The Week's Features
Company devotes its second truck to breast cancer awareness
A Michigan towman is counting his blessings after close call
Will address its Midyear Meeting in Virginia Oct. 18
Level 3 charger can charge up to 1 mile every 60 seconds
Keep your listening skills turned on, and don’t talk down
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing September 18 - September 24, 2019

Let Me In!

345678 b4de0By Randall C. Resch


In January 2019, a Florida motorist crashed into the rear of a slow moving carrier and was killed as the carrier attempted to merge from the highway’s shoulder into the traffic flow.

Having read about this incident, I pondered the forthcoming wrongful death case that was bound to happen, when, regardless as to fact that the motorist ran into the carrier, the deceased motorist’s family would ultimately sue for a wrongful death.

Slow Down, Move Over

All states across America, Canada, and other countries have slow down/move over laws that serve the purpose of requiring approaching motorists to do just that. For obvious reasons, slow down/move over always comes into play because of the worldwide pandemic of DUI and distracted driving that’s been responsible for the untimely death of hundreds of tow operators and first responders around the world.

On the other side of that coin, data posted by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that approximately 12 percent of all interstate highway deaths resulted from crashes occurring on emergency shoulders. This suggests that an estimated 600 people each year are killed and thousands more are injured while making emergency stops on a highway’s shoulder. 

As in the case of the motorist crashing into the tow truck, it was the approaching motorist who failed to slow down and move over. But, in many states there’s a negative catch to the legality of slow down/move over, especially when tow trucks aren’t authorized by law to drive in live traffic lanes with overhead amber strobe/rotor lights activated.

How It’s Done

Because these kinds of crashes are frequent these suggestions are specific to tow trucks and carriers typical to highway and inner-city operations from either the slow side of traffic (curbside) or from the center median. Consider the following:

For motorists to consider slow down/move over, tow trucks and flatbed carriers should be parked with overhead amber strobe/rotor lights on.

From the parked/idle position, look to the tow truck’s mirrors for approaching traffic. Begin your forward movement when there’s a substantial gap between the tow truck and approaching vehicles.

At that moment of forward movement, activate the tow truck’s turn signal to indicate the direction you intend to travel and the lane you’re about to occupy.

Use amber emergency lights when allowed by law.

Begin forward acceleration, gaining speed while remaining on the shoulder and right of the white fog line. Be aware of parked vehicles or other obstacles that may be on the shoulder. Watch for locations where the shoulder’s lane runs out or pinches to a point.

While gaining speed and with your head on a swivel, watch approaching traffic in the mirrors while continuing forward.

As the tow truck accelerates, constantly eye back and forth, rearward and forward while estimating a realistic gap that appears open.

Anticipate that a vehicle from center lanes may attempt the dangerous move to change lanes left or right at the same time you’re entering traffic lanes.

While on the shoulder and still driving straight, increase the truck’s speed up to approximately 50 miles per hour while again looking at both mirrors and approaching traffic. To merge from either center median or slow side shoulder requires the truck’s speed to be reasonably fast enough to equal traffic flow.

For reasons of safety, don’t use arm signals with your arm outside the truck’s window for fear someone will crash into the tow truck.

When a substantial gap in traffic is clear and with the truck’s turn signal still on, carefully merge into the first lane of traffic as you continue to bring the truck’s speed up to a reasonable and prudent speed for vehicle’s being towed or transported.

Merge only when safe to do so. Once you’ve safely made way into traffic lanes, turn off overhead emergency lights, unless the tow or load means your forward speed may be slower for safety reasons.

Re-entering traffic lanes from a stopped, slow rolling position requires total attention and perfect depth perception. This may seem basic, but distracted driving is here to say and I’ll guarantee that another unfortunate traffic collision like the one mentioned will happen again.

Consider it a great topic for your company’s next safety meeting.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week’s Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.
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Mobile PD Ends Towing Ban

The Mobile (Alabama) Police Department and city council officials ended the 60-day towing ban Sept. 10 after recognizing that businesses were on the verge of shutting down, potentially leaving dozens of people without jobs and leaving the city with fewer wreckers.

“It wasn’t our intention to cause harm to any business,” Assistant Chief Roy Hodge said of lifting the ban. “I know local businesses have a tough time, and in the towing industry especially.”

Five towing companies had been suspended from the city’s rotation list after being accused of insurance fraud and price gouging, specifically charging motorists and insurers more than allowed by the city’ towing ordinance.

“This has cost me my entire life savings,” said Danny Williams, owner of Southport Towing and Recovery. “My monthly bills are between $12,000 and $15,000, and that’s before I’ve even paid drivers. I was about to remortgage my home and one of the drivers lost his furniture because he had no money coming in.”

Operators say they lost between 75 percent and 80 percent of revenues during the two-month suspension.

Williams, who has been in business for 47 years, said that he was forced to crush cars for $200 each to raise money to cover his bills, including his $3,600 vehicle insurance liabilities and $2,700 on rent for his three business locations.

“I want to put this behind me, but someone has to compensate us for this,” he added. “We were called ‘thieves’ and ‘predators’ by officials. And what about our reputations?”

He was also forced to let go of one driver to cut costs.

No charges have been brought and the investigation is continuing, according to Hodge.
Record Crowds Turn out for Tow Expo Dallas 2019!

Pulling On The Same Chain: A Day of Recovery in the Heartland

0 5c8efBy Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

In the recovery business, you just never know what kind of day you will be in for. August 25, 2019, was one of those days for the recovery crew from Farrington Towing & Recovery in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

When last we left our friends at Farrington they had just recovered an aircraft, but that was the end of what was to be a long day of recovery.

This is the prequel.

The day’s adventures started at 6:30 in the morning with a call for a rolled over end dump. Farrington’s Director of Operations Randy Seright explained:

“Nothing out of the ordinary, until the driver informs us that it had rolled over inside a building on a conveyor system and wheel loader.”

Operator Chris Banks was sent out to the rolled over end dump in Farrington’s 2008 Peterbilt/Vulcan V-100 with side-puller.

The trailer was not the problem; not causing any further damage to the wheel loader or conveyor was. Banks decided to cut the tarp on top of the trailer and get the sand out of the trailer to reduce the weight. He then was able to lift the trailer off the conveyor and slide it away from the wheel loader. Once the trailer was clear, Banks was able to slide the trailer out of the building to upright it.

At 10:15 a.m., Farrington received an Oklahoma Highway Patrol call for a rolled over truck and trailer full of strawberries that was blocking all lanes of eastbound I-40 in downtown Oklahoma City. To facilitate quick clearance of the road, Seright, responded in a 2019 Peterbilt 50-ton rotator.

On his way, he mobilized Bill Green and Corey Sexton with the air cushions. Seright also called Garrett Harrison of D&D Wrecker Service, also based in Oklahoma City, to bring his 2014 KW with Jerr-Dan 50/60 rotator to assist.

With excellent teamwork, they had the truck upright and the road cleared before 2 p.m.

The day concluded with the call to respond to the aircraft recovery featured in the Sept. 4 edition of Tow Industry Week, then with yet another rolled over dump during a rainstorm 50 miles west of Oklahoma City at 3 a.m. the next morning.

‘Pulling on the Same Chain’ is the slogan Seright came up with to describe the team’s efforts. He had shirts printed up for the crew.

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!

Worth It? Or Not?

While towing companies have to get every possible dollar they can in a highly competitive business, is it worth it to try and slide unlawful charges under the radar?

I just saw a news report that arrested the owners of a tow company that’s part of a city-wide investigation of questionable tow company invoicing. In that news report, the owners were arrested on the charge of insurance fraud and the police department was shown seizing the company’s tow units.

I’m not sure if it’s going to ultimately result in losing the business; but if it doesn’t, the tow company will have a long road back. Trust has been breached with the general public, and they can pretty much kiss goodbye any thoughts of getting back on any type of law enforcement rotation. Other businesses will think twice before entering into any type of contract arrangement.

In the end, is it worth it?

--Charles Duke

Towbook Management Software

Towbook 1c9f7Featuring secure, web-based towing software built for towing companies, Towbook can be used for dispatching, impounds, private property, invoicing, payroll & more. Its towing software integrates directly with Agero, Allstate, GEICO, Road America, Quest, NSD, and Allied Dispatch.

The company said it allows companies to securely access their entire towing management software system from any device: iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac or PC. See what Towbook has to offer at the American Towman Exposition at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Dec. 4-7.

towbook.com
By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge
The way to make the “Move Over” law more effective would be to:
Make the minimum violation fine at least $500
Temporary suspension of the motorist's license
Points against driver's license
More highway signage reminders about law
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Editor: Charles Duke
Managing Editor: Brendan Dooley
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203,
William Burwell x208, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
ATTV Technical Production: OMG National
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
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September 18 - September 24, 2019
Towman Dawson Voorhis is counting his blessings after nearly being hit by an errant SUV in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Image - wxyz.com.

Towman Nearly Hit by SUV that Goes Airborne

A Rochester Hills, Michigan, towman is counting his blessings after a frighteningly close call Monday afternoon. Dawson Voorhis was in the process of loading a vehicle in Rochester Hills when an SUV crossed the white line and just missed hitting him by about 2 feet. The SUV hit the bed of the tow truck, went airborne and flipped a few times. Remarkably, nobody was hurt. "I just remember the sound. When I looked and saw the car rolling. It looked like it was in slow motion," he said. Voorhis says he was startled, but went right away over to the driver of the SUV, asking if he was OK. “He was perfectly fine, I didn't see any injuries," said Voorhis. Donnie Hudson, co-owner of Troy Auto Care, is Voorhis' boss. He's grateful nobody was hurt and says Voorhis took all the right precautions. The Oakland County Sheriff's Office ticketed the driver for careless driving. Source: wxyz.com.

New Tow Contract Policy in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts State Police announced Monday a new contracting policy for tow companies in an effort to “ensure a more transparent process,” according to the head of the agency. The agency posted a request for responses for towing, recovery, service, and Hazmat contracts in Troop H, which covers most of the Boston metro area. The contracts will be awarded through an official procurement record system for the state’s executive departments. The new process replaces service agreements currently in place between State Police and qualifying tow companies. The policy will be implemented in remaining patrol troops across the state throughout next year. The agency expects to award Troop H contracts “following a scoring and verification period, and a similar process will be phased in for additional geographic troops across the state throughout 2020.” Source: bostonglobe.com.

Mobile PD Ends Towing Ban

The Mobile (Alabama) Police Department and city council officials ended the 60-day towing ban last Tuesday after recognizing that businesses were on the verge of shutting down, potentially leaving dozens of people without jobs and leaving the city with fewer wreckers. “It wasn’t our intention to cause harm to any business,” Assistant Chief Roy Hodge said of lifting the ban. “I know local businesses have a tough time, and in the towing industry especially.” Five towing companies had been suspended from the city’s rotation list after being accused of insurance fraud and price gouging, specifically charging motorists and insurers more than allowed by the city’ towing ordinance. No charges have been brought and the investigation is continuing, according to Hodge. Source: al.com.


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Don't Miss It!
Join Jim Shellhaas of Ranger SST for his seminar, “ Improving Recovery and Heavy Hauling Management.” He will be discussing managing invoice integration of multi-truck recoveries with charge details and related driver commissions, along with heavy hauling flexible scheduling, advance notifications to drivers and automated dispatch to driver's mobile app. This seminar will take place at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, December 4-7. Register today! atexpo.com

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September 18 - September 24, 2019
Towman Dawson Voorhis (left) is counting his blessings after nearly being hit by an errant SUV in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Images - wxyz.com.

Towman Nearly Hit by [b]SUV that Goes Airborne

A Rochester Hills, Michigan, towman is counting his blessings after a frighteningly close call Sept. 9.

Dawson Voorhis was in the process of loading a vehicle in Rochester Hills when an SUV crossed the white line and just missed hitting him by about 2 feet. The SUV hit the bed of the tow truck, went airborne and flipped a few times.

Remarkably, nobody was hurt.

"I just remember the sound. When I looked and saw the car rolling. It looked like it was in slow motion," he said. Voorhis says he was startled, but went right away over to the driver of the SUV, asking if he was OK.

“He was perfectly fine, I didn't see any injuries," said Voorhis.

Donnie Hudson, co-owner of Troy Auto Care, is Voorhis' boss. He's grateful nobody was hurt and says Voorhis took all the right precautions. He said their vehicles all have multiple cameras on them from Mobile Video Computing Solutions.

"He did all the right things," said Hudson. "It could have been disastrous. It could have been a fatality scene."

The Oakland County Sheriff's Office ticketed the driver for careless driving.

Source: wxyz.com.

Worldwide Equipment Sales [b]Announces Irr as CEO

Pritchard Companies, parent company of Worldwide Equipment Sales, has named Jeffrey Irr as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Irr has been in the transportation industry for 31 years.

Prior to Worldwide, Irr spent five years with Jerr-Dan Corp. where he managed sales, marketing and day-to-day operations. Irr grew sales and developed the current JDFS Financial Solutions Program. His leadership and knowledge of the Class 6-8 truck and towing markets ensured Jerr-Dan’s position as one of the top manufacturers in the towing industry, according to a release from Worldwide.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Jeff Irr’s caliber and experience leading us into the next era of growth,” said Pat Winer, founder of Worldwide Equipment Sales.

Source: newtowtrucks.com.

Fundraiser for Struck [b]Milwaukee Towman

There will be a benefit car show held for Joe Altenhofen, a long-time employee of Ray's Towing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Altenhofen was struck violently by a semitrailer in Milwaukee while performing towing duties on Aug. 26.

He suffered serious injuries, has been through multiple surgeries and has a long way to go on his road to recovery.

The benefit will take place Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Herman's Auto Clinic in Milwaukee at 6100 S. Howell. There will be a cost of $10 for vehicles being entered in the car show; all years, makes and models are welcome. There will be raffles, music and more and a donation jar will be available.

Source: Wisconsin Towing Association.

Talbert Hires Dealer [b]Development Manager

Talbert Manufacturing has named David Henderson as dealer development manager. In the newly created position, Henderson will work closely with dealers and Talbert’s regional sales managers to develop and grow the 80-year-old company’s recognition across the United States and Canada.

Henderson joins Talbert with nearly 30 years of experience in the heavy truck and equipment industry. He previously held the position of territory manager and OEM sales for Patz Corp. of Pound, Wisconsin, where he helped build company coverage by growing its dealer network, in addition to other sales and management positions for large equipment dealers over the past three decades.

“We believe David is a valuable addition to the Talbert team and will provide the necessary support for our continued growth,” said Troy Geisler, Talbert VP of sales and marketing.

“Growth has been a constant theme for me,” Henderson said. “I enjoy the challenge that comes with growing sales, networks and relationships. Every situation is different but finding the right solution for a customer or dealer is always rewarding. I’m looking forward to working with the Talbert team to build long-lasting dealer relationships through one-on-one support and industry-leading products.”

Source: talbertmfg.com.

New Tow Contract [b]Policy in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts State Police announced a new contracting policy for tow companies in an effort to “ensure a more transparent process,” according to the head of the agency Sept. 16. The agency posted a request for responses for towing, recovery, service, and Hazmat contracts in Troop H, which covers most of the Boston metro area.

The contracts will be awarded through an official procurement record system for the state’s executive departments.

The move comes after a State Police troop was at the center of a 2016 inspector general’s investigation into irregularities in the awarding of tow contracts along the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The new process replaces service agreements currently in place between State Police and qualifying tow companies. The policy will be implemented in remaining patrol troops across the state throughout next year.

The agency expects to award Troop H contracts “following a scoring and verification period, and a similar process will be phased in for additional geographic troops across the state throughout 2020.”

Source: bostonglobe.com.

Board Looking to Add [b]Towing to Definition

A tweak to the definition of “motor vehicle service,” is being looked at for a proposed warrant article change by the Wareham (Massachusetts) Planning Board. The article would add “towing for service” to the definition of motor vehicle service.

The town’s zoning bylaws currently define various kinds of businesses. The board is proposing modifying the definition in this manner to allow these businesses to tow cars into the shop for repair. The members also wrote the bylaw to make it clear that towing vehicles to be stored at the business is a use that has to be considered separately by the board.

Source: wareham.theweektoday.com.
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September 18 - September 24, 2019

Pulling On The Same Chain: A Day of Recovery in the Heartland

0 5c8efBy Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

In the recovery business, you just never know what kind of day you will be in for. August 25, 2019, was one of those days for the recovery crew from Farrington Towing & Recovery in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

When last we left our friends at Farrington they had just recovered an aircraft, but that was the end of what was to be a long day of recovery.

This is the prequel.

The day’s adventures started at 6:30 in the morning with a call for a rolled over end dump. Farrington’s Director of Operations Randy Seright explained:

“Nothing out of the ordinary, until the driver informs us that it had rolled over inside a building on a conveyor system and wheel loader.”

Operator Chris Banks was sent out to the rolled over end dump in Farrington’s 2008 Peterbilt/Vulcan V-100 with side-puller.

The trailer was not the problem; not causing any further damage to the wheel loader or conveyor was. Banks decided to cut the tarp on top of the trailer and get the sand out of the trailer to reduce the weight. He then was able to lift the trailer off the conveyor and slide it away from the wheel loader. Once the trailer was clear, Banks was able to slide the trailer out of the building to upright it.

At 10:15 a.m., Farrington received an Oklahoma Highway Patrol call for a rolled over truck and trailer full of strawberries that was blocking all lanes of eastbound I-40 in downtown Oklahoma City. To facilitate quick clearance of the road, Seright, responded in a 2019 Peterbilt 50-ton rotator.

On his way, he mobilized Bill Green and Corey Sexton with the air cushions. Seright also called Garrett Harrison of D&D Wrecker Service, also based in Oklahoma City, to bring his 2014 KW with Jerr-Dan 50/60 rotator to assist.

With excellent teamwork, they had the truck upright and the road cleared before 2 p.m.

The day concluded with the call to respond to the aircraft recovery featured in the Sept. 4 edition of Tow Industry Week, then with yet another rolled over dump during a rainstorm 50 miles west of Oklahoma City at 3 a.m. the next morning.

‘Pulling on the Same Chain’ is the slogan Seright came up with to describe the team’s efforts. He had shirts printed up for the crew.

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!

Wranglin’ A Jeep

0 0ed96By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On June 2, 2018, Aldrich Auto Body & Repair of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, responded to a police call to recover a stolen vehicle.

“We received a call from the Fitchburg Police Department at 10:45 a.m. about a Jeep Wrangler that was reported stolen and was discovered on Fisher Road in Fitchburg in someone's back yard laying on its side,” said owner Angel Aldrich.

Operator Alex Labell got the call and was the first driver that responded. He went out in the company’s 2007 Ford F-450 with a Jerr-Dan MPL self-loader.

He arrived and found that the Jeep had gone off a wall before landing on its passenger side.

“In order to not do any more damage to the property or the Jeep, he called me to respond with the rotator,” said Aldrich. “He also called for a flatbed.”

Aldrich responded in his 2012 NRC 40/50 Sliding Rotator mounted on a 389 Peterbilt and operator Stephen Brown responded with their 2010 International with a Vulcan 21’steel 6k LCG bed.

Aldrich, Brown and Labell did a walk-around survey of the scene. Aldrich then staged the rotator for the recovery and Brown positioned the flatbed to receive the casualty.

Labell and Brown then rigged the Jeep for the recovery. They ran one line from the rotator to a sling through the front driver’s side rim and the other line to a strap wrapped through the back roll cage.

“I was at the controls of the rotator,” said Aldrich. “Once it was rigged, I first uprighted the Jeep. I then lifted it up out of the yard and over the wall and placed it on the Vulcan flatbed.”

Using the rotator, no further damage was done to the Jeep.

Stephen strapped it down and brought the Jeep back to Aldrich Auto Body’s yard.

(Note: This article originally appeared in the June 6, 2018 edition of Tow Industry Week.)

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!

Aircraft Recovery in the Heartland of History

0 f2fe5by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Farrington Towing & Recovery is located in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Thomas Wayne Hall and his wife, Karen, are the owners of this proud family owned and operated company since 1978.

The nature of the recovery business is that you just never know what you’re going to get called to do or when you’re going to get called to do it.

On Aug. 25, 2019, the crew from Farrington Towing & Recovery was just finishing up an air cushion recovery of a tractor-trailer (look for more on this in an upcoming edition) when the call came in to respond for an aircraft recovery.

Randy Seright, the Director of Operations for Farrington, explained, “We received a call from Wiley Post Airport at 5 p.m. … Our crew had just completed doing an airbag job for a load of strawberries that had rolled over on I-40. That wreck occurred at 10:15 a.m. We had the truck and trailer up and the scene cleared before 2 p.m.”

Seright responded with their new 2019 Peterbilt/Vulcan 50-ton rotator. Operator Bill Green responded with a 2012 International tandem axle rollback.

It seems that upon takeoff, this twin-engine aircraft lost power. The pilot made a quick decision to do a forced landing in the airfield avoiding the possibility of civilian casualties. The plane ended up 200’ from the runway flat on the ground with the landing gear up.

“In the initial discussion with the airport, they wanted us to drag the plane onto the rollback and transport it to the hangar,” Seright said. “The owner of the plane did not want to cause any further damage to the plane and did not like the idea of tearing up the fuselage.”

Seright decided to call Jordan Powell with ECI Construction Inc. and bring a tracked skid-steer to slide the plane to the edge of the tarmac. ECI is a roofing contractor that Seright knew had the equipment needed to assist in this job.

Seright positioned the Vulcan rotator in front of the plane and lifted the plane off the ground. In order to prevent any further damage or crushing the fuselage, the Farrington recovery team utilized two spreader bars and two 20’ x 8” straps to cradle the plane.

“Once lifted, we positioned the tandem axle rollback under the plane and strapped it down for transport to the hangar,” said Seright.

At the hangar, Seright positioned the rotator behind the plane and lifted the plane with the two spreader bars and lowered it to the ground.

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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City, State
RATES

Rolla, MO
$50
(Pop. 19,559)

Brunswick, GA
$65
(Pop. 15,383)

Willow Grove, PA
$125
(Pop. 15,726)

Ellensburg, WA
$181
(Pop. 18,174)

Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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September 18 - September 24, 2019

Customer Service

customer service journey 2910dBy Brian J. Riker

We think of ourselves as towers, yet we would never have the opportunity to be tower without first being customer service agents. Without providing excellence in all that we do, our business will flounder and eventually fail.

Everyone in our company, from the call-taker to the driver, even the porter that cleans the yard and restrooms, is a customer service agent. We all must work toward one goal, providing excellence.

Customer service excellence means more than simply meeting your ETAs, having clean trucks and competent operators. Excellence in customer service includes managing expectations from the first point of contact through completion of the job and invoicing.

We as towers must be careful not to speak down to our clients; even those that really do not know much about their own vehicle or the service they actually require.

I suffered an example of poor customer service recently when I broke down in a new truck with 250 miles on it. It took the third-party dispatch service three attempts to dispatch a qualified tow service, and that only happened after they asked who I would request since I was being “so picky.” My problem wasn’t being picky; I simply wanted them to respond with the correct truck to tow what I was driving instead of dispatching something inappropriate.

Had I not known any better (I refused to allow service), the first provider that responded would have overloaded his truck with my truck and tried to handle the job. (He really thought loading a 32’ truck weighing 18,000 lbs. onto a 25,000-lbs. GVWR carrier with a 10,000-lbs. rated 21’ deck was OK!) I am not bashing him; he didn’t know any better and had bad info from the motor club.

Worse yet, the second company to respond came with an even smaller truck!

How this plays into customer service is simple: I had clearly explained to the call center who I was, my needs and how I expected them to respond. They agreed empathetically, yet dismissively, and chose to respond how they thought I needed to be responded to, disregarding the fact that I was the one on scene and they were not even able to properly identify the class of vehicle I was in.

Further adding to the poor experience was the fact that once the responding tower was made known to me, I called them directly to make sure they brought the correct equipment and was brushed off. This was in my local area, so I knew the company dispatched could not handle the call. The third-party dispatch service insisted they could and would not switch providers until this company came out to say they couldn’t complete the service.

This whole fiasco, which resulted in me sitting on the side of I-81 for 3.5 hours, could have been avoided by exercising clear communication principles and actually listening to the customer.

I know it is frustrating because many times our customers really do not know what they actually need; however, we should never allow that to cloud our judgement and turn off our listening skills to the point where we discount every word out of a customer’s mouth as nonsense.

Brian J Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC and is a contributing writer to American Towman Magazine and Tow Industry Week. He specializes in helping non-traditional fleets such as towing, repossession, and construction companies navigate the complex world of Federal and State transportation regulatory compliance. With 25 years of experience in the ditch as a tow operator Brian truly understands the unique needs and challenges faced by towing companies today. He can be reached at brian.riker@fleetcompliancesolutions.net

Care, Custody and Control for Towing Operations

3317 4d748By Randall C. Resch

Tow operators and companies must take care and understanding that they’re responsible for their actions when handling someone else’s property.

A seasoned tow operator damaged a customer’s car while loading it. Worse yet, he didn’t report the damage. The tow company was subsequently sued for an outrageous amount.

During a damage claim interview I conducted to assist in the insurance investigation, the tow operator who caused the damage flippantly remarked, “The car’s a piece of crap.”

That set me to boil and I immediately fired back: “But it’s somebody’s piece of crap; not yours.”

(This narrative isn’t intended as legal advice or information, but as a basis of training only.)

Care, custody and control is a risk management process that spans the duration of towing activity where a vehicle or property of another, is entrusted to a tow company or its employees. When considering best practices, I think of industry standards (actions) that pursue a proper and reasonable Standard of Care.

It’s an ongoing process of protecting from intentional or accidental damages to real property belonging to others. Protection includes: customer vehicles and property; its current overall condition; contents contained within the vehicle during length of services; and impound, storage and/or subsequent release by the tow company, body shop or repair facility to its rightful owner or agent.

Care: Tow companies are responsible for direct damages to customer vehicles during acts of loading, off-loading, towing operations, test drives, pick-up and delivery from a customer’s premises and/or lawful impound while being stored, parked or being moved on the tow company’s property. Tow companies are responsible for total actions of its employees, including: vicarious liability that is applicable to vehicle operations and driving habits; exposure to contents not of their own; required industry standard training; techniques and strategies; and application of standard of care processes necessary that protects the customer’s vehicle or property during towing and recovery tasks. The same liability is true during business hours at business facilities, shops and storage yards.

Custody: Is derived when best practices ensure that vehicles or properties of others are reasonably protected from intentional or accidental damages, harm, theft, or access being provided to individuals not directly linked to vehicles while in custody of a tow company. Tow companies are obligated to provide adequate security measures to reduce chance of theft of property with business strategies that ensure the following controls:

• A central station intrusion alarm covers the entire premises.
• A 24/7 video surveillance system.
• A key control program; lock box or key board.
• Employee training regarding access and release procedures.
• A zero-tolerance policy prohibiting theft by employees.
• Secured vehicle storage areas until release.
• Items of value that are inventoried, reported and/or stored.

Control: Tow companies and their employees have direct responsibility to protect vehicles or properties of others. They must control accessibility or actions of persons not the owner while a vehicle or property is in the company’s employee’s safekeeping.

Control is maintained by ensuring vehicles and properties remains safe under secured storage, including acceptable employee actions necessary to protect vehicles or properties from theft or damages. A company shall not allow unauthorized access or release of vehicles or properties to individuals other than law enforcement, a completed investigation, valid court order, or documented release to its rightful registered owners or agents.

All in all, CC&C is a phrase that professional tow companies follow on a daily basis. Varsity companies serve with varsity mentality to instill a high level of public trust. Obviously, when a company’s reputation is at stake, CC&C is a priority tow companies should strive for.

It doesn’t matter what size company you operate or the number of trucks in your fleet. Why? Because, when tow companies aren’t trusted, word gets around and tow businesses assuredly suffer. As for the driver who wasn’t overly concerned for the customer’s vehicle, his less-than-acceptable attitude sealed his fate.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week’s Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry related articles for print and on line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.




Back to School Safety

News 81055By Brian J. Riker

Ahh, fall is here. Cooler days, beautiful colors begin to appear on the trees, summer travel begins to wind down. We have a few weeks to relax and breathe before winter begins for most of the country.

One color that is often overlooked is yellow—specifically, school bus yellow. Yes, it is a specific shade that all school buses are painted in the U.S. for ease of recognition.

We owe it to the school bus drivers and their most precious cargo to take a moment to remind ourselves how to be safe around school buses and students as they begin the new school year.

According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, the school bus is the safest way for students to travel. Although on average four to six students die each year on school transportation vehicles, students are 70-times more likely to get to school safely in a school bus than a car. The greatest risk to students is not riding a school bus; rather approaching or departing from one.

School bus safety begins at the bus stop. It is important parents to remind our children about proper behavior near the roadway and while getting on or off the bus. Some basic tips include:

Stay at least 6’ away from the edge of the road

Look both ways and wait for the bus driver to signal it is ok to cross

No horseplay or fooling around

Use the handrails entering and exiting the bus

Keep loose clothing and drawstrings close to your body

As professional drivers, towing operators spend more time than average on the roadways. We need to always remain alert and focused on driving regardless of any other troubles we may be facing. While driving a tow truck, or any other vehicle, we cannot allow our minds to wander into thought about what we need to do today, the next call we are heading for or even difficulties at home. We must keep our mind on task to remain safe.

A few key areas to be mindful of include:

Watch for children in neighborhoods, especially during early morning and afternoon hours

Kids on their way to school may be distracted and are unpredictable

Watch for distracted or rushing parents driving through school zones

Learn and heed the school bus stopping laws in your state. A few universal school bus rules include the use of the eight-way warning light system. This is the flashing yellow and red signal lights on school buses. When the yellow lights are flashing it indicates that the school bus is about to stop: be prepared to come to a complete stop. The red flashing lights come on automatically when the passenger door is opened. This indicates the bus is actively loading or discharging students.

In all states you must come to a complete stop for school buses with flashing red lights, no exceptions. In many states, you cannot pass the bus while it is loading or discharging students for any reason. Even emergency vehicles are required to yield to school buses with flashing lights.

Most states, but not all, also require oncoming traffic to come to a complete stop for a school bus with flashing red lights unless separated by a physical barrier such as an non-mountable curb or median divider. Know the laws of the state you are travelling in and, regardless of the law, always pay special attention for kids around school buses. This is especially important the first few weeks back to school as the kids may be new to the area, are adjusting to a new routine or are still not focused on the school year after just coming off of summer vacation.

Please be mindful of parents that are distracted while driving thru neighborhoods as well as pedestrian traffic. No call is so important that you speed thru the streets or put foot traffic at risk. During the first few weeks of back to school season the students and parents alike are still setting into their routines, give them extra time and patience, which includes planning a few extra minutes into your trips for the school traffic delays that are bound to occur.

Brian J. Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC and is a contributing writer to American Towman Magazine and Tow Industry Week. He specializes in helping non-traditional fleets such as towing, repossession, and construction companies navigate the complex world of Federal and State transportation regulatory compliance. With 25 years of experience in the ditch as a tow operator Brian truly understands the unique needs and challenges faced by towing companies today. He can be reached at brian.riker@fleetcompliancesolutions.net.
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September 18 - September 24, 2019

Pink-Ribboned Camouflage

0 63f47By George L. Nitti

Of the many causes that tow companies support, breast cancer awareness is high on the list. At Tri City Towing in Pflugerville, Texas, the company has once again devoted a truck to the cause.

“We did one five years ago,” said owner Mark Chapla, “when my mother-in-law had breast cancer; but we wanted to do it on a larger scale and therefore decided to do it on our biggest rollback.”

At this year’s American Wrecker Pageant at Tow Expo-Dallas, their new super-sized rollback stood out: a 2019 Peterbilt 389 with NRC 40 TB 28’ carrier bed.

“We specialize in equipment hauling,” Chapla said. “This rollback is so versatile. Although it will handle medium-duty tows, we tow anything from cars to backhoes to semi-tractors.”

Design-wise, its large breast cancer ribbon, pink camouflage background and attractive sparkling logo are its stellar features.
The “can’t miss” mega-sized pink breast cancer awareness ribbon on both sides of the unit serves as the centerpiece, flowing from front to back and continuing all the way to the toolbox.

Enhancing that design is its camo background, done in pink, white, gray and black.

“In the past we did pink flames; but wanted something different,” Chapla said. “I thought the camouflage provided a subtle balance. I wanted it to stand out, but not scream out.”

Further complementing the overall design is its sparkling black and gray logo consisting of a cityscape that has been recently revamped to include some new skyscrapers.

Chapla said, “Pflugerville is just north of Austin, Texas. We like to say that we are stuck between a rock (Round Rock) and a weird place (Austin).”

The final touch on the back of the cabin is signage that reminds motorists to “Slow Down, Move Over, It’s the Law.”
Like many of the wraps done for Tri City, this particular one was executed by the notable Larry Perez of Larry Perez Signs and Graphics.

“We give him free reign,” said Chapla. “Each one is better than the next. I’m more than proud of how it turned out.”

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

Patriotic Flavors

0 5b4d3By George L. Nitti

So what do you do when several of the tow businesses in your surrounding area have names such as Patriot Towing, Freedom Towing and Texas Pride Towing?

According to tow owner Chuck Fers of USA Wrecker Services, located in Cedar Creek, Texas, you join in on the patriotic spirit and aptly name your company in a similar fashion.

Their latest acquisition is a flashy orange 2019 Ford F-550 with a Century 19.5’ steel bed that clearly showcases both their company name and its patriotic flavors.

“Originally we were going to name our company US Auto Sales and Wrecker Service,” Fers said. “But they backed out of the deal. When we had to come up with another name, we decided on something patriotic. Nobody is going to forget USA.”

To capture the spirit of the patriotic theme, Fers found a red, white and blue image online with letters that are cut out of the American flag that would serve as its logo. The image, consisting of the letters “USA” is found on the sides of the unit, and stands out against an orange background.

Fers said, “We went with orange because most trucks in our area are red, white and black. Orange sticks out.”

Although the unit looks as if it is custom painted with decals added on, Fers noted that it was actually a complete wrap.

“Wrapping it in orange was more efficient than painting it. If the vinyl is covering the paint, it won’t scratch it. Also, it will be easier to resell by just taking the vinyl off. The original paint job is red,” Fers said.

The centerpiece of this patriotic theme is located on the hood of the truck, where it is covered by an artistically rendered flag highlighted by white stripes and stars. The remaining orange space serves to represent and fill out the rest of the flag.

Although this truck is only one week old, Fers said it is a lot easier to get around on than the larger one that they traded in.

“This one doesn’t have air suspension and is much faster than the one we had. The diesel engine also caused a lot of troubles for us. This one is gas. Let’s just say, it’s a lot more user-friendly.”

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

A Head Turner with Attitude

0 340d7By George L. Nitti

A lot goes into giving a tow truck attitude. Consider both the way the truck is built as well as its design.

This 2019 Peterbilt 389 extended cab with a Century 9055XL, owned by Coady’s Towing Services of Lawrence, Massachusetts, is a case in point.

Driver John Michael Ritter, who has been with the company for 24 years, said, “The XL has more reach and height than the standard 55, giving it that much more power. It puts more weight forward and with the way the crane is set up, it tows better.”

Add in a 13.5” visor that runs down a good portion of the windshield, a taller bumper with doll lights, an impressive grille that contains a big “C,” a stainless steel dress up kit around the lift cylinders, two 50,000-lbs. winches and hefty recovery legs on the back of the truck and you know what I’m talking about.

“These features give the truck attitude when it is coming down the highway,” Ritter said. “You bet it turns heads.”

Of course design factors into the “attitude” equation also, like a catchy slogan on the side of the cab just below the door: “Find your own ride.”

“It’s just something I came up with 10 years ago,” Ritter said. “It’s a conversation maker and brings a smile to the faces of our customers. They say, ‘Do I really have to find a ride or can I get in?’ ”

More zest can be found on its side doors spelling out the company name, which is written in a Western-style font. Then there’s the bold, elongated “C” that extends under the lettering.

According to Ritter, owner Frank Coady won’t change it.

He said, “That logo has been like that forever. I think he is old school and is happy with the way it looks. It’s always been Frank’s look.”

The truck’s attitude wouldn’t be complete without mention of the pin striping, done by MacGregor Signs of Malden, Massachusetts and the names of Ritter’s two children, Gavin and Dakota, written on the side.

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at bdooley@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!
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September 18 - September 24, 2019

Portable EV Ultrafast Charger

SparkCharge 14030SparkCharge recently launched its portable, ultrafast charging unit for electric vehicles. The company said its new technology allows any service provider to deliver range to an electric vehicle owner anytime, anywhere. The unit is a level 3 charger, which can charge up to 1 mile every 60 seconds—six times faster than the average charging station.

sparkcharge.io

20V Wireless Work Lights

product5435 a0de6WORX now offers two new cordless solutions to tackle a wide variety of situations with its 20V Multi-Function LED Light and the 20V MAX Lithium LED Worksite Light. The Multi-Function LED Light features five functions including a flashlight, lantern, desk lamp with high/low settings and flashing emergency light. The Worksite Light generates 1,500 lumens; the cord-free, go-anywhere Worksite Light can be mounted to a conventional tripod. When using a WORX 1.5 Ah MAX Lithium battery, run time is approximately 90 minutes; with a 2 Ah battery, it’s two hours; and with the WORX 4.0 Ah battery, the light will operate up to four hours continuously.

worx.com
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September 18 - September 24, 2019
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September 18 - September 24, 2019
American Towman Magazine Repo Run Editor and founder of Professional Repossessor Magazine Mark Lacek will speak at this year’s Allied Finance Adjusters Midyear Meeting in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Oct. 18.

AT’s Lacek Leads [b]Repo Talk at AFA

American Towman Magazine Repo Run Editor Mark Lacek—founder of Professional Repossessor Magazine, former president of Florida Association of Licensed Repossessors and author of the Recovery Industry Services Co.’s Certified Commercial Recovery Agent national certification program—is set to speak at this year’s Allied Finance Adjusters Midyear Meeting in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Oct. 18 at the Hilton Garden Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront at 9 a.m.

Lacek, one of the nation’s leading expert witnesses on professional standards and the repossession industry, will be providing the audience with the ins and outs of why commercial repossessions can increase a collateral recovery agency’s business.

“A CCRA-trained repossessor can increase his/her bottom line by hundreds of thousands of dollars every year,” Lacek said.

He will discuss commercial skip-tracing strategy, how to invoice correctly and how to successfully repossess commercial trucks and equipment. Lacek will also show how to locate local commercial lenders in your area, make contact with national commercial lenders as well as how to gain and maintain them as a valuable client.

“I have been repossessing commercial trucks and equipment successfully for over 30 years and I believe this niche is currently underserved,” said Lacek. “I want to help other agencies grow their businesses by adding this offering.”

Source: riscus.com.

MBSi welcomes Hanks [b]to executive team

MBSi Corp., a provider of repossession assignment software and vendor compliance monitoring, named Phil Hanks as SVP of sales and client services. The company said that Hanks will align his industry experience with MBSi’s software-as-a-service platform to amplify client services across the auto finance industry in the United States.

“Phil brings a wealth of industry experience and relationships to the MBSi team as we put the finishing touches on our new case management and compliance management systems that will be in market soon,” MBSi president Cort DeHart said in a news release.

Hanks will primarily develop and build new relationships to help MBSi’s finance company, forwarder and agency clients reach operating excellence with the MBSi’s software solutions.

“It’s exciting to join a company with such an opportunity to grow in the market,” Hanks said. “The need for a single software ecosystem to manage repossession cases, map agents and monitor compliance exists for any entity managing repossession orders in the auto-finance industry.

Source: autoremarketing.com.

All Charges Dropped [b]Against Repo Agent

Being a repo agent can be hazardous, but it landed Jose Rodriguez in jail, after he tried to repossess a New York City, New York, detective's car in May.

"It's a wrongful arrest. It should've never happened," Rodriguez said.

Now, four months later, the Staten Island district attorney's office agrees. It's decided to have all remaining charges against the repo agent dismissed — proof, Rodriguez says, that the police never should have arrested him.

"I think they knew that they had nothing on me," he said. "Once they put the handcuffs on me, they knew they had to charge me with something…because it was an officer's car."

The NYPD declined to comment.

Rodriguez tried last May to tow a Nissan Maxima owned by a detective from the 120th Precinct. A bank wanted to take possession of the car because of three missed loan payments.

But officers surrounded the repo man, released the car from the tow, and arrested Rodriguez on a felony charge of possessing of stolen property. He spent more than 20 hours in jail before being released.

The felony was quickly dropped, but a handful of misdemeanors, including charges of falsifying business records and possessing police scanners, were not until the Staten Island DA had them dismissed last week after two hearings.

Rodriguez said he is out thousands of dollars in earnings because the police placed a boot on his rig for nearly two weeks. He added he's already filed a notice of claim against the NYPD and two officers involved in the incident.

Source: ny1.com.

Police: Attempt to Avoid [b]Repo Goes Wrong

A driver pulled over in Modesto, California, last week told police officers that he’d swapped out the plates on his vehicle because he was behind on his payments and was afraid to use the true tags.

He made his situation only worse, though, because the plates he put on came from a stolen GMC pickup truck, Modesto Police Department spokeswoman Sharon Bear said Thursday.

Officers saw what they believed to be a stolen vehicle, occupied and being driven Sept. 10, Bear said. The officers conducted what’s called a high-risk or felony traffic stop.

The driver, Antonio Rubio, offered the explanation of the late payments and said he took the plates from the GMC, which was at his business, Bear said. He told the officers that someone else does business at the shop and brought the GMC in, she said.

Rubio agreed to go to the shop with the officers so they could investigate, she said. The man he identified as also doing business in the shop, Ceres resident Roel Zaya, was called.

Zaya told the officers that he bought the GMC, ended up being suspicious about it but couldn’t get anyone to take it off his hands, Bear said. The pickup was in the process of being dismantled, she said.

No other vehicles in the body shop were determined to be stolen, Bear said, and neither was the vehicle Rubio was driving when pulled over.

Rubio faces charges of owning and operating a chop shop and receiving stolen property, she said. Zaya faces charges of owning and operating a chop shop.

Source: modbee.com.
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