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The Week's Features
Update includes slowing down and moving over for all vehicles displaying emergency signals.
Diesel Tanker requires the work of two 50 ton wreckers.
How to avoid getting your winch stolen.
Powerful color schematic, easy to read lettering.
Repo driver shoots owner of repo'd vehicle.
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July 13-15, 2023
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Sept. 21-23, 2022
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 17-19, 2022
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing October 05 - October 11, 2022

Milwaukee Man Sentenced for Terrorizing Towers

A man who terrorized towers from Milwaukee during a three-week crime spree last fall received 22 years in prison. 

Latherio Meadows, 25, robbed seven drivers, who all identified him, at gun point.  Meadows pleaded guilty in June to all the robberies and two counts of using a gun during a violent crime.  

Meadow's "crime spree sparked a wave of fear in the small community of self-employed tow truck drivers in the Milwaukee community," Assistant U.S. Attorney Abbey Marzick wrote in a sentencing memo. 

According to court records: Meadows called his victims, saying he either needed his car towed or wanted to scrap a car for cash. When the trucks arrived -- at various locations around Milwaukee's north side -- Meadows pointed a gun at the drivers and demanded their money, weapons and cell phones. 

He obtained cash in amounts ranging from $500 to $3,000 from drivers, and handguns from two of his victims. Meadows pistol whipped one driver, causing head wounds that had to be stapled. 

His attorney, Richard Hart, argued Meadows did the robberies during a period of intense drug cravings. He admitted the offenses were serious, but suggested a sentence of 16-17 years would achieve all the goals of sentencing.  

The two gun convictions each carry a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years, so the bare minimum sentence would be 14 years. 

https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/



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Vegas Vibe Rocks American Towman ShowPlace

Last week, at American Towman ShowPlace in bustling Las Vegas, towers from all parts of the Western U.S. filled the show floor at the Westgate Resort & Convention Center to meet with more than 170 exhibitors showcasing their products and services. A slew of other events over a three-day period kept attendees engaged, educated, entertained, and well fed.

According to American Towman Magazine Editor Steve Temple, “This year we saw great spectator turnout.” Over 3500 towing professionals came, an increase of more than 22% from last year. Ed Grubbs, President of Environmental Chemical Solutions (ECS), said, “This has been the largest turn-out, not just in exhibitors, but attendees, since we have been coming since 2015.”

Like all American Towman Expositions, hospitality was at the center of the show. One peek at the Welcome Reception, which kicked off the event, showed large numbers of attendees waiting in long lines for an array of carved meats and other specialties. Pie Palooza was another hospitality hit, as attendees dug into a large assortment of pies, both free events courtesy of American Towman.

Education, through a host of seminars and hands-on training, helped anchor the shows success as conference rooms were packed to standing room only. David Saline of Drive commented, “There are a lot of tow companies here being able to improve their business, increase their cash flow and get more drivers hired.” Wreckmaster’s Bear Godfrey, noting Rotator Training at the event, said, “This year it was an outstanding class. Lots of operators got a chance to get their hands on outstanding equipment.”

“AT ShowPlace demonstrated how resilient the towing industry is and how important face-to-face events are to owners of tow businesses,” said Henri “Doc” Calitri, president of A. T. Expo Corp. “Exhibitors across the board expressed how engaging the audience was and sales were steady throughout the 2-day show.”

American Towman ShowPlace – Las Vegas will be back at the South Point Hotel and Exhibit Hall May 17 & 18 in 2023.



Randall's Towing receives a first place trophy for best carrier in the American Towman Cup at American Towman ShowPlace.

Ripped and Geared to Go

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By George L. Nitti

For custom paint on a wrecker, perhaps no name in the towing industry stands out than Cecil Burrowes, whose mastery of the medium continues to adorn tow trucks.

His latest creation is for Non-Stop Towing & Recovery of Freeport, Long Island, one of many that he has created for the company.

Owner Matt Bonomo said, “Cecil is an amazing artist and we’ve used him repeatedly for our trucks.”

Burrowes, whose other works include mesmerizing tribal flames, grim reapers, dragons, superheroes, and iconic scenes from the Godfather, continues to push his repertoire, this time creating intricate mechanical gears and eerie skulls that are each contained within ripped out sections on a 2022 Peterbilt 337 NRC 20TB flatbed.

Bonomo said, “We wanted something different, not the same tribal flames that we always do.”

Bonomo is not a fan of wraps.

“Wraps are too perfect,” he said. “When you see paint, the time it takes and the skill involved, you can’t compare it to a wrap. I love the look so much better.”

Adding accent and contrast to the tangerine infused gears and skulls with eyes peeking out at you is the green border and pinstriping on the unit.

Burrowes said, “It’s one of the best combinations that you can find now in terms of colors. It’s tops, especially on white.”

Burrowes continues to perfect the design on the truck. After 3 weeks of working on its exterior, he has turned his attention on the interior, creating more pinstriping and detail.

Always a master at work, Burrowes shows what it takes to deliver awesome graphics.

Flood of Electric Vehicles on the Road bring REAL FIRE DANGERS Tow Bosses must Understand
By Don Lomax
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Towers on Vaccination
I got vaccinated without any side effects
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Managing Editor: George Nitti
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
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Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
October 05 - October 11, 2022
On The Hook With Mr. Industry
A procession of 80 tow trucks to honor Alex Bleickhardt.

NY Tower Alex Bleickhardt Given Tribute 

Towers from the state of NY memorialized fallen tower Alex Bleickhardt, as about 80 trucks were in procession in Saratoga County, stretching from a mall to TowAway LLC, where Bleickhardt worked. 

Bleickhardt was killed after he was struck by a car while servicing a disabled box truck on Sept. 15. The car was driven by Justin P. Rodriguez, a repeat DWI offender with a revoked license. 

Joined by their families, towers attached  American flags with a neon yellow stripe to their trucks to honor Bleickhardt, 33.  

https://poststar.com/

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American Towman Exposition Gallery
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October 05 - October 11, 2022
John Lightbown, service manager for Toyota of Portsmouth, N.H., said delays are on everything as far as brakes, exhaust, and tires.

New Hampshire Dogged by Car Parts Shortages 

New Hampshire vehicle owners and mechanics expressed frustation over the continuing shortage of automotive parts. The ongoing shortage is creating long wait times for repairs, mechanics said. 

"There's parts delays on everything as far as brakes, exhaust, tires," said John Lightbown, service manager for Toyota of Portsmouth. "Lightbulbs are easy to get, but the stuff we really need to get people out on the road is very difficult to get right now." 

Key factors driving shortages are supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic, factories shutting down, backed-up ports and transportation, and staffing issues.  

Alan Amici of the Center for Automotive Research sees “incremental improvement” yet sees continued shortages not just in semiconductors, but metal stamped components and a whole variety of parts that feed the auto industry. 

https://www.wmur.com/

Maryland Updates ‘Move Over’ Law 

A Maryland bill, which goes into effect on Sat, Oct. 8,  has added an update to its ‘Move Over’ Law, requiring motorists to make a lane change when approaching all vehicles stopped on the side of roadways displaying hazard lights, flares or other caution signals – not just first responders and tow trucks. 

The original Move Over law that passed in 2010 only provided protection for emergency responders, law enforcement personnel, and CHART trucks who provide motorists roadside assistance. In 2014, the law was updated to include tow truck drivers as well. 

The most recent law is aimed at protecting law enforcement, emergency responders, and any motorist that needs to stop near travel lanes if they experience a roadside emergency. 

In recognition of the expansion, Governor Larry Hogan declared the month of October as Move Over Awareness Month.

 https://www.mymcmedia.org/
https://www.kilgorenewsherald.com/

Pennsylvania Borough Mandates Rotation System

In Shenandoah, Pa., the borough has adopted an ordinance regulating the operations of towing companies. 

Under the ordinance, there will be a rotational system in place that ensures all towing companies in the borough receive opportunities for assignments. 

The ordinance states that "no person shall engage in towing from a scene of an accident or with respect to a disabled vehicle that is either impeding traffic or on the shoulder of a limited access highway" unless that person has been selected through the rotational system. 

The council, through this action, wants to eliminate any one company from getting all the business. 

The borough will compile a list of approved, licensed towing companies for the rotational list. To be included on the list, a towing company must submit an application on a form required by Shenandoah. 

The rotational list will be determined and maintained by the borough and the Shenandoah Police Department, with all assignments "made on an alternating basis and in accordance with the level of service required for the transport," according to the ordinance. 

In addition to the rotational list, the ordinance lays down a series of parameters designed to provide safeguards and controls for towing companies. 

"Such safeguards include identifying (on the application form) the company name, the name of the owners of the company, the owner's date of birth, towing operator's license of all persons operating tow trucks within the borough, a fee schedule of towing costs and proof of insurance," Amato said. 

https://www.yahoo.com/

NY Tower Killed  

A 33-year-old tow truck driver was killed Thursday night, Sept. 15, after police say a drunk driver veered off the roadway and crashed into him as he was working on a stranded vehicle. 

Tow Truck driver Alex Bleickhardt of TowAway LLC, located in Hudson Falls, NY, was pronounced dead at the scene after 41-year-old Justin Rodriguez left the roadway and crashed into a box truck, tow truck and Bleickhardt.  

State Police say Rodriguez had four previous DWIs and was driving on a permanently revoked license.  

Bleickhardt was with his dog Moose, who survived the accident scene. According to TowAway President William Hafner, the “two were inseparable.” 

https://www.news10.com/news/

Queens Tow Company Hit with Lawsuit 

A Queen’s tow company was hit with a class-action suit claiming that it monopolized tow services on Big Apple highways and ripped off thousands of motorists.  

The suit seeks more than $58 million in damages from several parties, including Runway Towing Corp. for allegedly running an illegal “racketeering enterprise” at the expense of unsuspecting motorists. The suit also accuses the NYPD of repeatedly extending Runway’s contract since 2013 without competitive bidding and, in the process, ignoring many complaints the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection was getting about the company’s alleged lawbreaking, which included underpaying workers and illegally compensating them with cash off the books. 

Errol Margolin, a lawyer for Runway said, “To accuse Runway, the NYPD, and the Department of Consumer [and Worker Protection] of operating an enterprise” violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act “is not only silly but sanctionable. Any such lawsuit will be dismissed because there is no enterprise, no conspiracy, and no conduct that is illegal.” 

https://nypost.com/2022/09/17/    

California Tower Named to International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame 

Robert Van Lingen of Van Lingen Towing in Torrance, Calif. will be inducted into the Towing Hall of Fame in October. Van Lingen is part of a group of 10 towing and recovery leaders who have left their mark on the industry.  

"As a youngster, Robert would sleep with clothes and boots on in front of the door so his dad couldn't run a call in the middle of the night without taking him," states his nomination statement. "He literally grew up in the industry." 
 
He has made his mark in towing and recovery by improving on procedures that have become standard in the towing industry. For instance, Van Lingen created a standard for police impound operations and facilities that today is utilized worldwide. In addition, he introduced a safer and more efficient way of uprighting overturned sea containers. "The rigging method has been adopted around the world and is known as the 'Van Lingen Method.'" 
 
Van Lingen will be honored on October 8, 2022, at the Westin Chattanooga during a special induction ceremony that will also include towing legends from around the U.S., Australia, France and Japan.  

To be inducted, each leader must have at least 20 years of experience. The Hall of Fame has grown to include over 300 distinguished towing professionals from around the world. 

https://www.einnews.com/

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Rate how they handled this recovery
Great job on a challenging recovery.
Hit all the basics on this one. Thumbs up.
Creative approach on this recovery. Good job.
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Vehicle(s) could be rigged more efficiently.
More trucks were needed.
October 05 - October 11, 2022

Teetering Tanker

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By George L. Nitti

In the wee small hours of a West Texas night, on the outskirts of the small town of Orla, Texas, a semi-tractor hauling diesel fuel mysteriously jackknifed, causing the container to tip in midair and rest only on the tractor for support.

Shortly thereafter, Big Sky Towing of Odessa, Texas, no stranger to these outstretched lands and endless landscapes, was called to action.

“About 8 in the morning, we headed out with our two fifty ton wreckers,” said Travis Turner, who was  accompanied by his father Todd in a 2020 Kenworth T880/Vulcan 103 XP while the other operator, Chance Herndon, followed with a 2012 Kenworth/Century 9055.

“The driver said he lost all power and hit the brakes, causing it to jackknife,” said Turner. “I thought maybe he fell asleep at the wheel, but we did find the tractor had absolutely no power.”

Fortunately, the tractor prevented the trailer from rolling over, but needed the two wreckers to safely set it back down on its feet.

Using the twin steer, which was positioned roadside next to the teetering tanker, from its XP side puller, the crew ran a two part line over the tanker and then a strap around the tanker to cradle it - while the boom winches came down from the stiff legs, where they ran lines to the rim and rear tires of the trailer, back to the wrecker.  The other wrecker, meanwhile, was set in front of the tractor, with lines rigged to it, in order to straighten the jackknife.  

Although a long ride in the middle of nowhere, with maybe some Elvis tunes playing in the background to keep company, the job itself took only 30 – 45 minutes as the two wreckers worked perfectly in tandem to get the job done.

The trailer was undamaged and towed 20 miles to a yard in Orla before the crew made its 3 hour trek back to Odessa.

With a Little Help from My Friends 

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By George L. Nitti 

On January 9, 2022, just before an ice storm was predicted to hit Ohio’s I-76, a flatbed hauling 10 I-beams veered off the road. 

Summoned by the Ohio State Patrol to handle a semi-tractor load transfer, which is normally a simple procedure, lead operator Dalton Stebbins of Fall & Stebbins Automotive Inc of Mantua, Ohio, arrived on scene with his 2013 twin steer Peterbuilt with a Century 75 ton rotator. 

“After I showed up,” he said, “I realized we needed another rotator to lift the I-beams off and do the recovery safely.” 

Dalton called Interstate Towing of Twinsburg for assistance, and they brought their 75 ton to the scene.  

“It was bit challenging,” said Stebbins. “The I-beams were half on and half off the trailer. Since we were pretty far off the roadway, you have to realize that our rotators weren’t right on them. Whenever you do a lift job, you usually want to be right on top of whatever you are lifting. In this case, we had our booms extended all the way out.” 

The two rotators worked in tandem. Interstate hooked their rotator to the front of the I-beams, while Stebbins used theirs to hook the back, securing all ten I-Beams together (approximate weight 40,000 pounds) with 5/8 bridals.  

“Once you pick them up, you kind of have them and there’s no turning back from that,” said Stebbins. “It pushed both of the rotators to their maximum capacity because we were that far out.” 

Once the I-beams were picked up and removed from the damaged trailer, they were set on the ground. Dalton, using his rotator, then stacked them individually upon a flatbed with a Kenworth Road Tractor brought in by another buddy of his from Northeast Ohio Express Services. 

“We had three companies working together on this one,” said Dalton. “I try to work together with others. I’m a smaller company. I’ve got 13 trucks but only have three drivers, including myself. ” 

After loading the I-beams, Dalton used his rotator to pick up the wrecked semi-tractor, placing it upon one of the Landoll trailers. Their Kenworth T880 30 ton was then used to transport it back. The wrecked trailer was loaded onto the other Landoll trailer. 

After all of the pieces were put on trailers, everything was taken to Fall & Stebbins location, where they waited for insurance to come out. Then they were transferred to different loads and handled from there.  

Other operators that Stebbins gave thanks to included Jay Trgo, Marcus Valentine and Austin Hladki. 

“Teamwork goes a long way. It’s amazing how different companies can work together even though we don’t run trucks together every day,” Stebbins said. “Even though you are not big enough to handle things on your own, it’s ok to ask for help and work together.” 

Solid Teamwork: Recovering One Big Fracking Crane

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By George L. Nitti 

On a scorching summer’s day under clear blue skies with the needle hovering close to 110 degrees, B & B Wrecker Service of Pecos and Big Sky Towing of Odessa converged on the little town of Monahans, along Rt. 20, which runs from El Paso to Dallas, to recover an overturned crane. 

Cranes are indispensable in West Texas. We are not talking whooping cranes. Of course, they matter too. We’re talking mechanical cranes. They are hard to get a hold of, tied up on locations for weeks at a time holding up established wellheads for oil and gas companies. 26-year-old Travis Turner, a supervisor and lead operator from Big Sky informed: “The fracking business is what keeps everybody busy. We’re booming.”  

Transporting a high-capacity crane can be challenging. This Terex mobile hydraulic crane was on its way back to the yard in Odessa, when Travis said that according to the driver, the last 3 axles on the dolly locked up. “He said it shoved him off the road and flipped the crane,” said Travis. Fortunately, the driver walked off unscathed, but the crane was in a precarious situation. 

B & B Wrecker was dispatched, led by its supervisor, 38-year-old Harvey Carrera. Knowing that the job needed extra power, he called his friend Travis. “We had just done a challenging crane job together last month,” Harvey said, “I knew that once I called him, we would knock it out.” 

Combining forces, their equipment included Big Sky’s 2020 Kenworth T880 Tandem Tandem Vulcan 103 XP 50-ton wrecker and three of B & B’s Units: a 2005 Kenworth 1150 Century Rotator, a 1999 Peterbilt 5130 Century/30 ton, and 1996 Peterbilt 9055 Century with a 2011 bed. 

Upon arriving, their first task was to carefully turn over the flipped crane. After casting out winch lines from all four units to grab a hold of it, Travis, with his Vulcan, initiated a reverse roll. He said, “I picked it straight up and rolled it away from me. You get the most mechanical leverage that way.”  

The 35-ton next to the Vulcan was used as a catch truck while the other two units on the other side pulled the crane towards them.  “That way it doesn’t flop over,” commented Harvey. “It must be a controlled environment the whole time because if something was to yank our boom and damage it, that would suck. Plus, you want to salvage the crane as well. You don’t want to cause any more damage than what’s already happened. You have to tow it back.” 

After up righting the crane, getting it on the road proved to be a bigger job. Travis said, “Once we flipped it, the crane was stuck in the sand, wedged between a sand dune and a concrete road barrier.”  

With very little room to maneuver, the situation required that they turn the crane 90 degrees to get it back on the road in order to tow it. Moving the Vulcan to the front of the crane, Travis executed a lift and pull while B & B’s rotator was used to pull the rear of the crane around.  “It fought us every step of the way,” said Travis. “Especially the front end. I had to drag it through the dirt. It was probably the hardest winch I’ve done.” 

To facilitate the process, the team applied Dawn soap to the road that they picked up from a nearby Dollar Store. This would enable the crane’s tires to slide over more easily and not damage the light weighted dollies which had lost some of their upper supports.  

Harvey said, “We didn’t want to lose the dolly. If that happened, we would have to trailer things in and do a bunch of stuff. We tried to save the customer as much money as possible without getting more equipment involved.” 

Finally, the crane was ready for transport to a nearby yard in Monahans.  Since the Pitman arms of the crane were compromised, the front end had to be lifted and towed. “We used my wrecker because it can out tow any other tow truck,” said Travis. “I have it set up with the tandem tandem twin steer.” 

After several weeks of nonpayment by the crane company, B & B Wrecker became the proud owners of a crane. “We bought it out from them in order to settle the bill. They have agreed to sign the papers over to us. We will auction it off ourselves.” 

Four years ago, when the company picked up a much smaller crane, weighing only eight tons, B & B Wrecker gained title to it. 

Harvey said, “So off a $14,000 bill, we auctioned it off for $150,000.” 

Editor's Note: This story appeared in the September issue 2022 of American Towman Magazine. To see the story, go to Solid Teamwork: Recovering One Big Fracking Crane

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Warren, MI,
$175
(pop. 134,141)

Casselberry, FL
$375
(pop. 26,449)

Elkton, MD
$640
(pop. 15,579)

Loveland, CO
$250
(pop. 70,223)

Heavy-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
October 05 - October 11, 2022

Storm Response and Insurance, Am I Covered?

Brian J Riker

With the rush to provide assistance after Hurricane Ian hit Florida, many towers are sending equipment and manpower into the affected areas. While this is both noble, and potentially profitable, we must ask ourselves if we are insured for this type of work. Most all towers have adequate insurance coverage for their normal day to day operations around town, but what if you send your trucks and staff into another state to provide services?

It is a common practice for insurance companies to limit coverages to a specific geographic area, often no more than a 500 mile radius and sometimes as low as 50 miles. This is how they control costs and effectively rate your policy for risk. Typically, a towing company will declare their normal operating area when obtaining or renewing insurance coverage, and although you are covered to occasionally exceed this declared area, sending trucks and manpower into another state long term may not be covered.

Does your insurance policy provide public liability and cargo coverage for motor carrier transportation activities or just on-hook liability coverages? If you usually only engage in towing disabled and wrecked motor vehicles around town you may not have high enough, or even the appropriate coverages, on your policy to work outside your home state. Interstate operations have very specific, often higher, coverage requirements than intrastate operations.

During storm response details you most likely will be providing transportation services instead of traditional towing services. You must ask if your policy meets the minimum financial responsibility levels of the state you are sending your trucks to operate in? This is important, once you engage in Intrastate operations, which is typically what happens during storm response, you must comply with that state’s regulations including insurance and licensing. Same for engaging in Interstate operations. If you do not regularly do so, your insurance may not meet the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations minimum level of financial responsibility requirements for automobile transportation, which is $1 million in public liability.

It is important to understand that during the initial phase of storm response some, if not all, of the regulatory requirements may be waived for those providing direct assistance but these waivers do not last long nor do they always apply to salvage transportation operations. Please understand the exact requirements before dispatching your equipment into the affected areas.

How about garage keepers legal liability? Will you be responsible for storing vehicles during this remote assignment or simply transporting them from point A to point B? Will you be performing any repairs to these vehicles to make them towable? Again, please make sure you are covered for the operations you intend to engage in.

Will your workers compensation policy cover injury to remote workers? Workers compensation is a state level insurance plan and the regulations, as well as coverages vary between states. You may need to declare to your carrier the out of state operations or face denial of claims and a penalty during your end of term premium audit.

In summary, it will not hurt to ask your insurance agent(s) to review your policy before committing your company to out of area work and keep them in the loop as the project progresses or if the assignment changes.

Although it can be lucrative to rush into a storm damaged area and help, please make sure the additional regulatory burden does not negate the profit from these activities. And most importantly, stay safe!





Bye Bye Winch            

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By Randall C. Resch

Imagine returning to work after a relaxing weekend only to find that the 8,000-pound, front mounted winch on your 4x4 shop truck was liberated over the weekend. Welcome to the week ahead!

A Southern California tow company owner called to say the front mounted winch on his off-road pickup was stolen. He said he parked it over the weekend outside his shop. He was in a rage, declaring war against whoever might have taken the winch. But without any leads or suspect information, he asked what can be done to prevent a future recurrence?

I advised him to file a police report, but not to expect anything to happen after the fact. As I see it, not too many motorists in today’s automotive world have a need for a tow truck winch. But this winch is better defined as a Class III, tube receiver mount, with the winch retained only by a push-through pin, no lock. 

Because the truck was left parked across the street from his office in an industrial area, the suspect is not likely to be a neighbor; thus narrowing the audience considerably to off-roaders and tow truck companies.

I suggested several keys to prevention.

1. Always park inside a secured facility

2. Remove the receiver winch from its mount

3. Lock the winch with an official locking bolt

4. Tack mounting bolts

5. Weld the unit into place

6. Weld a small piece of scrap steel over the mount bolts or nuts for added security. If you ever need the winch to come off, cut the welds with a grinder where nuts and bolts are then removed.

Piece a’ Cake

You might be surprised to know that on-line thieves and predators also watch off-road, Jeepers and tow forums to learn what they can scour from on-line forums.

If someone wants or needs a winch bad enough, there are plenty of places to get one on “The five finger discount plan.” In this case, this theft was clean with power wires unbolted and hanging neatly below the bumper. The only remaining evidence was a single, accelerating skid-mark left in the parking space forward to where the tow truck was parked and a single, heavy canvas glove.

Most likely, if the winch was difficult to steal, a more creative thief may have stolen the vehicle and stripped it somewhere else. I guess if the tow God’s were watching, at least they diverted the tow truck from being completely stolen.

If a thief wants your front-mounted winch bad enough, a skinny body can lie under the vehicle on their back, and then make haste dismantling the front end or front bumper. Making it even more easy was that the tow truck was parked during non-business hours.

Unfortunately, his was a hard lesson to learn. In the same hateful practice of stealing catalytic converters from cars, every tower’s diligence comes into play. While it’s not easy being victim of property theft, perhaps if the tow truck wasn’t parked there to begin with, the theft may not have happened?

And, get this. One of the newest thefts (from tow trucks) is an enterprising thief having the need to steal synthetic rope from a winch spool. If a tow truck is parked and unoccupied, it takes only minutes to first free-spool the winch, drag the rope to its end, and then cut the synthetic rope from the spool. Yeah … that’s someone with winch knowledge!

           

A secured truck is a secured truck! The bottom-line is simple: if someone wants something bad enough off your tow truck, they'll figure a way to steal it. By parking any tow truck overnight in an unsecured location, an unsuspecting company owner or employee is simply providing the neighborhood thief an easy opportunity.       

What is a Safety Management System? 

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Brian J Riker 

As business owners, we tend focus on individual tasks, trying to clear them off our list one by one. While doing so gives us a feeling of accomplishment, perhaps if we slowed down and stepped back for just a moment, we would see how these tasks may be intertwined. I witness this often when dealing with safety, compliance, and training issues at companies. 

Safety is not a stand-alone issue nor is it simply a department or person at your company. Safety is not a company policy, law, or regulation. Safety is not simply following standards. No, it is so much more than mere words and documents. 

Safety is a living, breathing entity that is part of everything we do each day. While I do not necessarily buy into the “safety first” mantra, as it tends to allow us to believe that someone else is responsible for our personal safety, I do subscribe to the “safety always” philosophy in which each individual takes primary responsibility for being as safe as possible, given the task at hand. 

Training is an especially important part of safety. One simply cannot be safe if they do not understand the details of the tasks they are performing, the limitations of the machinery and other important factors. Training alone will not make anyone safer; it is just one part of the process of understanding the risks we must take. This career is not without risk, some greater than others, however we still must train to be our best in an attempt to be as safe as possible while performing a dangerous job. To that end, training that is inconsistent with company policy, culture and value is also not effective in making anyone safer. You must walk the walk not just talk the talk, and this starts at the top with ownership and senior leadership. 

Independent audits and reviews are also integral to safety. Humans tend to get complacent; it is in our nature, so having an independent person or entity review your operations periodically helps to identify areas that may be slipping or did not notice on your own. Again, safety is not just words on paper or a onetime demonstration of competency; rather it is constantly evolving into something greater than the sum of the individual parts. This is why I routinely audit even the safest and most successful of my clients because something can always be improved upon somewhere. 

When you put all these components together and combine them with leadership that values safety over production, you have the beginning of a safety management system. Now, production is important because we would not be in business if we did not hit specific productivity goals resulting in profitable operations; however, without employees that are safe and willing to come to work each day, none of that truly matters. In short, safety does not cost -it pays back in dividends. 

An excellent safety management system transcends departments within a company, encompassing everything from the thought process behind hiring to equipment selection and even jobs that you accept from clients. Sales, marketing and human resources all have a place within the safety management system; not just field operations. For towers, this means your call takers and dispatchers need to be just as educated about what a specific truck and operator is capable of as does the manager and the operator themselves. All the training in the world will not matter if a supervisor instructs an operator to “get it done this time” knowing they are not properly equipped to do so. 

In short, to have an effective safety management program, your operations cannot be so separate that one hand does not know what the other hand is doing. Silos are great for segregating and storing grain, but not so great for operating a safe and effective business. I find this to be true very often in larger, multiple location companies although even small companies can have such separation where one person does not see how their actions affect others within the company. 

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October 05 - October 11, 2022

Ripped and Geared to Go

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By George L. Nitti

For custom paint on a wrecker, perhaps no name in the towing industry stands out than Cecil Burrowes, whose mastery of the medium continues to adorn tow trucks.

His latest creation is for Non-Stop Towing & Recovery of Freeport, Long Island, one of many that he has created for the company.

Owner Matt Bonomo said, “Cecil is an amazing artist and we’ve used him repeatedly for our trucks.”

Burrowes, whose other works include mesmerizing tribal flames, grim reapers, dragons, superheroes, and iconic scenes from the Godfather, continues to push his repertoire, this time creating intricate mechanical gears and eerie skulls that are each contained within ripped out sections on a 2022 Peterbilt 337 NRC 20TB flatbed.

Bonomo said, “We wanted something different, not the same tribal flames that we always do.”

Bonomo is not a fan of wraps.

“Wraps are too perfect,” he said. “When you see paint, the time it takes and the skill involved, you can’t compare it to a wrap. I love the look so much better.”

Adding accent and contrast to the tangerine infused gears and skulls with eyes peeking out at you is the green border and pinstriping on the unit.

Burrowes said, “It’s one of the best combinations that you can find now in terms of colors. It’s tops, especially on white.”

Burrowes continues to perfect the design on the truck. After 3 weeks of working on its exterior, he has turned his attention on the interior, creating more pinstriping and detail.

Always a master at work, Burrowes shows what it takes to deliver awesome graphics.

Rockin' Rotator

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By George L. Nitti

When Mark Sylver of Sylverline Towing, located in Temple Hills, M.D., broke off from the family business in 2013-14 to start his own company, he knew he wanted his trucks to be easily seen and read, rather than flashy or busy like some of his competition throughout the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area.

Today, Sylver’s intention can be found on his tow trucks, mostly heavy-duty, including 3 rotators. His latest purchase of a Kenworth 2021 T880 with a Century 1150 Rotator illustrates a powerful color schematic of orange and silver and a straight-forward, easy to read white lettering that pops against those two contrasting colors.

The unit’s eye-catching colors are its first striking feature.  “I went with orange because I didn’t want my company to be mistaken for anyone else,” Sylver said. Although not stated, the color silver, which covers the upper half of the unit, seems a play on the “Sylver” name – yet works perfectly as a contrasting color, when often, white or black, would be the go-to.

Along the side, written in large white letters, is the company name/logo - “Sylverline.” Sylver said, “My family’s business was M&N – the name Sylverline just clicked one day.”

The company, which specializes in heavy duty towing, particularly coach buses (“before they fell out of favor due to Covid”) perhaps connects to coachline. Adding to the name is a catchy winchline running through the logo bearing a hook.

Also prominently written on the side is an easy-to-read phone number. Sylver said, “If somebody is broken down, legally you can’t solicit, but if you drive by and they see your truck and phone number, they can call you. That happened last week. Somebody called me and said, ‘I saw you towing a bus. Can you come by and tow me.’”

On the back of the cab is a slogan Sylver picked up from his church: “Favor Ain’t Fair.” “If you have the favor of God, it ain’t fair. You just have it,” said Sylver. “And you can’t worry about what somebody else has, because they are in the favor of God.”

While Sylver points out that he has been favored with three rotators, he also points out that good service is a key to his success, which sometimes means saying no to jobs.

He said, “I can’t please everybody. There are other companies around me that promise a cheaper price but if you call them 4 hours later, they still haven’t come. When they call me, the job is handled. I can’t tow everybody, so I have to be the best at what I do.”

The “Good Old Girl” 

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By George L. Nitti

Although 1985 wasn’t too long ago, that was the year Big Al Hibler of Hibler’s Towing and Recovery/Al’s Garage, Inc., located in Binghamton, NY, picked up a new Chevy from a local dealership. Over the years, it would become a classic. 

Gary Hibler, who took over the business from his father when Al passed in 2020, recalls fondly: “That Chevy was most of my childhood. I remember him driving it. It’s got a big engine. It would rumble the house and you knew that Dad was going to work.” 

As a tribute to Big Al, the company brought the Chevy, which was rusting away in their impound lot, to be restored and used in local pageants and tow shows. 

“It sadly sat out in our impound yard for about 10 years,” said Hibler. “Although it was good advertisement, it was killing the truck.” 

When Big Al bought the Chevy K20 with a 454 drive train, he attached a Holmes 500 to it from a previous model Chevy the company used in the 70’s. “It’s a split boom,” said Gary. “It was able to pick up from both sides of the unit.” 

With a boxy shape and large front grill, the simply decorated red and white unit contains all the essential details of the business including company names, a phone number written large, towing services from light to heavy duty, and hours of operation.  

The interior was also made over and includes an interior with a bench seat and a custom dash where the lights light up. 

On the back fender, it states In Loving Memory of Big Al "The Trucker’s Pal.” 

“He got the nickname somewhere along the line and it just stuck,” said Gary.  

Starting the business in 1966, Al Hibler was beloved by many. His baby was his Chevy, whom he called “The Good Old Girl.” 

Not sure how she got its nickname, Gary said, “Dad would always say, ‘Take the Good Old Girl,’ and do this call. 

Show Yours @ TIW

Do you have a truck to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor George L. Nitti at georgenitti@gmail.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

October 05 - October 11, 2022

Lock Out Set - The Ultimate Long Reach Kit

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The Ultimate Long Reach Kit includes every tool and accessory you need to open virtualy any vehicle on the road today using the long reach method. This 21 piece kit is the most comprehensive and complete long reach tool set ever made. Four of the most popular long reach tools, Button Master and Mega Master snare tools, two Air Wedges, two pry-bar style wedge tools, protective lockout tape, slim jim, windshield mounted flashlight for nighttime openings, our new heavy duty long padded carrying case with internal pockets, and the list goes on.. With this kit in your toolbox, you will never need any other tools to perform world class professional lockouts.

--Most Popular Tools Include
--Most Comprehensive Kit
--Easy To Transport
--Perfect for Beginners and Pros

For more information, contact accesstoolsusa.com

Tow Operator Lighted Safety Vests

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Class 3 ANSI approved illuminated breakaway safety vest with option of illuminated ID panel.  

- Fiber Optic Illuminated strips can be seen through any adverse weather conditions.

- These vests are designed to give added visibility when you are out in Highway traffic.

- The illuminated strips are USB rechargeable and charges in 1 1/2 hours and run for 8 to 10 hours on time.

- Many options of illuminated ID panels available. Example: Trucker, Tow Operator. Call for any custom ID panels.    

https://nightlightsafety.com/?fbclid=IwAR0EvIUxzcTnvC7iL6amgLoXKrQWOiwOupaLG2w-ztO-DMU4eL-umEc2Alc 

Surface Mount LED Warning Light 

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Wolo’s new 8000 Series Grill and Surface Mount LED Warning Light delivers powerful safety lighting for commercial trucks. It offers high visibility in bright sun, dense fog, and heavy rain, with 26 light patterns, including strobe-like flash and three color options-amber, blue, or red.  

This kit comes complete with two, super-bright linear LED clusters, and also features simple plug-and-play, waterproof connections for ease of installation. The lights are operated by the switch control, which can be mounted to the dashboard or console. They are built with painted black aluminum brackets to fit seamlessly into a vehicle’s grill, and the polycarbonate lenses resist yellowing, even when exposed to sunlight.

The Wolo 8000-A is pre-wired to accept additional lighting and can be expanded from two to four LEDs with an optional expansion pack.  

For more information, click here.  

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October 05 - October 11, 2022
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October 05 - October 11, 2022
Investigators on scene after a tower doing a repo killed the owner of the vehicle.

Repossession Ends in Death

A tow truck driver shot and killed a man while trying to repossess his car Wednesday, Sept. 21, in Fort Lauderdale.

The driver, whose name has not been released, was trying to repossess a Chevy Malibu around 10 a.m. when confronted by the victim, 38-year-old Clarence King. According to reports, an alteraction ensued between the victim and the shooter and shots were fired.

A witness who lives in the neighborhood told a local news station that it “sounded like four shots — pop, pop, pop.”

“The tow truck driver was just standing over the body on the phone. He looked up, started looking around, started seeing multiple people coming up, and that’s when he started jumping up and down saying, ‘I think I just killed a man,'” another witness told WSVN.

Police are working with the Broward County State Attorney’s Office to determine whether charges will be filed against the tow truck driver, who hasn’t been identified, reports said.

https://patch.com/

Tower Shot in the Arm during a Repossession 

In San Diego, a tower was shot in the arm while attempting to repossess a vehicle that was illegally parked at an intersection.

After being shot in the arm, the tower called 911, who alerted the San Diego Police. 

The police said a woman and a few others confronted the tow truck driver. The woman pulled out a gun and shot the driver at least once in the arm, SDPD said. The driver was taken to the hospital and expected to survive. 

The group was believed to have retreated into a nearby apartment complex, prompting police to surround the building and call a SWAT team to respond. 

After several hours, officers made their way inside two apartments and searched the units. No one was inside and the SWAT standoff was called off, SDPD said. 

SDPD says they are still searching for the woman.  

https://www.nbcsandiego.com/

Car Repossessions Surging  

Over the last couple of years, with supply shortages mounting from automakers and demand for autos at a premium, as the price of cars have surged, so too have higher auto loans and more repossessions.  

In a report by Kelley Blue Book, the average MSRP for a new car has gone up 13.5% to $47,148 in May 2022. Add in higher monthly payments and limited budgets, more Americans are having trouble paying for cars bought in the last two years. According to Edmunds, 12.7% of customers that bought a new vehicle in the last two years are making payments for at least $1,000 per month. 

It's been noted that subprime borrowers, or those with the worst credit history, are defaulting, up 11%, but even those with excellent credit have doubled in the past 2 years. 

Besides supply shortages, many auto loans were put into forbearance during the pandemic while economic stimulus and unemployment benefits gave consumers the confidence to take on more debt to purchase a car. But as progress was made against alleviating the pandemic, inflation has heated up and interest rates have risen, causing distress with borrowers. 

Lisa Beilfuss, a writer for Barron’s who covers the repo market, potentially sees a bubble bursting, citing several indicators, including the ones mentioned as factors. She added that one auto dealer that she spoke to who buys repossessed vehicles said that he sees repos surging based on what he’s buying in the repossession car market.  

Don Adams of Don Adams Towing and Recovery of Owensboro, Kentucky, said last year that he reported approximately 175 repossessions and says this year alone he has repossessed 250 vehicles with another half year to go.  

https://www.wevv.com/news/
https://www.texasstandard.org/stories/
https://www.powernationtv.com/post/

Repo Industry Gathers at NARS 

At the North American Repossessors Summit (NARS) held in Denver, Colorado, on June 21 and June 22, a gathering of close to 500 repossession agents, collections and recovery managers from an array of industry service providers convened to discuss a variety of issues of concern to the industry.  

The two-day event was hosted by the American Recovery Association (ARA) and included presentations given by executives from the finance community and repossession agents. 

In one panel discussion led by three executives in the finance community expected repossession volume to rise in the coming months. One from a California credit union noted a need to increase loss reserves due to upcoming market turbulence in the next 9 to 12 months. Another highlighted that due to the unpredictability of the economy, that the credit card market could be a good predictor of what’s going to happen with repossession rates. 

Three active repossession agents comprised another panel. Dave Kennedy, president of ARA, focused much of his comments on the successes of the Repo Alliance, the grassroots funded lobbying organization based in Washington, D.C.  

Starr Sawalqah, who runs Alpha Recovery in Phoenix, offered several recommendations to her fellow repossession agents. She insisted that agents “shouldn’t be afraid to be vulnerable” when describing their escalating costs to finance companies. But she emphasized that agents need to back up their claims with plenty of data to show just how much it costs to skip-trace a customer and repossess a vehicle. 

James McNeil, the chief executive officer of Day Break Metro, which provides repossession, locksmithing and transportation services from seven lot locations in California, encouraged industry members to buttress their resources, including trucks, physical resources and their workforce.  

He said, “We’re in an industry that’s going to be surprised by how much we’re going to be overwhelmed with assignments.”  

https://www.autoremarketing.com/subprime/

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