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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJuly 11 - July 17, 2018

Helping at the Holidays

12.11.13.illuBy GEORGE L. NITTI

For the last six years, Norton Tow Squad in Philadelphia has taken the lead in giving back to their community around the holidays, providing toys and money to an orphanage in West Philadelphia. Co-owner Dave Norton sadly recalls how his sister was murdered more than 37 years ago and how her kids, his nephews, Joe and Chris, were orphaned as a result.

"Joe and Chris wanted to start the toy drive," said Norton. "Around Christmastime, they never really received gifts and when gifts were donated, they were for the younger kids."

The entire team at Norton Tow Squad recognized how fortunate their children are and wanted to make Christmas special for all the orphaned kids at Youth Services Inc., which helps to shelter teenagers with children of their own, abused mothers, homeless adults and others.

Norton's wife, Angela, said there is help from 20 or so tow companies, coming from as far as Canada, Indiana, New Jersey, Delaware and elsewhere in Pennsylvania.

"This event wouldn't be possible without the support of all of these tow companies," she said.

The event is a spectacle, as towers meet with their trucks and drive in a procession along the Interstate by police escort before they drop off their gifts. The whole event takes no more than an hour and a half.

"We make this a family affair, not just towers," Angela said. "We want our children to see how children without families live so that our children are appreciative of what they have. Our kids love doing the shopping and presenting the gifts to the kids because it brings joy to our kids."

Norton Tow Squad is sure to take the lead this year driving one of their newer trucks, like the 2011 Ford F-550 with a Chevron Renegade that wona second place at the American Wrecker Pageant during the 25th American Towman Expo in Baltimore in November.

The kids will discover cartoon characters from the gaming franchise and film "Mortal Kombat," such as ninja Sub-Zero on the hood, Scorpion on the driver's side and Prince Goro, a huge, four-armed Shokan warrior on the passenger's side.

Towers are invited to join the cause on Dec. 14 at 9 a.m. at 4250 Armingo Ave. in Philadelphia and make the heroic drive to Youth Services Inc. at 410 N. 43rd St. For more information to donate, contact Angela at

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Bad Boy on the Road

1 edc07By George L. Nitti

Anyone working in towing knows that it takes a thick skin to do repossession work.

A former repo agent, owner Lenny Diogo of Jaimes Towing and Recovery in Fort Meyers, Florida, said, "I hated riding around all damn night looking for people. There ain't no money in it and people pull guns on you. You might say I had my fair share of fights."

As a result, he cultivated a bad boy image for himself.

One of his first trucks was a '97 Ford F-350 7.3L diesel/Dynamic twin-line wrecker. At 500,000 miles, the unit has undergone changes, but it can still get the job done.

"I can get in it, fire it up and go use it," Diego said.

One big restoration he made was jacking up the unit, making it like a monster truck while adding wheels that measure 49" by 24".

"Today, we use it for parades and events. It's more a show piece and toy. It's too wide and too tall to be on the road," he said. "It only goes 20 miles an hour. But if someone steals a car and dumps it in the middle of the woods, that's the car we use to pull it out. I don't have to worry about getting it stuck. It works great on the beach too."

Diogo, having grown older and wiser since transitioning into transport, towing and recovery, said he personally no longer has the bad boy image, but that the unit itself does.

On its side door is a simulated "Wanted" poster ... "Wanted James."

A white background sets off against the unit's predominant tribal flames that are airbrushed in shades of blue, orange and yellow, with gray boulders prominent on its front end.

"One of my brother's buddies did the custom paint," Diogo said. "He put a few hundred hours into it. It's all freehand and airbrushed.

"The suspension work cost about $15,000."

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