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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingAugust 16 - August 22, 2017

Fighting Back with The Dragonator

0 da319By George Nitti

At the Wisconsin Tow Show on Father's Day weekend, Prairie Land Towing's 2008 Kenworth T800/Century 1075 caught the eye with its bold multicolored dragon enveloping the truck from front to back and top to bottom.

Although it was purchased in 2008 from Zips of New Hampton, Iowa, its graphics were recently redone just in time for the show.

Todd Menzel, who owns the company with his brother Tim and mother, Jeanne, said, "Over the last few years we have been wrapping our trucks differently. We have our own graphics company, Menzel Signs and Graphics, so we do everything in-house."

The colorful dragon on a rotator, aptly called the "Dragonator," is a departure from the company's graphics of the past when the image of a bulldog pervaded their trucks. The change is part of the company's ongoing strategy to promote its growth. Since taking over the company from their father, who started it in 1984 and passed away in 1993, the family has grown the business from two trucks to more than 100, opening up six locations, with its primary headquarters in Sun Prairie, Wis.

"I've been in a growth pattern my whole life," said Menzel, "by procuring government and city contracts and adding good employees, some of whom have been with us since the beginning. You can't build the business by yourself. People build the business by driving it in the right direction.

"You also have to be willing to change," he said. "We have iPads on all of our equipment, have been paperless since 2011, and have become more efficient and quicker."

When asked if the dragon served as a symbol, Menzel responded, "It doesn't necessarily tie-in; but you want to fight back when the industry beats you down. It's a tough business. It's one of the hardest industries to survive because it's very demanding. So maybe the dragon is a metaphor that we will fight back when cornered. Good towing companies will fight back. In the words of Doc (D.J.) Harrington: 'Tough times never last. Tough people do.' "

Regardless of the dragon's larger meanings, one thing remains firmly rooted. It's a memorial, on all of their trucks, that states: "In Loving Memory of Dad."

No doubt Dad was looking down proudly during the Father's Day weekend show.

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In Memory of Officer Keith Boyer

0 1aab5By George L. Nitti

At Bob and Dave's Towing in Whittier, Calif., it has become natural for the company to dedicate several of their trucks to those who have fallen in the line of duty, whether its towers or other first responders.

Officer Keith Boyer, a 27-year veteran with the Whittier Police Department, was shot and killed last month. He was gunned down after responding to an roadside accident of a gang member who was involved.

"We've all towed with this officer," said company owner Rodney Sellers, "everyone from my father to our office personnel, who personally knew him."

As a tribute, the company put together a truck honoring Boyer, decorating their 2011 Ford F-550/Holmes 480 Autoloader.

"In two weeks," Sellers said, "we did a lot of work on it and were able to get the truck to the funeral, where the police department put it front and center."

It is a very touching tribute, with a picture of Boyer prominent on areas of the truck. There's a large-scale image of him on the hood, where he is front and center with an American flag set in the background alongside his badge. Under the image are the words, "In Loving Memory."

His picture is also on the sides of the unit alongside his badge number, 249, and his EOW—the date his service ended with the police department. The back of the unit was also newly painted with his badge number and the words, "To Serve and Protect."

"I can't tell you how many officers have told us how highly they think of our truck," Sellers said. "Recently I went to an awards dinner and one of the officer's wives said, 'I saw the truck. It's been accepted by the officers.' "

The truck has been a work in progress with more to come, including a statement from the police chief that will appear on the side doors.

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