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The Week's Features
International Towing and Hall of Fame will hold fundraiser with this as an auction item.
Two semi tractor trailers need a recovery from an escape ramp.
First responders are not immune to the forces of mother nature.
Company puts together an eye-catching show of stunning graphics.
Show motorists that you are working on the road with these lighted vests.
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing August 03 - August 09, 2022

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Remembering Daniel L. Reynolds 

Last week, TIW reported that towing dynamo Daniel Reynolds passed away on July 21, 2022. Dan was a co-founder of Jerr-Dan and later the founder and CEO of Danco, located in Greencastle, Pa., where the company manufactured farm equipment and customized rollbacks. You can check out Danco’s history page on their website for a timeline of their evolution as a company and some innovations along the way. 

His wife of 49 years, Darlene Reynolds, shared with TIW some of the highlights of his career before his passing. Of course, she worked side by side with him from the beginning, when they were married in 1973. She communicated the fact that he struggled the last 10 months with kidney failure but continued to go into work when he wasn’t on dialysis. She said, “Even during his last days, Dan wanted to come to the shop to give the good advice that he needed to give to the people that depended on him for different things.” 

She said in 1983 that Danco made its foray into the rollback business, after Dan was approached by a customer to solve a problem. With a background as a welder and machinist, Dan took on the challenge and the company started to customize rollbacks and manufacturing hydraulic cylinders thereafter. 

“Dan went with in-house manufacturing to ensure that the components were safe. We prided ourselves on not being cookie cutter and on not cheapening the process,” she said. “He wanted to make sure everything was built right for the customer.” 

Darlene noted that not every innovation they created ended in success. For example, Danco patented a swivel roll-back that operated on hydraulics rather than cables but later was discontinued because of the challenges towers had in operating them. “It would work great if the tower knew how to operate it,” said Darlene, “but Dan had too many headaches with it.” 

Another Danco innovation was the all-aluminum 3 Car “Rat Pack” Carrier that was capable of hauling 3 cars. “He and his son William worked on engineering it when William was 12 years old. They worked together on designing a lot of different things as my son was into AutoCad,” said Darlene. 

In the early years of the company, she recalled Dan’s work ethic. “I remember when we were first married, he would work from six in the morning til ten at night. He was a worker. He would work on Saturday’s, but he would never work on Sundays.” 

In the end, Danco epitomizes family owned and operated, with generations of family members working at the company. Darlene said, “It was frustrating to him that he had to slow down. He said ‘that they would have to carrry him out, that he would never retire.’ So I guess he got carried out.” 



The Dangers of Flooding Waters 

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By Randall C. Resch           

Today, amid the Kentucky floods wreaking havoc on the eastern part of the state and claiming approximately 40 lives with more than one hundred missing, towers and other first responders need to be reminded of the dangers that lurk from mother nature’s indiscriminate acts of devastation.  

A Few Stories...  

In 1942, during the great flood that hit Northern Virginia and Maryland, John Elliott Buell, a tow owner and operator from Bethesda, MD, drowned trying to rescue a partially submerged and unoccupied car.   

Buell was responding to frantic calls that a motorist was inside the vehicle. He waded into the water with tow cable in-hand. As he attached the cable, the water’s rage caused the car to spin. Buell was swept away, and his body was discovered the next day hundreds of feet downstream.  

In August of 2021, Hurricane Ida hammered the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, causing extensive damage and overwhelming a dozen states combined. News surged with broadcasts showing cars submerged in swollen roadways and streams with cars whisked away by still moving floodwaters. Tow operators were shown wading through fast-moving water to hook-up casualty vehicles. At the midst of Ida, towers worked heroically in communities hit hardest by flooding, but I’m not so sure it was the safest of activities.    

The following month, Sergeant Brian Mohl, a veteran, 26-year Connecticut State Trooper was killed when his police cruiser was swept away by floodwaters. Was there some threat or life-saving reason so great that required the trooper to enter dangerous waters?  

Heed the Warnings  

Clearly, there’s huge risk to health and safety entering rapid water as we are now witnessing in Kentucky. As a tower, it’s my opinion to let flood waters subside before recovering a car.  

As an advocate for tow operator safety, I typically err on the side of safety knowing that many acts of fearlessness turn potentially deadly when things go wrong. For better than thirty-years, I have written about industry safety only to realize one, indisputable fact: towers often act without thinking of deadly consequences.  

Perhaps some towers have not learned that tow trucks, despite their taller profile, are not submarines!     

Therefore, carefully consider the potentially deadly consequences of wading or driving into swift and swollen waters. No job is worth dying for. 

Ready to add a ROBOT to your towing fleet? The future is here...the Italian invention turning heads
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August 03 - August 09, 2022
On The Hook With Mr. Industry
Tow Company is part of a class action suit.

Tow Company Gets Hit with Class Action Suit over Impound Fee 

All City Tow Service, a tow company in Santa Monica, along with the city and its police chief are being sued by a Santa Monica business owner who owns a fleet of licensed fruit cars.  

The class action suit claims that they are arbitrarily imposing a 30-day impound fee upon towing their carts. "We've never seen a city charge even an extra fee to a release fee. That fee is $1,200. That's theft as far as I'm concerned," said attorney Cynthia Anderson-Barker. 

The lawsuit seeks that a federal court orders a stop to these reported practices. The City of Santa Monica said it cannot provide details on the pending litigation and added that "both the city and its police department are committed to values of accountability, equity, inclusion and safety to protect and support communities of color." 

All City Tow Service told ABC News, "We cannot and will not respond to ongoing litigation; it's a matter of the courts to make that determination." 

Source: https://abc7.com/santa-monica-towing-lawsuit-police

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American Towman Exposition Gallery
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August 03 - August 09, 2022
One ordinance approved requires tow companies to ensure that a property owner or manager has given consent for a private property tow.

Ocean City, Maryland Finalizes Tow Ordinances 

Two towing ordinances and resolutions gained the approval of Ocean City, Maryland’s Council members on, Monday, August 1.  

The first ordinance updates administrative procedures for the towing of vehicles illegally on private properties. The intent is to ensure that companies on the approved police tow list follow proper procedures. The new version of the ordinance states that a property owner or representative of the private business must authorize the tow. 

The second ordinance updates the city’s code to include vehicles obstructing fire lanes, and addresses tows involving fire lanes and hydrants. 

Council members also approved two towing resolutions. The first sets an administrative fee of 10 percent of the cost of the tow if a company does not ask for reimbursement from the city within 90 days. The second adopts an administrative fee and revised procedures for tow companies. 

Source: https://www.oceancitytoday.com/news

U.S. Senators Introduce Move Over Law Day Resolution 

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced the National Move Over Law Day Resolution (S.Res. 734) supporting the goals and ideals of a National Move Over Law Day and urging the national, state, and regional incident management organizations to promote existence of and adherence to State Move Over laws.  

The bipartisan resolution will help raise awareness of the dangers faced by roadside first responders and the need for motorists to slow and move over. The resolution was inspired by Corey Iodice, a tow truck operator for his family’s business, who was tragically struck and killed in Connecticut in 2020 while assisting a driver.  

Blumenthal said, “Every state has laws directing drivers to reduce their speed or to move over if a vehicle is stopped on the side of the road, yet tragic collisions that injure and kill roadside assistance workers like Corey Iodice continue to happen. This resolution amplifies the simple yet effective way to keep workers safe on the roads: Slow Down and Move Over,” said Blumenthal. 

The resolution is supported by a number of organizations, including the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA).TRAA stated: "The Towing and Recovery Association of America, Inc.® (TRAA) has been a longstanding champion at the federal level for policy to protect roadside first responders and applauds the introduction of this resolution. TRAA recently met with Members of Congress during its annual Hill Day in DC to advocate for this resolution and is thankful for the support of Senators Blumenthal and Braun."

Source: https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/newsroom/

Source: TRAA press release 

Win a South African Safari and Hunting Package 

The International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame, as part of their yearly fundraiser held in October during Museum Weekend, will offer a Five-Day All-Inclusive South Africa Safari and Hunting Package. The package includes hunting six of the most sought-after plains game trophies as well as daily game drives. 

It is for two hunters with a five-night stay at the Wildeman Farm Mainhouse, including meals and local drinks and transfers to and from Johannesburg International Airport. Also includes two non-hunting guests, but it does not include air flights nor accommodation before and after the safari. The safari is good for travel January 1 – December 31, 2023. 
 
The fundraising auction is being held Friday, October 7 at the Westin Chattanooga hotel and will include the Wall of the Fallen Name Unveiling Ceremony and the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, both Saturday, October 8. 
For additional information about Museum Weekend 2022 or to purchase tickets, visit www.TowingMuseum.com. 

Firefighters and Police Donate to Foundation Supporting Move Over Law

On Monday, August 1, firefighters and police of Fairfield County, Ct., gathered to donate $4000 to a foundation started on behalf of fallen tower Corey Iodice, who was struck and killed loading a disabled car on the shoulder of the Merrit Parkway in 2020.   

Iodice was killed by a speeding motorist who did not move over. In response, Corey’s sister Cindy started the Flagman Project, a foundation to draw attention to the Move Over state law. 

At the event held at the Fire House in Fairfield, firefighters and police were joined by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick in presenting the donation to Cindy and her brother Chris, who works as a tow truck driver. 

Chris said, “We just want to get home after doing our job. It’s hard to look over your shoulder when you’re trying to conduct what we’re doing out there.”  

U.S. Senator Blumenthal said he plans on introducing a “Move Over Resolution” in the Senate this week with bipartisan support to further public awareness. 

“It’s very simple: if you see an emergency vehicle, see a tow truck operator, any kind of vehicle that’s trying to help someone on the road, slow down and move over,” Blumenthal said. 

https://www.ctpost.com/news/

Dan Reynolds, Innovative Tow Manufacturer, Passes Away  

Daniel Reynolds, an innovator and leader in towing and hauling manufacturing, passed away on July 21, 2022 at 74 years of age. According to his wife Darlene Reynolds, Dan developed a kidney issue and succumbed to an infection after 10 months on dialysis. 

Dan’s career began as a machinist in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, where he met Jerry Pool, together co-founding the Jerr-Dan Corporation, where the company built one of their first products, an EZ Dumper. Then in 1973, Dan struck out on his own, founding Danco Products, becoming its CEO and President. 

At Danco, Dan helped produce a range of farm and hydraulic equipment. In 1983 the company started manufacturing and customizing rollbacks. Darlene said, “Dan went with in-house manufacturing to ensure that the components were safe. We prided ourselves on not being cookie cutter.”  

A machinist and welder, Dan was a hands-on person, bringing his vision to the shop. Among the innovations included a patented a swivel roll-back that operated on hydraulics rather than cables. Another Danco innovation was the all-aluminum 3 Car “Rat Pack” Carrier.  

Daniel Leslie “Dan” Reynolds was born June 18, 1948, in Waynesboro, PA and graduated from Greencastle Antrim High School in 1967. He and his wife of 49 years, Darlene (Davis) Reynolds, were married in 1973. He was a member of number of affiliations, including the Cornerstone Bible Church in Greencastle. 

In addition to his wife, Darlene, he is survived by two sons: William Reynolds and his wife, Jamie, Greencastle, and Robert Reynolds, Greencastle; three grandchildren: Jelissa, Zakary and Wesley Reynolds; one great-granddaughter, Journie; two sisters: Joyce Dehart, and her husband, Dennis, Mesa, AZ and Dorothy Deibert, Waynesboro, and many nieces and nephews. 

Online condolences may be expressed at www.bowersoxfuneralhomes.com 

 
 

Tower Killed in Pennsylvania

Thomas Hoket, a tow operator for Herring Motor Co., was killed while trying to secure a tractor trailer late Wednesday evening on the Pennsylvani Turnpike near Somerset, PA. It was reported that the truck fell on Hoket while he was in the midst of the recovery. Further details are unknown and the case is under investigation. 

Hoket was 26 years old and worked for the company for a little over a year. 

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August 03 - August 09, 2022

No Small Potatoes 

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By George L. Nitti 

Have you ever had the fear of losing your brakes driving down a steep decline, carrying a heavy load? 

Bite your nails and pray for an off-ramp! 

Well, according to Greg Coakley, scene supervisor and recovery operator of T&M Towing & Hazmat Inc. of Eugene, Oregon, “When you are a driving a semi tractor-trailer coming down a windy 8-mile hill with a six and half percent grade just a little too fast, your brakes will heat up until you have no stopping power.”  

Yikes! 

On May 2, Coakley and crew were summoned to an accident scene off of Highway 58 involving not one but two semis that lost their brakes at the same time. It just so happened that they were driven by a father and son who were carrying 96,0000 pounds of potatoes. They found an escape ramp where they slowed down, crashed, and entangled in 3 feet of pea gravel.  

To the rescue, the T & M recovery team trekked an hour and a half with their 2017 International 50-ton Powerbilt, a 1994 Kenworth Century 50 ton, a 2010 International Tractor and a Ford 650 Flatbed. 

Coakley informed that runaway ramps are a protective measure when semis lose their brakes as the pea gravel inevitably slows them down and stops them. 

The challenging part of the recovery was two-fold: Disentangling the trucks on a narrow roadway and then pulling those trucks through the pea gravel onto the highway.  

“First we waited 7 hours for hazmat to arrive because one of the tractor’s fuel tanks was broken open,” said Coakley.  

When it was time to get down to the business of disentangling the semis, T & M maneuvered their two 50-ton wreckers up the side road of the escape ramp and positioned them on the front and back sides of the entangled semis. 

“The first semi had bad axles and the other one was entwined in those axles,” Coakley informed. “We hooked the winches to them and started gently pulling them a part. It took four hours.” 

Once separated, the team winched the semis down the escape ramp, about 300 feet, which took an additional four hours.  

Their Ford F650 was used to transport the parts and debris from the semis while their International Tractor, driven by T & M’s owner Tim Baumgartner, hauled one of the trailers that had broken off from the disabled tractor.  

Fortunately, the potatoes that they were hauling did not need to be off-loaded, but the recovery itself spanned a total of 23 hours, which is no small potatoes. 

King of the Mixer 

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By George L. Nitti

“A mixer recovery can turn you from a hero to a zero in two seconds flat.”  

Referring to a local tow saying, owner Mike Phillips of All-American Towing & Recovery, with locations in Denton, Justin and Rhone, Texas, understands what can go wrong with mixer recoveries, averaging 12 to 15 a month. He said, “If you don’t give the mixer the respect it deserves, it will absolutely not go your way.”   

On April 1, 2022, All-American Towing & Recovery was dispatched to yet another concrete mixer casualty, this time about 5 miles from one of their Texas locations.  

“Mixer recoveries are common around here,” said Phillips, owner of All-American, noting that there are probably over 300 mixer companies in the fast-growing Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. “They fall over quite a bit because they have a high center of gravity.” 

Phillips indicated that it doesn’t take much for a driver to come around a turn too fast or slip their tire off the edge of the road, causing an awkwardly shaped 65,000-ton mixer to rock and tip over. 

Fortunately, Phillips and his crew are well versed in the mixer recovery routine, understanding the ins and outs, some presenting more challenges than others. Phillips said, “A mixer is one of those things that intimidates a lot of guys, especially guys that don’t work on them on the scale that we do.” 

Within minutes, All-American had their 2011 Kenworth 1075 Century Rotator dispatched, along with their 2015 Mack 5130 Century, with Phillips taking the lead that included operators Kris Moore, Tyler Parker and Jason Watts. 

“We don’t even need to talk when we get on scene,” said Phillips. “Everybody knows what their job is, everybody knows what we are going to use to upright it. We do so many of them, it just kind of floats. It’s like muscle memory.”  

The first measure was to assess and remove the drive line and set the brakes in order to prevent a rollaway situation. “If you start up righting one and it is on an incline, the tires roll and it takes off, there goes your tow truck with it,” said Phillips. 

Next the operators hooked the lift and catch bridle, simultaneously. Phillips emphasized, “You have to set them up slow and steady. It pays to allow the mud in the drum to find center because the drum will roll. It will pivot on its axis until the mud is on the bottom. And if you set it up too fast the drum will spin quickly, and the momentum will carry it in the opposite direction.” 

Particularly challenging was that the mixer laid perpendicular to the roadway with its nose against some trees. “Generally, we like to back up to the center of the drum and do a reverse roll,” said Phillips. “Or have a truck in the general area and pick it up and push it away from us.” 

In this case, the mixer was in a bad spot, sitting in a fairly steep ditch that made it impossible to get a truck down to it. So, their next option was to upright it off the rear pedestal.   

Phillips said, “That poses its own set of challenges. You must have a lot of trust in the drive motor in the front of the mixer drum to be able to accept and hold that weight. If we sensed that the motor had any kind of distortion to it or broken bolts, we would have had to do something different to it,” he said.  

While their 5130 25-ton applied downward pressure to the axles, the rotator up righted the mixer. Once upright, their 2018 Peterbilt Century 9055, which arrived later on scene, had its cables hooked to the nose, pulling the front of the mixer onto the road as Phillips, using a remote, swung the boom and set the back of the mixer onto the roadway where it was finally towed to the customer’s yard. 

Phillips said, “One thing I really push to my operators is that just because we have it upright, that doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and rainbows from there. Generally, when that mixer is turned over, it’s sustained damage that’s going to make its towability less than ideal. So we preach to our guys to inspect it very well, to maintain your speeds and watch your turns.” 

Editor's Note: This story appeared in American Towman Magazine's July, 2022 Edition.  Photo credits go to Brad Fenley Images.

Show Yours @ TIW

Do you have a recovery 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!

A Big and Stinky Mess 

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By George L. Nitti

On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, Raygor’s Auto Inc of Scottsdale, Pa., was dispatched by the PA State Police to respond to a tractor trailer on I-70 that went off the roadway while dislodging 15,000 pounds of hot dog meat onto the highway. 

Lead operator Alex Raygor said, “The trailer came disconnected from the truck and all of the unloaded meat came out of the front of the trailer.” 

Raygor called in a couple of his heavy-duty wreckers – a 99’ Kenworth W900 with a 25-ton Aatac and a 78’ Kenworth W900 with a 30-ton Weldbuilt - along with a Bobcat T650 skid steer, two dump trucks, a dump trailer, a Bobcat 430 mini excavator, a 2008 Ford F650 rollback and a 96' International aatac 12 ton wrecker.  Other crew included John Stillwagon, Josh Strohm and Todd Raygor

One of the first orders of business was to deal with the messy, slimy meat spill on the highway. Raygor said, “A skidloader, which had a bucket on it, was used to clean-up the soupy meat paste and put it into the dump trucks.” 

Then the crew turned its attention to the tractor, which was about 150 feet off the highway in the woods. Trees were through the windshield and cab; the hood, front axles and fuel tanks were ripped out; the front drive was pulled loose, and the king pin plate was ripped off the trailer. The tractor was leaking fuel. 

After cleaning up the leak, the crew cleared up the tree limbs and parts from the tractor with a chain saw and moved them out of the way with an excavator. Then the two heavy duty wreckers worked on recovering the tractor. 

“Our cleanup crew then finished loading the cargo for transport,” said Raygor, “and swept up all oil dry from the roadway.” 

Once back at the facility, the crew washed all equipment including chains, straps, trucks and equipment to remove the liquid meat. 

Raygor said, “My truck still stinks. Dogs were eating meat out of the fender wells of my pickup. Maggots were everywhere. Our place smelled like death for weeks."


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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.
August 03 - August 09, 2022

The Dangers of Flooding Waters 

highwater dangers 8edd2

By Randall C. Resch           

Today, amid the Kentucky floods wreaking havoc on the eastern part of the state and claiming approximately 40 lives with more than one hundred missing, towers and other first responders need to be reminded of the dangers that lurk from mother nature’s indiscriminate acts of devastation.  

A Few Stories...  

In 1942, during the great flood that hit Northern Virginia and Maryland, John Elliott Buell, a tow owner and operator from Bethesda, MD, drowned trying to rescue a partially submerged and unoccupied car.   

Buell was responding to frantic calls that a motorist was inside the vehicle. He waded into the water with tow cable in-hand. As he attached the cable, the water’s rage caused the car to spin. Buell was swept away, and his body was discovered the next day hundreds of feet downstream.  

In August of 2021, Hurricane Ida hammered the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, causing extensive damage and overwhelming a dozen states combined. News surged with broadcasts showing cars submerged in swollen roadways and streams with cars whisked away by still moving floodwaters. Tow operators were shown wading through fast-moving water to hook-up casualty vehicles. At the midst of Ida, towers worked heroically in communities hit hardest by flooding, but I’m not so sure it was the safest of activities.    

The following month, Sergeant Brian Mohl, a veteran, 26-year Connecticut State Trooper was killed when his police cruiser was swept away by floodwaters. Was there some threat or life-saving reason so great that required the trooper to enter dangerous waters?  

Heed the Warnings  

Clearly, there’s huge risk to health and safety entering rapid water as we are now witnessing in Kentucky. As a tower, it’s my opinion to let flood waters subside before recovering a car.  

As an advocate for tow operator safety, I typically err on the side of safety knowing that many acts of fearlessness turn potentially deadly when things go wrong. For better than thirty-years, I have written about industry safety only to realize one, indisputable fact: towers often act without thinking of deadly consequences.  

Perhaps some towers have not learned that tow trucks, despite their taller profile, are not submarines!     

Therefore, carefully consider the potentially deadly consequences of wading or driving into swift and swollen waters. No job is worth dying for. 

Legislative Relief is Not One Size Fits All 

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By Brian J Riker 

Recently the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA) held its 4th Annual Legislative “Hill” Day where towers from across the United States converged on Washington, D.C. to meet with law makers and Agency representatives in a concerted effort to bring about real relief for towing companies nationwide. What struck me was how different each lawmaker responded to our requests for relief, and even more striking was the different approaches towers from different regions took to the issues. 

This highlights to me that there is no such thing as a one size fits all solution to our industry’s problems. Towers across the country deserve to be heard, regardless of their size, financial reserves, or geographical location. What works in the big cities or on the West Coast may not be right for a small town tower on the Great Plains or one located in New England. 

As such, your individual voice needs to be heard and the best way to do this is by joining your state association and the national association then participate in the meetings! An association needs input from its membership to know which way to go. While the Board of Directors of any good association is made up of active towers, they still only understand the industry from their perspective. Therefore, your active participation is required for best results. And, yes, even if your opinion differs from the majority, it is still important to be heard. Dissent is the catalyst for change. 

You may ask, how does this really affect me? I am a local company, so the federal government has little impact. I am here to say that is simply not true! Size and weight remain mostly a federal issue as do many other motor carrier compliance issues, many of which are notable examples of how one size does not fit all. Towing is continually lumped in with trucking in D.C. and that puts a heavy burden on operations. This generalization is the cornerstone of the fight that the national association brings to the federal lawmakers. 

The same can be said about state level issues that have the potential to impact the entire industry. It is no secret that the towing industry’s billing practices have been under attack for a long time. For whatever reason, the trucking and insurance industries seem to think that tow trucks run on good will, unicorn dust or maybe just happy thoughts. They seem to have taken issue with the industry’s desire to make a reasonable profit for the risk taken and effort expended daily. This is most recently noted in the bad legislation in Maryland and Colorado restricting a tower’s rights to collect payment or hold vehicles as collateral until payment is made. 

This is where having a state association that is also a member of the national association is a huge member benefit, when used properly. Oftentimes TRAA will be asked to weigh in on state issues, offering a letter of support or opposition and access to their resources for the benefit of their state association members. This allows for model legislation to be enacted that is good for the industry while also increasing the effort to fight bad legislation. 

You may ask, why should I care about what happens several states away? The answer is simple: states often look to other states for examples on how they have addressed an issue and then put the same solution into place in their state. This is how bad ideas, such as the restrictions on hold vehicles for payment in Maryland, pop up in faraway states like Colorado. 

The one size fits all model of governing is here to stay. As an industry we must work together to combat these overburdensome regulations and laws before they drive us into extinction. Speak up, be active and join associations that support your industry segment. 

Bad rules begin locally and like a cancer spread into federal legislation quickly. Only with swift, coordinated, and cooperative efforts can our industry stop the spread of bad legislation.  

Dangerous Drivers Driving Dangerously 

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By Randall C. Resch   

A tow truck driver, traveling twice the posted speed limit, barreled down Brooklyn, New York’s, Fourth Avenue, crashing into a family’s car. The impact killed its driver, ejected a front-seat passenger and seriously injured three young children riding in the back seat.  

Witnesses commented they observed two tow trucks driving at a high-rate of speed speculating they were drag-racing or perhaps trying to out-race the other to be first on-scene at another call? 

An ensuing accident investigation determined the twenty-nine year old tow operator’s license was suspended at the time of impact. Shockingly, the investigation showed his license was allegedly suspended as many as fifty-one times prior. Additionally, the same tow operator reportedly was involved in a different fatal collision three-year’s prior.  

There are several “industry described incidents” of the same nature where tow operators were hired and allowed to drive under the same conditions. As it’s important to understand the legal meaning of “Vicarious Liability”, I’ll ask, do tow owners have a specific responsibility to conduct pre-hire investigations to determine if an applicant has a reasonably safe driving background?  

Due-Diligence Applied 

Allowing employees to drive company vehicles (of any type) in a haphazard and reckless manner is irresponsible. To knowingly allow an employee to drive while under suspension creates extreme responsibility to the company’s owner and assets, regardless as to the good standing or the company’s legal-liability status. 

To determine whether or not an employee has prior driving violations, or if they’re under hold by the courts at the moment of hire, company management must conduct a motor vehicle background report through the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  

Demanded at the time an employee applies for work, the applicant can best prove their safe operating status by obtaining a motor vehicle report (MVR) included with their application. But, it doesn’t stop there.  

The next reasonable step (by company management) is sending the applicant’s MVR information to the company’s insurance provider for consideration. Having conducted an investigation for “Insurability,” the insurance provider has final say as to whether-or-not the applicant can be insured.  

Monitor Bad Behaviors 

There’s no-doubt finding the right operator applicant is a “Needle in a Haystack” process. But allowing a dangerous driver behind the wheel of a tow truck is risky business.  

Let’s say the applicant is approved for hire and authorized to drive, but month’s later, they recklessly wind-up being cited again, or worst yet, are involved in a crash using a company vehicle. As owner, how do you manage on-going driver behaviors? Here are three, simple suggestions that coincide with questionable driver behaviors: 

1.)  The company’s policy and procedures should completely spell out rules specific to safe driving habits, including a statement regarding insurability.  

That statement may include, “Tow operators must maintain a valid driver’s license for each (class) tow truck they drive, including all required endorsements. Unsafe, reckless, or intentional unsafe acts or violations are subject to dismissal if the employee cannot remain approved by law enforcement or the company’s insurance provider. Dismissal may occur if the operator has cumulative violations of “Plus two-points” and or a non-preventable accident indicated on the operator’s MVR.” 

2.) The company is enrolled in a state program similar to California’s “Pull Notice Program.” A Pull-Notice-Program is likened to a quarterly report card monitored by the DMV reporting citations obtained, or Notice of Suspension for driving violations, accidents, driver license suspension for child support arrears, or, other actions by the court. 

3.) Owners, get out (from behind your desk) and follow your trucks once in-a-while to ensure your drivers are driving in a manner you deem safe. Obviously, observations that need addressing revert back to the company’s PPM manual. Corporate spying may seem underhanded, but you’ll never know if you don’t see it first-handedly. 

When it comes to safe vehicle operations, there are huge expectations that tow operators drive in a safe, prudent and reasonable manner.  

Because the risk of criminal and civil liability is extremely high in today’s litigious society, make the effort to ensure your operators and company employees are operating with valid licenses free from restriction or suspension. 

   

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August 03 - August 09, 2022

Creating a Masterpiece

mastercover cdbb6
By George L. Nitti 

When Anthony Monaco started his company, Anthony’s Hightech Auto Center, Inc., of Milford, Connecticut, in 1990, he was a talented, passionate auto technician, garnering a 1st place state award for his high tech craftmanship. Monaco said, “I wanted to separate myself from the regular technician and be a cut above.” He even entertained a six figure offer by famed auto maverick Lee Iacocca after winning a 5th place national award in a Chrysler competition. 

Towing became an offshoot as the exotic cars that he serviced needed to be picked up and delivered, adding that personal touch on which Monaco prided himself. As the business grew, towing was incorporated, and he found another passion: channeling his auto technician skills into building state of the art units for his tow company. 

Anthony’s newest truck, a 2021 Peterbilt 567 1075 Century Rotator, is way beyond the average. Working together with Chris Lambiase of New England Truck Master in North Haven, Connecticut, on the unit’s customization, and his fiancee, Lori Jansen, on the wrap, you might say “a masterpiece” was born. 

The customized axles at the rear of the unit were an ingenious innovation. He said, “Everybody had been building a quad steer and could not scale them. We stretched the axles to distribute the weight better. It’s the first one that’s been built in the United States.”  

Monaco also painted the zinc frame lime green, to preserve it from rust, maintain its future resale value, and match the body’s color. “Because the value of the truck is so crazy, the first thing you want to do is make sure that the foundation is perfect. Then you can drop all of the big money on top of it.” 

Strobes made by Whelen on the side doors were added for safety reasons. He said, “When you open the door they go on. When motorists see the lights, they stay away. Lasers shoot down on the ground when the rotator arms extend out.” 

Not only does this unit pop with customized features but is mesmerizing to the eye with Anthony’s company name sprawled out in lime green against a black background and complementary tribal flames, also lime green. 

“We do all of our graphics in house,” said Monaco. “I was striving to do something different and incorporated a skull. This rotator is aggressive looking on the highway, especially with its reflective lettering.” 

Near the winch area you will find Lori’s name and his two daughters, Analisha and Nicolette. “For good luck,” he said. 

The hood of the truck is pure artistry, as “Monaco Enterprises,” sitting partially on a dark metallic background, pops in silver against a sea of green fierce flames. 

“Hustling Hardcore” is written on the spreader bars.  

“It’s a master of disaster,” Monaco said. “This truck can clear up anything. We hustle and it does the work.” 

Distinctly Dashing

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By George L. Nitti

Anybody familiar with the environs of Bergen County, N.J., knows about traffic and congestion; it seems a good precursor to operate a thriving business in towing and auto repair. But it’s not without its challenges, according to Mike Salemme, General Manager of Brookside Auto Body & Towing, a family owned, and operated business in Hackensack and Emerson, N.J. Salemme’s father is the President and his brother, the Operations Manager. 

The company, which employs more than 50 people daily, still struggles to find help. Salemme said, “The labor shortage is real. It’s hard to find qualified tow operators. It was difficult before the pandemic, but it is not nearly as bad as it is now.” 

Add in New Jersey’s strict regulations governing tow operations. “In New Jersey, we are so highly regulated that if you don’t follow certain rotations and guidelines, it creates another issue on its own,” said Salemme. 

Despite common industry challenges, the company continues to grow its sharp looking fleet, recently receiving a 2021 Kenworth T880 with a 35-ton Jerr-Dan for which they waited over a year and a half. 

Like their other 30 units or so, this one is similarly marked, with stand-out lettering and graphics that pop out against a black backdrop, credited in part to the long-standing work of ID Signs & Graphics, a local company that Brookside has worked with for more than 30 years. 

“I think we really worked hard with our designer to create a flowing wave of colors on our truck in order to make it more identifiable,” he added, referring to its sporty lined graphic that jags along the side. “The red and orange evolved. It used to be gold; sometimes we even had pink, blue and green in them, but when our fleet started growing, we decided our trucks needed to have a universal appeal. We went with red, yellow, orange, and black. My father is a big fan of black.”  

Also clearly visible is the Brookside name, made more memorable as it is repeated in other key locations on the truck. 

“Whenever you see our trucks on the road, they are distinct,” said Salemme.  

Add in some other adjectives to include spirited, bouyant, stylish, and - of course - dashing!

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

Hibbies Head-Turning Hauler 

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By George L. Nitti 

These days, with supply issues causing a back-up on the delivery of tow trucks, many tow companies are biting at the bit to get their hands on a new tow truck. 

Al’s Garage, aka Hibler and Sons LLC of Binghamton, N.Y., was fortunate to get their hands on a 2022 5500 Dodge Ram with a 12-ton B&B (Bill Bottoms), but still had to wait. 

Gary Hibler, who with his brother Tim, took over the reins of the business from their father Everett Hibler Jr., who passed in 2020 from Covid complications, said, “The biggest wait was for the cab and chassis due to key chip issues that took seven months. B&B did great in getting it done with all the custom options, taking three and a half months.”  

The B&B 12-ton serves the company’s needs, particularly in that they were willing to have it attached to the 5500. 

Hibler said, “I like their stiff leg set up in the back. It has a wide and large stance. Because I do a lot of stuff on backroads, I do not want one of our towers to have issues with the unit not being able to sit still upon a recovery.” 

In years past, the company sported a fleet of red and white, and then later a fleet of purple wreckers. However, the company has now made a complete transition to maroon and cream. 

“It’s a classic look,” said Hibler. “I’m trying to keep it simple.” 

The logo on the sides of the unit, in decal lettering, conveys simplicity, marked in a funky style, spelling out Al’s Garage, accentuated with a small boom.  

Also written on the unit are the words “12 tons of fun.” 

Hibler said, “I know it’s kind of corny, but it’s a fun truck to drive and run.” 

More comfortable than driving a beat-up old wrecker! “It’s like driving a lazy boy,” he said. “It’s a Laramie, so it’s got leather interior, heated seats and steering wheel, and all the amenities that you would have in a new car.”  

Equally impressive is that it’s outfitted with lighting everywhere. “It’s got marker lights. It’s got Federal Signal lights all over it. It’s got grill lights. It’s got sidebar lights on the running boards. And a light bar with all the markers flashing.” 

On the front of the unit, in visor position, words cut across that state, “Hibbies Hauler.” 

“That’s what my Dad used to put on every truck back in the 90’s,” said Gary.  

Nothing like the memory of Dad to give visibility to the new millennial tow generation. 

August 03 - August 09, 2022

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.  

Actio PRO Radio

actioPROradio 45753

Actio PRO is a wireless noise-cancelling radio built for those who are on the jobsite day in and day out—serious support for cutting background noise and creating safer, more effective workplaces. Actio PRO is packed with features like increased range, extended battery life, additional users, and more! 

Features 
- Powerful Noise Filter 
- Hands-Free—No “Push to Talk” 
- Up to 1650 Yds Total Range* 
- All-Weather Usage 
- Group Radio Up to 6 Users 
- Unlimited Use with On-the-Go Power Connection 
- No Earmuff Modification 
- Ability to connect multiple teams with 2-way radio 
- Use a Combination of Single-Speaker or Dual-Speaker Headsets 

What’s Included 
- Actio PRO Radio 
- Actio PRO Elastic Helmet Mount  
- Actio PRO Single-Speaker OR Dual-Speaker Headset with Waterproof Mic 
- Actio PRO T-Cable 
- USB On-the-Go Charging Cable 
- USB Charging & Data Cable 

For more information, https://speakeasycommunication.solutions/how-to/actio-pro/

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August 03 - August 09, 2022
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August 03 - August 09, 2022
Don Adams of Don Adams Towing & Recovery reports considerable uptick in his car repossession business.

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/

Man Arrested for Shooting Owner of Car Dealership 

The man who shot the owner of a car dealership in Ft. Worth, Texas was taken into custody by Arlington police and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and robbery. 

The incident occurred around noon on May 16 when dealership owner Adel Elhindawi came to repossess a car loaned to Espy. After Espy’s car was repaired for mechanical issues and returned to him and his loaner not returned, Elhindawi came to repossess the vehicle. 

“For somebody to do this to a loving person who was doing a favor who was helping them out who was going above and beyond to help them out,” said Damien Espinoza, an employee at the dealership. “Give them a car when they needed a car. For them to do this to him, it’s senseless,”  

Elhindawi remains in critical condition. 

Read more at: https://www.star-telegram.com/news/

Repo involves Hatchet-Wielding Man  

As two men were repossessing a vehicle in Sioux Falls on May 10, the vehicle’s owner threatened them with a hatchet that he had pull out from his repo’d vehicle.  

The repo men had the vehicle hooked up to their truck when the man, thirty-three-year-old Philip Sven Glader, confronted them, threatening one of the men, but reportedly not striking him. The suspect damaged the repo truck with the hatchet, slashing one of the tires, before police arrived and arrested him. 

No injuries were reported by the repo men. The suspect was arrested for intentional damage to property and aggravated assault. 

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

https://www.dakotanewsnow.com/

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