American Towman Magazine - May 2022

Page 1

SPECIAL SAFETY ISSUE

The Road Calls

The Invisible Towman

Be Seen On-Scene

BRIDGE

Collapse

In Pittsburgh

The Rainmaker

Benefits of F & L

Clear Communications

Can You

HEAR ME Now?

TowIndustryWeek.com

MAY 2022 AmericanTowman.com

$10




Contents

Cover Feature

Volume 46 Issue 5

May 2022 22

Clear Communications Using headsets on scene. by Steve Temple

Departments 6 The Walkaround 8 News Share 10 Road Tools 12 Safety 18 Tow Finance

Photo courtesy of Sonetics.

Features

30

A Bridge Too Far

22 Tow Manager 34 Ad Index 36 An American Towman 40 Tow Boss 48 Tow Engineer 62 Classic Wrecker

Recovering From a Collapse in Pittsburgh

64 Beacons On!

40

70 My Baby

by Joyce T. Powers

Driver Training

68 Towman’s Market 74 Lowdown 81 Adventures of A.T.

Not Just for Hooking Up by Brian Riker

64

Blinded by the Light Cautions on Rear-Facing Illumination by Randall C. Resch

4 • May 2022 | Towman.com

First on the scene since 1977



The Walkaround One Thing in Common

Dennie Ortiz Publisher

Many times I’ve heard the expression “it’s like herding cats” in attempting to get a group of towers in agreement on a subject. However, the one unifying topic on which we can all concur is the importance of safety within our industry. Hence our “Safety Issue” featuring editorial focused on this critical concern. Towman’s own safety guru, Randy Resch, takes on a few safety-related topics starting with which products and best practices to employ while working on-scene. Resch also tackles the proper use and what to avoid when using rearward-facing white work lights. Brian Riker’s brings up an often overlooked area on the safety spectrum—driving safely. He makes a very good point that most tow operators drive the majority of their time, so this critical skill should be trained for, developed and monitored regularly. Worthy recommendations are made for both operators and owners alike. Another safety related article you’ll appreciate is “Clear Communications” by Steve Temple. He brings you along as he assesses the major benefits of the ability to converse clearly with your team members while on-scene, both for training and a safe recovery. Tow business owners have many considerations, safety a main one, and also high on the list is maintaining your fleet. We know that truck equipment is in high demand now as the industry faces a challenging shortage. Though the inventory world has slowed down it hasn’t stopped and you still need the equipment, whether you take possession of it today or next year. Financing is an important factor of your equipment purchase equation. David Sook, provides our readers with some key insights into equipment financing by evaluating the advantages of loans and leases. Hoping you benefit from the knowledge shared with you in this issue. As always be safe out there.

Tragic Reports

Steve Temple Editor

A lot of sad news fills our inboxes on a weekly basis about tow operators getting injured or killed while on the job. These all too common tragic events sadden us, and we often share these somber accounts with you. While we grieve with you, we have another reason for doing so: to find ways to minimize hazards to tow operators. Of course we can’t directly control distracted drivers or those driving under the influence, but we can provide practical tips for tow operators to avoid them. So we hope our readers appreciate what we’re trying to accomplish with our Safety Issue. Be alert so you don’t get hurt.

6 • May 2022 | Towman.com

Dennie Ortiz Steve Calitri Steve Temple Randall Resch Terry Abejuela David Kolman John Borowski Mark Lacek Brian Riker George Nitti Henri “Doc” Calitri

President Editor-In-Chief Editor Operations Editor Field Editor, West Chassis Editor Safety Editor Repo Run Editor Contributing Editor Contributing Editor Contributing Editor

Editorial Board Tommy Anderson Roy Carlson Debbie Collins Belinda Harris Bill Johnson Kurt Wilson

Dallas, Texas Saint Paul, Minn. Las Vegas, Nev. Greensboro, N.C. South Hadley, Mass. Creve Coeur, Ill.

American Towman Staff Art Director Advertising Sales Mgr. Senior Account Exec. Customer Service Subscription Manager Regional Advertising Sales iMarketing Manager ATTV Producer President

Gina Johnson Dennie Ortiz Ellen Rosengart Henri Calitri Patrice Gesner Peggy Calabrese Ryan Oser Emily Oz Steve Calitri

American Towman Media Headquarters 2 Overlook Drive, Suite 5, Warwick, NY 10990 800-732-3869 or 845-986-4546

E-Mail: President Editor-In-Chief Editor AT’S Digital Edition AT’S Website AT’S Weekly ATTV

dortiz@towman.com scalitri@towman.com stemple@towman.com itowman.com americantowman.com towindustryweek.com americantowmantv.com

Copyright ©2022 American Towman Magazine is published 12 times a year by American Towman Media, Inc.

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All material published through American Towman Media (AT), to include American Towman Magazine, iTowman.com and TowIndustryWeek.com, including advertisements, editorials, articles and all other content is published in good faith. However, AT accepts no liability for any errors or omissions, and does not endorse any companies, products or services that appear. AT does not test or review products submitted for inclusion in its publications. AT does not accept responsibility for the accuracy of content, warranties or claims made or implied by its advertisers. The views expressed are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of AT. The act of mailing or delivering a letter, email or article to AT shall constitute permission to publish that letter or article or any portion thereof. AT reserves the right to edit any and all material submitted. No part of the magazine or websites may be reproduced without prior written consent of AT. AT reserves the right to not publish advertisements that disparage competitors or call into question the integrity of a competitors product or service.



News Share Towers in Indiana united to show support for wounded tower.

Hit-and-Run ID Alert Proposed

In Pennsylvania, a bill is being proposed that would create an alert system notifying auto repair shops to be on the lookout for vehicles involved in a hit and run crash. The measure was inspired by the hit-and-run crash that took the life of 8-year-old Jayanna Powell in 2016. “Jay alerts,” named after Powell, would contain a description of a vehicle that had fled the scene and be distributed to repair shops, which would be required to register with PennDOT. If a shop is discovered as failing to report a vehicle matching the description of a vehicle in the alert system, the owner or operator of the shop could be charged with a thirddegree misdemeanor. According to the bill proposed by state senator Anthony Williams, the American Automobile Association reports hit and run crashes result in 1,500 deaths in this country annually. It further points out that leaving the scene of an accident where the victim suffers serious bodily injury or death is a felony offense. Source:post-gazette.com

Nevada Establishes Tow Association

Nevada has officially launched a statewide towing association. The Nevada State Tow Association is both representing and advocating for the towing and recovery industry in Nevada, while encouraging and promoting professionalism, ethical conduct, and high standards within the tow industry. NSTA is open to all professional tow companies, operators, and suppliers in Nevada who support the association’s goals and agree to adhere to the Member Code of Conduct to ensure high business standards are maintained. The Nevada State Tow Association plans to educate the public and governmental bodies on industry issues; develop and promote legislation, rules and regulations that positively impact the public and towing industry; and work to promote a positive public image for the towing industry.

8 • May 2022 | Towman.com

Towers Unite in Support

of Wounded Indiana Tower

Nearly 150 wreckers from around Indiana rallied in front of Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis to support Matthew Roberts, who was shot several times on March 25 as he stopped to help a stranded driver. “We are a big family. The guy who shot Matt doesn’t realize he’s messing with a huge family,” noted Charles Gamble of Cheap Towing and Recovery.

The suspect, Joseph Jackson of Raytown, Missouri is facing several charges, including attempted murder, aggravated battery, and carrying a handgun without a license. “He needs to understand, he messed his life up. He shot our brother. Just imagine if he had shot a police officer?” Gamble added. Source: wishtv.com

LA to Resume Towing Vehicle Dwellings The city of Los Angeles will resume towing vehicle dwellings such as RVs that are in violation of posted signage. Enforcement and towing of vehicle dwellings was suspended in March 2020, when the city declared a local emergency, relaxing enforcement for all parking violations. The city resumed general enforcement in October 2020, but vehicles used as dwellings were exempt. According to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, vehicle dwellings were exempt from enforcement so, “…the unhoused did not meet additional burdens during a health crisis.” Officials added that the definition’s broadness has led to abandoned vehicles not being impounded either. In February, the department created criteria for distinguishing between abandoned vehicles suitable for towing, and vehicles used as dwellings that

RV’s, along with other vehicles used as dwellings, will be towed if illegally parked. warrant additional engagement. The City Council voted to approve LADOT’s criteria, and Councilman Joe Buscaino added an amendment to have the department resume parking enforcement for all motor vehicles, including vehicle dwellings, that are in violation of posted signage on May 15. Source: msn.com


News Share

“Two Days of Hell”

in Pennsylvania Hammer’s Towing was on scene recovering a tanker filled with Chocolate Syrup.

A blinding snow squall in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania on March 28 wreaked havoc on Interstate 81, 50 miles northeast of Harrisburg. The storm causied a massive highway pileup, leading to numerous casualties, including six deaths. Drivers were blinded by fog-like conditions along a slick highway as one vehicle after another barreled into each other, with an estimated 80 vehicles involved. Tractor trailers were seen indiscriminately smashing into one another. Some vehicles were mostly burned while authorities had to go through each vehicle to make sure there were no human remains. “It looked like something that you would imagine seeing in a movie or a television scene” said Jeremy Smallwood, an assistant fire chief for

the Lavelle Volunteer Fire Company. “But to see it in your town in front of your eyes, and realize that these are real victims, it’s a really harrowing experience.” Two tow companies from the area, Hammer’s Towing and Trail Towing, worked two days, non-stop, during the recovery. A spokeswoman at Hammer’s Towing estimated that they pulled out over three dozen trucks and cars. Trail Towing, which was well equipped to handle the recovery with dollies, dumpsters and wreckers, was also on scene for a couple of days, recovering 15 cars and seven trailers. “It was definitely one of the worst ones I have ever seen,” admitted Mike Gula, owner of Trail Towing. “It was two days of hell. No sleep for two days.” Source: ktar.com

Pillar of Idaho Tow Community Passes

Denny Jones, 81, considered a pillar of both the Southeast Idaho business community and the national towing industry, has died. Jones was well known within the towing industry. He was inducted into the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and served on the Towing and Recovery Association Board for 20 years. Jones started Denny’s Wrecker Service, located in Chubbuck, Idaho, in 1962, and later bought out a few

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

Denny Jones, pictured third from left, founded Denny’s Wrecker Service in 1962.

of the area towing companies. Jones’ daughter DeAnn Wilson said, “A lot of his competition used to work for him. He trained a lot of tow truck drivers.” Jones was a member of the Lion’s Club, and among his other community goodwill acts, he offered free tows during the Christmas season to keep impaired drivers off the road. He was considered an avid fisherman and also having a great sense of humor. Source: idahostatejournal.com

Tow Owner Donald M. Prifti Passes

Massachusetts tow owner Donald M. Prifti, age 80, passed away on April 3, 2022. He is survived by his wife Nancy, who worked with him at Prifti Motors, Inc. for the 47 years they were married. Prifti took over Prifti Moters from his father in 1981 and was considered a legend throughout the towing industry, working with the Southwick Police and Fire Department. Prifti’s love of towing extended into truck and trailer repairs. He was a founding member of the Statewide Towing Association, helping set up the annual tow shows and doing demonstrations. Prifti was the Western MA Director of STA and at the same time, he became a member of the Connecticut Towing and Recovery Association, teaching classes with other members of the Board of Directors.

Loan Delinquency Rates Rise

According to Deutsche Bank and Fitch Ratings, more sub-prime borrowers are falling behind on their auto loans. In February, the delinquency rate for subprime auto loans more than 60 days past due rose to 4.15 percent, the highest since April 2020, according to Deutsche Bank. Fitch Ratings also tracked February subprime auto ABS delinquencies at the highest since April 2020, but at a near 4.8 percent rate. “Certainly, spending power from what we are seeing on inflation could leave the subprime borrower more vulnerable,” said Margaret Rowe, senior director in Fitch’s asset-backed securities group. “We were expecting to see delinquencies normalize or come back to those pre-pandemic levels.” “We believe inflation is more likely to impact subprime borrowers due to lower incomes and/or savings,” BofA Global’s strategy team wrote in a weekly note. “This leaves the subprime auto loan ABS and consumer loan ABS sectors more vulnerable to credit deterioration, which could add pressure to ABS valuations in the coming months, especially at the subordinated level.”

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • 9


Road Tools Raise Them Up

When you need a sure way to elevate a payload or lighting device, check out the Will-Burt Company. This firm manufactures mobile telescoping masts, towers, trailer systems, and pan and tilt positioners for first responders, plus defense, government, telecommunications, energy production and other types of applications. In particular, the NightSearcher Solaris Pro Single shown here is of value to tow operators, providing rechargeable lighting for night recoveries with a six-foot height extension, four-angle adjustment, and stabilizing legs. Powered by maintenance-free, lithium-ion batteries that can be programmed for a runtime of up to 48 hours, the Solaris also has a battery management system to protect against overcharging. Two battery options are available, and dual optics (both spot and wide-beam lights) are included. If you need a custom device, Will-Burt also offers contract manufacturing, metal fabrication, powder-coating, and rapid prototyping services. With offices and manufacturing in the USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey, and Singapore, all locations are backed by a certified ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System.

WillBurt.com

Easy Listening You’ll be able to talk clearer too, with Speak Easy’s Actio Pro Series wireless radio systems. This headset delivers noise-cancelling communication at a distance of 500 yards between two units, and an even greater range with multiple units. Plus Speak Easy’s advanced algorithm isolates and silences background noise while protecting the hearing of wearers. This technology is ideal for heavy-duty recoveries and worksites, eliminating garbled transmissions that can create stress, costly mistakes and safety issues. This headset can be fit to any helmet, with no earmuff modification needed, plus the Actio Pro allows for cell phone connectivity. The design has been personally field-tested by owner and founder Alex Kundrat, who is a certified arborist familiar with noisy environments. In addition to improved communications, the Actio Pro is priced competitively.

SpeakEasyCommunication.solutions

You’re a Life Saver!

TowMate’s Life Saver traffic-cone lighting system features two high-intensity LED strobes powered by a lithium battery lasting up to 24 hours. This unit is rechargeable with an AC wall charger, and easily mounts on just about any standard traffic cone, providing a bright alert system in a small, easily deployed package that warns oncoming traffic to slow down and move over. Multiple selectable flash patterns are included, and other color options are available. Made in the USA, the Life Saver’s LEDs come with a lifetime warranty.

TowMate.com

10 • May 2022 | Towman.com



Safety

The Invisible Towman Products for Being Seen On-Scene By Randall C. Resch

Operations Editor Randall C. Resch is a retired California police officer and veteran tow business owner, manager, consultant and trainer. He writes for TowIndustryWeek. com and American Towman, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and recipient of the Dave Jones Leadership Award. Email Randy at rreschran@gmail.com.

A

key component of Traffic Incident Management (TIM) supports “Advanced Emergency Warning” when work situates workers and responders in harm’s way. Being seen is a matter of operator safety and a matter of survival—your survival. Providing advanced warning requires towers to use appropriate devices and accessories. Even though experts indicate that advanced warning creates safer working environments, often towers openly disregard this advice. Tow operators have their own reasoning as to what level of safety should be initiated when responding to or working highway and urban events. While advanced warning is highly recommended, operators are repeatedly killed because they walk with their backs to traffic while setting up or picking up, or they stand in traffic lanes. As in any tow situation, applying safety devices can come with increased danger. So a use versus a no-use scenario is a double-edged sword to be considered. Even so, advanced warning alerts drivers to the possibility of roadway obstacles, an existing collision, or other impending dangers. When motorists focus and drive

12 • May 2022 | Towman.com

at reasonable speeds, they have sufficient time to react and adjust accordingly. On the other hand, on-scene safety accessories can create an elevated danger to the personal safety of towers, while causing confusion to motorists. How so?

BEYOND THE NORM

Improper emergency lighting and product misuse can create distracting conditions and leads to vicarious liability. Proper training and application are essential. Consider these two examples: Scenario One: Volunteer firefighters responded to a nighttime fatality crash. On arrival they deployed many cases of flares from their personal vehicles setting a halfmile pattern. Within the path was a teen driver who got confused and drove outside the flares crashing head-on creating a secondary collision. The teen was killed and a high-dollar lawsuit ensued. Scenario Two: In the 1980s, a reserve police officer worked traffic control at an inner-city crash where a DUI driver plowed into a line of parked cars. As the roadway was cleared for reopening, the officer kicked a partially burning flare into the street’s gutter that was just hosed



In today’s litigious society, towers are blamed because they make no effort to identify their active work-zone, even if a DUI or distracted motorist was at fault. Doing something is better than doing nothing. In addition, place a single cone at the corner of any parked flatbed carrier or wrecker to identify its wider, traffic-side rear corner. Although cones tend to be difficult to store because of their size and shape, they’re durable, long lasting and comparably inexpensive. While use of cones is preferred for ease, safety and expense, they’re not as effective during nighttime scenarios where flares might be a better choice. But remember flares burn at incredible temperature and can cause an unexpected grassfire that could go out of control. Although a great addition to nighttime accident scenes, be aware

An overhead light can provide good illumination for work areas, but use care in how they are deployed to avoid distracting motorists.

down. Residual gasoline, trickling in the gutter, ignited halfway down the block singing about 20 parked vehicles. Note: Both of these “off the wall” scenarios could have been avoided if responders followed proper protocol or agency guidelines.

BEST PRACTICE

Safety instructors often teach the routine of setting a minimum of three cones at every recovery or accident, a “best practice” to create an obvious on-scene presence. It applies whether tow trucks are stopped on highway shoulders, working recoveries, even loading or picking up cars in inner city neighborhoods. 14 • May 2022 | Towman.com

TowMate’s new cone-mounted warning light system, aptly named ‘The Life Saver,’ features two red and blue LED strobe modules and slides over top of any standard traffic cone. Since the light is not mounted to the truck, or used in motion, it is not considered vehicle lighting.

A reflective vest and illuminated cones help to identify active working scenes, but they’re not a magic shield of armor. Being aware of “on-scene positioning” helps towers to increase their survival potential.

of roll-away possibilities. Available to towers are many devices and accessories. In a nutshell, here are brief descriptions of products generally chosen for onhighway and tow industry use: • Fluorescent Flares: These are the “International Signal of Distress.” When one sees a well-set flare pattern against darkened and wet highway lanes, there’s no question that something’s going on. A flares’ piercing intensity and bright red color demands attention. If not protected, though, flares are worthless when run over by distracted drivers or exposed openly to the elements. Flare application is dictated by environmental conditions, especially rain, fog, snow and wind. The biggest downside with a flare is the probability of starting roadside fires if it were to roll, get blown, kicked, or tossed into brushy shoulder areas. Some flares have spikes or smallish tabs to prevent


Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • 15


On-scene lighting is portable and can be quickly deployed. Will-Burt’s Solaris Duo featured here.

rollaway created by wind blasts from passing semis. To extend burn times, flares can be “crisscrossed” end to end. • LED Hockey Pucks: They’re ideal for wet weather qualities, and for best charging results, have a designated power source mounted on the tow

16 • May 2022 | Towman.com

truck. But they’re only good when fully charged. And like flares, if they’re run over by some motorhead, they’re done. • Reflective Cones: Perhaps the best accessory for durability, cost, ease of use, and being readily available in seconds.

Plus they require no charging, are impervious to wet conditions, and when run over, they’re simply up-righted and repositioned. But they do require room for storage and/ or special bracketing. • ANSI-III Vests: Required by law enforcement and government contracts, and OSHA recommends vests for responders including tow operators. A vest’s qualities give the wearer a “reflective announcement,” but offer no physical protection. • Reflective Paint, Lettering and Emergency Tape: These items also help to identify a wrecker’s or carrier’s presence. When strategically added to a truck’s exterior, especially rearward, they increase the truck’s visibility. Before spending thousands on


Safety Advertisers Calvin Berkey Enterprises ........... see p. M 76 Custer Products ....... see p. 56 SafeAll Products ....... see p. 26 murals, wraps and fancy paint, outfit your truck with products that first help it be seen. • Belt Worn, Clip-on Lights: TowForce’s Ron Parrish, professes that clip-on strobes are a great safety product that’s easily worn on the tower’s outer-wear. • Strobes, Arrow Bars and Overhead Emergency Lights: On-scene lighting is a prime element in “Slow Down, Move Over” requirements that send a strong visual request to motorists. Some traditionalists feel that an excess of lighting-up, making a scene look like a circus event, can initiate a “Lookieloo Factor.” Even so, advanced warning intentionally indicates that hazardous conditions are ahead. It demands motorists initiate immediate deceleration and move over to an adjacent lane. Use good judgement when employing overhead lights, especially for on-highway recoveries, in order to prevent causing “white light blindness.” All told, it’s important that towers consider “what if” scenarios that could occur. Would the addition of reflective flares or triangles help this location as required by law? Would red, fluorescent flares provide emergency warning to approaching traffic? Would cones help identify an active tow or recovery zone? The answer is, “Yes,” of course, but remember one key point: whatever your choice of safety product, they offer no value if neither activated nor still on the truck. Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

LED strobes, such as this one from Custer products, which includes a built-in flood work light, can send a strong visual signal for motorists to slow down and move over.

TowMate ....................see p. 53 Will-Burt Company.................... see p. 43

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • 17


Tow Finance

The Rainmaker

Key Benefits of Tow Truck Financing By David Sook,

Senior Vice President, Equipment Finance

David Sook, Senior Vice President – Sales Manager – Equipment Finance First Business Specialty Finance, LLC, a subsidiary of First Business Bank David Sook joined the Equipment Finance team at First Business Bank with more than 25 years of experience in equipment finance, covering a wide variety of industries including healthcare, technology, and municipal markets.

N

early eight out of ten businesses finance their equipment acquisitions. That’s according to the latest data from the Equipment Leasing & Finance Association (ELFA). This statistic covers everything from tow trucks and towing equipment to office furniture and computers. Given this reality, how can your business benefit from a financing rainmaker? That is, someone who brings real, positive change to an organization. We’ll answer that question and more. You’ve got a few options to acquire equipment for your towing business. Tow business owners often ask, “Is it better to finance my equipment acquisition or to pay cash? If the answer is finance, what type of financing should I use?” Depending on the age of your equipment and how quickly you need to replace it, your business outlook, and financial situation, your best way to finance equipment might be completely different than your competitor’s. That’s why it’s wise to talk it over with a knowledgeable, equipment finance expert who can walk you through all the variables. Someone who is focused on a long-term relationship with your business—not one just looking to get a sale at the end of the month—so you know you’re getting sound advice for your towing equipment strategy.

ACQUIRING TOW TRUCK EQUIPMENT

Generally only a few options are available to obtain equipment: cash purchase, equipment loans, and equipment

18 • May 2022 | Towman.com

leases.

If you

have

enough cash on hand, review your strategic plan and whether or not you want to put all your cash in tow trucks and accessories that rapidly depreciate in value. Loans or capital leases often benefit your business when you’ll keep the equipment for a longer time period than an operating lease usually lasts. This approach works best with equipment that won’t be obsolete or inefficient any time soon, like tow trucks that have plenty of miles left on them. An operating lease may be best when you plan to replace or upgrade any equipment frequently and need flexibility. Your business might invest in technology, which can change rapidly, depending on application and needs of your growing company.

ADVANTAGES OF TOW TRUCK EQUIPMENT LOANS & LEASES

Here are some key points in favor of loans and leases that apply to many towing companies: 1. Impact on cashflow. Some towing equipment acquisitions are expensive and un-budgeted because of equipment failure, market demand, or other causes. Equipment financing quickly gets


Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • 19


you the towing equipment and its technological and efficiency advantages. Loans and leases help you preserve cash, manage your balance sheet, and often have flexible payment terms. If your business is growing, you may want to save cash for strategic acquisitions, like taking the opportunity to buy out a competitor. Matching cash outflow of a lease or loan with the inflow from either revenue-generating equipment or equipment that offers cost savings is smart business. For instance, recently I spoke with leaders at a growing Wisconsinbased towing and recovery company with operations in three states. They mentioned several reasons why financing tow trucks makes the most sense for their business. Over the years they have acquired

20 • May 2022 | Towman.com

real estate (land and buildings) to support operational growth. Additionally, they have acquired other tow and recovery operations to strategically grow. Cash is king, particularly when looking at higher-level strategic acquisitions. Equipment financing helps keep cash on the balance sheet for other, more strategic, uses. 2. Lower initial expense. The initial outlay to lease towing equipment often is almost zero. Equipment leases frequently require no down payment and offer 100% financing. 3. Easier to secure. Leases often are easier to get than loans, especially if your company is in turnaround mode like so many are right now. Put the equipment to work faster and start working your business back to profitability.Given the

tremendous shortage of available equipment (new and used), towing and recovery operators need to work with a financing partner that can move quickly. The ease and speed of financing is critical to secure equipment from dealers or private-party sales in an environment where equipment is very scarce. We recently worked with a client in Virginia to help them source a tow truck located out of state. They came to the dealer with a credit approval and were able to secure the truck quickly. The buyer did a virtual inspection of the equipment, signed financing documents the same day, and picked up the truck a day later. 4. Mitigate the risk of towing equipment ownership. It’s not just the towing equipment that can get old and broken down. A shift in your business’s


direction also could render equipment useless. With a lease, you’re not stuck with it. The same Wisconsin-based towing and recovery company told me they finance their trucks because they like to keep their fleet from aging for several reasons. Their employees like driving the latest and greatest equipment, which helps with employee retention. New rigs also reduce maintenance costs and downtime as they cycle through trucks every four to five years, and cascade used trucks throughout their operation. 5. Tax depreciation benefits. Section 179 in the IRS Code is an expense deduction for business equipment that allows qualifying businesses to deduct the cost of some equipment as an expense (instead of capitalizing it and depreciating it over several years). The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 expanded bonus depreciation so these businesses can take a 100 percent first-year depreciation deduction on equipment acquired between 2017 and 2023. Depending on your need for depreciation benefit, a true lease can shift this benefit to the lessor, which is transmitted to the lessee as a lower monthly payment. You also may claim a portion of the cost of the equipment the same year you acquired it subject to certain limitations set by the IRS (consult a tax expert). The equipment could potentially reduce your business’s taxable income if it qualifies within the IRS’ code. 6. Protection against inflation. With some leases or loans, you lock in an interest rate and fixed payments while the price keeps rising. With today’s costs and economy, don’t undervalue this potential upside.

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

Even though I’m partial to equipment loans and leases because that’s my business, but I’ve seen it work many ways. Above all, speak with a towing equipment expert who cares about the growth of your business before you commit to financing that might be a poor fit for your business.

Finance Advertisers Amur Equip. Finance....... see p. 27 Ascentium Captital.......... see p. 15 First Business Bank......... see p. 56

Integrated Vehicle Leasing............................. see p. 52 Intek Truck & Equip. Leasing............................. see p. 43 Santander Bank............... see p. 84 Specialty Vehicle Equip. Funding............................ see p. 11

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • 21


Tow Manager

Whether you’re recovering a small sedan on the side of a two-track or turning over a big rig in the middle of a freeway, Sonetics points out that only full-duplex systems give you the ability to be clear and precise in all your maneuvers.

Clear Communication Can You Hear Me Now? By Steve Temple

Steve Temple has many years of experience as an automotive photojournalist and editor of numerous magazines, both consumer and trade. He has a passion for diesel engines, and one of his personal rigs is a one-ton Dodge dually with an upgraded Cummins turbodiesel, often used for both towing and hauling.

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emember that famous line from the movie “Cool Hand Luke”, “What we have here is a failure to communicate”? This phrase has been used time and time again to describe a common problem in a wide range of settings. Tow operators can surely relate. Note the following example from an operator doing a recovery in a rural, mountain area. The operator had to send one of his crew down a steep cliff and into a canyon to attach rigging to a crashed pickup. The hillside was covered in boulders and scrub brush, so attaching wire rope and hauling up the rolled vehicle was a serious challenge. To make matters worse, the cellphone service was weak if not nonexistent. Also, it was too far a distance from the rotator to yell instructions back and forth. So how did the rigger and operator work together? Headsets. Without using this valuable technology, they probably couldn’t have handled the

22 • May 2022 | Towman.com

A headset system doesn’t have to be expensive. The UltraLITE wireless from Eartec is its most affordable full duplex systems.

recovery efficiently—if at all. This type of communication device has a broad range of applications: police and fire departments, airport ground-support crews, motorsports, road workers, and high-rise construction sites. Plus tow operators, of course.


Communication Advertisers Eartec ....................................... see p. 58 MatJack ................................... see p. 83 RP Recovery ............................ see p. 20 Speak Easy ............................... see p. 39

So what are the benefits of headsets to your company? And what should you look for when adding them to your tow trucks’ list of essential equipment?

AN AID TO TRAINING

Headsets are not only a safety measure, but also help with training and workflow. They allow towers to communicate with fellow workers who are manning equipment that’s out of shouting distance. That’s the kind of immediate communication both incident commanders and tow bosses typically need for a complicated recovery. Headsets enable a team to speak clearly and hands-free with each another, while filtering out damaging noise without blocking important sounds. Training of new towing recruits can also be enhanced with headsets. Before the arrival of this technology, the new guy on the job could only learn by watching a recovery. One obvious obstacle to learning is a lack of clear and continuous feedback. But that’s all changed with the use of headsets, as they provide immediate interactions, early and often. New skills develop more quickly through prompt advice and repetition, where the tow boss and trainee are able to talk normally. As Alex Kundrat, president at Speak Easy Communications, noted about a trainee, “Now, he can hear the senior guys talking and pick things up much faster, and the crew can explain things as they go.” And there’s less stress, too, he adds. Kundrat first experienced the use of headsets to improve communication while working in the treecare industry. “I knew headsets would make our work more efficient, but one thing I never anticipated would be how much it minimized my anxiety on the job,” Kundrat shared. “You don’t realize how exhausting it is to communicate in such loud environments.” Also, using only hand signals can be complex, and convey only part of the message. They also require line-of-sight visibility, which can be confusing in failing darkness or bad weather. In contrast, with headsets, you can direct towers

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All towers want to end their recoveries in good health and with a sense of accomplishment. Sonetics headsets improve communication, so they can do just that.

and riggers easily by speaking naturally into the wireless system, talking in a normal voice to keep a calm work environment with no yelling to move equipment. It is so much easier to get the job done correctly when the members of the crew are able to hear one another without raised voices trying to shout over equipment engine noise. Nobody has to stop working to take a cellphone call on the side of the road, either, which could create a hazard by impeding a tower’s critical situational awareness. With the headsets on tow operators, it’s as if each of them is on the same phone call. A tow operator can easily relay requests and instructions for a recovery without having to try to get someone’s attention and yell for 24 • May 2022 | Towman.com

it. In addition, warnings about oncoming traffic or other hazards can be immediately relayed to the crew. Communication is calm and relaxed, making sure everyone is functioning as a team.

WHICH FEATURES ARE NEEDED?

Several different companies offer headsets with a range of pricing and features, but it’s important to consider the following aspects. As the Eartec Company points out, a new breed of “towing” headsets uses a wireless format known as full duplex, which means that the transceiver both sends and receives RF signals at the same time. This technology allows two or more parties or devices to communicate in both directions. Sonetics uses a vivid visual analogy

of a two-lane road to explain how full-duplex differs. In a half-duplex system (used in two-way radios), communication flows in only one direction at a time. So it’s like shutting down a lane when someone talks. When you’re on a portable radio, the push-to-talk (PTT) button opens up the transmit lane, but blocks off the receiving lane. In addition, when you press and hold the PTT button, you have to take a hand off what you’re doing, such as a boom control, a steering wheel, a snatch block, or wire rope. In a voice-activated, full-duplex system, though, both lanes of the street are always open, so that voice traffic can flow back and forth. At no time do users have to push to talk or dial a number to transmit. In fact, more than two people can communicate simultaneously. Sonetics also points out that communication is more natural on a full-duplex system, like having a conversation with a group of friends in a living room, even when you’re in a challenging work environment. For instance, what if a hazard suddenly appears, and you need to warn your worker? Interrupting can be rude, but being polite takes a back seat to safety when you have to prevent an accident. Better to tell some one to “watch out!” than worry about speaking abruptly. Unfortunately, if the person you are trying to interrupt is speaking through a half-duplex system, your attempts to reach him or her may never get through. Preventing accidents is a two-way street. Don’t take it for granted on either side. As a case in point on one recovery, a truck’s outriggers began to sink, as it had been unknowingly parked over an underground spring. When the soggy soil gave way, the boom began collapsing. As the operator jumped and ran


away, another worker screamed to head in a different direction, rather than the spot where the boom hit. Thanks to the headset’s clear audible command, nobody on the crew was hurt. All told, headsets with a full duplex wireless protocol is a huge improvement over traditional walkie-talkies that operate in a simplex mode in which users must take turns talking by pushing a button. This innovative wireless format has become a game-changer for the towing industry, allowing an entire crew to communicate simultaneously and handsfree. Plus they come in a variety of prices and features, depending on a towers needs. As one example of entry-level units, the UltraLITE wireless from Eartec is its most affordable full duplex systems. These totally self-contained headsets feature a miniature transceiver built right inside the ear cup, eliminating cables and belt packs. Since no base station is required, up to five users have total mobility and enjoy handsfree communication within a 400-yard range. A rechargeable Lithium Polymer battery (included) provides six hours of service/talk time. If headgear is required for a tow operator, Eartec’s Xtreme series are all inclusive fullduplex headsets. To use them, wearers adjust the head strap so that the safety cap fits comfortably, and then simply turn the headsets “on”. The system automatically links up to nine headsets in a full duplex mode, allowing crews to communicate simultaneously, again all handsfree. Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

Matjack’s full-duplex LiberatorMAX headset facilitates deployment of the company’s air-lifting bags both safely and more efficiently.

RANGE ANXIETY?

Another important factor to keep in mind is the communication range of headsets. Speak Easy’s Actio Pro Series wireless radio systems are claimed to deliver clear, noise-cancelling communication at up to 500 yards between two units, and even greater range with multiple units.

Matjack, which offers several different products for tow operators, including both air lifting bags and headsets, highlights its LiberatorMAX Headset. It’s a Full Duplex unit that can be used in conjunction with up to seven additional headsets to form a wireless

Wireless headsets should fit snugly but comfortably over the ears. They also need to fit comfortably with a hard hat. Speak Easy’s Actio Pro Series wireless radio systems deliver clear, noise-cancelling communication with a range of 500 yards between two units and even greater range with multiple units.

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intercom network system which doesn’t require a base station. This instant-on headset can operate on any one of eight available channels (all headsets must be on the same channel for network intercom operation). When used in line of sight (although not required for communicating), this headset has a range of up to 1500 feet.

RUNNING INTERFERENCE

Another aspect to consider is how well a headset handles noise interference compared with other devices. Audio interference is more complex than visual interference. If you rely on face-to-face communication, then environmental noise can interfere. You also have to factor in the distance between you and your crew. If you rely on a two-way radio, then interference can result from a variety of issues, such as broken antennas, cross-talk, button mashing and “narrowbanding.” The latter term refers to a mandate by the FCC to create additional channels. But it reduces frequency range and makes certain sounds indistinguishable, such as the high-frequency letters “s” and “f.” This kind of audio confusion can be frustrating and even dangerous. In addition, if you rely on a Bluetooth-connected device, then you’re in competition with WiFi routers, security systems and, with the advent of the Internet of Things, refrigerators, cars, watches and just about any other product labeled as “smart.” Finally, if you use cell phones, then you’re at the mercy of the network. Coverage typically fails when you need it the most. In contrast, various headset manufacturers suppliers recommend at least 24dB of hearing protection. No need for ear plugs. With 24dB or more of noise reduction, you can protect your hearing and effectively communicate at the same time Also, Speak Easy points to its advanced algorithm that isolates background noise, while protecting hearing and providing clear communication. “Our technology sets a new standard for heavyindustry workplaces, eliminating costly mistakes and safety concerns, Kundrat said. “Headsets can be fit to any helmet, no earmuff modification needed, plus the Actio Pro allows for cell phone connectivity.” In general, reliable gear gives confidence that anyone can be heard, even over loud noise. Look for a system that won’t have a speech delay or clip critical words that would alter the message. Users need to maintain situational awareness of their surroundings by controlling how much outside sound is heard. Our sense of hearing keeps us in touch with our environment.

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LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE

As noted, on-scene communication comes in a variety of forms—email, texting, cell phone calls, instant messaging, radios, intercom, online collaboration tools, face-to-face, and hand signals. Even with all these methods, poor communication is still responsible for most recovery mistakes, if not outright failures. Communication interference or breakdowns can result in misunderstood directions leading to serious mishaps. Improving communications, though, reduces tow operator error, prevents collisions, and keeps the recovery scene safer overall. Personal safety is paramount, of course. But when you add in the risk of equipment damage, the threat of insurance claims and the costs of downtime, it’s clear that misunderstood communications can have economic consequences right along with the personal ones. From a safety standpoint, isolation is dangerous and expensive. In sum, every recovery is really about solving problems. With effort, most of them are anticipated and your crew is prepared with the manpower and tools to see it through. Being able to work a problem together helps a team get to the bottom of a situation. Imagine being able to manage an issue without having to walk away from the equipment in order to hear. What would that mean for you and your crew? So invest in a communication system that’s both durable and easy to use. Can you hear us now?

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A Bridge Too Far Rescuing Vehicles from a Fallen Span in Pittsburgh By Joyce T. Powers

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T

he timing couldn’t have been worse—or better—depending on your perspective. In the early morning hours of Friday, January 28, 2022, on the very same day President Biden was coming to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to give a speech about the infrastructure bill, the nearby Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed.

Joyce Powers has grown up in the towing industry working over 20 years in her family’s towing company. Her business, Marketing Made Simple LLC, works with clients in the towing and transportation industry.

A 2016 Kenworth T800 with a NRC 6080 rotator was used in concert with a 400-ton crane to retrieve the articulating bus.

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While this structural failure was an obvious case in point for the President’s legislative agenda, it had negative consequences for many others. This 447-foot, major thoroughfare fell over 100 feet with six vehicles on it, including a Port Authority articulating bus. Fortunately no one was killed, although ten people sustained relatively minor injuries, all things considered. McGann and Chester, a respected and experienced towing company in the Pittsburgh area, was called to the scene. An ideal firm for the job, Bob McGann and his son Ryan are both certified crane operators. And Ryan holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering, knowledge that would come in handy in the days to come. It’s also worth noting they get an annual certification for their rotator tow truck to be used as a crane. In addition, tow operators Joe Janicky and CJ Jones arrived on-scene in a Kenworth with a Vulcan V70 heavy-duty wrecker, and a Hino 10 Series Chevron carrier. These rigs were utilized to pull one vehicle from the precarious edge of the bridge

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The Fern Hollow bridge fell over 100 feet with six vehicles on it.

SUPPORTING PITTSBURGH McGann & Chester is a family owned and operated business that has provided vehicle towing and storage services to the City of Pittsburgh since 1989. During those three decades of service, they have established very good working relationships with city officials and emergency responders. They have both heavy- and light-duty divisions, transportation resources, and a truck repair facility.

abutment. Its driver was incredibly lucky and hard braked at the last moment and saved his vehicle from going over. There was also an ambulance that needed to be winched out on scene. Once the scene was secured, Bob McGann, his two sons Ryan and Rob and Billy Chester were called to the accident site. Bob was the point of contact with Allegheny Crane, the Pittsburgh Police Department, Pittsburgh Fire Department, NTSB, and DOT. Ryan worked directly with the team at Allegheny Crane to

Careful calculations were required for positioning of both the NRC rotator and cranes before lifting out the stricken bus.

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develop a lift plan for the bus. They utilized a 3D model to lay out the plan, which required calculating the distance to the center of the bus, the ground pressure for a 400-ton crane that was literally hanging over the edge of the bridge abutment, and the ground pressure created by the rotator, along with other factors. The Port Authority put a similar model of an articulating bus on lifts, so McGann and Chester and the crane company could plan the cribbing needed. This cribbing was cut and placed to keep the bus from bending while being pulled, and eventually lifted in the air. There was very little room for error. On Saturday, the team at McGann and Chester got their own 2016 Kenworth with NRC 80-ton rotator staged while operators Joe Janicky, Joe Geyer, Mike Nusser, Brian Reichl, and Bryan King provided tractor service to haul in the jibs and parts for both a 275-ton and a 400-ton crane. The 275-ton crane was set up directly behind the rotator and used a lift basket to send workers, including the men from McGann and Chester, down to the accident scene in the ravine below. The 400-ton crane took over 18 man hours alone to set up! On Sunday the Pittsburgh Fire Department went down to the bus to siphon off its 120 gallons of diesel fuel. This job accomplished two things: an obvious safety and environmental issue if one of the fuel tanks was compromised; and it also reduced the weight of the load by 960 pounds. McGann and Chester ran air off their wrecker to operate the Fire Department’s equipment. The air line was then extended to the bus to provide air. Bob McGann went down to see if he could get the bus brakes released. Unfortunately, there was a lot of damage to the Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

RESPONDING EQUIPMENT 2016 Kenworth T800 with a NRC 6080 rotator Kenworth with a Vulcan V70 heavy-duty wrecker Hino 10 Series Chevron carrier Allegheny Crane’s 400-ton and 275-ton cranes

RECOVERY PERSONNEL Bob McGann Ryan McGann Rob McGann Billy Chester Joe Janicky CJ Jones Joe Janicky Joe Geyer Mike Nusser Brian Reichl Bryan King

rear of the bus, creating an air leak which prevented this procedure from happening. Ryan, Rob and Billy assisted in getting the bus rigged for lifting on Monday, the big day. The job of McGann and Chester was to winch the bus out from under the debris, straighten it out, and raise it approximately 75 feet up the slope, within the crane’s lifting distance. Everything worked perfectly, as the weights and calculations ended up being within 100 pounds of what was anticipated. Once the bus was

within safe lifting distance of the 400-ton crane, the bus was raised to the road above. On Tuesday, the transportation division of McGann and Chester were back on scene to haul out the crane parts. All told, this massive operation demonstrated the value of careful advance planning and calculations, along with a coordinated response between tow operators, first responders, a crane company, and government agencies. This is an operational bridge that must not ever fall down.

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AD INDEX AAA.....................................................46, 47 Akins Body & Carrier Sales.........................55 All American Jerr-Dan.............. N, S 75, M 77 Amell Insurance Agency.........................W 80 American Towman Expos......... N, S 79, M 80 Amur Equipment Finance...........................27 Anchor Graphics........................................65 Ascentium Capital......................................15 Atlanta Wrecker Sales, Inc..........................37 AT Showplace Las Vegas............................73 Austin Insurance, Inc.........................M, W 79 Calvin Berkey Enterprises.......................M 76 Captain Recovery................ N 78, S 77, M 79 Chevron Commercial..................................38 Copart..........................................................2 Crouch’s Wrecker & Equipment Sales.........57 Custer Products.........................................56 Dri-Dek......................................................27 Dual-Tech Wreckers & Carriers...................19 Durabilt by Durbin......................................66 Dynamic Towing Equipment & Mfg.............49 Eartec Co...................................................58 East Coast Truck & Trailer Sales.................67 EasTract North America..............................26 EdgeTech...............................................W 75 Elizabeth Truck Center................................39

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May 2022

ESTRA Tow Show................................... N 77 FCar Tech USA...........................................53 First Business Bank....................................56 G. Stone Commercial.............................. N 77 Int’l Tow & Rec. Hall of Fame & Museum......41 Integrated Vehicle Leasing..........................52 Intek Truck & Equip. Leasing/Financing.......43 ITI..............................................................23 Len Zermenos......................................28, 29 Lodar USA..................................................56 MatJack Jumbo Safelift..............................83 McMahon Truck Center..........................M 75 Metrocom..................................................65 Midwestern................................................35 Mobile Control Systems..............................23 Mobile Video Computing Solutions..............35 North American Bancard............................45 NRC Industries, Inc.......................................7 OMG Tow Marketing...................................16 online impound auctions............................51 Pacific General Insurance Agency.......... M 76 Peak Wrecker.........................................W 78 PeakPTT....................................................50 Performance Advantage Company..............37 Progressive Commercial Insurance.............19 Recovery Billing Unlimited..........................54

RimSling....................................................17 RP Recovery..............................................20 SafeAll Products.........................................26 Santander Bank.........................................84 Sea Crest Insurance Agency...................W 75 ServiCase..................................................52 Smyrna Truck & Cargo...............................44 Speak Easy Communication.......................39 Specialty Vehicle Equip. Funding................11 Tow Industries.......................................W 77 Towbook Management Software...................3 Tow Brokers Insurance...........................W 78 TowMate....................................................53 TowXpo Dallas Fort Worth..................... 59-61 Trail King Industries...................................54 Traxero North America................................58 Urgently.....................................................34 Utility Trailer Sales S.E. TX......................W 79 Warn Industries............................................5 West End Service.......................................51 Will-Burt Company.....................................43 Winches Inc...........................................W 80 XINSURANCE..........................................W 77 Zacklift International..................................15 Zip’s / AW Direct..................................13, 21


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An American Towman

Lessons From the Pandemic— Plus the Importance of People Skills By Charles Duke

American Towman Magazine Senior Editor Charles Duke has written and served as editor for trade, music and nonprofit publications. He also serves as the editor for AT’s online sister publications Tow Industry Week and Tow Industry Today.

LUKE DAVIS Owner, Express Tow & Recovery Platte City, Missouri

A

good tow operator views his profession as a community service. Just ask Luke Davis of Express Tow & Recovery in Platte City, Missouri. He values the work that he does with other first responders in the Greater Kansas City area. This family-owned and operated company provides towing, emergency roadside assistance and heavy-duty truck hauling services, and has worked closely with the area’s many police and volunteer fire departments since 2009. Davis got his start in towing back in 1999 when his father owned an auto bodyshop. Luke owned three tow trucks at the time, and he and his brother Joe did a lot of after-midnight lockouts and jumpstarts at the Kansas City International Airport. He started his LLC 36 • May 2022 | Towman.com

(limited liability company) back in 2005, and left the bodyshop in 2009. Today, the LLC owns Express Tow & Recovery. As disruptive as the pandemic has been for businesses over the past two years, Express Tow and Recovery was able to use it to become more efficient and profitable, living up to the “Express” in the company name. “We weren’t dispatching the closest truck to the call necessarily,” Davis admitted. “We really kind of cleaned up what we were doing. My father-in-law, Harold Cornine, got involved with the company, and he’s a big numbers guy. He started tracking a lot of our maintenance; and we literally got down to what it costs per mile to run each truck.” This approach enabled the firm to


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EXTENDED FAMILY Express Tow & Recovery is truly a family affair. Aside from his father-in-law Cornine, Davis’ wife Rebekkah handles a lot of the finances. Rhonda his mom is the company’s main dispatcher, and Joe his brother sometimes lends a helping hand when not involved with other projects. Davis and Rebekkah are the parents of two: nine-year-old son Cash, and three-year-old daughter Kinley. Quite often, Cash will accompany his dad to the shop on the days school is closed. Davis said his most memorable tow occurred in September 2013. It involved an unfortunate double-fatality that allowed heavy interaction between his company and one of the area’s fire departments. “We’re in an area where there are a bunch of volunteer fire departments,” Davis observed. “We had a dump truck with two people in it loaded with hot asphalt. It blew a tire and went off on a median and down between two bridges off the Interstate and landed about 100 feet below into a creek. The truck literally dove off a cliff, and the asphalt surrounded the two people in the cab.” Davis said there was no way the truck should’ve been on the road, as it wasn’t registered and had no insurance. Express Tow worked closely on that job with one of the area’s volunteer fire departments, who had extrication tools to get the bodies out. “The recovery showed how the tow company, fire department— everybody—has to work together to get the job done,” he pointed out. “I would say we were on the scene for a total of six to eight hours.” While the accident was tragic, the recovery of the truck demonstrated exemplary teamwork by all involved.

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work smarter, not harder. “Before the pandemic we were doing ‘what works’,” he continued. “But since the pandemic we’ve figured out ‘why it works’. To survive in the industry, you have to know exactly where you’re at to really show you know what you’re doing to justify what you need.” The pandemic also exacerbated further the driver shortage that’s been plaguing the towing industry. Davis expressed a concern about the minimum age requirements of 23 to 25, which a lot of insurance companies are requiring. “We are truly missing on some great young talent in a way that, by the time they are at approved age by insurance, they have families or a set career,” Davis pointed out. “We are hurting ourselves by not having a set way for these young men to obtain some training and a program to be hired. “I know several 18-year-olds we trust to do amazing things for our


country. Let’s get those intelligent young men in our industry and make changes.” Express Tow operates a fleet of 34 vehicles, and maintains a roster of roughly 26 to 28 drivers. The fleet runs the gamut of light-, mediumand heavy-duty units, mixed in with carriers and trailers for equipment hauling. Due to the work that Express does for Auto Return, their low-boy drivers have a take-home rollback expressly for that work. Police towing and heavy hauling are the most lucrative segments of Express Tow’s business, Davis surmises. Because he works in a small area, there are minimal expenses involved such as fuel. Davis notes what helps profitability are the storage fees and the fact they try to stage their trucks in strategic areas. “We try to keep our ETA for police calls and fire department calls to under

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ten minutes,” Davis said. “We have only five to seven guys who tow for the Missouri Highway Patrol, because those drivers are top-notch. We really try to take care of police departments.” It is important to Davis that his drivers are empathetic and put themselves in the customer’s shoes. They must keep in mind that where they are doing the job 30 to 35 times a day, the customer is

probably having the experience for the first—and possibly only—time. “We don’t necessarily hire guys who know ‘how to do the job’,” Davis stated. “We hire guys who know how to take care of people. We can teach them how to tow a car. The biggest thing that we do here is that we care. Someone who’s wrecked on the highway might be experiencing a once in a lifetime deal.”

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Tow Boss

Driver Training

It’s Not Just For Hooking Up By Brian J. Riker

Brian J. Riker is a third-generation towman, with 26 years of experience in the ditch as a tow operator, and president of Fleet Compliance Solutions. He specializes in helping navigate the complex world of federal and state transportation regulatory compliance. He can be reached at brian.riker@ fleetcompliancesolutions.net

O

ur industry does a great job of providing training on recoveries, winching and other complex operations that are all part of a tow professional’s job. But only a small part. Where we fall short as an industry is training our drivers how to drive better. Instead, we expect them to just naturally know how to safely and effectively operate multiple types of motor vehicles without any formal training. That’s absurd. Think about how much time you, or your drivers, spend behind the wheel of your truck, compared with the time spent loading, winching or otherwise handling a vehicle with the tow truck or carrier bed. For most towers it is probably at least a 70/30 split, if not even greater.

COACHING YOUR OPERATORS

So ask yourself, when was the last time you spent any real effort training your team to drive better and safer? Likely a long time ago, if ever. How many of your insurance claims were for damage to towed vehicles, versus accidents or other incidents involving actually driving or maneuvering of a truck?

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What if it didn’t have to be that way? There are many affordable and effective options available for training or coaching your drivers to develop or reinforce better driving habits. Many of these options don’t even require your driver to be in an actual tow truck. They can be classroom activities or even demonstrated in a passenger vehicle. Often the key to success is just shifting their mental processes so they think about the risks more clearly. Safe driving begins with the hiring process and daily operations of the company. You can’t expect your drivers to be expert motor-vehicle operators from day one, nor can you reasonably expect them to always practice safe habits when they are being pressured to expedite every call. Understandably, the driver pool is shrinking, and as a tow boss you might be tempted to hire the first warm body that walks through your door and meets your insurance company’s minimum qualification standards. You then push them beyond maximum efficiency even though you know deep down inside this is a very bad idea.



who can be hired or keep their job more than ever before. You could be the best at recovery and towing, but if your driver license isn’t clean enough, you might find yourself out of a job. What about once you have hired a driver, what should you do to keep them safe and insurable? Regular review of their driving record, checking any complaints, and even comparing their vehicle maintenance history, can help identify risky behaviors. For instance, drivers with a habit of tailgating will wear out their brakes sooner than a driver who maintains adequate following distance and slowly comes to a stop.

CANDID CAMERA

A DANGEROUS PATTERN?

A thorough review of the applicant’s driving record, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Preemployment Screening Program, can show a pattern of dangerous driving behaviors, or other issues that could indicate a lack of adequate skills. Now, just because an applicant has a few dings on his or her record doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be hired, but those dings need to be explained, and you need to take action to monitor for bad behaviors while they are working for you. 42 • May 2022 | Towman.com

Drivers, note that this means what you do off-duty in your own car or on your bike has a direct impact on your ability to get hired or keep a job! Insurance companies look at risky behavior, even when it doesn’t happen in a truck, and presume you will take risks while operating a truck. Statistically speaking they are correct, as there is a direct relationship between unsafe operation of cars and poor performance as a truck driver. With commercial auto insurance getting harder to obtain each year, and the provider market shrinking, insurance companies are dictating

GPS monitoring and cameras are very popular right now and for good reason. They provide a clear picture of what happened when there is an event, and usually an excellent defense for your driver, (since we all know the majority of truck-involved crashes are the fault of the other vehicle). In addition, the data from telematic devices provides excellent opportunities to coach a driver. On the other hand, using telematics as a management tool with the intent of catching someone doing something wrong, and then punishing them for it, is not recommended. Instead, strongly encourage fleet managers to use the data to coach or guide their drivers to help them succeed. We all make mistakes occasionally, often without even realizing what we are doing or how it may be dangerous. There are dash cameras in all my personal vehicles, including a portable camera for rental cars, in order to review my video files frequently and to monitor and self-coach my performance. Compare this practice


to an athlete reviewing game-day tapes to look for ways to improve. Try it, you may be shocked at some of the things you do daily without even realizing it! When coaching drivers, regardless of how the data is collected, or if there is even any data available, the tips for reducing driving accidents (on p. 44) can make for a safer experience for all motorists. To sum up, driving is not secondary to your job as a towing and recovery operator, or road service technician. No, it is the most important part of the job. True, you need very complex and highly developed technical skills to do the job of a tow operator, but if you can’t get to and from the disabled vehicle safely, are you really good at your job? We are only human, so please consider how you can improve as a driver. We must lead by example on the roadways if we expect to see any improvement in roadside safety.

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TIPS FOR REDUCING DRIVING ACCIDENTS Maintain Situational Awareness: You can’t react to an event if you are not aware it is happening. The only way to know what is happening around you is to constantly scan in front, behind and along side your vehicle. A good driver completes this sweep every five to seven seconds, checking traffic in front of them for hazards, alongside for obstructions to a good escape route and behind for potential trouble. It is paramount to safety that you are always aware of your surroundings. Increase Eye Lead Time and Following Distance: The average driver only looks about four seconds in front of their vehicle and follows even closer, about two seconds. This simply is not enough time to react to a hazard once it is perceived. The average human takes at least ¾ second to perceive (recognize) a hazard and another ¾ second to begin to react to the hazard. At 60 mph (88 feet per second) you have travelled 132 feet before even beginning to slow down, so hope your brakes are in excellent condition! Most experts recommend at least four seconds of following distance for a normal passenger vehicle, and to increase that distance by one second for each ten feet of vehicle length when driving a commercial vehicle (especially with air brakes). Simplify that recommendation by allowing for seven

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seconds of following distance whenever operating a commercial vehicle, loaded or empty, even longer when on wet or slippery roads. We can’t change the laws of physics. As for eye lead time, that is the distance you are looking ahead when you scan traffic in front and to the sides of you. Most experts recommend at least seven seconds, but better to look ahead as far as possible, with a minimum of 15 seconds. This method will give you almost ¼ mile (at 60 mph) to perceive and react to any roadway hazard. Eye lead time is critical to successful situational awareness. Plan Your Escape: Always be planning where you will go should an emergency happen. This is a continual exercise as you drive, thinking about what would happen if you needed to instantly change lanes, drive to the shoulder or whatever else might be available. Often your only escape will be slowing down and stopping, so make sure you have adequate stopping distance. Planning for an escape route also requires avoiding driving in packs; that is, slowing down and letting the group of vehicles get ahead of you. The safest place to be is in open air away from other vehicles. Avoid riding directly alongside other vehicles whenever possible, and always maintain awareness of where the vehicles that you just passed currently are, in order to avoid

striking one if you need to suddenly make a lane change. Be Well Rested and Avoid Distractions: Often we allow ourselves to skip rest and try to push through fatigue, especially in the 24/7 tow business. This practice is very dangerous. Studies show that fatigued or distracted drivers are just as impaired as drivers that have consumed a couple of alcoholic drinks. Get adequate rest before driving, and note that simply being in compliance with DOT hours of service regulations does not mean you are well rested. Each person is different, and the average adult requires at least six hours of sleep daily to be rested. Avoid Distractions: They come in many forms. As towers that often must dodge distracted drivers that enter our workspace, we are well aware there is a huge distracted driver problem. Even so, are you aware it is much more than cell phone use? How often have you driven for several miles and then realized that you don’t remember any of the last few miles? This effect is likely because your mind was wandering on other thoughts, and you really were not paying attention to the task at hand—driving. What about when you are distracted with personal or work problems, maybe still upset about an argument with your spouse or a mean customer? These types of distractions can be just as deadly as cell phone use, so please make sure your mind is clear before driving.





Tow Engineer

By the Numbers

How to Avoid Overloading Your Cab and Chassis

By Terry Abejuela

Field Editor Terry Abejuela has 40-plus years of light-duty towing and recovery experience. He is also a light-duty Level 1 instructor for the California Tow Truck Association.

Here’s the are the important load distribution figures for a flatbed.

P

lease be warned: overloading your cab and chassis is both dangerous and illegal. An overloaded cab and chassis can result in premature wear and tear, catastrophic failure of the chassis, accidents and citations. Catastrophic failure and accidents can also result in injuries and fatalities and liability. Tow truck operators are responsible for operating their equipment safely. Starting with the basics, tow trucks and car carriers are composed of two major sections: the cab and chassis, and the towing or carrier equipment manufacturer’s unit. When purchasing a tow truck, a towing equipment distributor will work with the towing company to make decisions on the cab and chassis, and the towing unit as well, based on how the towing company intends to utilize the tow truck. It’s important to

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be familiar with a few terms, so you know what the distributor is talking about.

RATINGS AND ACRONYMS

Cab and chassis ratings include the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) and tire rating. In towing we also have to look at the Maximum Lift (ML) for the towing unit to maintain sufficient steering and braking. (We’ll go over these in more detail further down below.) First, what you need to do in order to determine the capabilities of the cab and chassis is to have it weighed. This can be done at a commercial scale, typically charging about $20 and taking less than five minutes, if there’s no waiting line. The scale can provide you with a certificate



that shows you the weight of the front axle, the rear axle, and total for the truck, the latter referred to as Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). The truck should be weighed when it is fully equipped, and has a full tank of fuel. You need this information to compare it to the ratings.

STICKER DETAILS

When the cab and chassis is purchased it is as an incomplete vehicle. By law it is required to have a white incomplete vehicle certification sticker attached. It certifies that, per the manufacturer, the vehicle conforms with all applicable federal safety

If the towing equipment manufacturer does not make any modifications to the cab and chassis manufacturer’s ratings, they will install a yellow certification sticker with the same information.

EXAMPLE 2003 GMC C4500 with a Century Formula 1 Wheel Lift and Tow Sling Combination Certification Label GVWR = 16,500 lbs. FAWR = 7,000 lbs. RAWR = 13,000 lbs. GCWR = 26, 000 lbs.

Tow Truck Weight GVW = 12,160 lbs. FAW = 5,630 lbs. RAW = 6,530 lbs. GVW = 12,160 lbs

Payload 4,340 lbs. 1,370 lbs. 6,470 lbs. 13,840 lbs.*

* This only applies if the tow truck operator is able to apply the brakes on the towed vehicle. If the brakes cannot be applied on the towed vehicle the payload would only be 4,340 lbs. Calculating ML (1/2 FAW) (WB) 2,815 X 153

/

(OH) 96

= ML = 4,486 lbs.

GVWR Payload = 4,340 lbs. FAWR Payload = 1,370 lbs. RAWR Payload = 6,470 lbs. (if tires on rear axle meet or exceed axle rating) ML Payload = 4,486 lbs. The limiting factor on most light duty wheel lifts and conventional tow sling tow trucks will either be the ML or RAWR. Once you have calculated the ML, use the ML number to calculate the load that will be on each component if you lift this load and to determine if any other components would be overloaded. GVWR = 12,160 (GVW) + 4,486 (ML) = 16,646 or 146 lbs. overloaded FAWR = Does not apply when towing with a wheel lift or tow sling RAWR = 2,815 (1/2 FAW) + 6,350 (RAW) + 4,486 (ML) = 13,651 lbs. or 651 lbs. overloaded When calculating rear axle load, don’t forget to include the weight that transferred from the front axle to the rear axle of the tow truck. In this example it is 2,815 lbs. Doing this calculation has shown that we cannot lift the ML of 4,486 lbs., as this would cause the GVWR to be exceeded by 146 lbs. and the RAWR by 651 lbs. If you subtract the largest overload amount of 651 lbs. from the ML of 4,486 lbs., you can determine that the maximum lift with this truck is 3,835 lbs. in order to avoid overloading any ratings on the cab and chassis. As long as the lift rating for the towing apparatus is 3,835 lbs. or more, you would be able to lift this amount. This particular truck has a wheel lift rating for a lift of 4,000 lbs. and for tow, 7,500 lbs. This truck would be limited to towing vehicles whose total weight does not exceed 4,340 lbs., and the end of the vehicle being lifted does not exceed the ML of 3,835 lbs. (if the tow truck operator is not able to apply the brakes on the towed vehicle). On the other hand, if the tow truck operator is able to apply the brakes on the towed vehicle, then this truck would be capable of towing vehicles where the end to be lifted does not exceed the ML lift rating of 3,835 lbs., plus wheel-lift tow rating of 7,500 lbs. without exceeding any of the cab and chassis or the towing apparatus ratings.

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By law a manufacturer’s cab and chassis is required to have a white incomplete vehicle certification sticker attached indicating that it conforms with all applicable federal safety requirements.

requirements in effect at the time of manufacture. This sticker will include the GVWR, GAWR for each axle, and the tire size (the PSI and rating are usually located on the door jamb or edge of the door on the drivers side of the cab and chassis). Some might include the GCWR as well, but that’s not always the case. If the towing equipment manufacturer does not make any modifications that change the cab and chassis manufacturer’s ratings, they will install a yellow

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • 51


certification sticker that includes the same information, along with the towing equipment distributors’ name as the final stage manufacturer of the vehicle. Now we need to break down those acronyms mentioned above into more detail: • GVWR refers to the maximum the cab and chassis manufacturer has rated the total vehicle to weigh. • GAWR refers to the maximum the cab and chassis manufacturer has rated a particular axle to weigh. • GCWR refers to the maximum the cab and chassis manufacturer has rated the vehicle and its towed vehicle to weigh. • ML refers to the maximum lift the tow unit mounted on this cab and chassis can lift while maintaining enough weight on the steer axle

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Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • 53


Measuring overhang is a key number to plug into the industry formula for maximum lift of towing equipment.

of the tow truck to sufficiently control the tow truck. The industry standard for sufficiently is 50 percent of the unladen weight of the steer axle. The towing industry has used the following formula to determine the maximum lift for the towing equipment: ½ FAW X WB / OH Defining these terms, this formula refers to one half of the (unladen) front axle weight (FAW) times the wheelbase (WB), divided by the ,(OH).

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THE DANGERS AND POSSIBLY A CITATION

LITE-IT UP WITH

CUSTER PRODUCTS

www.custerproducts.com • 800-490-3158 56 • May 2022 | Towman.com

Now here’s the hazard: lifting a load that exceeds the maximum lift will result in insufficient control of the tow truck. The steer axle of the tow truck will not have enough weight on it for the driver to maintain sufficient steering and braking. In addition, the axles must be matched with tires that are rated to meet or exceed the rating of the axle. If the tires are rated less than the rating of the axle, it would be limited to the rating of the tires. You must make educated estimates of the load on your tow truck to ensure you are not overloading any components of the cab and chassis. If you are overloaded on any one component. it might be detected while traveling through a commercial vehicle weigh station. A red light will illuminate, indicating you must pull to the side. A citation will be issued and you will not be allowed to exit the scale facility with the tow truck unless something can be done to bring all components within their rated capacity.

CRIMINALLY NEGLIGENT CONDITION

Worse than being cited or stuck at a scale facility, overloading can cause you to lose control of the tow truck and cause a collision. In this scenario you could be criminally negligent for operating the tow truck in an unsafe condition. The components of the vehicle were designed to handle the load ratings. The engine, transmission, suspension, braking, and steering component were designed to operate correctly as long as the ratings are not exceeded. As an operator of a tow truck or car carrier, it is your responsibility to know the ratings, and ensure that you are not exceeding any rating on the cab and chassis when you are towing or transporting vehicles. Ultimately, that’s so your rig is legal, and more important, you tow safely.



Supplier Scoop Kenworth Adds Cummins B6.7N Natural Gas Engine

A Cummins B6.7N natural gas engine is now an option on new Kenworth T180, T280, and T380 trucks designated for operation in the United States. The Cummins B6.7N is a 100 percent natural gas engine featuring spark-ignited combustion with cooled EGR and a maintenance-free, three-way catalyst. It features a closed crankcase ventilation system and on-board diagnostics for optimal emissions performance. The near zero-emissions engine is certified to the California Air Resources Board’s optional low-NOx standard (0.02 g/bhp-hr), which is 90 percent lower than the current EPA standard. Rated up to 240 hp and 560 lb./ft. of torque, the Cummins B6.7N can be used with either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel systems. The Kenworth T180 (Class 5), T280 (Class 6), and T380 (Class 7) possess versatility and maneuverability, a spacious 2.1-meter wide cab, visibility, and driver-focused ergonomics. The Cummins B6.7N engine is available when these select medium-duty trucks are also specified with an aero hood and Allison automatic transmission.

58 • May 2022 | Towman.com





Classic Wrecker

Pugsly Brings it Forward— With a Willys Forward Control FC150 By Steve Temple

Photos courtesy of Mike Spina at Rapid Transport, Inc.

F

Steve Temple has years of experience as an automotive photojournalist and editor of numerous magazines, both consumer and trade. He has a passion for diesel engines, and one of his personal rigs is a one-ton Dodge dually with an upgraded Cummins turbodiesel, often used for both towing and hauling.

ans of the Addams Family cartoon characters will likely recall Pugsley, the oldest child of Morticia and Gomez. This pudgy boy was portrayed as oddly deviant, committing deplorable acts with his sister Wednesday (“full of woe”). Yet he later became more jovial and inventive in the Addams Family TV series. That’s a fitting description of the ’58 FC-150 tow truck shown here, nicknamed Pugsly by Mike Spina of Rapid Transport, Inc. This clever design introduced by Willys in 1956, using a then-new body configuration with the cab mounted on top of a four-cylinder, 72hp Hurricane engine. The “FC” letters in the name referred to “Forward Control,” and made excellent use

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of chassis space. It had a full 78-inch pickup bed on a wheelbase of only 81 inches, and a total length of 147.5 inches. Designed by Brooks Stevens, one of the most famous American industrial designers of the 20th century, this setup was inspired by the larger cab-over-engine setups that made the most of cargo area, and allowed for better maneuverability in tight quarters (as seen on some brands of rollback tow trucks today). Just over 30,000 units were built in U.S. between 1957 and 1963, and production continued for several more years in both Spain and India where many other model variations were built. Pugsly was a wrecker since new, fitted


with a two-ton Manley hand-crank boom and its original snatch block, along with a Western snow plow. Purchased by Spreen Saab in Hackensack, New Jersey, this service truck was mostly used for towing customers’ cars locally. After Spreen closed its doors by the early 2000s, the truck wound up at a local repair shop where Spina found it in an early stage of restoration. While handling a tow in Hackensack he spotted the small boom sticking out of a snow drift. “I rolled down my window and yelled to the guy, ‘Hey, you want to sell that old tow truck?’, not knowing what it was,” Spina admitted. His reply was, “Sure, give me $500.” “I promptly pulled over, paid him for the truck, and told him I would return when the snow melted,” Spina related. “I went back a couple of months later to retrieve it.” Over the last few years he has been collecting parts and got it running. Spina is no stranger to older tow trucks, having bought his first truck in 1984, a 1982 Ford Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

F-350 one-car rollback as a sideline for moving cars. As time went on, it became a full-time business. “I currently have a 2002 Ford F-350 4X4 Vulcan wrecker, and a 2004 Ford F-650 with a Chevron 21-foot steel deck,” he said. “I also offer open or enclosed trailer vehicle transport.” Restoring Pugsly, however, is a labor of love for him, bringing forward an innovative rig from times gone by.

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • 63


Beacons

On!

White blindness is created by inappropriate use of loading and work lights.

Blinded by the Light

Cautions on Rear-Facing Illumination By Randall C. Resch

White blindness” is defined as a temporary or even permanent visual impairment, both during and following exposure to light flashes of extremely high intensity. We know that staring into incredibly bright lights or a welder’s flash can cause temporary or permanent blindness. It’s a similar issue when motorists get blinded by a tow truck’s rearward facing lights. Extreme bright light overwhelms the retinas of the eyes, lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes. Although healthy retinas recover quickly, it’s those few seconds (or longer) that cause blinded motorists to plow into stopped tow trucks or carriers. With no indication of advanced warning, the light source comes from a tow truck loading a vehicle from the roadway’s shoulder. Motorists who don’t react fast enough might strike a pedestrian operator working the white line. While the motorist could be blamed for failing to maintain their lane, or an unsafe movement left or right, partial blame could be 64 • May 2022 | Towman.com

assigned to the tow operator because of an improper and dangerous use of rearward facing lights.

BLAST OF LIGHT

An industry forum’s safety discussion mentioned a tow truck’s use of white lights when loading vehicles onto flatbed carriers. This narrative focused on operators and nighttime use of white lights, a subject rarely mentioned in tow publications nor covered in tow operator safety training. While Traffic Incident Management (TIM) covers “Advance Emergency Warning,” rearward facing white lights create dangerous potential of ruining a motorist’s night vision. Which prompts a question: Does the addition of rearward-facing lights create conditions that might cause motorists to inadvertently crash into tow trucks at work? Likely, yes. A motorist doesn’t have to be intoxicated to be attracted by white light—bright lights of all colors may have negative effects on approaching motorists. In tow and recovery environments, white lights aren’t

emergency lights, and never should be used as warning lights. This statement comes at the heels of tow operators who “flip” white lights “on” and “off” while preparing to slow and pull onto a highway’s shoulder. While the mentality behind this practice is understandable, a motorist’s attention can be immediately distracted by white lights, where they might not see a slowing tow truck’s brake lights. In such cases, an approaching driver could likely claim “white blindness” as their defense against the crash. When reviewing operator fatality investigations and associated factors said to have caused the collision, several investigations suggested the manner tow operators displayed rearward lighting could create a debatable defense.

LENGTH OF ILLUMINATION

Fact: Loading lights, especially modern LEDs, are incredibly bright. So towers must understand risks and responsibilities of using them.


Because state laws include special wording allowing their use, these lights must be used safely. For example, California’s Vehicle Code § 25110, Section (a) states that, “The following vehicles may be equipped with utility flood or loading lamps mounted on the rear, and sides, that project a white light illuminating an area to the side or rear of the vehicle for a distance not to exceed 75-feet at the level of the roadway: Tow trucks that are used to tow disabled vehicles may display utility floodlights, but only during the period of preparation for towing at the location from which a disabled vehicle is to be towed” Where the code defines, “… not to exceed 75-feet at the level of the roadway”, this typically isn’t an item of inspection during highway patrol or DOT inspections. Two

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

questions are specific; 1. Have you ever “aimed” the trucks rearward white lights? 2. Towers, have you ever measured the length of illumination? Aim and measurement are items generally not checked during inspection and maintenance. A highway patrol or scale inspector generally doesn’t conduct auxiliary lighting accuracy beyond directing the tower to turn headlights “on” and “off.” When aimed properly on carriers, upper lights should illuminate (downward) atop the carrier’s deck and slightly beyond to illuminate the loading V-bridle. Lower loading lights should illuminate no more than 75 feet rearward, and slightly downward. If loading lights are streaming at eye level, a potential “blinding zone” might be created.

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • 65


THE BLINDING REALITY

Before carriers arrived on the industry’s scene, work lights were mounted on a wrecker’s upper mast to provide lighting to recovery locations. Eventually, work lights were added to carriers and the name “loading lights” was attached to industry vernacular. Being blinded by rearward facing white lights is a dangerous reality and one that demands towers fully understand. Consider the following three scenarios where approaching drivers could claim “white blindness” as a defense against the crash, and how they illustrate potential dangers are possible. Scenario 1: October 2016 in Kentucky an experienced operator responded in a carrier to transport a Ford crew-cab dually from a highway’s shoulder. The operator activated the carrier’s overhead amber lights and rearward facing, upper and lower loading lights. With the deck in full tilt position, lower loading lights couldn’t be seen with the carrier’s deck seated all the way down. As the deck lowered, the dually’s heavy weight immediately shot a wash of bright, white light,

66 • May 2022 | Towman.com

rearward, and an approaching DUI motorist steered to the shoulder location, striking the operator. He was killed instantly. Scenario 2: In 2017, a wellknown California tow company owner was loading a vehicle when he was struck by an approaching motorist. The carrier was positioned partially in the highway’s slow lane and partially into the shoulder. An on-scene news video showed the carrier’s bright, white deck lights awash to the rear. An ensuing investigation behind this incident reported the operator was allegedly standing in an active lane, at night, and not wearing an ANSI vest. The carrier’s deck was tilted with white lights “on” as were the overhead ambers. The motorist told CHP that he didn’t see the operator. Scenario 3: In December of 2019, a Montana Trooper and tow operator narrowly escaped an untimely death. For unknown reasons, an approaching motorist first struck the trooper’s vehicle, and then steered into the vehicle being loaded. The police car’s dash cam clearly showed a piercing wash of white light being emitted by the

carrier’s loading lights. (Note: These scenarios are not intended to affix blame to any operator’s on-scene techniques, but are shared as a basis of training only.)

A BETTER CHOICE

Nighttime use of upper and lower loading lights is risky business. As an alternative to them, consider using a small, rubber-case flashlight held in your teeth, or a headband light, as a no-hands approach. Especially true with on-highway scenarios, if you’re not conducting recovery where scene lighting is necessary, it’s probably better not to use work and loading lights. Proper use of rearward facing white lights is a topic to be included in periodic safety meetings. Tow companies should develop a maintenance routine to ensure white lights are aimed in compliance with state laws as they apply to tow trucks. Not to be confused by bright (blue) headlights, ultra-bright LED lights have become popular to tow company owners looking to have ultimate lighting for nighttime scenarios. Can too much white light be a dangerous thing? As told during a Missouri TV news (crash) interview, Missouri DOT Incident Management Coordinator Bruce Pettus commented, “Even with all those safety measures in place; the work lights on that wrecker were actually washing out the visibility of the red-and-blue lights, and you can barely see the employee from the tow company walking along the white line.” In sum, use rearward facing white lights sparingly, as they can add an element of increased danger to tow and recovery scenarios. Proper use is mandatory to avoid blinding motorists and resulting accidents.



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68 • May 2022 | Towman.com


Supplier Scoop

Copart is Hiring and Training Drivers

STRONG ARM YOUR AUTO-LOADER…

SLEEVE IT!!

The L-Arm Protector Sleeve • The only product designed to protect L-Arms of self-loaders. • No upgradable L-Arms available for sale or even manufactured. • Available in a variety of *colors-custom and hi-vis. • Patented, trademarked and manufactured in USA. • L-Arm Protector Sleeves made of A500 steel.

Anything stronger, and it would be armor plating. jrproducts2021@gmail.com

682-321-6227

*Custom colored sleeves require additional fee and delivery time.

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

Copart, a global leader in online auto auctions, is hiring 225 tow and transport drivers/loaders from across the country, and is willing to provide the needed training for the job. “If someone has a solid work ethic and a desire to succeed, we can teach them everything else,” said Simon Smock, Director of Operations for Copart North America. Copart will pay for successful applicants to earn their commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive vehicle transporters and to obtain certifications to operate front-end loaders as well. These new hires will drive and load brand new equipment to transport vehicles between Copart locations, and to Copart buyers. These new positions pay highly competitive wages and include benefits such as health and life insurance, 401k retirement plans, and an employee stock-purchase program. With Copart’s commission system, weekly bonuses and daily per-diem, a driver can earn $85,000 a year or more. These positions are expected to require travel about 25 percent of the time. “This is a great opportunity for someone starting out, someone fresh out of the military, or just someone who needs a change,” Smock said. “If that sounds like you, we’d love to talk to you.” For more information or to apply for one of these positions, visit Copart.com/Drivers.

Amur’s New Benchmarks

Amur Equipment Finance, Inc. (“Amur”) announced results of its record-breaking first quarter, establishing new benchmarks for both application and origination volume and represented a yearover-year growth rate of 100 percent compared to Q1 2021. At the current annual run rate, Amur expects to surpass its target of $1.5Bn in origination volume for

2022 and to achieve a 100 percent-plus growth rate for the second consecutive year. “Our outstanding first-quarter results would not have been possible without our uncompromising service and dedication to our hundreds of thousands of small-business customers and our deep relationships with all our partners,” remarked Todd Wainwright, Amur Senior Vice President, Head of Commerce, and Strategic Partnerships. “These relationships reflect the commitment and trust we have built with our partners through years of differentiated service, and for that, we are grateful.” Amur’s record growth can also be attributed to its dedication to the well-being of its customers and its employees. “We are passionately committed to helping our customers realize their business aspirations,” said Ken Karpel, Senior Vice President, Sales, and Retention. “Customers come back to us time and time again, year after year, because they know we are devoted to their success. “Additionally, our continuous push for ensuring a culture of personal risk-taking with ample leadership opportunities for our people bodes well for the future,” he added. And yet this growth would not be possible without Amur’s robust and scalable proprietary tech-enabled platform that allows it to keep pace with Amur’s growing originations and positions it to capture even greater volumes in the years to come. Amur is one of the largest commercial equipment finance providers serving small businesses nationwide and a certified Great Place to Work®, dedicated to ensuring that its customers and employees are equipped to grow and succeed. Amur has nine offices across the nation dedicated to championing the financial needs of small businesses, from transportation and technology to manufacturing and medicine.

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • 69


My Baby

Max Volume

Now Here’s a Really Big Baby! By Steve Temple

These go to 11” is a famous line from the comedy movie, This is Spinal Tap, referring to the maximum volume level on an amplifier. This same expression could be applied to Petroff Towing Inc.’s 100-ton Miller rotator. Not only does this rig have the highest load rating of any rig in the world, but Petroff also turned it up to 11 in customizing it. The Petroff crew proved just how much volume the M100 can handle in a couple dramatic recoveries that required lifting motel entrance arches off a truck! Founded more than 45 years ago in Southern Illinois and serving the greater St. Louis area, this firm is recognized as a heavy-duty 70 • May 2022 | Towman.com

The Miller M100 has a maximum boom height over 53 feet, deployed near the St. Louis Gateway Arch.


expert, specializing in cuttingedge equipment and innovative procedures. That’s exactly what it took to extract a couple of trucks that plowed into the arches at two local motels. Both incidents occurred in Fairview Heights, Illinois, near the company’s headquarters in Caseyville. The Fairview Heights Police Department called Petroff to respond to trucks stuck under canopies in two similar incidents that took place within the last several months. Working with structural engineers, Fairview Heights Fire Department, and property owners, the scenes were secured and assessed before Petroff pulled the trucks from the collapsed entrance areas. The M100’s huge boom and Raptor Control System were essential for lifting up the toppled motel arches at both scenes. Petroff brought in additional equipment to remove the debris. At the Hampton Inn, the canopy was steel frame with wood and veneer build-outs, so the steel had to be exposed before it could be torched apart and removed for disposal.

A couple of Petroff rotators lifted up the toppled entrance arch at the Hampton Inn accident scene.

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • 71


Petroff handled a similar recovery of a damaged arch at another local motel.

While the Miller rotator comes well equipped from the factory, once at the shop, Petroff spent a lot of time organizing the toolboxes, labeling, adding conspicuity tape, and additional lighting. This firm is a stickler for having equipment and tools consistently located in all of its trucks, so anyone can find something quickly on a scene. In addition, Petroff’s trucks are known for their blue paint with custom hand-lettering. The painter, Easy Ed, is a legend in the Midwest and has done Petroff’s trucks since the early 1980s (he did race cars for Petroff back in the day, too). He is the one that actually came up with adding the magenta color stripes that have been on all the company’s trucks since the early ‘90s. Each truck gets dressed with a lot of stainless steel trim as well. Petroff has done a variety of jobs with the Miller M100 besides the two motel arches, such as lifting transformers, and moving large solar panels into a solar farm in central Illinois, along with a few specialized recoveries of tractor-trailer accidents and heavy equipment. Being located in the St. Louis area, with such varied industries, landscapes, and major travel routes, this tower gets a lot of unusual calls for service. The job that received the most recent attention was national coverage of an Amazon warehouse that took a direct hit from a tornado on December 10, 2021. Petroff responded due to entrapment of employees there and worked in a rescue capacity—even when a second tornado was overhead. Now that’s really twisting things up to 11.

TECH HIGHLIGHTS Chassis: 2020 Kenworth W900 with a triple-reinforced frame Engine: Cummins X15 with automatic transmission Wrecker Body: Miller M100 rotator Customized by: Petroff Towing Inc. and Easy Ed

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Lowdown

What’s in a Pin

Steve Calitri Editor-in-Chief scalitri@towman.com

American Towman is commemorating “The Great Texas Pileup” with a dinner saluting those towers who cleared it up. Around 150 vehicles had to be untangled, pried away and lifted off other vehicles. Live and dead bodies had to be extricated. The towers at the dinner in Fort Worth, Texas during TowXpo on June 16th, will receive the distinctive and colorful “Masters of Chaos” pin. Sure to be a keeper, the pin is the first of its kind.

Since the birth of the tow truck, towers have been masters of the chaos created by highway incidents. The sense of what they do has been burned into their psyche as if with a branding iron. It’s a proud sensation and a unique one, as no others do their line of work. In the case of pride, recovery specialists are like the “few good men” who are U.S. Marines. No others do their work either. Men have traditionally done the world’s dirty work. It’s not surprising that women have been slow to infiltrate the ranks of wrecker operators. The work is dangerous. It looks macho with its machinery at play. But when I think of a woman’s ability to troubleshoot or deal with problems that arise, I think of American Towman’s publisher, Dennie Ortiz. Her first role with the company 25 years ago was managing show events. Coordinating the Exposition in Baltimore can get a bit hectic behind the scenes, seeing that things run smoothly. Dennie has always been a cool head in times of crisis management. It’s one of the reasons she was recently promoted to president of the company (American Towman Media, Inc.), which only adds more responsibilities to her publishing role. 74 • May 2022 | Towman.com

I’m certain there are young women in this country who would be good masters of chaos on the roadways. I am sure many women would enjoy the physical activity of securing victim vehicles with straps and chains and hooks, and finessing the movement of the booms that lift cars and trucks. I’m certain, of course, because we all know there are some women doing this work today. Hint: our industry should be doing more to recruit women into the ranks of its operations. Anyone who had been married to or worked with a smart woman knows that she can cut to the quick of a problem and get it fixed. There are men and women of this ilk. Society today has forced women to become more independent. The towing industry should capitalize on this dynamic. It would help an industry plagued by driver shortages. Women would also help make working the white line safer. You would see more commonsense solutions employed that break convention. Men think of risk as an element of machismo, something to endure. Women may think of it as something that can and should be avoided. I know of tow bosses who simply consider the risks of the roadside as “part of the job,” period.

There are many women involved in our industry as heads of towing companies or integral to their operations, or heads of towing associations. I call on those women to look clearly at the problem of roadside dangers and come up with the solution. The move-over laws in the 50 states have been a deterrent to disaster to those motorists who know and obey it. I have no doubt the law has saved lives. But enforcement has not kept pace with the intent of that law. Another safeguard must be employed. The responsibility for protecting our tow operators falls squarely on the shoulders of each tow boss. He, or she, must come up with a solution. I have proposed that the industry make it standard operating procedure to send out a second vehicle to each breakdown on a high-speed road. That vehicle would be equipped to signal traffic away from the breakdown. The motorist would be charged for this second vehicle and operator. There are tow bosses doing exactly this now. Just too few of them. Towers are masters of chaos. They also need to be masters of roadside dangers, a chaos of another kind.



News Flash

Sweeping Legislation Proposed in Ontario

Distinguished inductees line the walls at the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

New Hall of Fame Inductees

The International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum announced it will induct 10 new members into its Hall of Fame this Fall. “This year’s inductees embody the museum’s international founding,” said Bill Gratzianna, president of the Chattanooga-based organization that represents the towing and recovery community. “We are honored to have inductees from four continents, and look forward to welcoming their families and friends.” The 2022 honorees are: • Bruce Davis of Davis Towing & Recovery Inc., Rushville, IN • Henry Fenimore, B&F Towing Inc., Bear, DE • Marci Gratzianna, O’Hare Towing Service, Downers Grove, IL • Luc Le Baron, Le Baron et Fils, Brunoy, France • Sadaaki Nakamura, Jyonan Holding Corp., Koufu-shi, Yamanashi, Japan • Antonio Re, Nationwide Towing & Transport Pty. Ltd., Glen Iris, Victoria, Australia • Charles Schmidt, C. Schmidt & Sons Inc., Roslyn, NY

North 76 • May 2022 | Towman.com

• Robert Van Lingen, Van Lingen Towing Inc., Torrance, CA • Harumatsu Wada, Miller Japan Co. Ltd., Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan • Sherry White, Walt’s Mission Pass Towing, Fremont, CA The Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame was launched in 1986 to recognize individuals who have made substantial contributions to the towing and recovery industry. “The industry realized it was time to display the roots of the profession,” noted the museum. Over 300 towing professionals have entered the Hall of Fame to date. Hall of Fame candidates must have 20 years of experience running a towing business in an outstanding and exemplary manner, plus demonstrate leadership in a project with a dynamic and lasting effect on the towing industry. And/or create a product or service with a significant and lasting effect on towing professionals. The inductees will be officially recognized at a formal ceremony on October 8, 2022, at the Westin Hotel Chattanooga during the organization’s annual Museum Weekend scheduled for October 7 to 9. Source: einpresswire.com

In the aftermath of the crippling blockade in Ontario province last month, the Ontario government is proposing sweeping legislation to thwart such efforts, particularly at border crossings. The “Keeping Ontario Open for Business Act 2022” would, if passed, better enable the province to respond immediately to future disruptions to international border crossings, such as bridges and airports when those disruptions interfere with public safety, the economy and international trade. The proposed legislation would provide police officers with additional enforcement tools to impose roadside suspension of drivers’ licenses and vehicle permits, seize license plates when a vehicle is used in an illegal blockade, and remove and store objects making up an illegal blockade. The province has set aside $96 Million to support these measures, some of which would go towards establishing a provincial fleet of heavy tow trucks to move blockading trucks. During the Ottawa blockade police had trouble finding private tow-truck operators willing to remove vehicles. Source: bayobserver.ca

Tow Company Spreading the Word on Slow Down Move Over Law

In the wake of the death of tower Ross Booker in Champaign, Illinois, the tow company that he worked for, Tatman’s Towing, is making efforts to increase awareness of Scott’s Law, which mandates that drivers slow down and change lanes. “Since this tragedy, the amount of people who have shared that they didn’t know about this law is staggering,” said owner Jim Hampton. “It’s a matter of saving lives.” One way Hampton has addressed this lack of public knowledge is through an advertising cam-


paign, which features signs around town. Henson launched a digital billboard public-service announcement in tribute to Mr. Booker, and hopes to take the campaign “a step further” to get the attention of local lawmakers. “We need to do more, get in touch with lawmakers, and make sure we do something different,” stated the 30year veteran of the towing business who has owned Tatman’s for 16 years. “When tragedies like this happen, people jump on the bandwagon, but once it fades and people go on about their lives, people start forgetting. We need to keep this campaign going.” Source: wcia.com

On the Cover of the Rolling Stone?

Charles Lee Roy Fouts’ journey to Miller Industries’ tow-vehicle factory as a finish painter was a long one, and he has one big wish before retiring. Born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, on February 17, 1954, Fouts

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • North 77


News Flash

was not always a painter by trade. He previously was a butcher, and then someone from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) told him about an apprentice program at Racoon Mountain. Upon graduating, Lee Roy Once went to Belfont for three years to paint reactors for the TVA. After he left Belfont, he was a rolling stone of sorts, working on a number of painting jobs throughout the South. When he was painting apartments in Ringgold, Georgia, a friend told him Miller Industries was hiring painters. Initially Lee Roy was working through a staffing agency for 12 weeks, and then was brought on full time after about five months on April 25, 2011. Lee Roy has been with Miller Industries now for about 12 years, and has no intention of going anywhere anytime soon, as he’s now settled down and married to Virginia Gail Fouts, His one wish? To get his picture

North 78 • May 2022 | Towman.com

in American Towman Magazine. “It’s like being on the cover of Rolling Stone!” he laughs in admiration. He feels American Towman is to the industry what Rolling Stone is to music. He admires the magazine and thinks they always have cool people to read about.

Elevated to High Command

Dennie Ortiz, publisher of American Towman Magazine, has been promoted to President of American Towman Media, Inc., the towing industry’s premier media company. While Ortiz will continue in her publishing role with the magazine and TowIndustryWeek.com, managing advertising sales, marketing and editorial direction, she now has oversight of all business operations: accounting, human resources and strategic planning. In her 25 years of experience at American Towman, Ortiz has

Dennie Ortiz has been named new President of American Towman Media, Inc.

worked varied roles: event management, advertising sales, advertising sales management, and publisher. “Dennie has done a great job leading American Towman,” said Steve Calitri, the magazine’s owner and editor-in-chief. “She has my full confidence. I know she will guide American Towman to continued success.” Calitri will continue to focus on creative endeavors with the company. Doc Calitri continues leading the industry’s premier trade shows as president of A.T. Expo Corp.



North 80 • May 2022 | Towman.com


Episode 13

Copyright©2021 American Towman Magazine. Characters and stories are fictitious; no resemblance to real life characters is intended.


Send your thoughts/suggestions on the Adventures to scalitri@towman.com or American Towman, 2 Overlook Dr #5, Warwick NY 10990



News Flash

Distinguished inductees line the walls at the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

New Hall of Fame Inductees

The International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum announced it will induct 10 new members into its Hall of Fame this Fall. “This year’s inductees embody the museum’s international founding,” said Bill Gratzianna, president of the Chattanooga-based organization that represents the towing and recovery community. “We are honored to have inductees from four continents, and look forward to welcoming their families and friends.” The 2022 honorees are: • Bruce Davis of Davis Towing & Recovery Inc., Rushville, IN • Henry Fenimore, B&F Towing Inc., Bear, DE • Marci Gratzianna, O’Hare Towing Service, Downers Grove, IL • Luc Le Baron, Le Baron et Fils, Brunoy, France • Sadaaki Nakamura, Jyonan Holding Corp., Koufu-shi, Yamanashi, Japan • Antonio Re, Nationwide Towing & Transport Pty. Ltd., Glen Iris, Victoria, Australia • Charles Schmidt, C. Schmidt & Sons Inc., Roslyn, NY

South 76 • May 2022 | Towman.com

• Robert Van Lingen, Van Lingen Towing Inc., Torrance, CA • Harumatsu Wada, Miller Japan Co. Ltd., Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan • Sherry White, Walt’s Mission Pass Towing, Fremont, CA The Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame was launched in 1986 to recognize individuals who have made substantial contributions to the towing and recovery industry. “The industry realized it was time to display the roots of the profession,” noted the museum. Over 300 towing pro-

fessionals have entered the Hall of Fame to date. Hall of Fame candidates must have 20 years of experience running a towing business in an outstanding and exemplary manner, plus demonstrate leadership in a project with a dynamic and lasting effect on the towing industry. And/or create a product or service with a significant and lasting effect on towing professionals. The inductees will be officially recognized at a formal ceremony on October 8, 2022, at the Westin Hotel Chattanooga during the organization’s annual Museum Weekend scheduled for October 7 to 9. Source: einpresswire.com

Sweeping Legislation Proposed in Ontario

In the aftermath of the crippling blockade in Ontario province last month, the Ontario government is proposing sweeping legislation to thwart such efforts, particularly at border crossings. The “Keeping Ontario Open for Business Act 2022” would, if passed, better enable the province to respond immediately to future disruptions to international border crossings, such as bridges and airports when those disruptions interfere with public safety, the economy and international trade.

Proposed Legislation in Ontario will impose more regulations on protesters that disrupt traffic flow through border crossing and airports.


The proposed legislation would provide police officers with additional enforcement tools to impose roadside suspension of drivers’ licenses and vehicle permits, seize license plates when a vehicle is used in an illegal blockade, and remove and store objects making up an illegal blockade. The province has set aside $96 Million to support these measures, some of which would go towards establishing a provincial fleet of heavy tow trucks to move blockading trucks. During the Ottawa blockade police had trouble finding private tow-truck operators willing to remove vehicles. Source: bayobserver.ca

Tow Company Spreading the Word on Slow Down Move Over Law

In the wake of the death of tower Ross Booker in Champaign, Illinois, the tow company that he worked for, Tatman’s Towing, is making efforts

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

Since the processional for tower Ross Booker, Tatman’s Towing has campaigned for greater public awareness of the Move-Over Law.

to increase awareness of Scott’s Law, which mandates that drivers slow down and change lanes. “Since this tragedy, the amount of people who have shared that they didn’t know about this law is staggering,” said owner Jim Hampton. “It’s a matter of saving lives.” One way Hampton has addressed this lack of public knowledge is through an advertising campaign, which features signs around town. Henson launched a digital billboard public-service announcement in tribute to Mr. Booker, and

hopes to take the campaign “a step further” to get the attention of local lawmakers. “We need to do more, get in touch with lawmakers, and make sure we do something different,” stated the 30-year veteran of the towing business who has owned Tatman’s for 16 years. “When tragedies like this happen, people jump on the bandwagon, but once it fades and people go on about their lives, people start forgetting. We need to keep this campaign going.” Source: wcia.com

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • South 77


News Flash

Dennie Ortiz has been named new President of American Towman Media, Inc.

Elevated to High Command

Dennie Ortiz, publisher of American Towman Magazine, has been promoted to President of American Towman Media, Inc., the towing industry’s premier media company. While Ortiz will continue in her publishing role with the magazine and TowIndustryWeek.com, managing advertising sales, marketing and editorial direction, she now has oversight of all business operations: accounting, human resources and strategic planning. In her 25 years of experience at American Towman, Ortiz has worked varied roles: event management, advertising sales, advertising sales management, and publisher. “Dennie has done a great job leading American Towman,” said Steve Calitri, the magazine’s owner and editor-in-chief. “She has my full confidence. I know she will guide American Towman to continued success.” Calitri will continue to focus on creative endeavors with the company. Doc Calitri continues leading the industry’s premier trade shows as president of A.T. Expo Corp.

South 78 • May 2022 | Towman.com

On the Cover of the Rolling Stone?

Charles Lee Roy Fouts’ journey to Miller Industries’ tow-vehicle factory as a finish painter was a long one, and he has one big wish before retiring. Born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, on February 17, 1954, Fouts was not always a painter by trade. He previously was a butcher, and then someone from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) told him about an apprentice program at Racoon Mountain. Upon graduating, Lee Roy Once went to Belfont for three years to paint reactors for the TVA. After he left Belfont, he was a rolling stone of sorts, working on a number of painting jobs throughout the South. When he was painting apartments in Ringgold, Georgia, a friend told him Miller Industries was hiring painters. Initially Lee Roy was working through a staffing agency for 12

weeks, and then was brought on full time after about five months on April 25, 2011. Lee Roy has been with Miller Industries now for about 12 years, and has no intention of going anywhere anytime soon, as he’s now settled down and married to Virginia Gail Fouts. His one wish? To get his picture in American Towman Magazine. “It’s like being on the cover of Rolling Stone!” he laughs in admiration. He feels American Towman is to the industry what Rolling Stone is to music. He admires the magazine and thinks they always have cool people to read about.

Find us on Facebook Read more towing news at towman.com



South 80 • May 2022 | Towman.com


Episode 13

Copyright©2021 American Towman Magazine. Characters and stories are fictitious; no resemblance to real life characters is intended.


Send your thoughts/suggestions on the Adventures to scalitri@towman.com or American Towman, 2 Overlook Dr #5, Warwick NY 10990



News Flash Dennie Ortiz has been named new President of American Towman Media, Inc.

Elevated to High Command

Dennie Ortiz, publisher of American Towman Magazine, has been promoted to President of American Towman Media, Inc., the towing industry’s premier media company. While Ortiz will continue in her publishing role with the magazine and TowIndustryWeek.com, managing advertising sales, marketing and editorial direction, she now has oversight of all business operations: accounting, human resources and strategic planning. In her 25 years of experience at American Towman, Ortiz has worked varied roles: event management, advertising sales, advertising sales management, and publisher. “Dennie has done a great job leading American Towman,” said Steve Calitri, the magazine’s owner and editor-in-chief. “She has my full confidence. I know she will guide American Towman to continued success.” Calitri will continue to focus on creative endeavors with the company. Doc Calitri continues leading the industry’s premier trade shows as president of A.T. Expo Corp.

New Hall of Fame Inductees

The International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum announced it will induct 10 new members into its Hall of Fame this Fall. “This year’s inductees embody the museum’s international founding,” said Bill Gratzianna, president of the Chattanooga-based organization that represents the towing and recovery community. “We are honored to have inductees from four continents, and look forward to welcoming their families and friends.”

Midwest 76 • May 2022 | Towman.com



News Flash The 2022 honorees are: • Bruce Davis of Davis Towing & Recovery Inc., Rushville, IN • Henry Fenimore, B&F Towing Inc., Bear, DE • Marci Gratzianna, O’Hare Towing Service, Downers Grove, IL • Luc Le Baron, Le Baron et Fils, Brunoy, France • Sadaaki Nakamura, Jyonan Holding Corp., Koufu-shi, Yamanashi, Japan • Antonio Re, Nationwide Towing & Transport Pty. Ltd., Glen Iris, Victoria, Australia • Charles Schmidt, C. Schmidt & Sons Inc., Roslyn, NY • Robert Van Lingen, Van Lingen Towing Inc., Torrance, CA • Harumatsu Wada, Miller Japan Co. Ltd., Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan • Sherry White, Walt’s Mission Pass Towing, Fremont, CA

Midwest 78 • May 2022 | Towman.com

Distinguished inductees line the walls at the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame was launched in 1986 to recognize individuals who have made substantial contributions to the towing and recovery industry. “The industry realized it was time to display the roots of the profession,” noted the museum. Over 300 towing professionals have entered the Hall of Fame to date. Hall of Fame candidates must have 20 years of experience running a towing business in an outstanding and exemplary manner, plus demonstrate leadership in a project with a dynamic and lasting effect on the towing industry. And/ or create a product or service with

a significant and lasting effect on towing professionals. The inductees will be officially recognized at a formal ceremony on October 8, 2022, at the Westin Hotel Chattanooga during the organization’s annual Museum Weekend scheduled for October 7 to 9. Source: einpresswire.com

Tow Company Spreading the Word on Slow Down Move Over Law

In the wake of the death of tower Ross Booker in Champaign, Illinois, the tow company that he worked for, Tatman’s Towing, is making efforts to increase aware-


ness of Scott’s Law, which mandates that drivers slow down and change lanes. “Since this tragedy, the amount of people who have shared that they didn’t know about this law is staggering,” said owner Jim Hampton. “It’s a matter of saving lives.” One way Hampton has addressed this lack of public knowledge is through an advertising campaign, which features signs around town. Henson launched a digital billboard public-service announcement in tribute to Mr. Booker, and hopes to take the campaign “a step further” to get the attention of local lawmakers. “We need to do more, get in touch with lawmakers, and make sure we do something different,” stated the 30-year veteran of the towing business who has owned Tatman’s for 16 years. “When tragedies like this happen, people jump on the bandwagon, but once it fades and people go on about their lives, people start forgetting. We need to keep this campaign going.” Source: wcia.com

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | Mayl 2022 • Midwest 79



Episode 13

Copyright©2021 American Towman Magazine. Characters and stories are fictitious; no resemblance to real life characters is intended.


Send your thoughts/suggestions on the Adventures to scalitri@towman.com or American Towman, 2 Overlook Dr #5, Warwick NY 10990


Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • West 75



News Flash

Dennie Ortiz has been named new President of American Towman Media, Inc.

Elevated to High Command

Dennie Ortiz, publisher of American Towman Magazine, has been promoted to President of American Towman Media, Inc., the towing industry’s premier media company. While Ortiz will continue in her publishing role with the magazine and TowIndustryWeek.com, managing advertising sales, marketing and editorial direction, she now has oversight of all business operations: accounting, human resources and strategic planning. In her 25 years of experience at American Towman, Ortiz has worked varied roles: event management, advertising sales, advertising sales management, and publisher. “Dennie has done a great job leading American Towman,” said Steve Calitri, the magazine’s owner and editor-in-chief. “She has my full confidence. I know she will guide American Towman to continued success.” Calitri will continue to focus on creative endeavors with the company. Doc Calitri continues leading the industry’s premier trade shows as president of A.T. Expo Corp.

New Hall of Fame Inductees

The International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum announced it will induct 10 new members into its Hall of Fame this Fall. “This year’s inductees embody the museum’s international founding,” said Bill Gratzianna, president of the Chattanooga-based organization that represents the towing and recovery community. “We are honored to have inductees from four continents, and look forward to welcoming their families and friends.”

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • West 77


News Flash The 2022 honorees are: • Bruce Davis of Davis Towing & Recovery Inc., Rushville, IN • Henry Fenimore, B&F Towing Inc., Bear, DE • Marci Gratzianna, O’Hare Towing Service, Downers Grove, IL • Luc Le Baron, Le Baron et Fils, Brunoy, France • Sadaaki Nakamura, Jyonan Holding Corp., Koufu-shi, Yamanashi, Japan • Antonio Re, Nationwide Towing & Transport Pty. Ltd., Glen Iris, Victoria, Australia • Charles Schmidt, C. Schmidt & Sons Inc., Roslyn, NY • Robert Van Lingen, Van Lingen Towing Inc., Torrance, CA • Harumatsu Wada, Miller Japan Co. Ltd., Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan • Sherry White, Walt’s Mission Pass Towing, Fremont, CA The Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame was launched in 1986 to recognize indi-

West 78 • May 2022 | Towman.com


viduals who have made substantial contributions to the towing and recovery industry. “The industry realized it was time to display the roots of the profession,” noted the museum. Over 300 towing professionals have entered the Hall of Fame to date. Hall of Fame candidates must have 20 years of experience running a towing business in an outstanding and exemplary manner, plus demonstrate leadership in a project with a dynamic and lasting effect on the towing industry. And/or create a product or service with a significant and lasting effect on towing professionals. The inductees will be officially recognized at a formal ceremony on October 8, 2022, at the Westin Hotel Chattanooga during the organization’s annual Museum Weekend scheduled for October 7 to 9. Source: einpresswire.com

Sweeping Legislation Proposed in Ontario

In the aftermath of the crippling blockade in Ontario province last month, the Ontario government is proposing

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | May 2022 • West 79


News Flash

sweeping legislation to thwart such efforts, particularly at border crossings. The “Keeping Ontario Open for Business Act 2022” would, if passed, better enable the province to respond immediately to future disruptions to international border crossings, such as bridges and airports when those disruptions interfere with public safety, the economy and international trade. The proposed legislation would provide police officers with additional enforcement tools to impose roadside suspension of drivers’ licenses and vehicle permits, seize license plates when a vehicle is used in an illegal blockade, and remove and store objects making up an illegal blockade. The province has set aside $96 Million to support these measures, some of which would go towards establishing a provincial fleet of heavy tow trucks to move blockading trucks. During the Ottawa blockade police had trouble finding private tow-truck operators willing to remove vehicles. Source: bayobserver.ca

West 80 • May 2022 | Towman.com


Episode 13

Copyright©2021 American Towman Magazine. Characters and stories are fictitious; no resemblance to real life characters is intended.


Send your thoughts/suggestions on the Adventures to scalitri@towman.com or American Towman, 2 Overlook Dr #5, Warwick NY 10990