The Week's Features
Parade of tow trucks, fire trucks and police cars pays tribute to long time Va. tower Henry Shaver.
Iron Horse Towing of Missoula, Mont., with a specialized fleet to handle extreme rough terrain conditions, shows what they can do with this Cat under harsh winter conditions.
A camouflaged themed wrap that is eye candy, sure to turn heads.
A recovery solution providing 180 degrees of light-duty recovery capability at the back of the carrier.
Events
Cleveland, OH.
June 17-19, 2021
San Antonio, TX.
Aug. 5-7, 2021
Las Vegas, NV.
Sept. 15-17, 2021
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 11-14, 2021
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing January 13 - January 19, 2021

Windmill Tower Recovery

1 d31cc
by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Early evening, on June 23rd, 2020, dispatcher Carla Ruiz of Central Iowa Towing & Recovery Inc. received a call from a trucking company that was carrying a super-load, which had overturned off of an exit ramp on Interstate 35 south bound just outside of Decatur City, Iowa.

They were told it was a 2009 Kenworth T800 heavy-haul tractor and its 8-axle trailer hauling a large section of windmill tower weighing approximately 220k-pounds.

Central owner Dustin Tapp informed, “We have done these windmill sections that had overturned in the past, but none were this heavy.”

Dispatch arranged a crew to start towards the accident scene. Operator Jared Vandewall was sent out in their 2014 Kenworth T800 equipped with a Century 1140 40-ton rotator. Operator Mike Lamberson responded in their 2020 Peterbilt 389 twin-steer equipped with a Century 1150 50-ton knee boom rotator. Operator Alex Gustafson responded in their 2015 Peterbilt 387 equipped with a Century 5130 wrecker. Operator Cody Holmes responded in their 2008 Kenworth T800 equipped with a Century 4024. Central’s Incident Response truck was brought out by operator Kevin Murphy. Others who responded were Craig Tapp, Chase Carlson, Billy See, Luke Schnieder, Tyler Mortvedt, and Nate Brommel to assist with traffic control, fuel spill clean up, and rigging.

Dustin stated, “We sent quite a bit of iron and personnel as we were only given very limited information and the scene of the incident was 103 miles from our home base. Its always best to have more personnel and equipment than you need versus waiting for its arrival.”

On their way to the incident the Central crew learned that another company had originally been called, but did not have enough equipment for such a large job.

“We made contact with the wrecker company to see if they had any pictures or details,” said Dustin. “We learned it was on a very narrow ramp with a steep shoulder. After reviewing the pictures we decided to bring in another wrecker company that we work very well with.”

Dustin called on Wes Penny at Mid Iowa Towing in Des Moines, Iowa and he and his son Austin responded with their 2020 Peterbilt 389 equipped with a Century 1150 50-ton rotator.

When the operators arrived on scene they did their walk-around, surveyed the situation and made a recovery plan.

“Local and State law officials were informed of the complexity of the recovery and given a rough time frame we would have the ramp closed,” explained Dustin. “Our traffic control closed off the ramp setting up cones and signs. We informed traffic management and they lit up the digital sign boards to inform travelers on the highway.”

The recovery crew then began positioning trucks for the recovery.

“We rigged our 1140 with Jared at the controls to the front of the tower,” explained Dustin. “We positioned our 1150 twin-steer with Mike at the controls in the center of the tower. At the rear of the tower was Mid Iowa’s 1150 with Wes and Austin at the controls. In the front we used our 5130 on the front jeep section ran by Alex and rear of the tractor with our 4024 ran by Cody on the front of the tractor.” The crew first removed the fuel from the tanks to avoid the possibility of any more contaminants leaking.

Once everything was positioned and a safe working environment was established the operators and ground personnel put on their Sonetics wireless headsets and began rigging. The rotators were rigged using 15-ton snatch blocks, 5/8-inch G100 chain, 1 ½-inch screw pin shackles and 12-inch x 26-foot double ply straps. The front trucks were rigged using 12-ton snatch blocks and 5/8-inch rim slings.

Dustin said, “We used a low line off of the 4024 to spike the front of the tractor down. Low lines were used on the 5130 to pull the rear tandems and jeep down. Both main lines off of the 1140 were doubled and rigged to lift the front of the tube while the drag winch was giving down pressure at the same time. Both high lines were used off our 1150 hooked to straps supporting and lifting the center of the tube. Mid Iowa’s 1150 used both main lines to create lift of the rear and its drag to spike the jeep.”

Once the unit was back on the ground, the rotators were used to support the tube while they pulled the complete unit out of the ditch and onto the road. Once on the road the drum was secured to the trailer. The transport company brought in a new road tractor.

“We removed the damaged tractor while still supporting the load and put the new one under it,” said Dustin. “Our crew reset three trailer tires. The damaged tractor was transported back to our lot for storage.”

With the new tractor successfully hooked to the unit it was transported to the nearest safe haven which was roughly 1-mile away. Once there Central used their two rotators to lift one end of the tower at a time to re-center it into the trailer. The company waited for day-break to finish the transportation of the tower.

Dustin informed, “The driver was OK as the incident was at a low speed. We never found a BOL (bill of laden) with the actual weights on it or a scale ticket. We were informed by a law enforcement official that their rolling scale had a 246k-pound load cross it in the right time frame.”

From start to finish the job took just over 8 hours 40 minutes including the drive time.

Dustin stated, “Two competing companies coming together was a very large key to the success of this recovery. We were all one team that day, no egos involved. Just one common goal and the drive to make it happen.”
…………………………………….

Dustin Tapp is the owner/manager/CEO of Central Iowa Towing & Recovery Inc. based in Ames, Iowa. Central Iowa Towing & Recovery is a full service, licensed towing company that serves Story County, Iowa and surrounding areas with a diversified fleet and knowledgeable staff equipped to handle any job, big or small.

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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Catalyst for Change

January 4 marked a year ago that Dale Jones, who worked for Performance Towing in Watertown, SD, was struck and killed pulling a vehicle out of a ditch. Since then, the state has passed two pieces of legislation that are making a difference in making the roadways safer for towers.

Senate Bill 164 makes it a class 2 misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $270 for failing to move over/reduce speed to 20 miles per hour. That piece of legislation was followed by House Bill 1170, making it legal for tow truck and Department of Transportation vehicles to use blue lights in the performance of their duties.

Andy Wicks, the owner of Performance Towing, said that there were two major components of the Senate Bill. He said, “First, a person is supposed to be slowing down prior to getting to the incident scene. Secondly, it carries a much stiffer penalty.”

But according to him, the biggest change has resulted from being able to use blue flashing lights. He said, “That seems to have gotten a pretty good response from traffic. You are not always a 100% safe but that seems to have generated a little more attention from the motoring public.”

https://www.mykxlg.com


Chassis Options on Display at the American Towman Expo

Closing Lanes for Recovery Safety

closinglanes d8548
By Randall C. Resch​​

In May 2019, a suicidal jumper threatened to end his life by jumping from a bridge into lanes of California’s SR-99. A CHP spokesperson told FOX40 News: "He could have landed on top of a vehicle which could have hurt somebody else.”

It took ten-hours of negotiation by a CHP officer (who knew the subject) to talk this person into surrendering.

The Sacramento Bee posted a tweet by the CHP saying, “The California Highway Patrol recognizes this closure has caused a significant inconvenience for countless motorists, but the safety of the suicidal person, the officers at the scene, and the motoring public who travel on State Route 99 daily is our foremost concern.”

To Law Enforcement and Traffic Incident Management, I pose this question: if highway traffic is slowed or re-routed for visiting dignitaries, police activity, loose animals, suicidal jumpers, or whatever other reasons, why doesn’t protocol allow for traffic stoppage and blockage for tow operators working critical incidents and accidents?

In another scenario, an experienced carrier operator responded to an upside-down vehicle against a K-Rail where no shoulders existed. The operator advised the CHP officer of his recovery plan by asking that traffic in adjacent lanes be slowed so he could best position the carrier to perform the roll. The officer firmly replied, “No.”

Initiating Plan B, the operator uprighted and loaded the casualty onto the carrier’s deck while working precariously close to moving traffic, endangering himself and others.

California leads the industry with 52-operator fatalities because there’s limited policy in providing traffic breaks or lane closures for towing and recovery. The practice of total blocking for quick-clear provides a much needed safety advantage to lessen a repeated slaughter of tow operators everywhere. I don’t accept that a tow operator’s life, or that of any first responder is any less valuable than someone experiencing unfortunate issues, especially when skilled, highly trained and motivated tow operators can clear highway lanes quickly. Simple math calculates that nine-hours and fifty-minutes would have been saved when compared to the jumper scenario.

By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


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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
January 13 - January 19, 2021
Tower Honored by WreckMaster with Top 10 Award

Tower Honored by WreckMaster with Top 10 Award

Clayton Bush, owner of 103 Towing and Recovery in Wytheville Va., was recently honored by Wreckmaster Inc. as a Top 10 WreckMaster.

Bush started taking WreckMaster classes seven years ago and credits the program with helping him focus and learn the safest ways to recover and tow vehicles. He also expressed that the award exemplified professionalism, commitment to safety and doing things the right way.

“There’s a danger factor in everything we do,” Bush said. “We are operating heavy equipment with hydraulics, wrenches, heavy ropes, wires chains and straps. We are working with so much equipment that can fail and possibly kill someone. So much goes on every time we show up and everything is so intense, whether a vehicle is stopped on the side of a road or over a guardrail.”

According to Bush, the WreckMaster program is like a brotherhood.

“Once you are certified and a member of the program, everything we do, we feel like we represent everyone in the program. It’s my duty to do my job to represent WreckMaster to the best of my abilities. I take it seriously; the program means a lot to me,” he said.

https://swvatoday.com/
On the Hook with John Borowski - 6
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January 13 - January 19, 2021
Tower Henry Shaver was honored by a parade of 100 tow trucks, police cars and fire trucks.

Tower with Alzheimer’s [b]Honored by Community

40 year veteran Va. Tower Henry Shaver, the owner of Albermarle Towing, was paid tribute in front of his house when a parade of 100 tow trucks, police cars and fire trucks honored his work in the community. Shaver’s health has been in decline due to Alzheimer’s.

Phil Patterson, one of the organizers of the parade, said Shaver has been a big part of his life.

"I've known Henry since I was 15. He's towed every car I've ever owned," said Patterson. "He's always volunteering his time to the rescue squads and fire departments. I think every fireman and every police man know who he is. He's towed school buses and trash trucks. Just about every one of them in Albemarle County at least."

W.J. Shaver, Henry's son, also honored his father’s legacy.

"He taught me everything I know in the business," he said. "I wouldn't be the man that I am without the father that I had growing up."

https://www.cbs19news.com

Catalyst for Change

January 4 marked a year ago that Dale Jones, who worked for Performance Towing in Watertown, SD, was struck and killed pulling a vehicle out of a ditch. Since then, the state has passed two pieces of legislation that are making a difference in making the roadways safer for towers.

Senate Bill 164 makes it a class 2 misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $270 for failing to move over/reduce speed to 20 miles per hour. That piece of legislation was followed by House Bill 1170, making it legal for tow truck and Department of Transportation vehicles to use blue lights in the performance of their duties.

Andy Wicks, the owner of Performance Towing, said that there were two major components of the Senate Bill. He said, “First, a person is supposed to be slowing down prior to getting to the incident scene. Secondly, it carries a much stiffer penalty.”

But according to him, the biggest change has resulted from being able to use blue flashing lights. He said, “That seems to have gotten a pretty good response from traffic. You are not always a 100% safe but that seems to have generated a little more attention from the motoring public.”

https://www.mykxlg.com

NYC Shuts Down Tow Pound

Due to a state government directive ordered by the Cuomo administration, tow operators in NYC may see less action due to a shut-down of NYC’s tow pound at Pier 76.

The pound has been considered an eyesore and the government wants to turn it over to the Hudson River Park Trust for redevelopment.

Franklyn Sepulveda, deputy director of NYPD’s traffic division, told dozen of tow operators to immediately stop towing until further notice.

Marvin Robbins, vice president of District Council 37 Local 983 claims the order puts New Yorkers at risk.

“Once people realize they won’t be towed, it’s going to be a free-for-all like the Wild West,” said Robbins. “What happens when cars block a fire hydrant or a bus lane? Emergency vehicles won’t be able to get around. That’s especially troubling, and this jeopardizes lives.”

Robbins said Sepulveda also informed the operators some areas of Manhattan would beef up “booting” as a temporary deterrent for illegal parkers.

Operators have been told they have two weeks to relocate to one of the NYPD’s three other pounds in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, which Robbins said lack space for the added staff and vehicles.

NYPD spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie said vehicles will be towed to the pounds in the outer boroughs “until further notice.”

https://nypost.com/

Baltimore’s Backlog of [b]Abandoned Cars

The city of Baltimore is trying to catch up on its backlog of abandoned cars since the suspension of towing operations due to Covid-19 pandemic. Although the city claims they have removed over 400 vehicles in the last month, there are many more to go.

Frustrated citizens have voiced their concerns, complaining that they are eyesores and a blight on the city. Many of these unsightly cars are smashed up and stripped of parts and in some cases a breeding ground for trash and rodents.

"I just want them to clean it all up," said Tony Johnson, who had an abandoned car sitting in front of his home for at least 6 months. "We've got enough rats in the alleys due to the trash that's not being picked up. We don't need this."

Although towing resumed last month, the Baltimore’s Department of Transportation says it's facing a massive backlog.

"It's a pretty hefty back log and we're working through it," said DOT spokesperson German Vigil.

https://foxbaltimore.com/

Trials in Towing the Mark

Pepe’s Towing Services, which serves several locations in Southern California, is suing the city of Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino County, along with seven individuals, over unfair treatment and sudden termination of their services.

Pepe’s claims that the issue began in 2018, when they were reprimanded four times for arriving a few minutes after a 20-minute mandate. Despite a successful appeal and removal from their record, the company maintains that Rancho Cucamonga’s Chief of Police, Donny Mahoney, discriminated against them by directing a majority of tows to other tow operators. When they complained about the discriminatory action, their services were terminated by the city.

Manuel Acosta, President and Co-owner of Pepe’s Towing Services said, “The City of Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has a history of unfair and discriminatory practices against Pepe’s Towing.”

The suit also claims that San Bernardino County Sheriffs Executive Director John Fogerty showed favoritism and made backdoor deals with other tow companies based on his relationships with the owners.

Source: https://www.einnews.com/ 

Winter Advisory: Slow Down/Move Over

With tricky road conditions developing throughout Minnesota in the last week, a tow operator with Twin Cities Transportation and Recovery was hit and injured on Wednesday, Dec. 23 while helping a stranded driver. Fortunately, the driver is expected to recover, suffering a knee injury.

John Grindeland, Director of Operations for the company, said, "We’re hopeful that the driver will be fine and back and action soon, but it’s just one of those things you never want to have happened.”

Grindeland wants to convey the message to slow down/move over as hazardous road conditions pick up due to snowstorms.

"Anytime you have the opportunity to slow down; if you can move over, it just it helps everybody towers or anybody working on the side of the road," Grindeland said.

According to the CDC, "from 2011 through 2016 reported 191 deaths in the motor vehicle towing industry. This number translates to an annual average fatality rate of nearly 43 deaths per 100,000 workers, more than 15 times the rate of 2.8 deaths per 100,000 workers for all U.S. private industries combined."

https://www.fox9.com/
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January 13 - January 19, 2021

One Cool Cat Recovery

1 dbd6c
By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Working in extreme rough terrain requires extreme equipment. Scott Wolff, the owner of Iron Horse Towing of Missoula, Mont., has a specialized fleet to handle his working area of Northwest Mont. and Northern Idaho.

Missoula is located along the Clark Fork River near its merging with the Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers in western Montana and at the intersection of five mountain ranges, thus it is often described as the ‘hub of five valleys.’ This is rough and rugged terrain indeed.

To handle winter recoveries in this terrain, Scott a very unique piece of...a snowcat. Scott informed, “I've got three of these things that we do the recoveries with. Each one has its own purpose.”

The areas in which he works are not always accessible with his conventional wreckers, so he goes to one of his three cats to get the job done. Featured here is Scott’s T2009 Tucker Sno-Cat Special Edition 275 hp.

“This so far is my all-time favorite recovery,” stated Scott. “The Missoula Snow Goers snowmobile club had their groomer slide off the trail. It was way steeper than the pictures show. It threw a track and was stuck. This was a 22-hour job and we got a foot of new snow while we worked it. This was at the Crooked Fork drainage in Northern Idaho about 22 miles in.”

The Forest Service, Montana Fish and Game, and the Missoula Snow Goers coordinated the recovery. Scott, with his 2009 Tucker Sno-Cat, along with several members of the Missoula Snow Goers snowmobile club on snowmobiles handled this recovery.

The Prinoth BR 350 snowcat was grooming the snowmobile trail and slid off the trail and down the bank. This section of the trail is very steep and off camber and has been a trouble spot over the years.

Scott explained, “The trail in this section hadn't been built up with snow yet so it sloped downhill quite a bit and fought us the whole way. The groomer was trying to build up the trail when he slid off. The operator tried to walk it out, but in the process threw the driver's side track off. At that point they called us. By the time we got there the next day everything had frozen and we had to chip ice off the undercarriage and shovel a lot of snow out from around it.”

Scott rigged both of the Tucker winches to trees uphill through snatch blocks to the Prinoth, to hold the machine and used to work the track back on. It took several hours to get the track back on and to get the Prinoth running and able to move under its own power. He rigged both lines to the blade framework to spin the Prinoth around so it was facing uphill and used them individually to steer its progress.

“The Prinoth could help somewhat, but we had to be careful not to walk the tracks off again on the hill as I was winching it up,” informed Scott. “Once we had it back on the trail, I couldn't let it go or it would go back down the bank so I had to hold it up with one winch and winch it forward with the other to get it up to the flat spot where I had parked the Tucker. Once I got it up to where my Tucker was we held it there and I moved forward for the final pull to the flat spot. While we were in there it snowed so hard getting about a foot of fresh snow which made things even more complicated.”

When the Prinoth was on the flat spot it was able to drive out under its own power.

……………………………………………………………………..
Scott founded Iron Horse Towing in 1995 and now has 15 employees. His extensive fleet consists of 22 trucks, which includes four heavies, two medium-duty, four light-duty, three carriers, three service trucks plus, and as Scott stated, “A bunch of other stuff.”

The “other stuff” includes the three Snowcats, three tractors, two Landolls, a bus trailer, a 45-ton crane, one telehandler, two skidsteers, a light plant, an end dump trailer, two trailer dollies, four pickups, and the list goes on…

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!

Night Fishin’

1 f9b08
by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

In the wee hours of the morning on August 18/19, 2020 Battelini Transport & Towing Service was called to assist with a water recovery.

Company President Albert Battelini explained, “The incident happened at South Vineland Park on Elmer Rd in Vineland, NJ. We were called by Vineland Police Dept to assist in the removal of a submerged vehicle.  We were dispatched at 1:15 a.m.”

Al’s nephews, Anthony and Wade Battelini, responded with their NRC 40/50 50-ton rotator. When they arrived Downe Twp Fire/Rescue Dive Team, Sta 39 Divers were on scene to recover the vehicle for Vineland PD and Fire Company. They used sonar to find the vehicle in approximately 50-plus feet of water.

Sta 39 Divers attached chains to the front wheels with rim slings and Anthony and Wade did a little night fishing using the NRC 40/50 to winch the catch to shore.

The Battelini family has a long history of fishing/recoveries. One of the images posted here shows company founder Alesio with quite the catch hanging from his wrecker.

Al stated, “Jan 2021 starts our 100 year Anniversary. My grandfather Alesio Battelini started out by going to Sweeney Automobile school in Kansas City in 1918 and with the help of his father Dominico he built our original garage in 1921. Happy New Year to our family, friends and customers. Heres to the next 100 years.”

__________________________________________
Albert Battelini is the president of Battelini Transport & Towing Service in Landisville, New Jersey. The company is co-owned by Albert, his brother Anthony and their father Dominick (RIP). This has been a family built, owned and operated business since grandpa Alesio Battelini started Battelini's Garage in the heart of South Jersey on Route 40 in Landisville in 1921. There are four generations of Battelini boys that have become men in their family business and a fifth generation waiting to come of age.

The family also runs Battelini Wrecker Sales, a full-service dealer for NRC Industries and others, servicing New Jersey, Delaware and the surrounding New York City area. They install almost everything they sell in their South Jersey facility.

Sadly Battelini patriarch Dominick Battelini (see last image) passed away peacefully in his sleep on the morning of December 7, 2020. Al said, “It's with a heavy heart that we have to tell everyone of my father’s passing. He was 92 years old and lived a full life. He touched a lot of people along the way and hopefully will be remembered for the humble man he was.”

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!

 
 

Night Moves

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by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

In the wee hours of the morning of November 7, 2020, B&W Towing LLC was called to recover a vehicle that went off a bridge.

B&W owner Kristen Klemenz informed, “This incident happened on River Road in the town of Corning, NY, a few miles from our shop. We were dispatched by the Steuben County 911.”

Shop manager and rotator operator Blaine Westervelt responded with their Kenworth T800 with a 2019 Century 1150 50-ton rotator and operator Leroy Vannatta went out in their 2018 Kenworth with a Jerr-Dan bed.

Kristen said, “Leroy, one of our rollback operators, is an amazing guy. He has been with us for over four years. I went out to help and take pictures.”

When they arrived, they discovered the car left the roadway, hit a utility pole and launched across a creek bed into the riff raff rocks on the other side, the force literally shooting the car completely under the bridge. The car had severe damage with every air bag blown out.

Kristen explained, “We had to use the Century 50-ton rotator to recover the vehicle from under the bridge, between a live gas line that ran along side of the bridge and navigate it between the broken and low hanging utility lines.”

The crew rigged it with an endless loop and two D-rings on the rotator. Blaine boomed the rotator out sideways to get from under the bridge and then once they had a few hand lines to it, he boomed up and between the gas line and utility lines.

“After the lift, the wrecked vehicle was safely set back on the road, winched and secured onto our Jerr-Dan rollback and transported back to our yard,” stated Kristen. “This was a pretty cool recovery.”
____________________________________________________________________________
B&W Towing LLC, owned by Kristen Klemenz, is based in Painted Post, NY. The company was started in Sept of 2009 with one truck and now has a fleet of over 40 trucks. They are NYS DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) and WBE (Women-owned Business Enterprise Program) certified and 100% women owned. The company does repair work on all makes and models for diesel and automotive, offer roadside assistance to light- and heavy-duty cars and trucks, does motorcycle and tractor-trailer towing, and handles NYS inspections and environmental clean up.
…………….

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!


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.
January 13 - January 19, 2021

Closing Lanes for Recovery Safety

closinglanes d8548
By Randall C. Resch​​

In May 2019, a suicidal jumper threatened to end his life by jumping from a bridge into lanes of California’s SR-99. A CHP spokesperson told FOX40 News: "He could have landed on top of a vehicle which could have hurt somebody else.”

It took ten-hours of negotiation by a CHP officer (who knew the subject) to talk this person into surrendering.

The Sacramento Bee posted a tweet by the CHP saying, “The California Highway Patrol recognizes this closure has caused a significant inconvenience for countless motorists, but the safety of the suicidal person, the officers at the scene, and the motoring public who travel on State Route 99 daily is our foremost concern.”

To Law Enforcement and Traffic Incident Management, I pose this question: if highway traffic is slowed or re-routed for visiting dignitaries, police activity, loose animals, suicidal jumpers, or whatever other reasons, why doesn’t protocol allow for traffic stoppage and blockage for tow operators working critical incidents and accidents?

In another scenario, an experienced carrier operator responded to an upside-down vehicle against a K-Rail where no shoulders existed. The operator advised the CHP officer of his recovery plan by asking that traffic in adjacent lanes be slowed so he could best position the carrier to perform the roll. The officer firmly replied, “No.”

Initiating Plan B, the operator uprighted and loaded the casualty onto the carrier’s deck while working precariously close to moving traffic, endangering himself and others.

California leads the industry with 52-operator fatalities because there’s limited policy in providing traffic breaks or lane closures for towing and recovery. The practice of total blocking for quick-clear provides a much needed safety advantage to lessen a repeated slaughter of tow operators everywhere. I don’t accept that a tow operator’s life, or that of any first responder is any less valuable than someone experiencing unfortunate issues, especially when skilled, highly trained and motivated tow operators can clear highway lanes quickly. Simple math calculates that nine-hours and fifty-minutes would have been saved when compared to the jumper scenario.

Controlling Costs in 2021

cost c474d
By Brian J Riker

I have no doubt that 2020 was a difficult year for many tow bosses around the world. With travel disrupted and only essential services being provided for more than half the year it was anything but business as usual. What is in store for 2021 is yet to be seen; however, the prudent business owner will be cautiously optimistic as they enter the unknown.

Not all towers had terrible years. The heavy-duty market was only off a little for last year, light duty was down significantly in most parts of the US as was road service, but towers that were diversified into other transportation segments or provided a wide range of services found room for growth in 2020. Several towers even added entirely new service offerings to their operation to leverage the surplus labor they had available rather than furloughing these employees. To those towers I extend a hearty thank you for looking out for your team.

Regardless of the year you had, one thing that is always important is controlling costs. Several towers I have spoken with have noticed a reduction in call volume and gross revenue yet they have been able to maintain the same operating margin as last year or even slightly improve their margin. The one thing they all have had in common is a focus on controlling costs. All businesses need to periodically review their expenses and reevaluate the return on investment they get from each line item in their budget.

You do have a budget, right? If not, now is the time to learn to develop a budget as a tool for business survival. A budget does not need to be complex, just realistic, based on your actual experience as a company. Budgets are quite liberating once you have a good grasp on how they work. They don’t restrict you from spending but instead give you the freedom and peace of mind to spend on a plan without regret or guilt.

When deciding which costs to cut and which to increase for 2021, the prudent tow boss will look at the data available for the past several years, not just 2020, since last year was an anomaly. Knowing your actual cost of operation, in near real time, helps you decide what work is worth accepting and keeps you from undercutting your profitability just to keep busy.

There are several areas you should not skimp on in the name of cost control. Number one is payroll since a good operator is hard to find, expensive to hire and train, and will make you much more than they cost you. Don’t cut hours just for the sake of cutting hours - do your best to keep key personnel at or near their normal earnings. If you must reduce hours or staff, I suggest making your cuts on facts instead of emotions. The most expensive employee may not be the one with the highest pay rate but instead the one with the worst safety record or the most damages. Similarly, the best employee to keep may not be the most senior but rather the most versatile member of the team. Look deep at all factors when deciding to layoff employees.

Insurance is another area that needs to be examined but not skimped on. It is always a good idea to shop your policy before renewal each year but be sure you are comparing apples to apples. Always make sure your policy provides enough coverage that you will survive a catastrophic loss. It does you no good to have a lower insurance premium if you can’t afford to cover the losses not included in the cheaper policy. Higher deductibles are a popular way of reducing premium if you have enough cash on hand to cover the higher exposure.

Examine equipment maintenance and replacement cycles closely. Just because the budget is tight it may not make sense to extend the replacement cycle on your equipment if the cost of the additional maintenance will outweigh the costs of replacing something. Consider reducing fleet size, or perhaps exchanging one type of equipment for another - especially when adding or revamping service offerings. Maybe you can do better with a few less pieces of spare or support equipment. Does it make sense to exchange some of your traditional fleet for something new like a roll off container chassis or dump truck?

You may even be able to use equipment purchases to offset tax liabilities which will have a bigger impact on your overall financial health than simply cutting out a truck payment from the budget. Consult with your tax or financial advisor to learn what makes sense for your specific situation.

Safety pays. Please don’t stop training your team. It is more important now than ever before to have safe and competent operators on the roadway, technicians in the shop and the best resources to keep them out of harm’s way whenever possible.

Lastly, now is not the time to skimp on advertising or marketing budgets. The customers are out there if you are creative enough to find them. It may be a good time to reevaluate the services you offer and cut unprofitable services or adjust rates before you cut advertising from your budget. It is the time to reevaluate how you spend your advertising dollars, that old yellow page ad just isn’t cutting it anymore, so be wise with how you spend your limited resources.

Safety Policy: No Disconnecting Linkages

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By Randall C. Resch

FACT: For tow operators, disconnecting linkages is a scary and dangerous process. It’s one of several techniques in shifting transmissions for tow or load.

In back-to-back incidents, an operator was killed on New Year's Eve Day, 2019, and another, critically injured the day after. In both scenarios news accounts and investigator statements alleged that towers were working to disconnect linkages when "something happened." The industry has experienced countless operator fatalities and injuries as a result of vehicles attempting to shift to neutral.

In the carrier incident dated, January 2, 2020, the tower’s company responded with a statement: "He got inside of it and set the emergency brake and tried to get the disabled vehicle off the truck. Then he made a mistake and popped the shifter-cable off; the emergency brake didn't hold and the vehicle kind of rolled over the top of him." The carrier’s operator was reported to have been 19-years-old, which begs the question - how much carrier training or in-house training did he receive prior to being released for field work?

Does Policy Exist?

Does your company have written guidelines regarding disconnecting (transmission) linkages? When it comes to topic specific wording of your company’s safety requirements, does your company discuss the dangerous practice of disconnecting car linkages?

For my company, my Policy and Procedure Manual states, "Light-duty operators will not go under a vehicle to disconnect linkages for any reason." In most cases, a tower lays on their back to shimmy under a vehicle to disconnect a linkage. These are dangerous practices that lead to vehicle’s rocking-out of the wheel-lift and dropping onto the operator, even if jack-stands and chock-blocks are in place.

Regarding the New Year’s Eve fatality, the 18-year veteran operator was said to have been killed by "mechanical asphyxiation,” in which the tow truck possibly rolled backwards on-top of him, or was caused by other factors such as no E-brake or a transmission left in reverse.

No matter what the direct cause, lying under raised vehicles is a dangerous practice. My policy is a specific safety requirement to ensure tow operators aren’t injured or killed by accidental mishap.

Choose Proper Equipment

There are options for loading and hooking-up vehicles where disconnecting linkages isn't necessary. Go-Jacks, dollies, chock-blocks, even soapy water are the best items and alternative techniques that don't require crawling or lying under raised vehicles. These items add a level of safety topside, but must be used in accordance to manufacturer's standards. Accordingly, because of injury or fatality possibility, adding go-jacks or dollies to the tow/load scenarios are a "Charge-able" process and one you should be paid for.

The use of special equipment added to any job’s invoice is justified. Using special equipment necessitates the club/member/customer to pay for a higher level of safety assurance to tow operators and prevents them from going under lifted vehicles. By including go-jacks, skates and dollies, it prevents claims that the tow company inflicted damage to a vehicle's transmission.

At the time the call is received, the customer, insurance company and motor clubs should be told this up-front especially when no keys are available. If a vehicle's transmission has shift-override that can be manipulated from the vehicle's topside interior, obviously special equipment isn’t required.

I recommend that your company's employee handbook include a requirement prohibiting tow operators from disconnecting transmissions or linkages from the undersides of a lifted vehicle or one being loaded onto a carrier. If the vehicle cannot or doesn’t go into neutral, other techniques should be employed.

I recommend that safety meetings cover this topic to ensure your towers are properly trained when confronted with these situations. If this same scenario happened to one of your tow operators, would your company’s rules and training records document that these topics were covered? Waiting for an accidental injury or fatality to occur isn’t proactive. Be sure your company’s rules and regulations address this dangerous, yet preventable practice.        
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January 13 - January 19, 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!

Meet the Boss

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By George L. Nitti

Nowhere do we see the love of country more fervently on display than on tow trucks throughout the industry. Towers are patriotic people and showcase those sentiments on their trucks, far and wide.

When Matthew Monarchie, owner of Tow Boss Towing & Recovery of Fishkill, NY, recently acquired a 2020 Ford F550 4x4 with a 19 ft’ Century 10 Series from Elizabeth Truck Center, he once again paid homage to his love of country, decking out his new purchase with a dazzling patriotic themed wrap executed from Extreme Designs of Carmel, NY.

Matthew said, “I did a patriotic themed unit because the way this country is going, somebody has to stand up for it. People should honor the fact that we are free. We wake up every morning alive and not in a jungle. This is America, where we are fortunate to live the American Dream.”

For Matthew, his business of 12 years is the result, as he and his wife Michelle have worked tirelessly to build their dream business.

The pristine unit, which Matthew calls “on point,” first and foremost showcases the American flag, with the stars and stripes prominently enveloped over the entire truck, from front to back, serving as the core backdrop.

Michelle said, “The patriotic theme will always be part of our motif. My daughter was in the military, and my Dad was in the military.”

However, this patriotic themed truck does not stop there, as law enforcement is given honor, with a thin blue line rendered along the bottom of one of the toolboxes just under an American Flag. Michelle said, “We do a lot of towing with the state police. We have patriotism towards our law enforcement.”

On the other toolbox, a yellow line gives acknowledgement to the tow operators who are killed roadside. Matthew said, “Did you know that one tow operator is killed every six days?”

The fine detail of the truck is enhanced with an etching on the side window of a chain and hook.

Abetting the patriotic design is a leftover image used on their other trucks: A large skull with a cowboy hat, found on the sides of the unit as well as majestically reproduced on its hood.

Matthew said, “We threw that in. We wanted something to pop with the flag. And I wanted something with a design to show that we have no fear.”

The company’s fearless image goes along with its company name, “Tow Boss,”which is deftly illustrated, popping out on its sides, front visor position and on a classy medallion that sits in the center of the front grill.

“My kids and wife made up the name. I’m always bossing them around,” he said.

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!

Eye Smashing Logo

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By George L. Nitti

Attention to the finer details often makes or breaks many companies. This is especially true in graphic design, where the finer details, be it on a logo or paint schematic, can make a big difference in its lasting impact on the customer. Spending the extra dollar on a dynamite design can reap its rewards, especially if the company is striving to capture those seekers of finer tastes and/or trying to set themselves apart from the rest of the competition.

Mr. Kitt’s Towing & Recovery of Germantown, Philadelphia gets kudos for their fine logo design, one that explodes with creativity as it combines several effective elements into an eye smashing logo. This design can be seen on its side doors of their 2017 Freightliner M2 with a 21 ft steel Chevron bed.

First, done in decal, is the splashy, black background that is laid on with a creative flourish, upon which the Mr. Kitt’s yellow lettering stands out. Those two elements blend perfectly to give it pop.

Upon closer examination of the black background, one will find within that design, a hook that juts out, a subtle yet clever technique that makes the logo even more relevant because of the industry it serves.

As for the Mr. Kitt’s lettering, that too is laid on creatively, in a serif font that is broken up in places, not perfect, which makes it even more appealing, just like its black background that is unevenly spread out.

Below the logo is the expression 23 ½ Service, in a smaller contrasting modern serif font.

Owner Anthony Kitt said, “The reason for that is because we need a half hour to sleep. It’s catchy and people remember you for that.”

When I asked their office manager if their logo made an impression on the public, he said, “I hope it does. Our logo design is consistent and after a while you get used to it, like any trademark.”

The background of the unit itself is red.

Red, yellow and black. A timeless paint scheme that never tires of working together.

The key is to constantly improve performance. Pay attention to the details. The rest follows.

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!
January 13 - January 19, 2021

Approach Plate Roller Guide

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Miller Industries Towing Equipment Inc. introduces the approach plate roller guide attachment for added recovery capabilities on 10, 12, & 16-Series car carriers, a recovery solution providing 180 degrees of light-duty recovery capability at the back of the carrier. By using the center of the approach plate on Series 10, 12, & 16 steel carrier beds, this new roller guide attachment allows for easy access with quick set-up and usage on the existing 2018 and newer car carrier platform.
 
This new solution attaches to the underside of the approach plate and locks into place at the center chain lock hole. A 1-inch machined round-head bolt secures the roller guide to the threaded hole in the approach plate. Providing a rigid securement to the carrier bed makes this roller guide ideal to tackle the upward pulling forces associated with rollover recoveries. A low-mounted horizontal roller enables downward pulling off the back of the bed as well.
 
The attachment is designed to be used with 3/8” and 7/16” wire rope and it is rated for 3,500 lbs. of line pull. The roller guide attachment is engineered to the highest standards of durability and is constructed of fabricated steel with Zinc plating for corrosion resistance. This car carrier attachment utilizes the newer style approach plate with a bolt hole adjacent to the center rear chain lock for proper mounting. Older steel carriers that do not have the bolt hole can be retrofitted by simply tapping a specific size hole at a precise location on the approach plate. This new attachment provides a superior recovery solution for these high-usage towing units and complements Miller Industries robust high-end car carrier platform. 

For more information about Miller Industries and their products follow them on social media, visit their website at millerind.com, or call 800-292-0330.

RT Bed

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The RT (Reel Transport) Bed is an efficient, self-loading reel lift designed to load and transport utility wire or fiber cable without the need for a trailer. Simply lift and load innerduct reels, hand holes, frame poles and more utilizing this one-man operation. Streamline your operation and save time spent hauling reels from yard to jobsite with limited trailer mobility.

A workshop on wheels, the DewEze Reel Transport Bed helps you do more with less, facing the work day head-on. Engineered with heavy-duty steel construction and trouble-free performance, DewEze beds are backed by superior service.

Axle Caps 

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Axle covers for towing buses and trucks and towing them properly. Axle hubs? We've got it covered with models to fit every major hub on the road in North America, European, and Japanese commercial vehicles. From a 3/4 ton pickup to tractor trailers and military vehicles. 

Tough, High Density Polyethylene axle covers include gaskets and are equipped with an access hole for adding hub oil before towing, so the hub bearings will always have an oil supply during the tow.

When you use Axle Caps, you are providing an extra level of care for your customer's equipment. Some tow operators are using them to market their towing service by providing an extra service that others are not. Fleet owners and maintenance managers will notice the professional quality of your service by the extra attention you give to their equipment and are more likely to give your company repeat business. They like them because they ensure against drive axle component damage while their bus or truck is being towed. Customers have told us that at DOT inspection stations, inspectors are always making positive comments about them and that they are a sign of a good operation.

For more information about this product, http://axlecap.net/
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January 13 - January 19, 2021
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January 13 - January 19, 2021

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/

Repossession Leads to [b]Drug Discovery

A repossession of a rental car at an Oregon mobile home park first led to an altercation than to a drug discovery.

The suspect, Jeremy Peppinger, allegedly threatened to "get a gun" when the rental car he was driving was being taken back for his failure to return it--and pay for it.

A 911 call led to Deputies reporting to the scene. When they arrived Peppinger was removing personal items from the vehicle.  On probable cause Deputies obtained a search warrant for the vehicle, and inside found a baggie of what appeared to be a crystal-like substance, and numerous needles in the car.

Peppinger was booked for felony threats while the substance was turned over to investigators.

Source: https://newstalk870.am/
 
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