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JULY 2021 AmericanTowman.com

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Contents

Volume 45 Issue 7

July 2021

Cover Feature

26

Ditched Lumber Truck

Positioning the wrecker for this recovery shows why the walk-around is critical to each job.

by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti 1981 Kenworth W900A with a 1962 Holmes 750 recovers a lumber truck from a ditch.

Features

22

Departments 6

The Walkaround

8

News Share

10

Tow Manager

18

Tow Boss

34

Ad Index

58

Workhorse

62

Safety

66

Training

78

Towman’s Market

80

My Baby

82

Lowdown

N, S 89 M, W 97

Adventures of A.T.

Building A Solid Platform

For side-pulls, pivot winching and rollover recoveries. by Randall C. Resch

52

Spotlighting the Worlds of Towers

A look into the diversity of Hustle & Tow, the new tv towing series. by George L. Nitti

4 • July 2021 | Towman.com

First on the scene since 1977


The Walkaround Some Great Articles I’m very excited that life is returning to pre-pandemic normalcy and that our American Towman trade shows are set and ready to roll this year. Many of us are eager to get back out into the world and enjoy some camaraderie with our fellow towing community. Dennie Ortiz Several towers and suppliers I’ve spoken with Publisher lately have shared their excitement to be traveling to our first show in 18 months – the TowXpo in San Antonio. I look forward to seeing many industry associates that I haven’t seen for what feels like a life-time. Be sure to come visit us and check out the latest in towing equipment and all various services that will be available on the exhibit floor. Take a look at the info we have on our line-up of shows … you don’t want to miss the Come Back Tour! Have you been contemplating a heavy-duty truck purchase? If so, be sure to read Brian Riker’s article on what to plan for if considering entering the heavy-duty tow business segment. While Brian tries to examine the possible pitfalls of this segment he contends that while it can be a great challenge it can also bring great rewards. Also if you are looking to add a traveling axle trailer to your fleet, read the comprehensive article, by Troy Geisler, on tips for selecting this piece of equipment. Insurance, a critical topic that impacts every towing business in the country. Rob Austin’s article brings you his insider’s insights on insurance coverage. Rob discusses what exactly insurer’s look for in determining your insurability and the cost of your premiums. Digging deep into details, Rob shares that insurers even take into account if the prospective customer has subscriptions to industry publications! Operations Editor, Randy Resch, lends his knowledge on best practices for carrier side-pulls, pivot winching and rollover recoveries. He stresses the importance of “setting the deck” for stability and strength during these scenarios. An issue wouldn’t be complete without featuring a recovery. Take a look at the challenging recovery performed by Orcas Towing of a loaded lumber truck that slid off a 9-degree grade narrow road in Washington state. Taking a breather from the stresses of the world, tv viewers have been tuning into A&E’s popular realty show Hustle & Tow. George Nitti takes a look at the series that follows eight different towing companies. In speaking with the president of the production company, George learns what the thoughts and concepts were going into the production of the show. Later in the issue Shane Coleman makes the case that quick clearance training is not just for big recoveries. With many years of experience, Shane shares his thoughts on why towers should be trained on traffic incident management for minor accidents as these smaller incidents occur exponentially more than the major ones. Following our training theme of this edition, John Borowski discusses his viewpoint that training not only improves an operator’s skills but builds their confidence and the confidence in your company by the customer. Rounding out this issue, our My Baby department showcases one sharp-looking Mack owned by Hauser’s Truck Service in Pennsylvania. It’s a got a mean and lean profile. Hope to see many of you soon. Stay safe out there!

6 • July 2021 | Towman.com

Dennie Ortiz Steve Calitri Randall Resch Terry Abejuela Jim “Buck” Sorrenti David Kolman Bill Simmons Mark Lacek Brian Riker

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

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

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

American Towman Staff Page Layout Artist 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: Publisher Editor-In-Chief AT’S Digital Edition AT’S Website AT’S Weekly ATTV

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

Copyright ©2021 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 Vigil held for tower Carlos Betancourt in Jacksonville.

Pa. Tow Company to Pay Restitution

Tag Towing & Collision, located in Pittsburgh, Pa., will pay $10,000 in restitution to settle allegations by the state’s attorney general that it overcharged consumers and broke state and local vehicle codes. According to the Attorney General’s complaint, Tag Towing towed vehicles from private property without giving consumers proper public notice of the parking restrictions, towed vehicles without getting written consent from the property owner or agent as required under Pittsburgh’s vehicle code, charged consumers more than a “reasonable expense” for towing services, and charged more than the $135 maximum “drop fee” to have their vehicle disconnected from the tow truck within the City of Pittsburgh. Under Pittsburgh’s vehicle code, if the owner or operator of a vehicle arrives in the parking area before the vehicle has been towed, the vehicle must be disconnected upon payment of a drop fee. In addition, Tag Towing demanded payment in cash when the code requires acceptance of credit cards, the complaint said. Source: towindustryweek.com and post-gazette.com

Towers Gather in Pacific Northwest

Towers from all over the Pacific Northwest were in Kelso, Washington to honor Affordable Towing’s Arthur “Art” Anderson, who was killed last month when a driver crashed into a disabled car parked on the side of I-5. Anderson’s daughter Sparkle Chism said, “These people came from all over to honor my dad. You can’t ask for anything better than that. The procession went from Kelso to Castle Rock to remind people to move over for all disabled vehicles on the side of the road. Source: towindustryweek.com and katu.com

8 • July 2021 | Towman.com

Vigil for Downed Tower

in Jacksonville, Florida

A vigil was held to remember 30-yearold tower Carlos Betancourt, who was killed while stopping to help a motorist in Jacksonville, Fla on interstate 295 around 2:40 a.m. Troopers said Betancourt and the driver he stopped to help were standing near the tow truck parked on the left shoulder, partially blocking the left travel lane, when they were struck by a sport-utility vehicle. The impact sent the SUV careening

into a concrete barrier. Betancourt died at the scene, according to FHP, and the 19-year-old driver he stopped to help was taken to an area hospital where he too was pronounced dead. During the vigil, dozens of tow trucks were lined up together with their lights on. A flag reminding drivers to move over was draped over a truck. Source: towindustryweek.com and nnews4jax.com

NJDOT Starts Move-Over Awareness Campaign New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) along with a coalition of transportation agencies that comprise the NJ Traffic Incident Management (NJTIM) task force, launched a bumper sticker and poster campaign to raise public awareness of the Slow Down, Move Over Law. “The Slow Down, Move Over campaign is not just a catch phrase. For the emergency responders and others who serve the motoring public, the highway is their office,” NJDOT Commissioner Diane GutierrezScaccetti said. The eye-catching, florescent, pink stickers, which match the emergency incident sign color used at roadway incident scenes across the United States, will be placed on the bumpers of NJDOT and participating emergency response vehicles across the state. In addition to seeing these bumper

Slow Down Move Over bumper sticker campaign.

stickers on state vehicles, Quick Chek, is partnering with the NJTIM coalition, and will be displaying the Slow Down, Move Over posters in the windows of 72 of their New Jersey stores and at 67 gas stations. Source: towindustryweek. com, respondersafety.com and southjerseyobserver.com


News Share

Vancouver Towers Remind Drivers to

“Slow Down/Move Over” Vancouver’s tow truck drivers have been particularly hit hard over the last six months from tow truck casualties, including a death in April involving tower Arthur Anderson who lost his life working roadside and tower David Rios, who lost a leg. Tower Chris Amedio had a near miss when a passing car struck the side of his truck and he jumped at the last moment. Former tow truck driver David Rios, who worked at Chappelle’s Towing, lost his leg in January after a car hit him while he was working on the Interstate 5 helping a family in their 2016 Escalade change a flat tire just before a passing vehicle plowed into him and pinned him between two cars. Now he is learning to walk on a new prosthetic leg and handling post-traumatic stress, such as loud noises. He wants drivers to slow down and pay attention when they pass a tow truck. “You get some people that are just in a hurry, texting and driving, not paying attention. Putting make-up on,” said driver Dan Carroll, who also works for Chappelle’s Towing in Vancouver. On a recent ride-along , Carroll observed how less than half the drivers moved over during 20 minutes at the

David Rios

side of the road. Carroll thinks that’s because drivers just don’t regard him as an emergency worker. According to Kelly Just, with AAA Washington, “Towing fatalities are at the top of the list followed by firefighters, police officers and EMTs.” She’s working with the Washington State Patrol and the Washington Department of Transportation on a new educational campaign called “Slow Down, Move Over.” Source: towindustryweek.com and opb.org

Tow truck driver shot and killed in Oregon In Hillsboro, Ore., on 6/16, 51-yearold tower Patrick Ralph Sanford was shot and killed during a dispute in an apartment complex parking lot. Authorities said two tow trucks were moving vehicles from the parking lot to the street a short distance away as crews were preparing to restripe and reseal the parking lot of the complex. A disagreement ensued between a tenant and one of the tow truck drivers, which led to yelling followed by gunfire. “There were disagreements with the tow truck, words were exchanged, there was arguing and yelling and then the shooter did shoot the tow truck driver,” Hillsboro Police Sgt. Clint Chrz said. Officers arrested 42-year-old

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

Patrick Ralph Sanford

Matthew Alexander McAdoo. He was booked into the Washington County Jail for 2nd-degree murder. Source: towindustryweek.com www.koin.com and gunmemorial.org

Texan Downed by Airborne Car

Tower David Isaac Simmons, who was pulling a disabled vehicle out of the center median of the highway using his 2020 Freightliner with a sliding bed, died a couple of days after he was struck by a car that careened off Interstate 45, south of Fairfield, Tx. Simmons was at the control box of his tow truck when a 22-year-old woman driving a 2020 Toyota Corolla made an unsafe lane change. The Toyota collided with a 2014 Volvo sedan driven by a 33-year-old Dallas woman, and then crossed back into the inside lane, shot up the tow truck’s sliding bed, went airborne and slammed into Simmons. Source: towindustryweek.com and kwtx.com

Towers Protest Proposed Fees

More than a dozen tow trucks from different companies paraded through the streets of Sydney, Nova Scotia in protest and in unity on June 15th to express concern over a proposed bylaw they say would make them pay more to operate in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. “We feel it’s a tax grab, because we already pay these fees to the Nova Scotia Government,” says Stephen Jamael, the owner of Jamael’s Towing in Sydney. Operators say the bylaw includes an annual fee, driver accreditation and a flat rate that could cost the consumer more. “Doing quick math, if you have 10 tow trucks, the new cost per truck is the better part of a thousand dollars, so if you have 10 trucks that’s 10 thousand dollars before you even turn your wheel,” says Frank Campbell, a tow truck operator. Tow truck operators feel they should’ve been consulted about the changes, and say it’s unfair to compare their municipality to the way bigger cities operate and regulate towing companies. Source: towindustryweek.com and saltwire.com

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 9


Tow Manager

A tower’s “toys” need more serious consideration when upgrading to heavy-duty. Photo by EROL. creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Heavy Duty, Are You Ready to Make the Leap? 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

H

eavy-Duty Towing can bring lucrative work that rewards both the company and the operator. Owning a heavy-duty wrecker may be the ticket to land commercial accounts unreachable with only light-duty trucks and experience. With a heavy-duty truck, opportunities with highway authorities and municipalities will rise. New revenue will beckon by diversifying into equipment transport. The new customers one picks up with a heavy-duty will usually create more opportunity for one’s light and medium-duty wreckers. Once a company has proven its muster with a customer, that customer is inclined to trust that tower with more work.

10 • July 2021 | Towman.com

Many towers aspire to be in the heavyduty segment for a multitude of reasons. If you believe your company is ready for this leap up, let’s assess your desire for that big unit and then your understanding of what operating a heavy duty wrecker entails. Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should. For as much emotion as there is in the towing industry, we must remember that it is a business, not a lifestyle, and decisions must be made based on economic reality first, emotion or personal desires second. Unfortunately, I have witnessed many good towers fail because they had to have that new heavy duty wrecker or rotator without any consideration as to how


they were going to pay for it or if they actually needed it. I vividly remember my desire to expand my light duty towing and auto transport operations into heavy duty. It consumed my mind day and night, thoughts of how it would mean I finally “made it”. As it turned out my first foray into heavy duty towing was nothing like I imagined, and nearly bankrupted me, before I finally figured out how different the operation of a heavy duty towing company is from a light duty in many aspects.

recovery services. Often collecting on heavy duty bills means tussling with insurance companies. While the rewards can be higher, the work lucrative, so are the financial risks associated with a job not being paid for in a timely manner. While it is obvious that the equipment is similar, only much larger and more expensive, many don’t realize just how much more skill and effort it takes to safely operate heavy duty wreckers compared with their light duty counterparts. There is much more to it than simply making sure

The average heavy duty operator needs to be an expert truck driver, part master mechanic and an extremely creative problem solver capable of seeing the whole picture. Let’s discuss some of those differences. From a business operations point of view heavy duty towing has a different client base than light duty. Yes, there are some overlaps, but for the most part heavy duty jobs are business to business transactions where light duty jobs are consumer focused. This has many advantages given trucking fleets know exactly what to expect when hiring a tow service, what the job should cost, and they are happy simply because someone is willing to quickly service their truck. Business to business has its own challenges; it can present unique cash flow problems with many fleet customers wanting to pay on their terms, even refusing to pay for police ordered towing and 12 • July 2021 | Towman.com

your drivers have a commercial driver license (CDL). The average heavy duty operator needs to be an expert truck driver, part master mechanic and an extremely creative problem solver capable of seeing the whole picture. Given the cost of heavy duty wreckers it is often not possible to allow each driver to have their own take-home truck which results in more sharing or “slip seating” of trucks. This is often necessary for the financial success of the tow business but can lead to problems with the drivers. Towers, especially heavy-duty operators, like to take ownership of their equipment, not wanting to share trucks with other drivers. While it is great that a driver wants to treat a truck as if they owned it, usually

resulting in better maintenance and upkeep, the bottom line is that truck needs to be available around the clock and a driver simply cannot safely run 24/7 by themselves. To be successful you will need more than one heavy duty operator in your fleet. While we are on the topic of staffing, you must ask yourself what type of heavy duty operation do you want to develop? Heavy duty towing has many subsegments, each with their own unique challenges. Basic heavy duty towing for breakdowns, tractor swaps and such only requires a handful of drivers and doesn’t typically impact other areas of your company. Venturing into police towing and truck wrecks/recovery often requires the availability of multiple extra laborers on very short notice. Most heavy duty companies will pull from their light duty division or the shop when the big truck wreck comes in. While this can provide a welcome distraction for those other employees it may cause such a disruption in your business that you could lose money rather than make a profit simply by doing the truck wreck call. The tow boss who is thinking of buying a heavy-duty wrecker must consider who will operate it and how that person will be trained. Buying this new truck may also mean hiring another operator. Hiring a heavyduty wrecker operator has its own considerations. A major incident will often require you to respond with specialized equipment such as forklifts, front end loaders, sweepers and more with each piece requiring a skilled, trained and competent operator. Owning or renting the equipment is simple, finding and retaining skilled operators when their primary


job will involve other tasks at your company is a challenge. To address this issue many heavy duty towing companies often have sister companies in the cartage, construction or hauling industries. This allows them to have near instant access to skilled operators and equipment without paying for those assets to sit idle between major highway incidents. This begs you to ask, does my area have the need for more of these types of services or do I know someone I can subcontract these services from? The tower doesn’t have to do it all themselves, but they must have solid, prearranged, working relationships with many different disciplines in their community to successfully venture into the heavy duty recovery segment. Road service is another segment of the heavy duty towing industry.

14 • July 2021 | Towman.com

Many light duty towers already provide some basic roadside assistance services so this isn’t a completely new offering. What is significantly different with heavy duty roadside assistance is the scope of repairs fleet customers expect you to make at roadside. In many parts of the country it is not unusual for a road service technician to perform computer diagnosis and complete troubleshooting of a mechanical breakdown at roadside, nor is it unheard of completing complex repairs at roadside or in a remote location such as a parking lot. Even services such as oil changes, brake jobs, air conditioning repairs and other routine maintenance are often done by mobile technicians for the convenience of the fleet operator. Fleet customers happily pay a labor premium for the expedited

turnaround time on the repair or to avoid the tow charge. Afterall, they are going to pay for the repair anyway so why not pay half of the tow rate (figuratively speaking) to have the repair shop come to their truck rather than towing the truck to the shop? Historically towing a disabled heavy truck has been the last resort, not the go -to solution as it is with light duty vehicles. This requires the tow business owner to decide what level of mobile repair services they want to offer, and do they have technicians available that are skilled enough for these repairs and willing to work in remote, dangerous locations in all weather conditions? Even if you decide mobile repair service is not right for your towing operation you still will need tow operators that can make somewhat complex repairs to disabled or wrecked vehicles


as part of the process to prepare them for towing. This will include skills in axle and wheel repair, brake systems, electrical and even hydraulic systems. Now that you have decided that you do want to venture into the heavy duty world you have to decide what truck(s) to purchase. There is no one truck or manufacturer that does it all, so you have to find the best compromise for the client base you plan to serve. Bigger isn’t always better. If your business plan calls for doing mostly tractor swaps and on-highway truck breakdown towing a quick swap (detachable tow unit on a tractor) or a 25 ton may be all the heavy wrecker you need. If your plans, and actual workload, call for towing loaded cement mixers, coach buses and fire trucks you will want a 50 ton with the right underreach. Consideration must be given to find the correct combination of wheelbase, front axle weight, overall static weight and weight ratings that will give you the tow performance you want and the drivability you need. Longer wheelbase wreckers will tow more weight safely, but they may not be practical in some urban environments, especially if you are just learning how to tow larger vehicles. A shorter wheelbase with a counterweight may be your preferred choice. Another often overlooked consideration is the rear axle of the tow truck. Just because your truck is built with rear axles and suspension rated for 46,000 pounds (or more) doesn’t mean you are legal to have that much weight on your rear axles. Actual legal weight will vary from state to state, with some states allowing for generous exemptions when performing a “first move” of a wrecked or disabled vehicle while others require a wrecker to scale legal at all times. Learn the Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

regulations in the state(s) you plan to operate your heavy duty towing service within, don’t assume that it must be legal just because you see other towers using a specific type of truck or axle configuration. Consider that on the National Network and Interstate Highway System the legal weight limit for tandem axles is 34,000 pounds and most heavy wreckers equal or exceed this weight with the most basic of tows, some even

exceed this when not towing. Additionally, each state has their own unique size and weight regulations that apply only to state highways, often with significant differences from the Federal Bridge Formula rules. This means you may need to purchase special permits or not be legal to operate certain heavy wrecker configurations in your state. Special considerations must also be given to other licensing

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 15


LITE-IT UP WITH

CUSTER PRODUCTS

www.custerproducts.com • 800-490-3158

16 • July 2021 | Towman.com

and authority issues that affect heavy towing more than light duty towing. In many states light duty tow trucks are often exempted form many of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations. Heavy duty tow trucks do not get that lucky! Heavy duty tow trucks are treated nearly identical to any other large commercial vehicle, meaning hours of service and other regulations apply, including operating authority and CDL endorsements for secondary tows or routine transportation services. Upgrading to heavy-duty is a complex business maneuver but need not be one that overwhelms the boss if the appropriate planning has gone into it. Heavy duty towing can be very rewarding when a tow boss is fully prepared for their new adventure. As with any other new business segment understanding your market and the forces at play within is key to success.


Tow Boss

How Is Your Towing Company Viewed by The Insurance Market? By Rob Austin

Rob Austin is president of Austin Insurance Co. He is conducting seminars on this topic at 2021 American Towman shows.

I

n this article, we will look at the primary factors your insurance carrier looks at when reviewing your insurance submission. The main items are your loss history, driver histories (Motor Vehicle Reports or MVRS), your operational information and the fleet of vehicles. For example, most of the companies require all drivers to be twenty-one or older and have two years’ experience. They review the three prior years driving history for each licensed employee to see how your drivers stack up against their guidelines. In addition, the insurance company will require three to five years loss history. They ask your agent to complete an application covering information on hiring, supervising drivers, vehicle maintenance and details about your safety program. As they prepare to start the quoting process the underwriter will develop a submission profile for your company. This profile includes a driver score or overview of all the drivers, their MVR history and your turnover ratio. We all know hiring drivers

18 • July 2021 | Towman.com

is an ongoing task. Some towing companies only hire related family members and that may be okay in Bardwell, KY but not in Chicago or Houston. The number of drivers you hire and fire each year provides the insurance carrier with insight into your management of your employee’s function. For example, do you work with your employees to maintain a positive morale? Do you have an employee handbook? If so, do you take steps to make sure all employees know and understand the guidelines? Do you provide continued training for employees? Do you attend conventions and subscribe to industry publications? Anything you as the owner can do to promote a team spirit with your drivers will be beneficial for you and your company. Most insurance companies require four or five years of loss history. This provides the carrier an overall picture of how your company has performed and if your company culture is built on safety or not. You should maintain insurance company loss runs that cover the five prior years of


Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 19


your operation. If there are losses in excess of $25,000 you should keep copies of the police reports and any correspondence from the insurance carrier regarding the settlement of those claims. The more information you have the better the insurance carrier will be able assess your insurance qualifications. Be open to providing as much detail as possible. Note that the insurance carrier reviews the number and the dollar amounts paid on a claim. They also look for drivers who are repeat offenders. For example, most carriers would consider a loss history showing one claim for $35,000 more favorable than a loss history showing seven claims for $5,000 each in any twelve-month period. The seven claims for $5,000 would be considered a frequency problem and the insurance carrier would look to see what you are doing to reduce those claims. I once had an insured whose auto insurance was cancelled due to five non at fault accidents. When I spoke to the underwriter, their concern was either he could not keep the taillights working or he did not use his turn signals. In other words, this was the unluckiest tower, or they were contributing to the cause of the accident. In today’s electronic world there are additional bits and prices of information they review, your Website or Facebook page, the DOT Safer Report, credit ratings and customer reviews all can affect your insurance. If you have an unfavorable rating work to turn it around. Do not be afraid to ask the DOT for help! Poor DOT ratings are a red flag to a lot of insurance carriers. The DOT will appreciate your wanting to improve and for the most part they are willing to work with you. Clear or correcting the Safer information 20 • July 2021 | Towman.com

goes a long way to improving your insurance profile. The internet has avenues for the insurance carrier to obtain information about your company. The carrier for example will look at your website and see how to present your company to the public and what services you offer to your customer. In the past I have had underwriters call me and say your application states what services the tower performs and what radius he normally operates in,

impounds be up front with your agent. Tell your agent about the types of towing your company does. The reviewer will possibly show some negative reviews if you’re doing private property impounds. That way the underwriter does not feel like they have uncovered something you were trying to hide. Be sure you are monitoring your “electronic footprint”. Incorrect or outdated information should be corrected or updated. Safer rating should be up to date, if not work with DOT to get it corrected.

Anything you as the owner can do to promote a team spirit with your drivers will be beneficial for you and your company. but their website says, “we’ll tow anything, anytime, anywhere.” I then explain this by telling the underwriter the insured (towing company) is just trying to be superman to his local community. I further explain how the tower generally is not going on multi state service and neglect his local and repeat customers, but I also understand there are exceptions to this with a new rollback costing $120,000 plus. If the timing and the money are right the tower will make the run, but the nature of the business keeps the tower local for the most part. Reviews from google /yelp, Facebook or your website are also looked at and most underwriters understand your customers are not in the best of mood before you ever arrive at the scene. So, for example if your towing company does private property

In other words, don’t post anything you would not want your “Sunday School Teacher” to read. Currently, there are several insurance carriers offering cameras and telematics programs for your trucks. They will either cover the cost or share the cost with you, and they promise not to act like big brother! I believe these are good tools to take advantage of, as an owner you can track the day-to-day operations of your trucks. And if a concern arises, you can hopefully address and correct it before it turns into a claim. In closing we have just touched a few of the things that determines how your company is viewed by the insurance marketplace. For more details & discussion please join us at TowXpo in San Antonio, TX.


Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 21


Snatch-block placement for recovery

T

raffic slowed to a snail’s pace as a carrier operator worked to upright a small SUV; prominently parked “wheels up” in a rush-hour San Diego intersection. As I directed traffic, I watched the operator struggle to up-right the casualty by pulling straight atop the winch platform and not setting the carrier’s deck.

BUILDING A SOLID PLATFORM

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.

For side-pulls, pivot winching and rollover recoveries

22 • July 2021 | Towman.com

By: Randall C. Resch

For better than 40-minutes; he tugged, spun and cussed the casualty with no luck bringing it back onto its wheels. When a halfhour resulted in zero-progress, I approached him asking if he needed assistance. While most towers get uppity when cops interject their opinions, this tower clearly didn’t have a clue what he was doing. Nervously, he readily admitted being on the job only a couple of weeks and this was his second rollover; the first was at the yard. While his lack of training was another issue, let this narrative serve as an alternate technique on how-to set a carrier’s deck for stability and strength during sidepulls, pivot winching and rollover recoveries. Fact: While there are different versions of carrier set-up, avoiding damage (to the carrier), speed, and completing the recovery are this technique’s primary considerations.

SET THE DECK

Working carrier rollovers is simple. The carrier’s winch-ability requires a carrier’s deck be solid to the ground’s surface. As carriers are assumed “not designed for recovery” setting the carrier’s deck solid helps lessen the potential to tweak the carrier’s under-structure


when side-winching or snatch-block pull begins. Winchprocedures should (preferably) be in-line to the casualty, but as we all know, accessibility isn’t always possible. In a training module for carriers, an experienced tower rigged his carrier without setting the deck to the pavement. He winched from a floating platform not using a snatch-block; the same technique mentioned in the opening paragraphs. As winch-in commenced, the casualty slid on its top. The manner he rigged (the carrier) introduced an in-depth discussion as to why it’s important to attain a solid footprint before winching begins.

PREVENTING PROBLEMS

For best mechanical advantage when working rollovers, every process should start by creating a solid footprint. In preventing damages to the carrier’s deck “setting the deck” is a smart technique; winching from a floating deck doesn’t provide stability. Stability is gained with the deck pushed out; then lowered and tilted at the tailboard. Note: You can check for platform stability by jumping up and down on the tailboard. Look for movement (forward) at the truck’s mirrors. When the tailboard’s properly set, the mirrors don’t move. By “planting the deck”, the carrier (as a unit) is solid where the carrier’s deck, tailboard and tires become one. Caution: Lower the tailboard to the pavement and stop. Don’t over-raise the headache rack to avoid hyper-extending the deck breaking underside welds or cracking hinge-pin locations. If deck corners aren’t equally touching, operators can position short 2x4’s under the deck’s uneven-side to prevent deck corners from floating or twisting. Caution: Positioning a long 4x4 (under the deck’s superstructure) in an attempt to prevent bending could result in an extreme (and expensive) damage when the operator forgets to remove the 4x4 and lowers the deck. If a “stiffener” has to be employed, the recovery may be beyond the carrier’s capability.

Carrier deck set, fully rigged and ready.

RIG FOR ROLL

Set the carrier’s deck to the tilted position, attach a snatch-block to the carrier’s tailboard and pull cable to the casualty. When winch-in commences, the process of “natural arch”, creates mechanical advantage that’s called, “biting the pavement.” By not planting the deck, casualty vehicles typically slide when cable hangs parallel to the pavement and “bite” doesn’t happen.” If spin-out occurs, mechanical advantage is lost causing the casualty vehicle to slide on its roof or A-Post.

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 23


Consider the following techniques in attaching a snatchblock to a carrier’s tailboard: •  Use rated chain and two (deck) tailboard key slots. Attach one link into the driver side key slot and pull chain across to the right-side key slot. Leave enough slack to center a snatch-block. •  Using recovery chain, drop the clevis (hook) through a tailboard’s key slot nearest to the tailboard’s center. Make a smallish loop large enough to attach a snatch-block (a shortened cheater-chain serves this purpose). •  Using recovery chain, make a small loop large enough to attach a snatch-block and slide a chain-link into the tailboard’s key slot. •  Use a specialty “Tailboard Hook” rated for recovery.

24 • July 2021 | Towman.com

Competent operators are

worth their weight in gold

when serving law enforcement. Once on scene, trained operators easily conduct average rollovers in the same,

seven to ten minute time frame as towers working boom trucks.

• Hook directly to D-Rings.

LOW, STRAIGHT, CORRECT

Rollovers and pivot-winching scenarios are easy when mechanical advantage is practiced. With winchcable and snatch-block is attached to looped chain or straight-chain (at the tailboard), keeping the block low helps gain natural arch necessary to complete the roll.

Keep the snatch-block centered at the tailboard’s edge where cable doesn’t stack left or right. Cable that’s straight-away returns to the winch much straighter than working from outside corners. Because a snatch-block’s hook tends to slide across the tailboard’s chain, dropping a clevis-hook onto the cross-chain helps arrest the snatchblock from sliding; centering is


important to avoid crisscrossed cable. Rigging techniques vary from operator to operator. Whether operators choose twenty foot recovery chain or two, ten foot recovery chains, operators oftentimes use techniques or accessories that I may not teach or consider. I personally won’t use nylon loops for extreme rollover winching for fear of cut-points. That includes no J-Hook’s for rollovers (including chain V-Bridles). Remember, there’s always the right tool for the job. The wrong item could snap, break or tear through where items could violently return to the operator’s position.

basic rollover recovery should take longer than seven to ten minutes. As far as the newbie tower mentioned, I asked if I could show him and he eagerly said, “Yes”, as I grabbed his gloves and gave an impromptu rollover lesson. He followed me like a lost puppy and I demonstrated the technique while successfully (and fastly) uprighting the SUV in minutes, all without getting my police uniform dirty.

His lesson was a simple demonstration showing how setting the deck was advantageous in gaining natural arch and an important technique in rollover recovery. It takes practice. If towers can’t work carrier recoveries at the tow yard, they certainly won’t do it under highway conditions especially when time is of the essence and cops are barking in your ears. That inability won’t help change the way they think about carriers for recovery.

WHEN PROPERLY TRAINED

Fact: Although law enforcement fails to provide proper (dispatch) information, the officer on-scene still expects trained operators to respond. For light-duty operations, it shouldn’t matter what type truck towers arrive in, rather, whether or not towers are capable to work the scene. I believe competent operators are worth their weight in gold when serving law enforcement. Once on scene, trained operators easily conduct average rollovers in the same, seven to ten minute time frame as towers working boom trucks. The operable word here is “trained” where untrained towers have difficulty completing the task. Highway patrol and police recruits generally don’t learn about towing and recovery in academies, but from field training. If they’re accustomed to towers not able to work simple rollovers, of course they’ll flippantly order the tower to, “Drag that mutha’ up and get it outta’ here.” Like speaking any foreign language, working carrier rollovers is a useable loseable skill that must be practiced; keeping in mind no two rollover recoveries are exactly the same. I believe even experienced operators aren’t beyond participating in periodic rollover practice. There’s no reason a Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 25


Jim “Buck” Sorrenti, a longtime editor of American Towman, has been our field editor for the past 10 years. He is a freelance writer and photographer with more than 40 years of experience covering motorcycle, hot rod, truck and towing culture. He writes weekly for TowIndustryWeek.com.

Ditched Lumber Truck By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

26 • July 2021 | Towman.com


U

zek Susol, the owner of Orcas Towing, was called to recover a lumber truck from a ditch on Tuesday, May 18th 2021, which just happened to be his 53rd birthday. Uzek informed, “I received multiple calls from property owners and neighbors asking me to respond to a steep (9-degrees measured grade) gravel goat trail of a road to help a loaded lumber truck. It had slid off the inside of a soft narrow curve near the top near its final unload destination. The caller’s concerns were of it tipping over.” Uzek asked them to have the lumber company call him so there would be no question as to whom was responsible for the bill. About an hour later he received the call. The company estimated a 50,000-pound gross weight between the truck and load of assorted lumber and two pallets of composite roofing. Uzek responded in the only heavy wrecker in the county, his Truck #7, a 1981 Kenworth W900A with a classic 1962 Holmes 750 with hydraulic spades, 250feet of 5/8-inch wire rope on each drum and a Z20 Zacklift. He had to back in approximately a 1/4 mile to the casualty. “Upon arriving on scene and evaluating the situation, my plan was to position my wrecker as far opposite from the casualty as possible on the narrow road for a lift on the low side and side pull on the high side,” Uzek related, “My concerns were wrecker positioning due to the limited space on the narrow driveway and due to the steep 9-degree uphill grade to prevent the lumber truck from sliding backwards into my wrecker when I lifted the low side.” There was no way to get a truck in front of the casualty and no trees uphill of it for assist. The forklift mount at the rear of

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 27


the lumber truck was dug deep into the soft edge of the gravel road, passenger side tires and toolboxes were caught on the road edge drop off. After surveying the scene the lumber truck driver offered to cut the load. Uzek explained, “Trucking company personel were at the job site. They suggested cutting the load free, easier lift and slide for me. No argument from me. I wasn’t going to argue as that meant less weight to lift and to try to control from rolling backwards onto my wrecker.” Uzek started rigging. He informed, “I ran my passenger side winch line to the only nearby tree/strap/shackle/snatch block about 100-feet off the driver’s side of the lumber truck. Then terminated the wire rope to a grade 80 1/2” recovery chain that was run through the lumber trucks driver’s rear outer wheel hand hole, wrapped around the inside of the dual wheels and out the same hand hole for stabilization and side pull.” He blocked the front tires of the lumber truck and put a 4×6 block of wood between the lumber truck seat

Lumber truck dug deep into the soft edge of the gravel road.

28 • July 2021 | Towman.com

My concerns were wrecker positioning due to the limited space on the narrow driveway and due to the steep 9-degree uphill grade to prevent the lumber truck from sliding

backwards into my wrecker when I lifted the low side.

and brake pedal applying the front brakes to help prevent the truck from rolling backwards. The driver then cut the wood load at the rear of


Lifting the low side and winching the rear of lumber truck sideways out of the ditch and back onto the gravel road.

Cutting the load free to make it easier to lift and slide.

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

The 750’s passenger side winch line to the only nearby tree used as a deadman.

Outriggers out on the 750 to stabilize while lifting and sliding.

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 29


“My Holmes 750 always gets the job done. She’s a good old girl.” the deck leaving the two roofing pallets up near the headboard intact. Uzek ran a double line from his driver’s boom sheave to the passenger rear low on the forklift mount for a high lift and pull. He lifted low side and winched the rear of lumber truck sideways back onto the road. “There are times when I sure would like to have a shiny wrecker but this is not one of them as branches and brush were dragging across both sides of my wrecker backing in and driving out,” stated Uzek. “My Holmes 750 always gets the job done. She’s a good old girl.” The lumber truck was able to back down the road under its own power with no damage and a happy customer when completed. Time for this job was approximately 1.5 hours on scene/3 hours start to finish.

30 • July 2021 | Towman.com


About Uzek Susol Uzek Susol established Orcas Auto Tech DBA Orcas Towing in Eastsound, on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington State in 1991. Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juan Islands, which are located in the northwestern corner of the state in San Juan County, Washington. Besides being a tower and rigging/recovery specialist, Uzek is an ace mechanic and fabricator who builds some awesome rods and bikes and has transported pretty much everything.

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 31


AD INDEX AAA..................................................... 32-33 Akins Body & Carrier Sales.........................51 American Legacy Firearms.........................19 American Towman Exposition............... 35-50 Anchor Graphics........................................19 Atlanta Wrecker Sales................................63 Austin Insurance....................................W 95 AutoReturn.................................................21 Blackmon Auctions.....................................67 Captain Recovery............N, M 84, S 87, W 94 Chevron Commercial..................................70 Crouch’s Wrecker & Equip. Sales................65 Custer Products.........................................16 Donnie Cruse Recovery Award....................71 Dri-Deck....................................................31 Dual-Tech Wreckers & Carriers...................75 East Coast Truck & Trailer................... N, S 83 EasTract.....................................................30 Edgetec.................................................W 95 Elizabeth Truck Center................................34 ERSCA.......................................................61 ERSCA/APTO..........................................M 85 EZ Spare Wheel......................................W 84 Fayetteville Ford.........................................24 G. Stone Commercial.............................. N 87 Guniwheel Distributed by LKQ................M 85

34 • July 2021 | Towman.com

July 2021

Hawkeye Truck & Wrecker......................W 90 ICW Group Insurance..................................57 Int’l Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame..........17 Intek Leasing.............................................75 ITI..............................................................30 Landoll Corp.................................................2 Len Zermenos............................................31 McMahon Truck Center..........................M 83 MercurySend.com......................................74 Metrocom..................................................70 Midco Sales...........................................W 84 Miller Industries...........................................7 Mobile Control Systems..............................30 Mobile Video Computing.............................69 New England Truckmaster...................... N 85 North American Bancard............................13 Nottingham Insurance............................ N 87 OMG Tow Marketing...................................14 Pacific General Insurance.......................M 95 Peak Auto Auctions....................................56 PeakPTT....................................................63 Peak Wrecker Sales...............................W 92 Progressive Commerical.............................11 Recovery Billing Unlimited..........................76 RimSling....................................................23 RRA Tow Truck Insurance.......................W 89

SafeAll Products.........................................25 Santander Bank........................... Back Cover Sea Crest Insurance Agency...................W 91 Servicase...................................................16 Sierra Pacific Insurance..........................W 93 Smyrna Truck & Cargo...............................69 Towbook Management Software...................3 Tow Brokers Insurance..................S 85, W 83 Tow Industries.......................................W 92 Towman Games.......................... M 88- M 95 Towman Medal..........................................77 Towman Originals................................ 72-73 TowMate....................................................65 TowXpo San Antonio..................... W 86-W 89 Trail King Industries...................................21 Trucks for Sale.....................N, S 88, M, W 96 Truck Source..........................................W 94 Utility Trailer Sales S.E. TX......................W 90 Warn Industries............................................5 West End Service.......................................57 Winches Inc...........................................W 91 WreckMaster..............................................56 XINSURANCE.......................................... N 85 Zip’s/AW Direct............ 15, Inside Back Cover


Wayne Smith

SPOTLIGHTING the Diverse Worlds of

TOWERS By George L. Nitti

52 • July 2021 | Towman.com


We saw owner

Wayne Smith

in a lot of high stakes situations and saw how

much he cares about his team.

I

magine a job where you recover cars or trucks that have been crushed by the blow of a moose and consider taking home some of the left-over meat for your family. Or one in which you carry a gun for an all black female owned and operated tow company, up against angry drivers over car impounds. Or one in which your son or daughter, a heavy-duty specialist, reveals: “I may present myself as a male, but I don’t have all the equal parts of a male. I was born a female and am transitioning into a male.” ◀

Ed Henry

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AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 53


Pink Hookers Towing

“You rarely see

3 black women towing.

I have never seen that. We believe we are opening doors for women like us.”

54 • July 2021 | Towman.com

An array of stories surrounding the tower’s world is now the subject of a new reality TV show on A&E at 10 p.m. called “Hustle and Tow.” Produced by Bodega Pictures, the weekly series presents towers doing their jobs in all kinds of conditions and places. Ben Nurick, President of the company, said, “We wanted to highlight companies that defied viewers’ expectations of what this industry looks like and showcase just how diverse the towing world can be.” The show features eight tow companies, with each episode focused around three stories. Nurick said, “We surveyed upwards of 100 companies and zeroed in on eight tow shops that provided the type of call volume and variability that we felt would keep the show moving and would offer viewers an understanding of the work’s scale.” The production crew, riding with each of these tow companies with their go pro cameras, worked the same hours over seven weeks in order to capture slices of tow life. According to Wayne Smith, owner of Smith’s Towing in Northern Kentucky, “They were on the sidelines taking footage and out of the way. The biggest interference from them was when they asked, ‘Can you tell us what is going on?’ I’d give them a snippet that occurred on every recovery.” The unexpected happenings, the inherent dangers of the job, the tensions between people, the problem solving on recoveries – all come into focus under Bodega’s lens. According to its Chief Creative Officer Josh Ackerman, “In part, we wanted


to capture the hard work that goes into towing, the intensity of the job, and the magical work that towers do to make the roadways operational. These guys risk everything.” One story involves a suspension bridge recovery with Smith’s Towing. Smith said, “It was the perfect storm. There was a heavy downpour with a jack-knifed trailer before the bridge. It was blocking all of the lanes except for the shoulder. The cars and trucks that went around got diesel fuel on their tires, causing one tractor trailer to jack-knife on the bridge, catch fire and explode. It halted all traffic north and southbound on a major thoroughfare for 10 hours.” Adding drama to the situation was the potential collapse of the bridge, as the center span was held together by eight pins, four of which were damaged under the heat of the fire as huge chunks of concrete from above were falling down on the lower deck of the bridge. Under this scenario, the technical challenges of the recovery came into view. Ackerman said, “We saw owner Wayne Smith in a lot of high stakes situations and saw how much he cares about his team.” The burning bridge story includes another surprise involving Wayne’s son, Tyler. At the beginning of the segment, Tyler leaves home early in the morning. When he returns after an exhausting day, he reveals he “held his pee for nine to ten hours” because he was transgender. Smith said, “I’m proud of Tyler’s courage. We knew that would come up in the show and disclosed it to the production company. Tyler wants to facilitate positive change. He knows that by sharing his story, he can do that.” Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

Smith’s manager Joe Carson added, “It shows that we are just humans doing our job.” As a force of positive change and empowerment, this episode also spotlights an all black female owned tow company called Pink Hooker’s Towing. “You rarely see three black women towing. I have never seen that,” said owner Myesha, who along with her partner Areesha are making tow history. “We believe we are opening doors for women like us.”

A third story in this episode includes a strange oddity: a recovery that involves a moose with an amusing tower named Stan Bazan, referred to as the “heavy guy,” of Towz R Us in Wasilla, Alaska. While a meat harvester is carving up the moose on the side of the road, Stan approaches and kiddingly instructs him to carve up a section for him. Later, he muses, “A moose that size, with that much weight and meat, for an average family could

Towers can decide on their own

whether the companies spotlighted represent what a typical tow crew looks like and whether the stories bear

any resemblance to the reality they face on an everyday basis.

These brave women are in the thick of action, up against the day-to-day challenges of impounding cars from private lots and confronting upset drivers who resist tows and payment. Myesha said, “A lot of danger comes with the territory.” As a new tower, Myesha said the show has been a growth opportunity for her. “Just watching it I learned a lot about the industry. I saw different equipment. I learned technical stuff. I’ve made some great connections with some of the tow companies. And because I want to do heavy-duty towing, I’ve connected with someone on the show who will teach me.”

last up to a year. For me and my family it would last for up to six months.” Then he mulls its uses on his way home: Moose pot roast, moose brisket, moose sausage, moose steak, moose kabob. Bazan said, “I can talk with a poker face or let you know I was just messing around with you. I can crack a joke out of a problem and make somebody’s day.” The series makes for compelling story telling. Towers can decide on their own whether the companies spotlighted represent what a typical tow crew looks like and whether the stories bear any resemblance to the reality they face on an everyday basis.

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 55


News Flash Westchester Tow Companies Sue NYDOT

Five Westchester tow companies who won contracts to service state highways say that their contracts were cancelled after 21 days by the DOT. The lawyer representing the companies claims that the DOT was looking to reinstate prior tow companies. The towing companies accused the DOT of fraud and demanded $10 million in compensation, in a lawsuit filed May 21 in Westchester Supreme Court. New York State Police, acting on behalf of the DOT, allegedly asked the companies to provide towing and emergency road services on Hutchison River Parkway, Saw Mill River Parkway, Sprain Brook State Parkway and Taconic State Parkway. The companies hired drivers, bought new trucks and equipment and supplies, and rented extra storage space. Suddenly on May 11, according to the complaint, DOT official Robert Limoges

56 • July 2021 | Towman.com


notified the companies that their services would no longer be required as of May 21. The towing companies would not have bought trucks, equipment, hired drivers and spent hundreds of thousand of dollars, the lawsuit states, “had they known that the service would only have been for 21 days instead of one year as promised.” Source: towindustryweek.com and westfaironline.com

and began the process of clearing the highway with tow trucks that arrived on scene, but while this process was underway, three tow trucks proceeded past the traffic and parked close to the scene of the collision, according to police. Officers found none of the three tow trucks had a valid town tow truck license and only one of the drivers held a Town of Caledon

tow truck operators’ licence. Police said tow trucks are bound by a variety of provincial and municipal rules. They must hold a Commercial Vehicle Operators Registration (CVOR), be properly licensed and equipped, be operated by a licensed driver and hold a local tow licence, and can’t attend the scene of a crash unless summoned by police.

Ontario Cracking Down on Unlicensed Tows

On June 15th in Ontario, Canada, officers ticketed three unlicensed tow trucks that showed up at the scene of an accident involving a tractor-trailer, laying them with 15 charges. The crackdown comes as the province is tightening regulations against unlicensed tow operators who have run rampant over the years. The officer arranged road closures

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 57


Workhorse

Loading with Ease

Tips for Selecting the Right Traveling Axle Trailer Jeff Casper of B&D Towing, West Memphis, AR uses four 400 series Landoll traveling axle trailers.

By Troy Geisler

Troy Geisler is the vice president of sales and marketing for Talbert Manufacturing. He has more than 15 years of experience in trailer sales, including more than five years with Talbert. Troy earned his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

I

deal loading conditions are a rarity in the hauling industry. While a rental house or construction company loading equipment in the yard might not have any difficulty, a level surface with plenty of room to maneuver is much harder to find on an active jobsite. In towing and recovery applications, loading can be even more difficult. In addition to the struggles of moving dead equipment, often singlehandedly, these operators must also deal with traffic, poor visibility from darkness or weather, and soft shoulders. There is no way to completely eliminate these challenges, but safe, efficient loading is possible with the right equipment. In industries such as towing and recovery, rental and construction, many operators have found traveling axle trailers provide the ideal combination of features to increase safety and versatility. However, like any trailer, maximizing these benefits relies on a careful matching of product specs with the individual operation. Simply selecting a traveling axle trailer off the lot, so to speak, will often get the job done. But a careful consideration of

58 • July 2021 | Towman.com

available features with a reputable dealer or manufacturer promises a long-term solution that will provide more safety, durability and better return on investment. Here are several key features operators should keep in mind when selecting the right traveling axle trailer for optimal loading efficiency in any conditions.

INDUSTRY STANDARDS

Traveling axle or sliding axle trailers are available from a number of manufacturers. Each brand offers slightly different features, but there are a few design standards that make these trailers ideal for operations looking for versatility and ease of loading. Operators who know what they need in these areas are well on their way to finding the right trailer for their operation.


CAPACITY

To begin, operators should consider their required capacity. Generally, traveling axle manufacturers offers models with 40 and 55 ton capacity, making them ideal for transporting a variety of equipment. If the trailer will mostly be hauling larger equipment, like excavators or pavers, pay close attention to the manufacturer’s 10-foot capacity rating. However, those wanting to haul mixed loads of small and mid-sized construction tools, such as skid steers, lifts or buses, should carefully consider the overall capacity. This number tells them how many pieces of equipment, such as mini-excavators or concrete road dividers, they can safely transport on the trailer deck. Depending on the required capacity and intended use, operators can then choose from a number of available deck lengths — usually 48, 50 or 53 feet — to select a trailer ideally suited for their specific hauling needs. This customization is especially cost effective for businesses such as rental centers or contractors that often haul mixed or concentrated short loads, since it allows them to choose a length that works best in the areas they will be used.

LOADED DECK HEIGHT

Loaded deck height is another spec operators should keep in mind to limit permit costs and maximize

productivity. Within the U.S., legal load height is 13 feet, 6 inches. However, operators are faced with many overhead obstacles that are even lower, especially in urban environments. In these situations, a single inch can mean a difference of hours when it comes to getting from point A to point B and beyond. A traveling axle trailer with an industry leading low loaded deck height of 36-inches provides optimal flexibility for transporting taller equipment such as excavators and buses.

LOAD ANGLE

Additionally, operators will want to make note of the trailer’s load angle. This feature is key to safety and efficiency since it allows operators to simply drive or, in the case of dead or immobile equipment, winch loads onto the deck, eliminating the hassle of ramps and the dangers associated with driving up and over the rear axle. It also makes transporting machines with low ground clearance, such as pavers and rollers, much more convenient. Load angles vary between models and manufacturers, but are usually between 8 and 6 degrees. Generally speaking, the lower the load angle, the easier loading will be, so compare this important spec before making a final decision.

Trail King Sliding Axle.

FEATURES FOR IMPROVED PERFORMANCE

In addition to the above considerations, industry-leading manufactures offer a number of advanced features that can improve traveling axle trailer performance. Explore these options to maximize productivity and safety.

DURABLE CONSTRUCTION

First and foremost, operators should look for a trailer with a rugged design made to excel in the adverse conditions often found on jobsites and in recovery operations. To provide ample power and traction for moving axles on muddy or uneven terrain, carefully consider the rig’s piggyback cylinder. Most traveling axle trailers rely on hydraulics to move axles forward and back and tilt the trailer deck up and down. When it comes to the axles, the piggyback cylinder is the driving force behind this movement. While a 4-inch cylinder is common on most traveling axle trailers, models with a 5-inch cylinder provide 56% more push force of the cylinders to maximize axle operation while loading and unloading. For additional durability and long-term value, operators

should also consider a 4-beam frame design that uses 4-inch I-beam crossmembers. Compared to the perimeter frame commonly found on traveling axle trailers, which uses 3-inch crossmembers and concentrates weight on only

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AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 59


Trailer Mfr. Advertisers Landoll Corp....................... see p. 2 Trail King Industries ........ see p. 21

For construction and rental houses, trailers offering double keyhole tie-down slots on top of the outside beams and recessed in the center of the main deck offer increased flexibility.

two outside beams, the 4-beam frame offers better deflection across the entire deck. This results in a more even weight distribution that increases trailer longevity and versatility with mixed loads of smaller equipment. Another durability differentiator to consider is the thickness of apitong decking. This tightly woven and incredibly dense South Asian wood is less susceptible to chipping and cracking, compared to oak or other hardwood, while providing more traction than metal. For maximum longevity, look for trailers offering 1.5-inchthick (nominal) apitong.

WINCH

An in-deck winch is standard equipment on most traveling axle trailers from reputable manufacturers. However, the type of winch makes a significant difference. Look for a trailer with 60 • July 2021 | Towman.com

Having easy access to all the tools you need is imperative for getting the job done, especially when you are a long way from the shop and the conditions are poor. a 20,000-pound, direct-drive planetary winch, which offers up to twice the loading speed of a more traditional worm gear model. This productivity boost is especially important for operators frequently needing to load dead equipment, containers, or other immobile objects — such as towing and recovery specialists, rental centers, or some construction companies. Remote control winch operation should also be mentioned at this point. For the most part, this is a standard feature from industryleading manufacturers because of the safety and productivity benefits it provides. With a remote control, operators can use the winch from any position — including behind

the wheel of inoperable machinery or on the passenger side of the trailer to avoid traffic. This feature also makes it possible for a single operator to load the trailer. Here again, small differences between manufacturers can quickly add up. For optimum efficiency, look for a 6-function remote system. This not only controls the winch, but also moves the axles and tilts the deck. A remote with a range of 150 feet increases the viable working area, allowing operators to choose the safest vantage point for loading and unloading. Additionally, a USB-chargeable remote offers added convenience over battery powered options.


ADDITIONAL FEATURES

Finally, after capacity, overall durability and all the “make or break” decisions that go into trailer selection, there are the little extras from top-tier manufacturers that can make a big difference in productivity and safety. The number and size of toolboxes, for example. In towing and recovery operations, having easy access to all the tools you need is imperative for

getting the job done, especially when you are a long way from the shop and the conditions are poor. Look for a trailer with ample storage for chains, binders and other necessary equipment. Some manufacturers offer traveling axle trailers with an additional curbside toolbox with a chain rack for safe, convenient access away from oncoming traffic. This second toolbox also provides significantly more storage capacity

than models with a single driverside storage option. For construction and rental houses, trailers offering double keyhole tie-down slots on top of the outside beams and recessed in the center of the main deck offer increased flexibility. This additional feature from certain manufacturers allows for safe side-by-side loading of smaller equipment, such as skid steers.

The Landoll 440B is a tandem axle trailer with a capacity of up to 40 tons. It handles tough equipment including super low clearance equipment with an easy one-man operation.

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AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 61


Safety

“Quick Clearance…” More Than a Catch Phrase By Shane Coleman

Shane Coleman is an industry veteran with 34 years in the towing and recovery industry. He operated a family tow business in the suburban Detroit area in Michigan. His experience is with private, commercial and municipal towing. In addition to owner / operator, Shane has also served as a volunteer firefighter, industry trainer, as well as product specialist, product manager and product trainer with a major tow truck manufacturer. Currently Shane is a training specialist with the Emergency Road Service Coalition of America.

E

mergency service towing operators are being called on to be more tactical and proactive in tasking all types of incidents. The call for a tactical approach to training and roadway services is due to the rise in rate of secondary crashes, which are often more serious than the initial incident. Additional to secondary crashes, roadway blockages have an economic impact which cost the local economies significant amounts of lost time, fuel, and money. The following will highlight 3 elements to improving Traffic Incident Management: TIM SHRP 2, Standard Duty engagement, Building a framework for Tactical Training.

TIM SHRP -2

TIM SHRP -2 stands for Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Strategic Highway

62 • July 2021 | Towman.com

Response Plan -2. This multi-discipline training engages all stakeholders at an incident. The essential purpose for this training is aligned with what is called the NUG – National Unified Goal, which is: Responder Safety, Safe – Quick Clearance, Prompt-Reliable-Interoperable Communications. In SHRP-2 training there is a TIM Timeline structure shared among the attendees so that each discipline can gain an understanding of what needs to be communicated among the disciplines. When other agencies understand the goals and needs of each other, it sets the stage for a more effective tasking and mitigation of the incident and improving the ‘Timeline’. Today, hundreds and thousands of police, fire, EMS and other personnel have been trained in SHRP 2 with towing professionals represented but not nearly


enough. All emergency service towing operators are encouraged to get into a TIM SHRP -2 training. These courses are available on-line or in-person, can be either 4 or 8-hour course, and in most cases free but invaluable to understanding the framework and goals in TIM.

STANDARD DUTY ENGAGEMENT

We mentioned earlier that more towing operators need to get into the TIM SHRP-2 training especially if they are working on traffic incidents with other agencies. The question is: “Why Standard Duty, we thought TIM was only concerned with Heavy Duty trucks?” While that historically is true, it is not the case at all. TIM is focused on improving each level-type of incident: minor (less than 30 minutes), intermediate (30 minutes -2 hours), major (2 hours and above). Statistically,

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there is a significantly higher rate of passenger vehicle incidents than that of Heavy-Duty Trucks. Due to the size of the vehicle and incident, heavy truck crashes typically fall into the ‘Major’ category and get much of the attention. Even though truck incidents are large in scope and time, the cumulative effects of minor to intermediate incidents (typically passenger vehicle incidents) have significant impact on secondary crash potential as well as economic impact. The potential for today’s standard duty towing operator to have an influence on improving the statistics for secondary crashes and the economy is high, the missing link is engagement and consistent training.

“TACTICAL TRAINING” … BUILDING A FRAMEWORK. You may have been wondering once you read the word tactical,

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 63


what does “tactical” mean in our profession? I would offer you the Merriam-Webster definition: 1) Small scale actions serving a larger purpose… or maybe more direct, 2) made or carried out with only a limited or immediate end in view. Currently emergency towing & recovery professionals attend training put on by manufactures, professional training organizations, and various other agencies that focus on utilizing the latest equipment and techniques. In today’s industry training is a cornerstone for operator safety and efficiency. One of the next steps on the training side of the equation, is not only TIM SHRP -2 training, but scenario-based TIM tactical training. Other than showing up to pick up the vehicles and cleaning up debris, it is more essential now for operators to look at the incident from a TIM approach. How can the work area be optimized to reduce lane blockage? Is this a ‘move it or work it’ (a SHRP-2 consideration) scenario? Are there actions that can happen simultaneously to shorten the TIM Timeline? These are just a few of the questions that answers can be discovered through consistent and 64 • July 2021 | Towman.com

The potential for today’s standard

duty towing

operator to have an influence

on-going training. Lastly just as important, significant value can be gleaned from regular safety meetings and using AAR’s (After Action Reviews), scenario-based training sessions, and other training resources to sharpen – (SHRP’en) the skills needed to more effectively task incidents today. In closing, there is a realization that there may be companies and operators already working this ‘tactical’ framework in their respective standard duty teams. If that is the case, excellent, it just validates the call and need for this time of activity. For those of you whom have read this and are not, I do hope this provokes a drive to seek out TIM SHRP-2 and other trainings that can improve your onscene performance. The key to the success in anything is the ENGAGE and TRAIN and know that training never stops.

on improving

the statistics for secondary crashes and the economy is high.

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AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 65


Training

Training In-House vs Training By John Borowski

John Borowski is VP of Tow Industry Programs for AutoReturn. John has over 50 years experience as a tow business owner, wrecker manufacturer specialist, trainer and writer. He was awarded the first “Towman of the Year” by American Towman magazine and two Towman Medals for heroism. He was inducted in the Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame in 2001.

A

fter spending my life in towing, recently I paused to reflect on the continual changes, as well the lack of change, within our industry. I couldn’t stop wondering about the current tow operators and their bosses’ future. While this industry has suffered from a lack of profitable fees for as long as I have been around, the big problem that has haunted us for many years is how company owners become owners. Most times tow company owners are really good operators that step up to be a company owner. I am sure now you’re saying to yourself where is this going? Running a tow company certainly requires a knowledge on towing, however, it doesn’t stop there, and as a matter of fact it only begins there. Tow company owners usually start out small and grow from there. So an owner needs to be proficient in all aspects of his

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business. The owner should know how to perform every function that happens in the office, call taking, accounting, human resources, scheduling staff, selling accounts, understanding contracts and how to respond to RFP’s, understanding costs to derive proper profitability, etc. The owner also needs to know how to negotiate with motor clubs, including all rates, also to develop operations and an employee handbook including normal company policies. The owner also needs to have future company goals of growth while remaining profitable. Finally, the company owner needs to be able to offer training of all aspects or functions of the business including training the operators. This singular function is extremely important as to what kind of company it is to be defined as. While being an instructor, myself, and meeting experienced operators that were


in my classes, I have certainly seen where a tow company owner needs to insure the company’s future by having properly trained operators. An improperly trained or untrained tower can hurt, maim, or kill which can end your company and your financial future. Many tow-bosses like to solely perform in-house training but this rarely works. Unless you have a developed curriculum and the time to actually do the training, chances are you will see the negative results of not having your operators adequately trained. Most times bad habits are passed on for generations, employee to employee forever. Proper instruction to tow will continually cause a company to excel and prosper. That kind of leadership produces confident operators giving them an overwhelming confidence to vehicle owners that they have the right company towing their vehicle.

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Industry veteran John Borowski shares his knowledge in a classroom setting.

They also become relaxed that the fee they will be paying may cost more, but is worth every penny of it. Well trained, confident

operators will feel proud of being a tow operator, will stay with the company a much longer period of time, and will help the company

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 67


be successful and grow. While I watch the improper usage of emergency lights nationally, it becomes clear that my assumptions are correct. If they were not trained on lights why should I believe that they were properly trained on anything else? Some would say, why do you need to train on light usage? My answer: continual, improper emergency light usage can be a direct cause of operators being killed roadside! Motorists are desensitized by the amount of meaningless amber lights used every day. This will be a future topic, meanwhile back onto in-house vs. professional training. I understand that every tow company is different, however, while the owner has his hands full already with all of the other functions, training will make or break the company’s future. It is in my fifty-year industry experience that outsourcing operator training is perhaps the best method of actually seeing results with operators. A properly trained

employee will enjoy their job much more and will create a condusive work environment for all staff.

Well trained,

confident operators will feel proud

of being a tow operator, will stay

with the company a much longer period of time, and will help the company

be successful and grow.

They will start to see a career and not a stepping stone to the next job. Without damage, injuries and death as a constant risk, all things can and will be better. Outsourcing

Creating a real recovery scene is critical to effective training.

68 • July 2021 | Towman.com

the training can and will allow management to focus on business as they should. Having the owner trying to train everyone is not possible for an owner trying to run the entire business. If you create that business pie and you take that piece out called training, what size slice do you take? How much of that pie is left for the remainder of the duties? If you believe you adequately train your own operators in-house, ask yourself, are you: a)  Setting up basic towing demonstrations of a vehicle positioned in situations often found. b)  Setting up basic recovery demonstrations to upright rolled-over vehicles. c)  Spending the proper time showing tie-down, hook-up, and lift procedures. d)  Devoting training time to roadside safety to prepare the operator for working on highways. e)  Devoting time to on-scene protocol, being part of an incident command team. There are so many aspects


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AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 69


of the job. Professional trainers like WreckMaster devote sixteen hours of training at every level of their courses. The light duty course is two full days. Are you able to devote a solid two days to training a new operator, or a current one? Do you believe you have the correct knowledge to prepare a course with study materials for the student? Today we have better training than we have ever had. When I started there was no training at all! We now have independent training companies along with the industry’s first publication (Americn Towman) that runs fantastic seminar programs and training programs at their trade shows. This year we are blessed with a first-ever expedited roadway clearance training that has never been introduced before and will be in Cleveland at the American Towman Games. Maybe this is too advanced for the newbie operator

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but there is definitely great training available there and at all of the other three American Towman shows. I hope everyone takes this article seriously and then takes a long hard look at what your operator’s actions are causing the general public’s opinion to be of your company, and other companies in your area. There have been great strides in training for towing, recovery, new attachment methods, roadside behavior, driving habits and general attitude toward the public. Be the leader in your market by forming long relationships with customers earning more profit that your competition can even dream about. Understanding that we just came out of a pandemic that this entire generation never before faced, we have many obstacles to overcome. There has been a massive employee shift and training couldn’t be any more important than it is today.


News Flash Building Infrastructure for EV Trucks

Battle Motors, the owner and manufacturer of Crane Carrier trucks and a leader in the development of electric vehicle (EV) technology, has partnered with  PositivEnergy to install charging stations at municipal accounts across North America. PositivEnergy  will deliver charging stations to municipal accounts serviced by 180 Battle Motors Truck Dealers across North America. The charging stations will provide vehicle-to-grid (V2G), sequential capable power supplies and dispensers for the battery technology in Battle Motors vehicles. Battle Motors has committed to making EV infrastructure installation as turn-key as possible for customers. PositivEnergy charging infrastructure will be made available to all Crane Carrier customers where battery electric

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vehicle (BEV) trucks are sold. Mike Patterson, CEO Battle Motors states, “the partnership with PostivEnergy allows Battle Motors to provide our customers a one-stop solution for complete fast efficient infrastructure installation. The infrastructure is kicked off at vehicle purchase and installed while the body is being put on the truck.” PositivEnergy is a first-ofits-kind energy solutions provider focused on architecting EV-charging infrastructure and custom energy storage systems at commercial and utility-scale. PositivEnergy will be providing EV charging infrastructure to Battle Motors customers, including vehicle-to-grid (V2G), sequential charge capable dispensers and power supplies as well as Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) when optimal. PositiveEnergy CEO Ed Wise

says, “The PositiveEnergy partnership with Battle Motors delivers a strategic advantage to Battle Motors dealers who can now order and provision best-in-class charging solutions for their customers at point of sale.” Battle Motors is committed to accelerating transition to sustainable energy through manufacturing the most durable and performance-driven class 7 and 8 electric trucks. The 75-year Crane Carrier legacy carries on as the newly rebranded Battle Motors, positioned to lead the way in the electrification of the vocational and delivery truck markets.  Battle Motors is bringing the Battle-Ready Class 8 severe duty full electric truck to the market this summer with 12 top tier Municipal customers. The Battle-Ready Electric delivers the same comfort, visibility and reliability as the CNG and diesel-powered trucks, but


with lower maintenance costs, reduced noise and zero carbon emissions. The trucks are available for front, rear and automated side loader applications within the refuse and recycling space, and are available in standard and crew cab configurations. Battle Motors, was founded in 2021 by Mike Patterson the Founder of Romeo Power. Battle, a leader in the development of electric vehicle (EV) technology acquired commercial vehicle Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Crane Carrier Company, LLC (“CCC”) earlier this year. Crane Carrier Company (CCC) has been manufacturing commercial vehicles for 75 years and is based in New Philadelphia, Ohio.  PositivEnergy is a first-of-its-kind energy solutions provider focused on building custom energy storage solutions and EV infrastructure. Based in Miami, Florida, PositivEnergy launched in 2019, initially offering custom engineered energy storage solutions and began offering EV infrastructure in 2021.

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AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 75


News Flash

Supplier Scoop

San Francisco to Resume Towing Practices

Since Covid-19, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has gone easier on people who can’t afford fees associated with parking tickets and registration or those who live in their cars. Any vehicle owner with registration expired over six months, an accrual of five or more unpaid parking tickets or who didn’t move the car for 72 hours could live without the anxiety of facing a potential tow. These citations disproportionately affect low-income residents or people who turn their vehicles into their homes. After June 28, however, SFMTA plans to resume routine towing practices. Homelessness advocates recently filed a lawsuit against The City in hopes that it will stop the planned restart. But the director of the agency, Jeffrey Tumlin, says towing for these violations is a necessity to achieve compliance with parking policies, ensure vehicles meet emissions standards, deter bad actors and provide safe access to streets. A complicated issue with numerous variables, the city is hoping to find middle ground with the plaintiffs of the lawsuit. Source: towindustryweek.com and sfexaminer.com

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Jerr-Dan Launches New Online Brand Store

Jerr-Dan fans can get their hands on an expanded lineup of branded clothing, safety apparel, drinkware and more with the launch of a new online merchandise store from Jerr-Dan, an Oshkosh Corporation company (NYSE: OSK). Jerr-Dan partnered with Powertex of Eau Claire, Wisconsin to provide high-quality products that capture the spirit of the Jerr-Dan name and reflect the needs and interests of its distributors and customers.  The all new Jerr-Dan branded merchandise collection includes men’s, women’s and youth apparel, outerwear, accessories and safety items. Ballcaps and other headwear will be available in September.  “By partnering with Powertex, we’ve expanded the selection of Jerr-Dan branded products we can offer to our customers, employees and fans,” said Sally Hooper, Jerr-Dan senior marketing and communications manager. “We will continue to expand those product offerings in response to customer feedback and requests.”  Hooper said that the Jerr-Dan online brand store, at gear.jerrdan.com, was designed to make the entire shopping experience quick and easy. “We’re very excited for people to experience our new online store, because it was built to meet their needs for a convenient search and ordering process,” Hooper said.  Powertex is a full-service branded merchandise supplier that helps customers like Jerr-Dan make real-life connections with brand fans and employees. For more information, visit www.jerrdan.com or the Jerr-Dan store at gear.jerrdan.com.


Towman’s Market

410-784-7029 LOOKING TO RETIRE OR JUST GET OUT ? HIRE ME TO SELL YOUR TOWING BUSINESS GM Consultants is a business brokerage specializing in the sale of towing companies and auto salvage yards. Most times we can sell the company without alerting the competition.

To Advertise In Towman’s Market CALL

800-732-3869 Call or Text George Metos for a confidential conversation

801-440-3176.

I will give you an honest opinion of the value and what your prospects are of a sale. GeorgeMetos@aol.com www.businessbrokergeorge.com See George’s profile on LinkedIn.com

78 • July 2021 | Towman.com

Ellen Rosengart x 203 erosengart@towman.com


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AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 79


My Baby

The Mack

A long-time heavy recovery specialist teams up with a legendary heavy truck builder By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

T

imothy “Tim” Hauser is the President of Hauser’s Truck Service based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The company is a third generation family business, founded by Harold & Jean Hauser in 1971 out of their home and garage. They have grown into one of the Lehigh Valley’s largest towing and repair facilities and are celebrating 50 years in business in 2021. They now have 18 employees and 26 vehicles in their fleet, which includes one light-duty, two medium-duty, three carriers, five service trucks, a recovery trailer, recovery truck, box truck with fuel pumps and ten heavies, including the grey beauty featured here. In the market for a new heavy, Tim contacted Jim Powers at Elizabeth Truck Center. Elizabeth Truck Center, headquartered in Elizabeth, NJ, has three locations; Elizabeth, NJ, Staten Island, NY and Long Island, NY. They are the Tri-State

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area’s largest commercial vehicle collision and repair facility, with state of the art facilities with top notch professionals in the industry. They’ve worked on pretty much all makes and models over the years specializing in commercial trucks including fleet and owner operator vehicles, emergency equipment, municipal vehicles and more. Elizabeth Truck Center has a well-earned reputation for exellence as can be seen by this unit and so many others featured on the pages of American Towman magazine and on display at the American Towman Exposition. This is one of the first Mack Anthem tow trucks ever built. Tim said, “Jim and I worked with the Mack dealer on the specs. It meant a lot that the truck was actually built in my backyard in Macungie, PA. Jim and I were invited on a factory tour of the plant the week the truck was being manufactured to see how the truck was made.”


“The Mack” is a Century 5130 mounted on a 2019 Mack Anthem. It has a  25ton recovery boom with Dual 25,000-pound DP winches. A 505 HP Mack MP Motor with Jake Brake mated to a Mack automatic trans moves it down the road. The Mack is equipped with everything you’d need for a recovery or tow including chains and binders, shackles, recovery straps, tow forks, etc,” said Tim. Gary Headrick of Headrick’s Body Shop in Rossville, Georgia did the paint job. Tim informed, “One of our operators worked with me to choose a paint color. Mack upgraded the wheels and tires on the truck. The wheels are black which we think looks great set against the granite grey paint. Green is our company logo color.” “We were ready to add a new heavy-duty wrecker to our fleet (our business focus is on heavyduty towing, road service, truck repair, and recovery, not really on light-duty towing). I’m pleased to say after 50 years of business we continue to grow and thrive. That

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entails a lot of hard work and I’m still on the road quite a bit. I wanted a truck that would be mine (that the rest of the men would leave alone) and I could enjoy some creature comforts of a really nice truck. Jim worked with me and I haven’t been disappointed. I wanted something unique that wasn’t the stock Pete or KW. Mack is a local company, and it was the first year the Mack Anthem came out. I thought it would be pretty cool to have something a little unique,” Tim stated, “This unit

performs many memorable and unique jobs .” The Mack has been at the Mack Truck Society shows and is a showstopper where ever it goes.

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Tech Highlights Chassis: 2019 Mack Anthem Wrecker body: Century 5130 25-ton Engine: Mack MP Motor with 505 HP with Jake Brake

Trans: Mack automatic Winches: Dual 25,000 -lb DP Built by: Jim Powers at Elizabeth Truck Center Equipment: Chains, binders, shackles, recovery straps, tow forks, etc. Graphics: Gary Headrick, Headrick’s Body Shop AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • 81


Lowdown

The Irony of this Fear By Steve Calitri

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

T

he reluctance of the tow boss to invest in training for his or her operator is the fear that operator will quit towing, jump to another towing company, or start his own tow company. What business owner wants to pay several hundred dollars on a new employee only to see that employee take off? The irony lies in the truth that the trained operator will stay as a productive member of his company years longer than the untrained operator. Putting this under a microscope should lead a tow boss to send all its operators to professional trainers soon after they are hired. The new employee sent to be trained returns with a new skill set, a certain pride in his work and job title, an understanding of how critical the work is for his company and its customers, and a feeling of loyalty to that company who invested in him. A trained operator has the confidence to do the job right. Doing the job right requires that confidence. A proud and confident operator will impress the customer and help his company be successful. In the old wild west, gunslingers were legendary. Certain ones came into town with a reputation that had townsfolk shakin’ in their boots. Particularly shakin’ was the unfortunate soul the man with the black hat came gunning for. Sometimes that poor soul sought the advice of an experienced gunman in town, whereby he was brought out back and given some pointers. “Let your trigger hand hang loose by the holster and stare at the gunslinger like he’s already a dead man.” You get the picture: key pointers to be the quicker draw and have the confidence to stare down the man everyone else fears. When the good guy prevails, how big is his feeling of loyalty to the man who taught him? An operator successfully completes his first tow, strapping the wheel lift to the tires or winching a car onto a rollback and tying it down, and later his first recovery,

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What loyalty does that operator feel for the boss responsible for seeing to it that he was trained? That tow operator is grateful his boss made him a

bonifide tow operator. winching a car from a ditch, or uprighting his first vehicle. What pride is there in doing the job the right way, a job he didn’t have the knowledge to do a month before? What loyalty does that operator feel for the boss responsible for seeing to it that he was trained? That tow operator is grateful his boss made him a bonifide tow operator. People take note of excellence and confidence. Motorists, police, and fire professionals. Indeed it’s the tow boss and co’ fielding the most capable team of towmen that gain the most respect in the area. Fear. The fear should be what will happen if you do not invest in your new operators, if you shortchange the critical importance of getting these operators to be professionally trained? Worst case: a botched tow or recovery, injury or death, a costly lawsuit, increased insurance premiums. Best case, your untrained operator quits. At the heart of this issue is what you, the Boss, thinks of the job you hire others to perform. Is it a dirty job but someone must do it? Or is it one of the greatest jobs on this planet? There are many experienced recovery operators whose intelligence and pride will tell you it’s the greatest job on the planet. That’s the job you want to fill. The man or woman you hire needs to be prepared for that job, and needs to be treated with the respect that job demands. Not providing professional training is not demonstrating that respect.


News Flash Are Your Hiring Practices FCRA Compliant?

If you work in the transportation industry, then you’re no stranger to compliance. From random drug testing programs to hours of service limits, trucking companies and drivers have no shortage of regulations they must adhere to. But if you hire drivers – and run background checks on them – you need to be thinking about more than just DOT compliance. You need to be thinking about FCRA compliance, too. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was established in 1970 to ensure the “fairness, accuracy and privacy of consumer information” that is collected and stored by consumer reporting agencies. For employers, it dictates a few very important steps that must be followed throughout the background screening process. As some very high-profile cases

North 84 • July 2021 | Towman.com

show us, a failure to follow even one of these steps can lead to substantial fines. One large carrier settled a $4.4 million class-action lawsuit for claims that they didn’t adhere to FCRA-compliant hiring practices. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that they failed to provide the required disclosures prior to running pre-employment background screens. A plaintiff in the case also claimed that they didn’t get their permission before running a background check – or follow adverse action procedures when they decided to use the information contained in the report to make a hiring decision. Another carrier settled for $870,000 when it was alleged that they didn’t get permission before running background checks on applicants. In this case also, plaintiffs claimed that adverse action was taken against applicants without

sending the required pre-adverse action notice. These two high-profile incidents are just a few of the many FCRA litigation claims that are filed each year – and studies show that the number of cases is going up. With more and more companies getting caught up in expensive lawsuits for noncompliant background screening practices, how can you avoid having this happen to you? Here are the steps you must take each time you run a background check to stay compliant with FCRA regulations: • Provide the Required Disclosure: You must disclose your clear intent (in writing) to run a background check for pre-employment purposes. The “clear intent” is important here – if it’s written in fine print on the bottom of the job application, that isn’t going to cut it. To protect your


company, make sure it’s presented as a separate document that is easy to understand. •  Get Authorization First: Before you move forward, you must get permission from the applicant or employee who you’re running the background check on. This applies even in the case of background screens that are required by the FMCSA (such as the annual MVR requirement).  • Send a Pre-Adverse Action Notice: If you plan on taking negative action against the applicant or employee based on information you discovered in the background check, you must send written notice to the individual. This notice must inform them of their right to obtain a free copy of their report – as well as to dispute any inaccurate information they find within it. You must also send them a copy of the FCRA Summary of Rights. 

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AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • North 85


News Flash •  Allow Time for the Dispute Process: Before you can actually take adverse action against the individual, you must wait a “reasonable amount of time” so that they have the ability to review their report and dispute any inaccurate information. Although the FCRA doesn’t specify what this length of time is, many carriers give 8-10 days before moving forward in the process.  • Send an Adverse Action Notice: Once you’ve given the individual adequate time to dispute information in the report, you can go ahead and send an adverse action notice that informs them that they are no longer being considered for employment. In this notice, you must include the name and

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contact information of the vendor you used to run the report. You must also include a statement explaining that the background check vendor isn’t responsible for your employment decision – nor can they talk to the reasoning behind the employment decision you made. And even though these federal FCRA regulations are critical, they aren’t the only regulations you need to understand – many states have their own FCRA regulations that must be adhered to, as well.

Busted for Stolen Tow Truck

2 men were arrested after they allegedly stole a tow truck from Ayers Towing Service, leading a police officer on a short pursuit through the city of Wilkes Barre,

Pa. The suspects, not named by police on scene, were handcuffed and taken into custody on 6/20. No injuries were reported, and no damage to any vehicles or other personal property was reported to police. The truck was recovered and driven from the scene by an employee from Ayers. Source: towindustryweek.com and timesleader.com

Man Stabs Woman at Vancouver Tow Company

In a bizarre scene, a man is accused of stabbing a woman sitting at her desk at a Vancouver towing company. According to court documents, the victim, who works at Retriever Towing, called to report that a man attacked her from behind while she was sitting at her desk. Court documents allege the suspect took off running. When officers got to the


scene, they found that woman with a 1 to 2-inch puncture near the base of her neck and say it looked like a stab wound. In court documents, police say surveillance footage shows the suspect took off his shoes and entered from the back of the building. They also say surveillance footage shows the suspect approach the victim, standing behind her and appears to be looking for the exact spot to attack the woman. The suspect then stabs the victim’s neck and immediately turns and runs, according to court documents. In court documents police say a bystander saw the suspect running from the scene and gave police a description. Officers searched the area and arrested Hunter Levi who is accused of attempted murder. Court documents claim Levi matched the suspect from the video. Source: towindustryweek.com and kptv.com

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AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • North 87


Episode 3

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

Guardian Fleet Services Merges with A Superior Towing Company Merger of two Florida firms creates behemoth tow operation

Photo Caption

The merger Guardian Fleet Services with A Superior Towing, through Guardian’ Fleets ESOP Trust, gives both companies greater access to municipal, state, and commercial customers throughout the state of Florida and the southeastern United States. The combined companies perform towing, recovery, and specialized transportation services over 600 times per day. The merger with A Superior Towing brings a respected service provider in the Broward County market, for over 33 years, into Guardian Fleet’s organization, filling a void between the Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties in the South Florida region. With the addition of A Superior Towing’s fleet and its 40 experienced employees, Guardian Fleet and its subsidiaries now employ over 300 personnel dedicated to meeting customers’ expectations while operating over 200 light-, medium-, heavy-duty recovery vehicles and specialized tractors, along with 100 trailers. Sean Loscalzo, A Superior Towing’s founder and president, will continue as president of A Superior Towing, while assuming additional responsibilities as vice president of the South Florida market reporting to Guardian Fleet Services CEO Geoff Russell and Chief Operating Officer Scotty Crockett. “This next step allows our legacy to continue to grow and become not only a leader in Broward County, but also the leader in the towing and recovery, and the specialized transportation industry throughout the Southeast United States and beyond,” said Loscalzo of A Superior Towing. Stated Russell: “The merger adds additional strengths and ownership that involve all of Guardian Fleet’s management and employees through their participation in the Guardian ESOP Trust. I couldn’t be more excited about this merger and the opportunity to work with the A Superior Towing team.” Source: Guardian Fleet Services South 84 • July 2021 | Towman.com

Are Your Hiring Practices FCRA Compliant?

If you work in the transportation industry, then you’re no stranger to compliance. From random drug testing programs to hours of service limits, trucking companies and drivers have no shortage of regulations they must adhere to. But if you hire drivers – and run background checks on them – you need to be thinking about more than just DOT compliance. You need to be thinking about FCRA compliance, too. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was established in 1970 to ensure the “fairness, accuracy and privacy of consumer information” that is collected and stored by consumer reporting agencies. For employers, it dictates a few very important steps that must be followed throughout the background screening process. As some very high-profile cases show us, a failure to follow even one of these steps can lead to substantial fines. One large carrier settled a $4.4 million class-action lawsuit for claims that they didn’t adhere to FCRA-compliant hiring practices. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that they failed to provide the required disclosures prior to running pre-employment background screens. A plaintiff in the case also claimed that they didn’t get their permission before running a background check – or follow adverse action procedures when they decided to use the information contained in the report to make a hiring decision. Another carrier settled for $870,000 when it was alleged that they didn’t get permission before running background checks on applicants. In this case also, plaintiffs claimed that adverse action was taken against applicants without sending the required pre-adverse action notice. These two high-profile incidents are just a few of the many FCRA litigation claims that are filed each year – and studies show that the number of cases is going up. With more and more companies getting caught up in expensive lawsuits for noncompliant background screening practices, how can you avoid having this happen to you? Here are the steps you must take each time you run a background check to stay compliant with FCRA regulations: •  Provide the Required Disclo-


Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • South 85


sure: You must disclose your clear intent (in writing) to run a background check for pre-employment purposes. The “clear intent” is important here – if it’s written in fine print on the bottom of the job application, that isn’t going to cut it. To protect your company, make sure it’s presented as a separate document that is easy to understand. •  Get Authorization First: Before you move forward, you must get permission from the applicant or employee who you’re running the background check on. This applies even in the case of background screens that are required by the FMCSA (such as the annual MVR requirement).  •  Send a Pre-Adverse Action Notice: If you plan on taking negative action against the

South 86 • July 2021 | Towman.com

applicant or employee based on information you discovered in the background check, you must send written notice to the individual. This notice must inform them of their right to obtain a free copy of their report – as well as to dispute any inaccurate information they find within it. You must also send them a copy of the FCRA Summary of Rights. •  Allow Time for the Dispute Process: Before you can actually take adverse action against the individual, you must wait a “reasonable amount of time” so that they have the ability to review their report and dispute any inaccurate information. Although the FCRA doesn’t specify what this length of time is, many carriers give 8-10 days before moving forward in the process. 

• Send an Adverse Action Notice: Once you’ve given the individual adequate time to dispute information in the report, you can go ahead and send an adverse action notice that informs them that they are no longer being considered for employment. In this notice, you must include the name and contact information of the vendor you used to run the report. You must also include a statement explaining that the background check vendor isn’t responsible for your employment decision – nor can they talk to the reasoning behind the employment decision you made. And even though these federal FCRA regulations are critical, they aren’t the only regulations you need to understand – many states have their own FCRA regulations that must be adhered to, as well.


Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • South 87


Episode 3

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

Are Your Hiring Practices FCRA Compliant?

If you work in the transportation industry, then you’re no stranger to compliance. From random drug testing programs to hours of service limits, trucking companies and drivers have no shortage of regulations they must adhere to. But if you hire drivers – and run background checks on them – you need to be thinking about more than just DOT compliance. You need to be thinking about FCRA compliance, too. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was established in 1970 to ensure the “fairness, accuracy and privacy of consumer information” that is collected and stored by consumer reporting agencies. For employers, it dictates a few very important steps that must be followed throughout the background screening process.

As some very high-profile cases show us, a failure to follow even one of these steps can lead to substantial fines. One large carrier settled a $4.4 million class-action lawsuit for claims that they didn’t adhere to FCRA-compliant hiring practices. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that they failed to provide the required disclosures prior to running pre-employment background screens. A plaintiff in the case also claimed that they didn’t get their permission before running a background check – or follow adverse action procedures when they decided to use the information contained in the report to make a hiring decision. Another carrier settled for $870,000 when it was alleged that they didn’t get permission before running background checks on applicants. In this case also, plaintiffs claimed that adverse action was

Midwest 84 • July 2021 | Towman.com

taken against applicants without sending the required pre-adverse action notice. These two high-profile incidents are just a few of the many FCRA litigation claims that are filed each year – and studies show that the number of cases is going up. With more and more companies getting caught up in expensive lawsuits for noncompliant background screening practices, how can you avoid having this happen to you? Here are the steps you must take each time you run a background check to stay compliant with FCRA regulations: • Provide the Required Disclosure: You must disclose your clear intent (in writing) to run a background check for pre-employment purposes. The “clear intent” is important here – if it’s written in fine print on the bottom of the job application, that isn’t going


to cut it. To protect your company, make sure it’s presented as a separate document that is easy to understand. •  Get Authorization First: Before you move forward, you must get permission from the applicant or employee who you’re running the background check on. This applies even in the case of background screens that are required by the FMCSA (such as the annual MVR requirement).  • Send a Pre-Adverse Action Notice: If you plan on taking negative action against the applicant or employee based on information you discovered in the background check, you must send written notice to the individual. This notice must inform them of their right to obtain a free copy of their report – as well as to dispute any inaccurate information they find within it. You must also send them a copy of the FCRA

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

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AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • Midwest 85


News Flash Summary of Rights. •  Allow Time for the Dispute Process: Before you can actually take adverse action against the individual, you must wait a “reasonable amount of time” so that they have the ability to review their report and dispute any inaccurate information. Although the FCRA doesn’t specify what this length of time is, many carriers give 8-10 days before moving forward in the process.  • Send an Adverse Action Notice: Once you’ve given the individual adequate time to dispute information in the report, you can go ahead and send an adverse action notice that informs them that they are no longer being considered for employment. In this notice, you must include the name and

contact information of the vendor you used to run the report. You must also include a statement explaining that the background check vendor isn’t responsible for your employment decision – nor can they talk to the reasoning behind the employment decision you made. And even though these federal FCRA regulations are critical, they aren’t the only regulations you need to understand – many states have their own FCRA regulations that must be adhered to, as well.

Repo Agent Killed

Tim Nielsen, a repossession agent for Any Capital Recovery Inc., was shot and killed in Oakland, Ca., on 6/14 while working on assignment. According to Nielsen’s boss and friend Lerron Payne, he was shot at an intersection writing a re-

Midwest 86 • July 2021 | Towman.com

port in his truck. He then managed to drive away, but crashed into a building in East Oakland, a couple of blocks away. Payne said, “He wasn’t even hooking a car. Everything went south. It’s a rough industry, don’t get me wrong but this is pretty much the extreme.” Family and friends described Tim Nielsen, a father to four, as their rock and their hero. “This is a man that I can say gave unconditional love to everyone and all he ever wanted to do was help people. That was his dream, his purpose in life,” said Jennifer Huff-Wensmann, the victim’s girlfriend. Oakland police said no one has been arrested in the case. They are looking at all possibilities, from a random attack to the possibility it was related to a repo assignment. Source: towindustryweek.com and sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com


News Flash

Woman Paroled 10 Years After Death of Tower

A woman who dragged a Colorado Springs tow truck driver to his death has been granted parole after serving about 10 years in prison. In 2011 tower Allen Rose was trying to tow the vehicle of Detra Farries from an apartment complex when she jumped inside her vehicle and drove off. Rose ran after her and ended up getting tangled up in the cables of her SUV and was dragged 1.4 miles. Onlookers tried to wave Farries down, but she never stopped, causing his death. She was found guilty of reckless manslaughter among other charges and was given a 20-year sentence. Although she was granted parole, Farries was still in Colorado Department of Corrections custody as of Monday afternoon, according to a spokesperson. Source: towindustryweek.com and kktv.com

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • Midwest 95


Episode 3

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 Are Your Hiring Practices FCRA Compliant?

If you work in the transportation industry, then you’re no stranger to compliance. From random drug testing programs to hours of service limits, trucking companies and drivers have no shortage of regulations they must adhere to. But if you hire drivers – and run background checks on them – you need to be thinking about more than just DOT compliance. You need to be thinking about FCRA compliance, too. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was established in 1970 to ensure the “fairness, accuracy and privacy of consumer information” that is collected and stored by consumer reporting agencies. For employers, it dictates a few very important steps that must be followed throughout the background screening process. As some very high-profile cases show us, a failure to follow even one of these steps can lead to substantial fines. One large carrier settled a $4.4

West 84 • July 2021 | Towman.com


News Flash million class-action lawsuit for claims that they didn’t adhere to FCRA-compliant hiring practices. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that they failed to provide the required disclosures prior to running pre-employment background screens. A plaintiff in the case also claimed that they didn’t get their permission before running a background check – or follow adverse action procedures when they decided to use the information contained in the report to make a hiring decision. Another carrier settled for $870,000 when it was alleged that they didn’t get permission before running background checks on applicants. In this case also, plaintiffs claimed that adverse action was taken against applicants without sending the required pre-adverse action notice. These two high-profile incidents are just a few of the many FCRA litigation claims that are filed each year – and studies show that the number of cases is going up. With more and more com-

West 90 • July 2021 | Towman.com


Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • West 91


News Flash panies getting caught up in expensive lawsuits for noncompliant background screening practices, how can you avoid having this happen to you? Here are the steps you must take each time you run a background check to stay compliant with FCRA regulations: • P rovide the Required Disclosure: You must disclose your clear intent (in writing) to run a background check for pre-employment purposes. The “clear intent” is important here – if it’s written in fine print on the bottom of the job application, that isn’t going to cut it. To protect your company, make sure it’s presented as a separate document that is easy to understand.  •  Get Authorization First: Before you move forward, you must get permission from the applicant or employee who you’re running the background check on. This applies even in the case of back-

West 92 • July 2021 | Towman.com


News Flash ground screens that are required by the FMCSA (such as the annual MVR requirement). • S end a Pre-Adverse Action Notice: If you plan on taking negative action against the applicant or employee based on information you discovered in the background check, you must send written notice to the individual. This notice must inform them of their right to obtain a free copy of their report – as well as to dispute any inaccurate information they find within it. You must also send them a copy of the FCRA Summary of Rights.  • A llow Time for the Dispute Process: Before you can actually take adverse action against the individual, you must wait a “reasonable amount of time” so that they have the ability to review their report and dispute any inaccurate information. Although the FCRA doesn’t specify what this

West 94 • July 2021 | Towman.com


length of time is, many carriers give 8-10 days before moving forward in the process. •  Send an Adverse Action Notice: Once you’ve given the individual adequate time to dispute information in the report, you can go ahead and send an adverse action notice that informs them that they are no longer being considered for employment. In this notice, you must include the name and contact information of the vendor you used to run the report. You must also include a statement explaining that the background check vendor isn’t responsible for your employment decision – nor can they talk to the reasoning behind the employment decision you made. And even though these federal FCRA regulations are critical, they aren’t the only regulations you need to understand – many states have their own FCRA regulations that must be adhered to, as well.

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | July 2021 • West 95


Episode 3

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


Profile for dortiz-towman

American Towman Magazine - July 2021  

American Towman Magazine - July 2021  

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