he hasn’t made up his mind. He said, “My kids tell me to leave it. It does make the truck stand out.”

Also standing out is the purple grill at the front of the unit.

Stanley said, “It’s powder coated. It keeps it from rusting, like a lot of people do with their wheels.”

Since starting the new business, Stanley has gotten some good press in the wake of severe weather conditions across the U.S. through his good will by offering free tow services to veterans, senior citizens and first responders.

He said, “I love helping people.”

With his new wild card in play, regardless of its fate, Stanley will be able to maneuver in all kinds of environments.

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

The Voyager

1 80296By George L. Nitti

Steve Gale, owner of Gale’s Towing & Recovery of McMinnville, Ore., said, “I’m a trekkie. I can’t deny it. I grew up watching the Star Trek TV series, all of the re-runs, including the later series.”

Which is part of the reason why you will find the Star Trek Voyager on the side of their 91’ Kenworth with a 97’ 35 ton DeWalt Unit.

Although not the Enterprise which was depicted in the original Star Trek series of the 60’s, the Voyager gained much popularity as part of a much later Star Trek spinoff called “Star Trek: Voyager.”

When Gale first started the company with his brother Richard in 1990, who has since passed away, one of the designs on the company’s earlier tow trucks in the mid 90’s included “The Enterprise,” which was custom painted.

Gale said, “This one is a wrap. I scoured the internet to find a design I liked and had it done by PDX Wraps in Portland.”

Helping the unit stand-out is the green and black paint schematic.

Gale said, “The green is called a ‘Big, Bad, Green.’ When I was in high school I drove a 59’ Ford pick-up that was painted the same color. Friends of mine wanted to know what I did with that ‘ugly, green truck.’”

Although he resisted using the color green on the company tow trucks, preferring a radiant blue, Gale realized that green was an attention grabber.

He said, “It was a gimmick to get noticed. I found out that people remembered our green trucks. Police said don’t change the color. Customers would say to them, ‘We don’t know the name of the company. It’s the one with the green trucks.’ That’s kind of when we knew that green was working for us.”

On top of the black paint job, are green flames with two eagles on the hood of the unit, reflecting the company’s patriotic spirit.

As for the company’s slogan, it can be found on the boom, where it states, “Experience the Difference.”

For Gale, becoming a tow operator was part of a longer journey that included a career as a journeyman painter, firefighter and paramedic.

He said, “You might say the whole towing thing was part of a much longer voyage.”

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

Taking a Ride on the Wild Side

ban2 bdfabBy George L. Nitti

Jinks Motor Carriers Towing and Recovery, Inc. of Midlothian, Va. has set themselves apart with their attention-grabbing graphic design.

The company, which is owned by Alexander Jinks who goes by the name Mr. Jinks recently celebrated their 4th year anniversary and is set to purchase another truck, underscoring the company’s quick growth.

Like their first wrap, their 2nd wrap done on their 2019 Freightliner M2 with a 22 ft Jerr Dan XLP bed was done in a similar, extraordinary vein and is also unforgettable, setting the bar to a new standard.

Jinks said, “It was a marketing strategy. I wanted people to remember us and say that we want that cool tow truck.”

Indeed, this unit is clearly unforgettable!

The design, which was executed by Illusion Wraps of Fredericksburg, Va., came directly out of 25 year-old Jinks’s imagination.

Jinks said, “It was all in my head. I had a vision and saw the future. I picked something and drew it.”

The white logo on the side of the truck, highlighting the company name, screams out like a wild, dancing flame, written in a tightly scripted font that stretches all the way from top to bottom. The logo is also found written on the center of the hood.

The entrepreneurial Jinks added, “I have big dreams. We’re trade marking our logo.”

The rest of unit is a patriotic tribute, with red, white and blue lines and stars enveloping the design, crisscrossing here and there and exploding in bright candy colors.

The design, although busy, is vibrantly alive, wowing us and taking us on a ride to the wild side.

In the highly competitive Virginia towing marketplace, Jinks said, “I had to do something competitive to set us apart. That’s why we spent so much money on our vinyl wraps. They are elaborate and beautiful.”

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

February 24 - March 02, 2021

Pro Driver Terminal: Pro 8475

DEVICE in use1 PRO8475 83c0c
Webfleet Solutions introduces its upgraded PRO Driver Terminal: the PRO 8475. Equipped with advanced technologies, including LTE connectivity and Google™ Services, the versatile premium tablet supports drivers and fleet managers to bring their workflow efficiency to new heights.

The PRO Driver Terminal better connects drivers and businesses, combining a range of essential features in one device, including order management and two-way communication between drivers and fleet managers, OptiDrive 360, which empowers drivers to improve driving performance with visual and audio feedback, and automatic recording of working time and mileage registration, which helps fleets to comply with legislation and policy.

The PRO 8475 is designed for both in-vehicle and outdoor usage. It’s drop-proof, break-resistant, shock-proof, UV-resistant, vibration-proof, dust and water protected. That makes it suitable for drivers that need to handle the device many times per day in potentially harsh terrain and conditions for long periods of time.

“With the PRO 8 Driver Terminal, our aim is to offer the perfect companion for drivers,” says Matt Gunzenhaeuser, Sales Director for United States and Canada at Webfleet Solutions. “The updated and improved PRO 8475 is adapted to suit the needs of our customers, helping them leverage smart data and supporting them to reach their goals easily, quickly and efficiently.”

To learn more about the PRO 8475, please visit:
http://www.webfleet.com/en_us/webfleet/products/pro/8475/ and
https://youtu.be/1XaKfSNNIMQ

Control Arm Skate

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Control Arm Skate is designed for use on a disabled or wrecked vehicle with a missing wheel or lugnuts, a broken ball joint, control arm, axle or other suspension components. The top of this patented skate has a pocket for the ball-joint and cradles the a-frame of the suspension. The rounded ends of this skate allow for easy loading as it will navigate the approach lip of a bed or trailer. Control Arm Skates are made from a unique recycled material which provides the most durable and longest lasting performance versus competitive products. ITI skates are manufactured in the USA.

Features include:
Made from extruded recycled plastic
Rot, wear, oil and grease resistant
Stronger than wood
Dimensions: 19"L x 5-1/2"W x 5-1/2"H
Cable handle
Sold individually
For more information, go to https://www.skatesiti.com/

PowerSweep

kwpwrswp 242b8The 16 lb. STIHL PowerSweep™ attachment, which is part of the STIHL KombiSystem, features heavy-duty rubber flaps, acting like a squeegee on steroids. It cleans up caked dirt along roads and sidewalks, moves pebbles and sand from grassy turf, and even removes water and light snow from hard flat surfaces.

For more information, https://www.stihlusa.com/products/multi-task-tools/kombisystem-attachments/kwpwrswp/
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February 24 - March 02, 2021
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February 24 - March 02, 2021

Repo Job Turns into Bizarre Arrest

75 year old John Beasly of Tenn., whose white Kia was repo’ed and then reported stolen, was arrested when pulled over driving his own car.

Though the car was registered as stolen, police confirmed Beasley was the registered owner of the car.

“It turns out the vehicle is his. He reported it stolen. It had been repossessed. He did not tell the police that it was not stolen and he got it back, so it could be removed from the system. So, it was still in the system,” said Belle Meade, Tenn. Police Sgt. Jon Carter.

It was then that police learned that Beasley had two warrants for his arrest, one for misdemeanor trespassing and the other for felony vandalism.

Sgt. Carter said, “Basically he called the cops on himself. He completely forgot he reported it stolen. Even when I told him it is still showing as stolen, he said, it is not, it is my car. And then it finally clicked that he reported it when it was repo’ed.”

https://www.wkrn.com/

Anticipated Turn-Around [b]in Repo Business

Although many consumers have been shielded by the federal government’s Covid relief act for delinquency of their mortgage, student loans and rent payments, the same may not be said about auto loans, which are not covered by the act. While the pace of auto repossessions has been slow since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, that may soon change.

“It really depends on how the next several months go,” said Matthew Bavaro, a partner at The Loan Lawyers law firm in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s depending on what kind of relief package Washington is able to pass. We definitely expect to see lenders get more aggressive as the months progress,” he said.

Robert Murphy, a Fort Lauderdale consumer lawyer and a University of Florida law school faculty member, fears tighter credit and more repos may be in store over the long term.

“People are becoming really desperate,” he said. “Longer term I am really concerned — depending on stimulus, this could get a lot worse. I think there is a likelihood we are going to see higher repossessions and a tightening in credit available which has real implications for consumers,” he added.

For those who are in the repossession business, that may be good news, as the industry has taken a hit, operating at 50 to 60% capacity.

“There’s no one in today’s business environment that’s operating at 100%,” said Les McCook, executive director of the of American Recovery Association, which is based in Texas and has members in Florida.

Source: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/

Auto Repossessions on the Rise

As the economic situation in America becomes more dire due to the effects of Covid-19, auto repossessions are expected to rise. Without more stimulus - jobless benefits, financial programs and consumer protections are all set to expire, causing evictions, foreclosures and auto repossessions.

“We’ve certainly seen an uptick in defaults and delinquencies,” said John Van Alst of the National Consumer Law Center. “I think that’s going to translate into a really large increase in repossessions.”

According to the credit reporting agency TransUnion, the number of auto loan accounts that are 30 days past due moved to 3.1% in August, compared to 3.0% in July.

“I’m almost certain the number of repossessions are going to increase,” said Les McCook, executive director for the American Recovery Association.

Source: https://www.poynter.org/

Georgia Woman Charged for Obstruction

A woman faces a charge of obstruction after an incident in a parking lot of a mall area in Warner Robins, Georgia.

According to Police Chief John Wagner, it started with a car being repossessed.

He says the woman jumped into the car and refused to get out. Officers were called to the scene and tried to get her to exit the vehicle.

Then, he says, she started the car and tried to drive it away while it was connected to the wrecker.

Officers broke the car window as she was trying to drive off, and she was ultimately removed from the car.

The woman was charged for obstructing an officer.

https://www.13wmaz.com/
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