Page 1

The Road Calls

AT ShowPlace Las Vegas

September 15-17

Towman Games Cleveland October 14-16

American Towman Exposition XXXII November 11-14

INCIDENT

Command and Quick Clearance

Get in the Game with

Electric Vehicles

Winning Trucks from Texas

TowIndustryWeek.com

SEPTEMBER 2021 AmericanTowman.com

$10


Contents

Feature

Volume 45 Issue 9

September 52

Incident Commander

Towmen have a critical role to play at the scene of an incident. by Steve Calitri

Cover Art: Rodolfo Reyes

Features

22

Get in the EV Game Towers show us the ropes on servicing electric vehicle calls.

by George Nitti

64

Victorious Wreckers

Tow Trucks from the Lone Star state stole the show in San Antonio. by Steve Temple

4 • September 2021 | Towman.com

2021

Departments 6

The Walkaround

8

News Share

10

Road Tools

11

Zoom In

12

Tow Americana

18

Tow Engineer

22

Tow Boss

34

Ad Index

56

Safety

78

Towman’s Market

80

My Baby

82

Lowdown

84

Case Closed

N, S 89 M, W 97

Adventures of A.T.

First on the scene since 1977


The Walkaround One Way or Another, the Wrecker is Center Stage Dennie Ortiz Publisher

As you read this our staff is heading to Las Vegas for the American Towman ShowPlace (Sept. 16,17), a show packed with tow equipment.

American Towman has done its best throughout the years to recognize the heroism performed by towers. It’s Medal Ceremony is a lightning rod for pride in our industry. In this issue we reach back to uncover a story from yesteryear. Randy Resch has diligently researched a historical account of one tower’s valiant attempt that ended in tragedy. Here among these pages we remember this tower, John Buell, 80 years after his death. Safety is always a critical issue faced by this industry. It is our mission to do our part to help protect our tow operators as well as the motorists. This past month the inaugural meeting of the Roadside Safety Commission was held at TowXpo in San Antonio. Read Steve Temple’s article that provides a synopsis of this forum, which includes sound practices your company may immediately implement. Steve further details the challenges surrounding roadside safety and the ultimate goals of this commission. AT thanks again all the individuals that took part in this important endeavor. Temple also walks us along this year’s impressive USA Wrecker Pageant in San Antonio, showcasing some of the most glorious rigs Texas has to offer. Be sure to check out the winners of this challenging competition, the largest in TowXpo’s history. Steve also brings to light some of the backstories of how these beauties were conceived and how they came into being. Later in this issue Terry Abejuela weighs in on whether to purchase a wheel lift or an autoloader. He wisely suggests that a tow show is a perfect place to start your considerations since there are many different brands and manufacturers from which to compare. Keep reading as Terry details the advantages and disadvantages of these integral pieces of equipment. The future is now. A strong data-driven article can be found by writer George Nitti as he tackles the impending global shift to electronic vehicles  …  and not if but when the tow  industry  will be made to further adapt. Towers who have been successfully handling these vehicles share specific advice that you will want to know. These towers contend that to be prepared is be trained and educated on the handling of these unique vehicles.  An AT issue would not be complete without a recovery and the one featured this month will not disappoint. Two Jersey towing companies work together to upright a rolled over tractor-trailer. By teaming up, DeFalco’s and Sisbarro seamlessly perform a well executed job! On an accident/recovery scene, the duty of Incident Commander is not a small one. In his article, Steve Calitri discusses the role of the tower as Incident Commander. It will also give you a preview of the Quick-Clearance Certification Course being offered October 16th at the Towman Games in Cleveland, Ohio. Rounding out the issue is our My Baby department featuring an NRC Quickswap. Bland’s Wrecker  Service  out of Indy says this unit can tow anything, take a look at this beast for yourself. Hope you enjoy your read, and as always stay safe out there!

6 • September 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.

Subscription: Single Copy: $10 1 yr: $60 – 2 yrs: $110 International: $75 & $135

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 Dion Bracco of Bracco’s Towing and Transport.

Chattanooga Wrecker Board Meets On August 5, towers from several Chattanooga wrecker companies from met with officials from the city to discuss streamlining the process of making it easier for people trying to find their vehicles and retrieve them after they have been towed. Towers input was welcomed in an attempt to find a compromise. Currently the city has about 30 towing businesses participating in the city’s rotation list. Because each of them have their own storage lots, when a car is towed, it is often daunting for an owner to track down their car and get it back. The wrecker board’s goal is to make the process better, not to take money away from the wrecker companies. At the meeting towing business owners cited their large costs to operate, including the high costs of the tow trucks, equipment and insurance, 20-30 percent of their business comes from storage, the board was told. They also make money from secondary tows, such as moving a vehicle from their lot to a body shop. If those sources of revenue are taken away, smaller companies will leave their districts and operate strictly in Hamilton County, the board was told. Source: chattanoogan.com

Man Charged with Burglarizing Tow Co.

A Pa. man, Ryan J. Darrup, who was charged with burglarizing two tow businesses and stealing police evidence from his own impounded vehicle, had additional charges filed against him on July 26. Darrup was charged with 3 counts: firearms not to be carried without a license, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. According to arrest papers, Darrup possessed a 9mm handgun, a cannabis vape, edible products and a variety of drug paraphernalia. The items were inside Darrup’s 2012 Ford Fusion and two backpacks that were later recovered after they were stolen from inside the impound lot, according to police. Darrup allegedly broke into two tow businesses overnight in the early morning hours of July 16 and was taken into custody at about 8:30 p.m. Source: yahoo.com

Tow Industry

to Honor Dion Bracco

Dion Bracco of Gilroy-based Bracco’s Towing and Transport will be recognized during the California Tow Truck Association’s Industry Leaders and Awards Night on Sept. 17. The ceremony will take place during the American Towman ShowPlace in Las Vegas. Bracco and Steve Sgarlato of Campbell-based Dick’s Automotive Transport will be inducted into the Rich Chappel Industry Leaders Hall, based on their “positive influence on the towing industry, without thought of recognition,” according to a press release from the CTTA.

“These towing professionals have spent their lives making significant contributions to the industry with unblemished and outstanding character,” the CTTA stated. Bracco founded Bracco’s Towing and Transport Inc. in 1992. Named the 2021 Small Business of the Year by the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, Bracco’s Towing has the equipment to transport passenger cars to large commercial vehicles. The CTTA represents nearly 600 towing companies within California. Source: gilroydispatch.com/towingindustry-to-honor-bracco/

Tow Truck Set Ablaze

Tower Clarence Martin, who claimed to be on a mission to pick up scraped cars off the streets of Vallejo, Ca., was the victim of arson on July 18, when 6 cars on his property, including his tow truck, were razed. “Someone came to my store and burned all my heavy equipment,” Martin said, including his bread and butter: the 2011 Lamb 5500 Super, which he saved five years to buy.” Martin learned of the incident when a park ranger knocked on the front door of his house six blocks away at about 6:30 a.m. The ranger rescued his German Shepherd from the property. He said, “The police immediately appeared and took my dog out, and the fire department appeared and put out the fire. It could have been worse.” Martin was in the towing business for 14 years in an “old shabby” truck in

8 • September 2021 | Towman.com

Clarence Martin started a GoFundMe campaign after his 2011 tow truck and other vehicles were set on fire. 1974. He said he saved and paid $40,000 for the destroyed truck. He said four Vallejo towing companies were closed last year, “leaving more scrapped cars in our city.” “In hopes of community support, Martin launched the GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $ 75,000. Source: timesheraldonline. com/2021/07/19/tow-truck-operatorburned-by-presumed-arson-in-vallejo/


News Share

Towers Death Spurs

More Trouble for Florida Tower

Call to Pay Attention This attenuator truck was hit by a tractor trailer on SB I-495 at Edgemoor.

The death of a AAA tow truck driver in Ohio who was hit on the Fourth of July has transportation leaders in Delaware, and across the country, pleading with drivers to pay attention to what they’re doing and move over. 32-year Glenn Ewing was loading a disabled vehicle onto the back of a flatbed in Cincinnati when he was hit. AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Ken Grant said all fifty states have Move Over laws, and they’re not just for emergency vehicles. “Realize that there could be somebody outside their vehicle trying to get work done, whether it’s changing a tire, waiting for a tow truck, whatever, and they need to slow down and move

over,” said Grant. Grant said in Delaware this year there have been several reminders of how dangerous it is for vehicles on the side of the road with truck mounted attenuators (TMAs) at work zones being a common target. “They basically act as an extended crumple zone so if someone’s not paying attention they don’t just crash into the back of a truck and potentially harm the driver,” said Grant. “When one of our colleagues is lost, we’re all affected,” said Eric Creek, Roadside Assistance Supervisor for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Delaware. Source: wdel.com

Vying for Prizes in Agero Sweepstakes From Hawaii to California, Arizona on over to Florida, the first four weeks of Agero’s Summer Hustle Sweepstakes winners have been chosen – that’s four owners, eight dispatchers and sixteen drivers. “It’s a rough summer, but we never forget to keep our customers satisfied,” says Speedway Autoworks’ Victor Castillo, a week 3 winner. With several weeks left in the eligibility period, there are still numerous opportunities to grab a $250 prepaid card for owners or a $500 prepaid card for dispatchers and drivers. “It’s a tremendous thing to be rewarded for simply doing our job…. it just reaffirmed my incredibly strong belief that towing is a worthwhile profession,” comments week 2 winner Alejandro Osborne of Adkison Towing out of Jacksonville.

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

In September, Agero will also be randomly selecting one lucky driver as the winner of a new Ford F-150. The key to solidifying your chances of becoming a winner? As Castillo says, “keep working hard.” Eligibility relies on tow completion, low ETAs, ETA accuracy and other measures. Visit Agero to learn more: bit.ly/3qyNiu8.

A Central Florida tower who was charged with 2nd degree murder for shooting and killing a customer during an argument over an impounded vehicle in May was also charged with illegally towing vehicles from a mobile home park on August 12. Michael and Elissa Denn, the owners of Strapped Towing, were hit with multiple felony charges after illegally towing vehicles out of a mobile home park, according to County Police. His lawyers claim Denn acted in selfdefense. The ire against the tow company ignited with the tragic incident and resulted in complaints by mobile home residents about illegal tows and cascaded into the charges executed by the sheriff’s office. Source: wfla.com

New ODOT Towing Board

Bill 300 was signed by Gov. Kate Brown creating the Oregon Board of Towing. Lori Anton, general manager of Consolidated Towing in Bend, Senate says the new board will allow the towing industry to self-regulate. The towing board will operate under the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT. The board will have nine members, four of which are representatives from certified tow companies: a tower in an Oregon city of 100,000 or more; a tower in a municipality of less than 100,000; a tower who has specialized knowledge of towing equipment over 40,000 pounds; a tower with specialized knowledge of gross vehicle weighting of 26,000 pounds or less. Other members will include a representative from the insurance industry, a member of a tow program within the state police, a chief of police, a public member and a consumer advocate. Anton made clear that the offenses are typically caused by small tow companies that act unfairly, which include not having the right accreditation and charging whatever prices they like. Source: ktvz.com

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 9


Road Tools TRAIL-EZE Upgrades Detachable Gooseneck TRAIL-EZE has taken their detachable gooseneck to the next level. Designed to haul everything from buses, fire trucks and heavy equipment up to 100,000 lbs., TRAIL-EZE now can go from 53’ closed to 60’ overall opened. The trailer can lock every 2’ to give you more control of the length you need for the job. The ramps store within the frame of the trailer, so no need to carry heavy removable ramps back and forth. It has an air lock to lock the trailer in the length needed, with a visual lock indicator so the driver knows when it is locked correctly. Winches, and many other options are available with this trailer.

Traileze.com

Series G2 Wireless Remote Kit from Warn

Warn.com

L-Arm Protector Sleeve

Protect the L-Arm of a self-loading wheel lift. Available in a variety of colors, including custom and high-visibility. Made of A500 grade steel, manufactured in the USA. Offered by J&R Products.

Rmane3117@gmail.com

10 • September 2021 | Towman.com

The WARN Series G2 winches are made for industrial applications. Now, they also have the ability to be controlled wirelessly with this versatile wireless remote kit.  This control solution can be easily integrated into 12-volt and 24-volt WARN Series G2 winches. The easy bolt-on solution provides users the ability to securely mount the receiver directly to the winch’s control pack. The system features easy plug-and-play installation, and lets users effortlessly control the winch from up to 50’ (15.2m) away for increased winching options. The system is sealed for protection against the elements providing exceptional reliability. Plus, a two-color LED provides clear operator feedback, and the two-button activation sequence guards against accidental power-ups. The kit includes a wireless transmitter, receiver, holster, mounting bracket, and hardware. 


Zoom In

A New Star for Towing and Recovery

Miller Industries announced the delivery of a new Century 1150, 50ton rotator with a knee-boom underlift, on the all-new Western Star 49X chassis. This is the first heavy-duty unit built for the towing and recovery industry on the new model from Western Star. The Century 1150 rotator continues to be Miller’s most sought-after recovery unit. The availability of unique model options such as the 1150R (roller), 1150RXP (side-puller), and the 1150 knee-boom contribute to the continued success and increased versatility of the 50-ton heavy-duty rotator. “With continued improvement in safety, strength, and technology, our new Century 1150 just made sense to go on the new 49x truck from Western Star. We couldn’t be more excited with the way this truck performs.” Said J.R. Cady, owner of Ten-West Towing in Bakersfield, CA. “It’s always a pleasure to work with J.R. and the team at TenWest Towing.” Said Billy Drane, Director of Heavy-Duty Equipment for Miller Industries. “The industryleading performance of the Century 1150 is the perfect compliment to the new 49x chassis from Western Star.” Drane continued. There are four engine options for the 49X, providing power output ranges from 350 to 605 horsepower and torque from 1,250 to 2,050 lb.-ft. Available are a Gen5 Detroit DD15, Detroit DD16, Cummins X12 and Cummins X15. Transmission options come with PTO capability: An Allison, an Eaton Fuller and two vocational-spec Detroit DT12 automated manuals. The DT12-V and DT12-VX each feature large robust gears, allowing for improved startability and low-speed maneuverability.  You will be able to see this industry-first unit as well as many other industry-leading units from Miller Industries’ distributors at the 2021 American Towman Showplace in Las Vegas, NV in September.

Miller Delivers Century Rotator on New Western Star to Ten-West Towing

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

Millerind.com

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 11


Tow Americana

Flood Waters Are Treacherous The Courageous Story of John Elliott Buell By Randall C. Resch

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

A

hundred-year storm consumed towns up and down Maryland’s Potomac River Valley as floodwaters consumed the region. In October 1942, The Washington Post reported 5.4 inches of rain fell in D.C. areas in less than eighty hours. A comparable flood event occurred on July 18, 2018, where Arlington County’s (VA) Fire Department rescued 40 clueless individuals stuck in 25 vehicles. Their ignorance ultimately required rescue because they knowingly drove around barriers and into flooded roadways. If you know about hydrology and flooding, you know that perilous conditions create immediate and deadly consequences. An unassuming motorist’s ignorance only makes them victims of a deadly drowning scenario. It’s their shortsightedness that puts rescuers and towers in harm’s way.

THE RESCUER’S FATE

I discovered a 79-year-old account of a garage mechanic who drowned attempting to rescue a car that washed 12 • September 2021 | Towman.com

into flooded waters. Dear to this industry’s heart, the “garageman” used a wrecker in his heroic yet unsuccessful attempt. This lost story was buried in the proverbial archives until I read vintage newspaper articles headlining; “Flood’s Crest Reached”, “Swollen Waters Menace Capital”, and, “World War Two Era Flood Was Worst in D.C. History.” Several modern-day articles by The Washington Post equally confirmed high-water events that inundated D.C. Incident: On October 16, 1942, a frantic caller told police that people were trapped in cars as floodwaters swept over River Road near Seven Locks Road; an extension of the Potomac River near rural, Cabin John, MD. Garageman John Elliott Buell instinctively headed out in his wrecker against his wife’s pleas. Buell, reportedly chief of Bethesda’s volunteer fire department, immediately sprang into rescue mode where his actions, although heroic, ultimately cost him his life. Buell’s story was nothing less than tragic, as told the following day by


Washington DC’s Evening Star Newspaper. The Star reported a car got swept into the raging Potomac near Cabin John Branch around 1:30 AM. Bethesda Police Officer W.C. Trigger was on scene the same time John Buell and wrecker helper Hammond Tessler attempted a rescue. Officer Trigger watched Buell grab the wrecker’s winch-line and wade into turbulent waters.

author William Offutt wrote, “He (Buell) operated a small garage and towing service at 7810 Wisconsin Avenue, near Moore’s store in Woodmont, less than a block from the volunteers’ firehouse.” Offutt wrote, “His last call came long after he closed the garage, and despite his wife’s urging that he stay home, he, and Hammond Tessler, went out on River Road where

John Buell intentionally didn’t go to the station first to get a fire truck, thinking his wrecker was the better choice for a water rescue. Having attached the wrecker’s line to the distressed car, Buell yelled to Tessler to start pulling. As confirmed by Officer Trigger, the partially submerged car moved a few feet, sweeping Buell into the creek. “He vanished into the darkness.” Members from Bethesda’s volunteer fire department and the city’s police searched until sunrise. The Evening Star reported that John Buell’s body was found by volunteer firefighter Harold Fremean some five hours later wedged against a rock hundreds of feet downstream.

NO OFFICIAL RECORD

As this incident was nearly seventy-nine years ago, the Bethesda Police Department didn’t formally record events back then. While information was sketchy at best, evidence of this occurrence didn’t stop there. From the 1995 book, “Bethesda: A Social History of the Area Through World War II”, 14 • September 2021 | Towman.com

they found a car almost covered with water.” Buell’s wife, Pauline, must have had a premonition that danger would befall her husband. From ongoing research, I uprooted information that mentioned the tragic drowning of Maryland’s volunteer fire chief who, for eleven years, owned a repair shop at 7810 Wisconsin Avenue, in Bethesda. After John Buell drowned, the auto shop and wrecker business was closed forever.

SEARCHING FOR DETAILS

In February 2018, I started an extensive letter and e-mail campaign seeking information regarding Buell’s death. Born January 25, 1911, John Buell resided in a post-depression home located on Rosedale Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland., as confirmed in a 1940 federal census; the house stands today. John Buell and wife Pauline rest in peace at a Falls Church, Virginia cemetery as do his parents.

At the time of his death, records suggested Buell had two children: Nancy, five, and son John L., ten years old. After several years of arduous research, I amassed thirty-eight letters, countless e-mails and Facebook snippets of information confirming this story. Unfortunately, I didn’t uncover information regarding Buell’s fire department service because he wasn’t working in a fire department’s capacity at the time of his death. There is also no mention of his actions recorded by the National Fallen Firefighters Association, the National Fire Chief’s Association, or Maryland’s Firefighters Memorial. My repeated inquiries sent to Bethesda’s fire administration fell on deaf ears as if a cover-up was likely. In early years, from 1939-1942 an alleged political uprising was said to have occurred causing “a bittered separation.” In 1926, the (then) Bethesda Fire Board ran the volunteer fire service from


of his death, to have not been recognized by any person, agency, or entity is a travesty at its highest level. It’s my mission to see John Buell’s name added to the Wall of the Fallen; bestowing him the highest award our industry can award a fallen operator.

NO GIVING UP

The floods that ultimately caused death was front page news of the day

a fire station on Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda. In 1939, the Fire Board established a professional fire department, electing Angelo Bargagni as the department’s fire chief to the newly formed Bethesda Fire Department. In determining Buell’s status as volunteer chief, this socalled “separation” was during the approximate time frame surrounding Buell’s death. Sure, that’s history under the bridge, but I believe Chief Buell most likely would have responded to that water rescue call, representing the fire service versus “a wrecker’s recovery operation” just by changing hats. I believe Buell perished because he followed the gut instincts of a firefighter’s mindset. To that point, I submit that John Buell intentionally didn’t go to the 16 • September 2021 | Towman.com

station first to get a fire truck, thinking his wrecker was the better choice for a water rescue.

HEADED TO THE WALL

The defining link to this project arrived mid-April 2020 from Jennifer Hafner Abbott, a research archivist at Maryland’s Historical Society, and Sara Hedlund, librarian archivist who, through their gracious research efforts, located archived documents including Buell’s death certificate. The coroner’s official findings listed Buell’s cause of death as “Accidental Drowning At-work.” One newspaper ran an obituary describing, in-part, the headline “Devotion to Duty Costs Life.” John Buell died a hero’s death as a tow operator. Regardless of him not being under official fire department capacity at the time

In early May 2020, I found renewed energy in my research, having revisited FindaGrave.com. A recent entry on John Buell’s page was posted by a contributor named Donna Miller. That lead wasn’t to be neglected, and I wrote Donna Miller via e-mail. She explained she was John Buell’s distant cousin and provided snippets of historical value that included a vintage frontpage World War II headline and photograph of John Buell, dated October 16, 1942. For months, I wrote letters and Facebook messages to unknown individuals looking for immediate family members. Unfortunately, I was not able to locate John Buell’s children; however, Donna Miller stepped up to represent the Buell family. By the end of May 2020, I submitted a detailed nomination to the Wall of the Fallen committee requesting that John Elliott Buell be added to the Wall. Although no official police report of the 1942 incident exists, I believe Buell’s death certificate and a trail of news accounts confirmed his accidental drowning. On May 30, 2020, Cathy Brumgard, the tow museum’s director wrote by letter that John Elliott Buell would be added to the Wall in October 2021. Cathy so eloquently wrote, “Thank you for allowing us to remember John along with fellow towers that have paid the price doing a job that they loved.”


Fast forward to Covid-19’s devastating aftermath that took its toll on mom-and-pop tow businesses. With Covid (prayerfully) on its way out, Mr. Buell is said to be awarded at this year’s memorial.

WORDS TO THE WISE

Fact: Ours is an incredibly dangerous industry. Entering flood waters to conduct water rescue is a treacherous process. I’ve covered water recovery safety several times in Towman, only to recommend towers stay out of the water for obvious reasons. I remind all responders that “fast tumbling water can turn a simple rescue into an untimely fatality.” In an unbelievably odd bit of tragedy, John Buell’s brother, David, drowned in a 1930 swimming accident also on the Potomac River. I know that we towers bear a rescuer’s heart; yet I pray you will err on the side of safety. I dedicate this narrative in memory of tow owner, operator and volunteer fire chief, John Elliott Buell. This research was a long and drawn-out project, but one I’ll share with the purpose of adding to our industry’s history. I’m honored Mr. Buell is finally being awarded for his unselfish sacrifice.

It’s my mission to see John Buell’s name added to the Wall of the Fallen; bestowing him the highest award our industry can award a fallen operator.

Author’s Note: Special thanks to Jennifer Abbott and Sara Hedlund, both researchers at Maryland’s (Montgomery) Historical Society, and Mrs. Donna Miller, for their participation and contributions in the development and research for this article. Without their commitment and willingness to research, this narrative would never have been possible.

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

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 17


Tow Engineer

Autoloaders VS Conventional Wheel Lifts By Terry Abejuela

Vulcan - 804 - This unit utilizes an integrated design with a conventional wheel lift grid and a spoon or scoop style wheel retainer, equipped with pivoting receivers on the wheel lift crossbar.

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

f you are in the market to purchase a new wheel lift tow truck there are many decisions to make before placing the final order. One of those decisions is whether an autoloader or conventional style wheel lift will work best for your operation. A good look at your current mix of equipment and business as well as reviewing your business model and looking at future growth plans are in order before deciding what equipment to purchase. If a wheel lift truck is the right equipment to purchase to meet your current needs then you need to decide which type. Wheel lifts are probably the most common type of equipment utilized for towing passenger automobiles and light duty pick-up trucks and vans. There are many options available so do your homework and look at all the available options before making a decision. Attending a tow show is an excellent opportunity to see various manufacturers under the same roof and ask questions, watch manufacturer

18 • September 2021 | Towman.com

demonstrations and discuss options with other industry owners and operators. I have not found a specific type of truck that is perfect for all sorts of work performed in the towing and recovery industry. Emergency roadside service, private property towing, recovery, salvage, quick clearance, and motor club work all have their specific needs and a specific type of equipment that works well for one may not work as well for another. This is why it is important to look at your current mix of business and what your future growth plans are so you can choose equipment that will provide the best bang for your buck. Autoloader wheel lifts are very efficient trucks for towing especially for private property, repossession and motor club work. When your primary business is towing the ability to tow more vehicles per day is beneficial to your bottom line. Autoloader trucks utilize an integrated design that combined with a non-extendable boom, and no winch results in lighter weight units


This Dynamic 755 is an integrated twin line unit equipped with a 5,000-pound self-loading wheel lift and two mini spool 8,000-pound winches.

which increases towing payload. These towing specific units have improved driver visibility from the cab of the truck to the rear allowing operators to easily and safely back up to vehicles for towing as well as backing towed vehicles into narrow spaces. Autoloaders equipped with inside controls and strategically placed back up cameras allow operators to safely perform a significant amount of the hook up procedure before exiting the tow truck. Being able to perform a good portion of the hook up from inside the cab of the truck improves the safely for the tow truck operator. Autoloaders don’t require a manual adjustment of the wheel lift crossbar to the width of the towed vehicle. The potential for operator fatigue and injuries is reduced since the tow truck operator has less work to perform manually. Towing low clearance vehicles or vehicles with flat tires or small tires are easily handled with an autoloader using spacers. There is no need to double pick or use a floor jack and lumber in order to adjust the wheel retainers tight enough under the wheel to create Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

It is important to look at your current mix

of business

and what your

future growth plans are so you can choose equipment that will provide the

best bang for your buck.

under carriage clearance for the oil pan. Some autoloaders utilize a wheel grid system that folds all the way around the end of the wheel lift crossbar. When using this style of wheel grid system the wheel retaining arms can be hydraulically adjusted tighter under the wheel for small tires and flat tires eliminating the need for a spacer. Most autoloader wheel lifts feature a wheel lift crossbar design that allows for sharp angle hook ups. Some are able to perform a 90 degree angled hook up to tow a vehicle that is parallel parked with ease. Autoloaders often utilize a wheel tie down strap system with one point of contact on the wheel. Make sure to follow the equipment manufacturers recommended procedures for securing the wheels in the wheel lift grid and don’t forget the use of secondary attachment chains (safety chains) on every tow. An autoloader can also be equipped with an extendable boom and winches to provide recovery capability. Recovery work is a bit more limited as the wheel lift is integrated into the recovery boom. Some autoloaders have a pulley system that can be attached to the wheel lift crossbar allowing lifts off the end of the wheel lift boom. Additional steps may be required to prevent the wheel lift crossbar from pivoting when utilizing this feature. Autoloaders may require

An integrated design with an autoloader wheel lift and a non-extendable boom with a winch.

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 19


a little more maintenance due to the additional moving parts and hydraulics for the wheel grid system. Keep all of these moving parts well lubricated so they perform as intended. Follow all equipment manufacturer recommendations for inspection and maintenance. Operators who utilize an autoloader must take precautions to avoid damages specific to autoloaders. Due to the fold down design of these units the operator must maintain enough space to unfold or fold the wheel lift to avoid contact with the towed vehicle. If rear view cameras are not utilized, I recommend the operator should exit the truck to perform the hook up so they can watch to ensure there is adequate clearance for the wheel lift crossbar and tire grids. Conventional wheel lift systems are available in an integrated or

20 • September 2021 | Towman.com

independent configuration with or without an extendable recovery boom and with or without winches. Units with an independent recovery boom offer more versatility for recovery work but reduce operator visibility to the rear from the cab of the truck. Conventional wheel lift systems utilizing an integrated recovery boom also utilize the fold up wheel lift boom design. Conventional wheel lifts may utilize an L-arm style wheel retainer or a scoop or spoon style wheel retainers. The L-arm style wheel retainers are lower profile and fit under low body clearance vehicles more easily. The scoop or spoon style have a higher profile and require a pivoting receiver. This allows the scoop or spoon to be adjusted to the size of the wheel and pivoted into place behind the wheel so it does not have to fit under the body of the vehicle.

The resale value of both types of units can be directly impacted by following the equipment manufacturers recommended maintenance schedule and retaining detailed documentation. I recommend that a vehicle file be maintained for each truck including copies of all manufacturer materials, parts and operation manuals as well as maintenance, repair and proper training for any driver operating the equipment is essential to reduce damage and extend the service life of the equipment. Both autoloaders and conventional wheel lifts have their pros and cons depending on the type of work you primarily perform. Do your homework and research all of the options available based on your business needs, make the decision which type will work best for you.


Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 21


Tow Boss “Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.” – Christopher Columbus

South Dakota’s Plains Towing tows five to ten EVs a month.

The Coming of EVs What it Means for Towers

By George Nitti

George L. Nitti has written for American Towman since 2009. He started out as a news writer and now writes a weekly feature on TowIndustryWeek.com, Tow Illustrated, which spotlights the tow truck graphics.

P

erhaps nothing embodies the truth of this insight than the coming of EVs, where anticipated growth is set to surge in the next decade and beyond. For towing, what does the seismic shift mean for an industry that has been dependent on the old world of the internal combustion engine (ICE)? Numerous variables are coming together to define and spur this new age in transport. Chief catalyst is the pressure global warming exerts on our planet, which is forcing the adoption of technology at an accelerating pace. Each new weather event – floods in Germany, fires raging in the West, coastal waters rising around the

22 • September 2021 | Towman.com

world, etc. – set us on a path of bringing down carbon emissions and moving us towards a cleaner world through renewable energy. In the U.S., legislation will accelerate changes, such as a trillion dollar infrastructure plan recently passed by the Senate focused on building out 500,000 charging stations across the country. States as well promote their own stricter emission standards and provide incentives to buyers of electric cars. The European Union recently proposed cutting emissions from new cars by 100 percent compared with current levels by 2035, which would mean phasing out all new cars running on


gasoline. Big changes are ahead. Although EV production currently makes up only 2% of total units sold, major carmakers are quickly transitioning the auto industry to hybrids and EVs. Tesla, which produces more than half of the EVs sold in the United States, over the last 4 years has grown its deliveries at an average rate of 65%, from 76,230 units in 2016 to 499,535 in 2020. According to Forbes Magazine, “Assuming its annual deliveries grow at an average rate of 50% in the next four years, and the rate falls to an average of 25% beyond that, Tesla could be selling nearly 10 million cars by 2030.” GM, the largest U.S car manufacturer, is committing to 30 electric models by 2025, investing 35 billion dollars. Their website states: “We’re committed to putting every driver in an electric vehicle on a scale previously unseen and bringing the world to an all-electric future.” Ford already has a line-up of electric and hybrid vehicles and is expected to produce versions of their most popular truck, the F-150 Lightening, as an allelectric version by the end of 2022. Car manufacturers from around the world are also taking momentous steps, as are a host of new start-up companies, all with a similar vision of electrifying the world. Tow companies are getting into the action,

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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 23


some more than others, based on the greater concentration of EVs in select regions of the U.S., California tops the EV market in terms of units sold, with other regions like Texas, Fla., Wash., and N.Y. growing their base while the Midwest and South lag behind. Sandra Sabbagh, a Sr. Director at Honk, a company which offers a free tow and roadside assistance app and works with approximately 75,000 individual service-providers, indicated that

they saw a shift in the market about three years ago. Keenly focused on identifying where towers are equipped and trained to support EV recovery and transport, Honk tracks data in order to match service providers with customers. “22% of tow companies that Honk works with are experiencing 5% growth in volume while 10% of service providers say EVs are 20% of business,” said Sabbagh. “The key for us is unlocking the skills

on the network side and matching that with the concentrated demand on the consumer side.” As the EV towing and recovery business grows, so too will more towers be tasked with confronting the challenges of towing and servicing EVs.

“It’s bad enough that we have to worry about getting hit on

the side of the road. Now you have to be afraid of

electrocution.

Your winch cable is a powerline.” John Fabris of South Dakota’s Plains Towing and Recovery services Honk calls. The business is averaging five to ten EV tows monthly and is expecting much greater growth in the near future. He unequivocally maintains a need to train towers on handling EVs. He said, “It’s very important that towers know what they are doing, which is specific to each vehicle. So the biggest adjustment is making sure the operators have the right manual to follow the OEM procedures for towing these vehicles.” In the pre-manual age, operators of EVs didn’t know how to get things in neutral. Fabris said, “It has to be done through the computer otherwise it has to be skated. Most customers don’t 24 • September 2021 | Towman.com


want their $80,000 car to be skated.” In order to access these manuals, Fabris points his operators to a cloudbased platform where they have access right from their back pocket – their phone. Fabris emphasized that what you don’t want to do is sit a tower down, go over the manuals and expect them to retain that knowledge. He said, “The company meeting is not really the route to go in disseminating information.” Besides being capable of using their phones for EV research, towers must break the mindset that they are towing an ICE. He said, “We are creatures of habit. Towing an ICE unit is such a standard procedure that it has become ingrained. There has to be an awareness that you are towing an EV, which requires a different set of procedures.” With an ICE, for example, all a tower may have to figure out is how to get the vehicle into neutral and winch it on to their flatbed. However, with an EV, the tower may be required to use a jump pack to the 12 Volt system, create power to the accessories and computer, and then put it in tow mode, which releases the wheels. At ASAP Towing in Portland, Oregon, owner Alex Shopen says he carries four different jumper boxes. ASAP services EV calls from Honk and other call providers. He said, “Half the time, the electrical system is glitching out and it comes back to life with a charge. What’s critical to know is where those jump points are.” He mentioned the need for rigorous training, chat groups and youtube videos as a way for his drivers to gain knowledge. And what not to do, such as frying the electrical system. He said, “One of my jumper boxes includes a voltage regulator so as not to fry the computer on the EV. Putting a new computer in could cost $6000 to $8000 dollars, which could fall back on us if we are responsible.”

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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 25


ASAP services EV calls from HONK and other call providers

Another important consideration in towing an EV is its heavier weight. With some of the Tesla models weighing over 5,000 pounds, towers must be aware of whether their tow trucks and equipment are rated to tow the vehicle, especially if they are using dollies. Fabris said, “You have to have the proper documentation at your fingertips so you know what you are hauling, how much the weight is going to be and whether your tow truck and equipment can handle it.”

26 • September 2021 | Towman.com

Shopen suggested the same, indicating that the Tesla Model X weighed more than his 3500 Dodge Ram. He said, “I often use a heavyduty wrecker for EV calls, as it is easier to lift a vehicle than get it on a flatbed.” He noted drivers have to be careful hooking cars that don’t have hook points. He said, “You could hook it to a control arm and snap it.” Of course, there is the inherent danger of working with a powerful electrical system that overheats or

catches fire. Shopen said, “It’s bad enough that we have to worry about getting hit on the side of the road. Now you have to be afraid of electrocution. Your winch cable is a powerline.” Fabris noted as well these dangers. He said, “Our number one objective is EV safety, especially being involved in an accident. It is a whole new ballgame for tow operators.” He indicated communicating with fire stations as essential, in case there are situations that include fires or overheated systems measured by temperature guns, which he plans to implement soon. He said, “If they are too hot, it would be turned over to the local fire department because they would be deemed not safe to work on.” Despite these new challenges and hazards, EV safety remains strong according to Fabris. “There are less components, thus less parts to break, causing fewer breakdowns.” He added, “Most of the calls we get are for recalls or servicing; not breakdowns. The safety ratings are higher on the Tesla models X, Y and S – all having 5-star safety ratings. That’s an incredible achievement.”


As the numbers of EV vehicles on the road grows exponentially, so too will the demand for towing and recovery services. Fabris said, “People are still going to slide off the road during ice storms, they are still going to hit deer, they still are going to have collisions at intersections.” And the more EV work, the more incentives for towers to invest in the kind of equipment they will need to execute their jobs. In June, Urgently, another roadside assistance company focused on using an app to connect service providers with drivers, formed a partnership with SparkCharge, the maker of the Roadie, a fast-charging mobile unit that towers could use regularly to service depleted batteries and help get those stranded cars back up and running, all at a price, that would need to be acceptable to towers and motor clubs alike. Currently, these fast charging units start at around $5,000, a forward-thinking investment for most tow companies at this stage of EV market penetration. Gary King, a leader over network relationship management at Allstate Roadside, was the first to assist in pioneering a pilot program with GM’s OnStar using SparkCharge’s technology. He said, “We bought seven units and asked service providers to try them out and share data with us.”

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 27


From the program, Allstate learned a few things. First, that the demand for scheduled charges, which is a key part of SparkCharges program called Charge Up, far exceeded emergency charging for vehicles stranded roadside. King said, “There was a reluctance of providers to work at early times when a lot of the charging was scheduled. Providers need to deal with emergencies and can’t do it while they are on a skeletal crew.” King also noted that traditional tow companies would rather use their trucks than service calls that may pay only $25 to $30 per charge. To compensate towers who were part of the program, Allstate Roadside paid approximately $75 per charge and King foresees $50 $100 as the standard, saying “Charging up batteries is not the same as jump starting a car. It takes longer.” Despite the challenges, however, King sees the opportunity for a service that towers may provide as the EV revolution transforms our roadways. “At first there was a big fear that EVs were going to cost too much,” he said. “But long term they are going to cost less.” The future, as they say, is here. Columbus, Ford, and now a new generation led by the likes of Elon Musk – pioneers of a new age that have transformed life as we know it, each following the sun and leaving behind remnants of the old world.

28 • September 2021 | Towman.com


601

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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 29


in New Jersey By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

30 • September 2021 | Towman.com


A

t 4 am on June 10, 2021, DeFalco’s received a call from the New Jersey State Police Somerville Barracks. They were requesting DeFalco respond to Mile Marker 7.5 on Route 24 Westbound in Millburn, New Jersey, to deal with a rolled over tractor-trailer. ◀

Rolled over tractor-trailer loaded with empty wine bottles on Route 24 Westbound in Millburn, NJ.

Bringing the tractor over as they separate the chassis from the box.

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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 31


The twin NRC 50s rigged to lift the box.

Bringing the tractor over as they separate the chassis from the box.

32 • September 2021 | Towman.com

DeFalco’s dispatched The Twins, two of their newly painted NRC 50s. TRAA level III operator Ryan Condit operated their 2021 Kenworth T800 with a NRC 50-ton CSR (Composite Sliding Rotator). The other twin, also a 2021 Kenworth T800 with a NRC 50-ton CSR was operated by Rolondo Ramirez. Operator Billy Rempfer Jr. was dispatched in their mediumduty 2016 Kenworth T370 with a NRC 20-ton slider. Operator Hector Ramirez was in a 1994 International, Incident-Response Truck with light tower and hazmat clean up equipment. They also brought a 2021 International Flatbed with 22-foot Chevron bed operated by Marcus


Hayes to removed debris from scene. “I was on scene in my 2021 wrecker to supervise all operations and work with the NJSP and NJ DOT,” added Adam DeFalco. Their first course of action was to separate the box loaded with empty wine bottles from the chassis. Adam informed, “We split the box from the chassis by rigging rim slings to the casualty’s wheels and winched the tractor over using auxiliary winches with 1/2-inch grade, 100 chain wrapped around the frame, hooked to the main winches of one of the NRC 50s for the catch line.” With the chassis now separated from the box, they winched the box, still on its side, into position using 1/2 grade 100 foundry hooks. With The Twin NRC 50s now staged on either side, with one up front of the box and the other at the rear, the crew re-positioned the hooks on the loaded box for the next lift. Patrick Sisbarro, from Sisbarro Towing, was called in to assist with his low boy trailer. Both DeFalco’s and Sisbarro are long-time towing and recovery companies in New Jersey handling police calls. Adam and Patrick have worked together on many jobs sharing the load. Patrick Sisbarro positioned his low boy trailer in front of the box and the 50s lifted and set the box gently down and it was secured for transport. “Our new heavy-duty fleet is lettered, designed and dedicated to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America (LCFA) to honor our dad Bill who passed away in 2016 from Lung Cancer,” stated Adam. William “Bill” R. Rempfer Sr. and his wife Cheryl opened DeFalco’s Automotive and Towing in Chatham, NJ in 1994. Bill was a hardworking and successful business owner all of his life. He Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

DeFalco’s twin NRC 50s lift the box and set it gently on Sisbarro’s low boy trailer.

served as a special police officer on the Florham Park Police Department from 1981 to 1992. In 2007, Bill and Cheryl moved to Surfside Beach, SC., where they built their second successful location of DeFalco’s Automotive. Bill passed away on Nov. 30, 2016, but his wife, Cheryl and sons, William “Bill” Jr. and Adam carry on the family owned and operated business that has grown into an outstanding, independent repair shop and AAA towing and emergency, roadside-service provider. With their extensive fleet and highly trained and experienced operators, DeFalco’s is prepared and equipped to handle any heavyduty towing and recovery situation. Sisbarro Towing is a family owned and operated full service towing, recovery, and repair

business located in Union, NJ. Patrick Sisbarro founded his company in 2003 with one truck. It has grown to be one of largest and most reliable towing companies within Union County with over 15 pieces of equipment, ranging from light-duty wreckers and flatbeds to their NRC 50-ton Sliding Rotator. Sisbarro Towing is a preferred provider for many police departments, including the New Jersey State Police.

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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 33


AD INDEX Akins Body & Carrier Sales.........................59 American Safety & Supply..........................28 American Towman Exposition............... 35-50 AmeriDeck.................................................54 Anchor Graphics........................................67 APTO Association.......................................75 Atlanta Wrecker Sales................................23 AT ShowPlace Las Vegas............. W 92- W 94 Austin Insurance....................................M 87 AutoReturn...........................................13, 62 Captain Recovery.......................... N 88, S 86 Chevron Commercial..................................28 Crouch’s Wrecker & Equip. Sales................54 Custer Products.........................................61 Donnie Cruse Recovery Award....................75 Dri-Deck....................................................25 Dual-Tech Wreckers & Carriers...................76 East Coast Truck & Trailer............. N 83, M 85 EasTract North America..............................76 Edgetec.................................................W 89 Elizabeth Truck Center................................27 Environmental Chemical Solutions..........W 88 EZ Spare Wheel......................................W 91 Fayetteville Ford.........................................51 G. Stone Commercial.............................. N 86 Guniwheel Distributed by LKQ................W 88 Hanks Insurance Group..........................W 90

34 • September 2021 | Towman.com

September 2021

i BUY REMOTES.....................................W 91 ICW Group Insurance..................................29 Intek Leasing.............................................55 Isuzu Commerical Truck...............................7 ITI..............................................................27 Len Zermenos............................................77 Lien Enforcement...................................W 96 Lift Marketing Group..............................M 88 McMahon Truck Center..........................M 83 Metrocom..................................................74 Midco Sales.......................................... W 86 Miller Industries...........................................2 Mobile Control Systems..............................29 Mobile Video Computing.............................34 New England Truckmaster...................... N 87 North American Bancard............................15 Nottingham Insurance.................. N 87, M 88 OMG Tow Marketing...................................68 Order of Towman.......................................73 Pacific General Insurance.......................M 86 Peak Auto Auction......................................25 PeakPTT....................................................63 Peak Wrecker Sales...............................W 84 Peddle.......................................................29 Performance Advantage Company..............51 Progressive Commerical.............................21 Quick Cash for Remotes.........................M 86

Recovery Billing Unlimited..........................68 RimSling....................................................23 RRA Tow Truck Insurance.......................W 87 SafeAll Products.........................................24 Santander Bank........................... Back Cover Sea Crest Insurance Agency...................W 89 Servicase...................................................63 Sierra Pacific Insurance..........................W 83 Smyrna Truck & Cargo...............................74 TEC Equipment..........................................60 Towbook Management Software...................3 Tow Brokers Insurance..................S 83, W 85 Tow Industries.......................................W 90 Towman Games........................... M 89-M 96 Towman Medal..........................................77 Towman Originals.................................. S 87 TowMate....................................................20 Trail King Industries...................................21 TTSA......................................................W 86 Urgent.ly....................................................55 Utility Trailer Sales of S.E. TX..................W 96 Warn Industries............................................5 West End Service.......................................61 Winches Inc...........................................W 95 XINSURANCE..........................................W 95 Xpress-pay................................................26 Zip’s / AW Direct.......... 17, Inside Back Cover


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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 51


By Steve Calitri

52 • September 2021 | Towman.com


T

oday, the towman is recognized as a key player of the incident command structure. He alone has the knowledge and tools to clear the roadway. While the police and troopers may secure the scene to assure a safer work area for the tow operators and oversee that the work is happening as speedily as possible, doing the towing and recovery work required and clearing the scene can only be done as fast as the tow operators and their equipment can safely operate. The primary dynamic for quick clearance here is good communication among those incident commanders.

Artwork by Rodolfo Reyes

The Quick Clearance Training and Certification course set for the Towman Games in Cleveland, Ohio, October 1416, deals with the towman’s place on the scene with incident command. Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

A textbook example of a tower as Incident Commander was the role James Bennet of Beard’s Towing played in clearing the ‘Great Texas Pileup’ in February of this year. Bennet coordinated the work of over a dozen tow companies recovering and loading cars and trucks in the massive pileup. Troopers there would have been lost and paralyzed without him in the command role. He knew and fully understood the capabilities of the tow equipment brought to the scene and how they would be utilized. The trooper in the command role at the scene called his shots that allowed the recovery work to proceed. Bennet called the critical shots to make it all happen successfully. There were 150 police and fire fighters on that scene in Texas working with the towing professionals. Says Bennet, “We had to do our job so they could do theirs,” referencing vehicles that were trapped by other vehicles on top of them. It takes several accidents for a tower to know how he can work most effectively on the scene and how he should communicate with law enforcement and rescue personnel. The Quick Clearance course in October in Cleveland’s Huntington Convention Center is designed to get the green tower up to speed and instill the confidence he should have on his first go-around. The tower as one of the first responders at the scene needs to know who he should report to and what is expected of him. The way to a successful arrival at the scene must be primed by the information given to him by his dispatcher. The course thus covers what the tow-dispatched needs to ascertain about the accident.

The tower should know how many wreckers and carriers have been dispatched to the scene. For that to happen the dispatcher has to get a complete picture of the accident, vehicles involved and how they are positioned which is helpful information for the towers going to the scene. The tower arriving should first report to the incident commander among the troopers. What questions should he ask on arrival? The next step is the walkaround, assessing the surrounding, weights present, obstacles, working space, etc. One key question will be, should the victim vehicle be repositioned first to free up a lane? There are many things that can be communicated between police and fire fighters on a scene. But what about the several towers with trucks on the scene. Who is the captain, or head incident commander among them coordinating their actions? Anyone with scene experience can appreciate the details involved and how good communication among the players is critical. The Quick Clearance course addresses them all, even on of the most necessary elements, such as, exiting the scene. Let’s say there are five or more tow trucks. How do they leave? What if law enforcement has gone? Who then is the Incident Commander of the exit, or clean-up? If one particular tower has been designated as IC, what are the check-offs for the team leaving the scene? Incident management at the scene demands the towman be an Incident Commander in the truest and most practical sense. Towmen have earned that title, that respect.

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 53


Supplier Scoop AutoReturn Partners with Nexa Equity  AutoReturn, a leading provider of towing and parking enforcement software, has received a majority growth investment by Nexa Equity LLC, a private equity firm. Investment will accelerate adoption of AutoReturn’s  technology in the U.S., further expand international presence and provide capital for M&A. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed but AutoReturn’s management team and founders will continue to be meaningful shareholders of the business. AutoReturn, based in 9 of the largest 20 U.S. cities, is a trusted partner to both public and private customers helping keep roadways clear by connecting law enforcement, parking enforcement, towers and vehicle owners on a single software platform. AutoReturn processes more than half a million tows annually and has a 90% win rate among customers when compared to similar solutions in RFP selection processes.  “The Nexa Equity team has a strong track record of scaling software companies, and we are excited to partner with them as we enter our next phase of growth,” said John Wicker, AutoReturn’s Founder. “AutoReturn’s vision is to make the towing and parking enforcement process easier for everyone involved. In partnership with the Nexa Equity team, AutoReturn will

54 • September 2021 | Towman.com


further execute on this vision while expanding into new product categories and propelling customer adoption domestically and internationally.” “AutoReturn is emblematic of Nexa Equity’s investment approach given the company’s undeniable impact on modernizing the towing and parking enforcement sector that was previously dominated by pen, paper and phone calls,” said Vlad Besprozvany, Founder and Managing Partner at  Nexa  Equity. “AutoReturn  has grown rapidly as a result of its unique technology platform and strong customer loyalty. We are excited to have AutoReturn as our second platform investment.”

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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 55


Safety

Roadside A Safety Commission

DIGS IN Addressing Protective Practices for Tow Operators By Steve Temple

Photos by Steve Temple and Ryan Oser

56 • September 2021 | Towman.com

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

merican Towman Magazine recently held its first Roadside Safety Commission meeting at TowXpo in San Antonio. Top industry experts and professionals, along with AT magazine staff, weighed in on this critical subject. The three-hour conference was a structured brainstorming session that turned into broad discussion on a number of best practices – all with the goal of proposing specific roadside-safety protocols. What follows are key points that all tow operators can benefit from in their daily roadside operations. While experienced towers already put many of these proven methods into practice, the commission highlighted some new ways to enhance roadside protection. Chaired by Dennie Ortiz, publisher of American Towman magazine, the program opened with a video of the Spirit Ride presented

Note:

AT’s Safety Focus Special thanks to sponsored by

Allstate Roadside and their commitment to tow operator safety.


Roadside Safety Commission meeting of industry experts.

by Mike Corbin. He shared a moving account of how he and his wife Ilce spent two years touring 47 US states with car carriers relaying a ceremonial casket in over 300 cities. The campaign included ceremonies and processions with first responders, over 10,000 tow trucks, fire trucks, EMT vans, police cruisers and motorcycles to raise awareness of the Slow Down, Move Over law. The Spirit Ride earned coverage from nearly 1,000 local newspaper and TV news stories on the risks first responders take by working the white line and how the Move Over law is meant to protect them. Corbin related that going down the highway with a procession of police, firefighters, tow trucks and first responders was a great experience—but also a sad one. During his somber sojourn, Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

spectators often asked, “What’s inside the coffin?” His bleak reply, “The spirits of all those towers killed in the line of duty.” Unfortunately, an estimated three-quarters of all motorists don’t comply with Move Over laws. Nor are they easily enforced due to a lack of police manpower. Both points raise a significant question. Considering that these laws have existed in most states for 15 years, why has there not been more consistent, ongoing media exposure about the dangers of working the white line? Some 60 towers are struck and killed each year and hundreds more are injured. Corbin’s remarks and the poignant Spirit Ride video set a protective tone for the meeting since towers can’t control erratic and irresponsible driving that occurs with distracted motorists

ROADSIDE SAFETY COMMISSION MEMBERS: Randall Resch Ron Myers Tasha Mora Brian Riker Bobby Tuttle James Bennet Mike Corbin John Borowski Shane Coleman Dennie Ortiz, Chair

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 57


The Spirit Ride casket vividly emphasizes the need for towers to protect themselves during recoveries.

or truck drivers. Overall, the fundamental safety issues boiled down to two main points: poor visibility and driver distractions. The former due to poor weather conditions and other factors, and the latter to texting and cell phone calls while driving (comprising more than 80 percent of all accidents in some areas –far more than DWI accidents). Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who drive while emotionally distracted are also a concern. In some cases, the problem of cell phone use includes tow operators themselves who don’t always use a hands-free device. A safety measure being increasingly used is “tattle-tale” cameras in the cab, which record when an operator is talking or texting on a cell phone while driving. In addition, as many as six cameras help operators to identify hazards around the truck and record accidents as well. Another safety device mentioned, which is already used in Europe, is an audio beeping alarm that’s activated when a vehicle approaches critical roadway 58 • September 2021 | Towman.com

Deal with passengers by putting them in a safe place. This keeps passengers from

distracting the tow operator while working in the kill zone. situations. It’s similar to the alert technology employed in the US by Waze and Haas Alert. With the Haas Safety Cloud, drivers receive realtime digital alerts to slow down and move over. They provide drivers with a 30-second warning in advance via apps, navigation systems, or mobile devices which is claimed to reduce the risk of a collision by up to 90 percent. With regard to visibility, overuse of emergency lighting is also a problem. It can cause a tower to get washed-out in bright lights and/or blind other drivers approaching a disabled vehicle. Another AT writer, John Borowski, demonstrated a new blue safety light called Ace Alert that can be

elevated 10 feet on a riser so it can be spotted by approaching drivers at a much greater distance. Borowski pointed out that a blue light is normally allowed only on police vehicles and cannot be mounted on tow trucks. But this new product is a separate, weatherresistant setup not attached to the truck and can be powered by a tower’s battery jump pack for at least 12 hours. As for the tow operators themselves, always wearing highly reflective PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) with a Class III vest is a high priority. “A driver should have PPE on before getting to scene and not exit the tow/service vehicle without wearing PPE,” notes


Highly visible safety signage is needed for roadside incidents.

60 • September 2021 | Towman.com

Ron Myers of Pinetree Towing. “I see drivers putting a vest on all the time after getting out.” To facilitate wearing PPE equipment, one tow company owner pointed out that while some drivers pay for their own safety gear, his firm pays for all towing wearables. Placing cones on the roadway immediately after pulling off the road is another o b v i o u s measure. (Drop three to save me!) Veteran operators on the Commission recommended putting at least three cones on the white edge line anywhere from 100 feet to as much as 100 yards from the scene, depending on the situation, so approaching drivers get plenty of advance warning. “Like the federal mandate of triangles for commercial vehicles and 10 minutes on a highway’s shoulder,” Randy

Cones

should be required as part of the tower’s

footprint on-scene.

Resch points out, “cones should be required as part of the tower’s footprint on scene.” In addition, the often-repeated advice of never taking your eyes off the highway, keeping your head on a swivel for good situational awareness and working on the nontraffic side of the road were also emphasized. Hence the need for either a remote or tow equipment controls and toolboxes to be located on both sides of a tow vehicle. Towers also need to make sure the driver and passenger of the disabled vehicle are put in either the cab or other side of the highway guardrail, not only for their protection, but to ensure they are not a distraction for the operator who must always be on the alert for


oncoming vehicles. “Always put passengers in a safe place,” Ron Myers advises. “This keeps passengers from distracting the tow operator while working in the kill zone.” Other safety protocols included not hurrying when loading up and avoiding tunnel vision. That is, focusing too much on getting the job done without keeping an eye on surrounding hazards. A helpful acronym cited during the meeting was the OODA loop. Developed by military strategist and US Air Force Colonel, John Boyd, this cycle refers to: Observe–Orient– Decide–Act. Although he applied the concept to combat operations during military campaigns, it is now also often applied to commercial operations and learning processes to help individuals and organizations succeed in uncertain and chaotic environments. For instance, towers should pull over behind a

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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 61


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62 • September 2021 | Towman.com

disabled vehicle first and take the time to assess the situation before proceeding with the recovery. Another military analogy mentioned was inspired by bomb units defusing IEDs in Iraq. The best way to survive in this extreme environment is to minimize your exposure to potential hazards. As Myers recommends, “Reduce your time as a target as much as possible.” Guidelines from the TEM (Traffic Engineering Manual) are another source of useful safety information, such as turning on safety lights a full 100 yards on approach to the roadside scene. “Being seen on Scene” are the watchwords of John Borowski, VP of Towing Programs for AutoReturn. Regular safety training was also discussed, especially for smaller towing companies. The

mid- and large-size firms seem to do a better job regularly ingraining safety practices into the minds of their towers so they don’t get distracted and miss an obvious hazard. As publisher Dennie Ortiz put it, “The key is to agree on and drill down into best practices.” The Commission acknowledged that there’s an essential need for basic standards and protocols. Tow operator safety should be a number one priority and our industry needs the increased support of law enforcement and highway safety programs. “Education is our way out of this problem,” notes Tasha Mora, compliance director for Wrecker and Recovery, LLC. She has a background in teaching and firsthand experience in this field. She also suggested that roadside safety packages, such as an arrow


stick bar and cones, could be rolled into the financing of the tow truck. Additionally, Shane Coleman of ERSCA noted that making a safety package standard equipment on a tow truck helps to lower costs since it’s based on higher volume. All told, the towing industry still has much work ahead of it to reduce risks for operators. The Commission’s immediate goal is to establish a Roadside Safety protocol for tow operators by the yearend and ultimately minimize the number of towers’ lives lost to the Spirit Ride casket. Collapsible safety barrel by SafetyUp.

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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 63


Great Wreckers Showed in San Antonio By Steve Temple

Photos by Steve Temple and Ryan Oser

Joe Crawley (center) of Crawley’s Services in Sugarland, Texas took home the “Best of Show” trophy with his Monsters, Inc.-themed 2021 Peterbilt, fitted with a Century Carrier Deck and E-Tracks painted in a matching color.

T

he most exciting highlight of TowXpo is the impressive gathering of show rigs (USA Wrecker Pageant) on the exhibit floor. This year scored its largest turnout ever with 41 entrants for a San Antonio show. The display area captivated several thousand spectators, hundreds more than in previous San Antonio draws. Towers really had a desire to be out and about, eager to attend after all the isolation caused by the pandemic. 64 • September 2021 | Towman.com


The Pageant also served to inspire other tow vehicle owners to dress up their rigs with colorful wraps promoting their towing operations in diverse ways. Some showcased amazing hand-painted presentations. Shown here are several eye-catching examples, along with fascinating backstories about them. One touching experience was shared by Josh Chacon of Chacon Heavy Towing. Pointing to his 35-ton, 2019 Peterbilt 567 with a Jerr-Dan Firebody box, he shared how his ailing mother Roxanne kept insisting that the family was going to get that truck.

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While she did not live long enough to see this happen, her husband Louis made sure they honored her wishes as a tribute. Josh, along with his brothers Lance and Joseph, pitched in with the design and execution—all “In loving memory of Mom.” Josh imagined her reaction: “She would be very happy,” he says. “She would have wanted us to show it off, as she especially liked the color of the truck and boom.” On a lighter note, the Best of Show award went to Joe Crawley’s Peterbilt with a Century Carrier Deck, covered with graphics from the 2001 animated movie Monsters, Inc. “Sulley” Sullivan in blue fur and a toothy grin adorned on the hood, while the big green eyeball of Mike Wazowski decorated the driver’s side of the cab. The cute little girl “Boo” waved from the passenger side. Why this theme? “I like to keep my trucks kid-oriented,” Joe explained. “It was my favorite movie growing up, and I like to make kids smile, and point up at it.” Not only that, his dad’s rig had cartoons on it as well, such as Looney Toons’ Foghorn

Adding some street-rod flavor to the event was Ryan Marshall’s ’55 Chevy wrecker.

Leghorn, the big rooster with a paddle for spanking dogs. This win was actually Joe’s third Best of Show at the Pageant, with two others previously in 2017 and 2019. He attributes his success to checking out the competition each year, and giving close attention to details. The cartoons, for instance, were not just vinyl wraps but actually hand-drawn and custom-painted artwork by Pat Maxwell over a period of a few weeks. In addition, the bed has E-Tracks to handle high-end specialty cars, such as rare muscle cars and European exotics. He feels this setup is both safer and universal, avoiding damage to custom wheels. Adding some street-rod style to the event was Ryan Marshall of RPM Equipment, who rolled out a bright red ’55 Chevy wrecker. He acquired the wrecker basically complete, rolling on super-single, fat rear tires (instead of duallies), along with a leather interior, power windows and a 350 Chevy V8. But he has plans to take it to a higher level, as his firm builds both rods and tow trucks.

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 65


Tri-City’s flatbed suffered a bent fender from a blown tire on the way to TowXpo, but persevered to make the Pageant. Fortunately the damage didn’t show on the driver’s side.

He made the Pageant anyway, so Michael gets points for

persistence in the face of adversity, earning an unofficial “Hard Luck” trophy.

Many Pageant onlookers wanted to know if it was for sale, but Ryan says he’s going to hang onto it as a promotion for his shop in Houston. “That’s where this little gem lives,” he proudly smiles. Another promo rod, a bright blue ’46 Ford Coupe, was displayed on his 2021 Ram 5500 with a Vulcan 10 Series bed and stationary framemounted pylon, both painted white to match the cab. The bed is slightly wider at 102 inches to accommodate duallies, and also includes baskets for Phoenix toolboxes. The Ford street rod appeared three times in the TV show Texas Metal, while it was being secretly refurbished for Ryan’s dad, who has owned it since 1986. Ryan told him that he took it to a friend’s place for prep work, but instead snuck it to the TV studio. It now has a 5.0L Coyote engine and extensive bodywork upgrades. 66 • September 2021 | Towman.com

Military-themed towing rigs at the Pageant were a popular sight, and Gass Automotive of Santa Fe, Texas stood at attention with a snap-salute example. Its 2020 Kenworth with a Jerr-Dan Rotator was bedecked with action scenes of battle-hardened bravery, such as marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima. While Gass tower Eric Dierdorff is not a military veteran, he is involved with a motorcycle club that raises money for military

Morgan Towing and Recovery, from Oklahoma, look armed to the teeth with its combat graphics.


Interstate’s Peterbilt was armed and ready for recoveries with a battleship-gray Vulcan 35-ton boom.

personnel suffering from PTSD, along with first responders and law enforcement. His rig was wrapped at the last minute, just in time for him to make the Pageant and win a trophy for best Rotator. Commenting on how Gass won, “The wrap had a lot to do with it,” he noted.

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One entrant, Michael Budzinski of Tri-City Towing, encountered a minor mishap on the way to San Antonio. The Tri-City flatbed, custom-colored in turquoise with rust-colored accents, blew out a tire that resulted in a busted front fender and dented bumper. But he made the Pageant anyway, so

Michael gets points for persistence in the face of adversity, earning an unofficial “Hard Luck” trophy. At the time of the accident, the deck was loaded with a Holmes 440 wrecker for the Vintage Category. Fortunately no damage to that truck, as this rig has some sentimental value for Michael. It

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 67


was his father’s old Chevy C30, still outfitted with all the period-correct towing gear he used before passing away. The items included a his uniform, CB radio, along with a sling, solid push bumper, and original pole-andpan dollies. All of the AT judges noted that they used to drive a truck just like it early in their towing careers. Overall, the TowXpo was also noteworthy for holding the first-ever Roadside Safety Commission meeting (featured in this issue). In addition, there was an impressive gathering of towing professionals at the American Towman Academy held inside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, where industry industry suppliers exhibited their products and services. Many exhibitors reported brisk sales throughout the two-day show. Next year, look for the TowXpo to be held in Fort Worth in June of 2022. American Towman expects an even bigger turnout of tow vehicles for the next Pageant.

Pageant Winners PAGES 69-72

68 • September 2021 | Towman.com


2021 USA Wrecker Pageant Winners TowXpo • San Antonio, TX

Service & Support

TRI-CITY TOWING

Pflugerville, TX 2019 Kenworth Tractor 4-Axle (float) 2019 Sliding 5th Wheel

Vintage

TEN SIX / 10-6

Houston, TX 1933 Chevrolet Dually 3-Ton Wrecker “Weaver Crane” – Hand Crank

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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 69


Wrecker Pageant Winners Continued...

Light-Duty Wrecker Pre-2020

LONE STAR TOWING Baytown, TX 2016 Ford F350 2016 Jerr-Dan

Light-Duty Wrecker 2020-2021 TRI-CITY TOWING

Pflugerville, TX 2021 Dodge Ram 5500 2021 Chevron Renegade

70 • September 2021 | Towman.com


Medium-Duty CAPITAL TOWING

Harlingen, TX 2020 International 2020 Century 3212 Wrecker

Heavy-Duty Tandem MILLER TOWING & RECOVERY

Conroe, TX 2020 Freightliner 122SD 2020 Century 9055 Wrecker

Carrier

ISAAC’S WRECKER SERVICE

Tyler, TX 2022 Freightliner • 2022 NRC Deck

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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 71


Rotator

GASS AUTOMOTIVE

Santa Fe, TX. 2020 Kenworth • 2020 Jerr-Dan Rotator

Best Working Class

COMMERCIAL TOWING SERVICE Kyle, TX. 2020 Kenworth • Century 1150

Best of Show CRAWLEY’S SERVICES

Sugarland, TX. 2021 Peterbilt Century Carrier Deck

72 • September 2021 | Towman.com


News Flash

Connor Schmit

Morgan Hobson

2021 WTRAA Scholarship Recipients

The Women of the Towing & Recovery Association of America (WTRAA) is an auxiliary organization for the Towing & Recovery Association of America (TRAA). Since 1990, under the TRAA Education Foundation, the WTRAA Scholarship Fund Committee has awarded scholarships to the child

74 • September 2021 | Towman.com

Julia Tantare

or grandchild of a TRAA member to help them complete their education. Scholarships are awarded to students each year based on merit, financial need and the candidate’s overall character, community involvement, leadership qualities, etc. The WTRAA Scholarship Fund Committee is excited to announce and congratulate the following


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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 75


News Flash 2021 WTRAA Scholarship recipients. Their continued excellence in their education and enthusiasm towards their future are the founding principles of the WTRAA Scholarship Program. We are so excited to see how far they will go in the future! The 2021 Scholarship Recipients are: •C  onnor Schmit – Awarded $2,000.00. Connor will be a freshman at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN. Connor is majoring in Global Business Management with a minor in Philosophy. • Morgan Hobson – Awarded $2,500.00. Morgan will be a sophomore at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA. Morgan is working towards a major in Business Organizational Management with a double minor in Mathematics and Economics. •J  ulia Tantare – Awarded $7,000.00. Julia will be a senior at Seattle University, Seattle, WA. After finishing with her undergraduate degrees in Criminology and Criminal Justice Theory with a minor in Psychology, Julia plans to attend law school to become a criminal defense attorney. For individuals interested in applying for 2022, look for the WTRAA Scholarship Application to run in the Spring edition of the TRAA – Towing & Recovery Association of America’s e-news.

76 • September 2021 | Towman.com


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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 77


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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 79


My Baby

The Quickswap Workhorse This workhorse is a go to unit for a long-time Indiana tow company. Workhorse: something, such as a machine, that performs dependably under heavy or prolonged use. By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

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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.

land’s Wrecker Service was founded by Gary Bland in 1969 and has become one of Bloomington and Monroe County, Indiana’s premier towing, recovery and roadside assistance companies. Gary sold out and retired at the end of 2015 and Chad Stephens took over. Bland’s tows everything from the smallest cars to largest semis and also handles emergency-spill response, accident cleanup and site restoration, with a well trained staff of 18 professionals that can handle whatever comes their way. The company has a varied fleet of trucks and wreckers including; four heavies, one medium-duty, two light-duty, three carriers, four service trucks (two light-duty, and two for heavy-duty roadside repairs). Their extensive specialized equipment includes; a Polaris RZR used to transport personnel and equipment to recovery scenes that may not be easily accessible (trucks in woods, down steep grades,

80 • September 2021 | Towman.com

etc.), a “First Response” recovery trailer, 15, 20, 30, and 40 yard rolloff tubs, dump truck, seven semi tractors, roll-off truck, Landoll, Lowboy, Wacker Light Tower, 12K dump trailer, 14K trailer, John Deere 550 H Crawler Dozer, Cat Skid Steer, Cat Mini Excavator, Van Trailer and a DJI Mavic Air 2 Pro Drone. Featured here is their 2013 NRC Quickswap mounted on a 2006 Kenworth T800, a workhorse unit they simply call “The Quickswap.” This rig is powered by a Caterpillar C15 550HP engine mated to an Eaton Fuller 18-Speed transmission. The NRC factory built and installed the Quickswap unit and Bland’s Wrecker Service built the remainder of the unit in house. This Quickswap is a powerful multi-purpose rig that features a heavyduty frame, a heavy-duty 3-stage underlift with a lifting capacity of 35,000-pounds. It has a towing capacity of 80,000-pounds, an adjustable air-ride suspension and simple


detachable design. Andrew Patton, Training/Safety Director for Bland’s informed, “This unit is equipped with a 20,000-pound Ramsey winch and all the necessary equipment to tow anything from small equipment trailers to loaded tractor-trailers, mixers, dump trucks and whatever it needs to. It has a special-made foot for winching, full remote, tire stands, cab guard with toolboxes, small spill cleanup kit and leak stop equipment. It also has equipment to switch back over to semi use. It detaches from the tractor in minutes.” The paint, done by Kenworth of Indy in Indianapolis, Indiana, took three weeks. Kenworth of Indy/ Palmer Trucks is a full-service Kenworth dealership network serving Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois. They are a familyowned business with more than a half-century history that has grown to a team of more than 600 individuals. Vanhorn Tint & Accessories in Ellettsville, Indiana did the vinyl wrap.

in vehicle wraps and vehicle graphics, as well as signs, banners, decals and custom made neon clocks. They also offer a full line of car and truck accessories as well as professional detailing products. Andrew said, “The Quickswap has completed tows all over the country. It consistently and safely tows loaded tractor-trailers, garbage and concrete trucks. The most important attribute this unit brings to our business is its versatility. Just the right size to fit in tighter situations and parking lots in our city and still get the job done.” This reliable workhorse’s intimidating look of power is enhanced by the Herd Road Train Grille Guard with horizontal bars. A versatile and powerful beautiful beast, the Quickswap won AAA Beauty Contest-Heavy division in 2017.

Tech Highlights Chassis: 2006 Kenworth T800 Wrecker body: 2013 NRC Quickswap Engine: Caterpillar C15 550HP Trans: Eaton Fuller 18-speed Winches: Ramsey 20K Built by: NRC Truck Name: The Quickswap Equipment: Loaded Paint: Kenworth of Indy Design & Graphics: Vanhorn Tint & Accessories

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Vanhorn is a small locally owned and operated window tint and graphic business with over 30 years experience with all automotive films. They specialize Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • 81


Lowdown

Invincible, Towman Grit By Steve Calitri

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

to fly. When sirens sounded that Saturday, attendees made their way outdoors, calmly wondering if it was a terrorist threat. In fact, a bird had flown into the upstairs ballroom tripping its laser alarm system. And after the banks busted in ’08 and stopped giving credit, tow bosses showed up in droves, astounding exhibitors who expected a downturn in attendance. At TowXpo last month, San Antonio hosted its largest draw ever. It is accurate to say; the tower’s job is adversity. American Towman’s comeback is in the same spirit of the professionals it serves. We’re back with more fight coursing through our company than ever before. There’s a new venue in Las Vegas for ATShowplace, September 15-17: the Westgate Resort and Casino. The show’s dynamic program features recovery training This illustration by Rodolfo Reyes, exclusive to American Towman, on a big scale and two courses in can be printed on t-shirts, posters, and mugs at TowmanOriginals.com recovery business. ne not familiar with the towing industry At the new Towman Games in Cleveland, might have figured 2020 KO’d it. After recovery training has an elite edge to it and all, it’s an industry that is always beset a groundbreaking course is also on the slate, with many challenges making it tough Quick Clearance Training and Certification. to operate in the black. Today insurance costs The course is designed to arm tow operators are through the roof and tow bosses may well with knowledge and credentials to be hanging at the southern border recruiting successfully engage with incident command drivers, as it’s never been this bad to find and on the scene. keep them. Moreover, 2020’s politicians did There will be no ‘same old, same old’ at their best to cut the towing industry tree from the American Towman scenes from Vegas its roots, traffic. to Baltimore. That wouldn’t be reflective of But nothing can keep a good tower the towman’s work, which changes from one down. The same can be said of the magazine scene to the next. that reflects him, and the Expositions that It’s not hyperbole to use the word celebrate him. The American Towman ‘invincible’ for towmen and tow women Exposition that followed the shock of 9/11 in America. In the office and on the roads, hosted its largest draw to date at that time. they overcome adversity each and every There was nary a cancellation, though day and night. airlines were reeling from the public’s fear

O

82 • September 2021 | Towman.com


Case Closed

The Truth, The Lies, and the Ugly By Josh Brown, Esq.

Josh Brown is an attorney at Cassone Law Offices, LLC. where he represents dozens of small businesses throughout Ohio as business counsel and litigator.

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efamation is not protected by “free speech” and the First Amendment. Some people learn that the hard way. Let’s say a wealthy drug-dealer buys some property near your tow-shop. If that wasn’t bad enough, let’s say you discover that drug dealer applied to the local zoning commission for a permit to dispose of hazardous waste on his property. What would you do? Perhaps you show up at the zoning commission meeting and protest. Perhaps you would gather a group of other people in the community to do the same. And let’s say you get the zoning commissioners on your side—they rule in your favor? What do you think the drug dealer would do? Perhaps the drug dealer declares a political war on you. He starts a website. He gets local media involved, maybe even pays them off. He recruits local people to join in. How does he motivate all these people? Perhaps he tells your customers that you are corrupt and about to lose your business. He tells your suppliers that you were drinking and driving, cheating on your spouse, and that you stole money from the government. When you go to apply for a concealed carry permit, he tells everybody that you are “arming up” and that you are a danger to the community. When you help your elderly neighbor move some boxes out of his house, the drug dealer takes pictures of it and tells the world that you are clearly and obviously selling drugs. You notice that people are getting concerned. But you don’t back down. The next time you go to the zoning commission, you wear a body camera and you post the video online so there is no question about what happened. You feel good about the whole thing. However, on your way into the meeting, you picked up a packet of papers

North 84 • September 2021 | Towman.com

off a table, which was meant for public distribution. At the end of the meeting, you throw those papers away. The drug dealer cuts up a clip of you throwing those papers away and tells everybody that you threw away public records. He says you are now a criminal. He has a lacky file a false police report. He recruits and funds candidates to run for the zoning commission, on the campaign promise to stop people (like you) from destroying public records. He rents property to local firefighters to bribe them into spreading his falsehoods. Local authorities, like the county prosecutor and the police release written statements that you did nothing wrong. You are completely vindicated. But the attacks persist anyway. In fact, the zoning commissioners are very open about the fact that they do not care about those reports. In fact, the sitting zoning commissioners see the writing on the wall and join the bandwagon in trashing your reputation . . . well, except for one. One zoning commissioner goes to bat for you. He pays a price. The drug dealer then organizes a door-to-door signature campaign to have that one commissioner removed from office. The petitioners have no basis, so they make up one. The canvassers feed the people the false information discussed above. While they speak with people on those people’s porches, the canvassers even show the video clip of you throwing away papers, saying that the video proves your wrongdoing. Do you think this cannot happen? Its exaggerated? This just couldn’t happen? As an attorney who handles defamation cases, I can tell you that this is no exaggeration. I represent businesses that have been attacked in similar ways. I represent individuals with similar allegations. Not only do they suffer through the damage of the defamation


itself—they have to pay me quite a bit of money to represent them in a defamation lawsuit. And it is hard to get your day in court if you do not prepare adequately.

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW DEFAMATION WORKS

Free speech is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and every state constitution in the U.S. However, defamation is not protected. Defamation in Ohio is “A false statement about the Plaintiff that: causes injury to a person’s reputation; exposes him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame, or disgrace; or affects him adversely in his trade or business.” Opinions are protected speech. The drug dealer above could tell everyone and anyone that he thinks you are a jerk, or corrupt, or whatever. However, it becomes defamation when he states demonstrably untrue factual statements, that he knows are untrue, especially when he implies that he has special knowledge of those facts. In Ohio, as in most states, examples of defamation may include statements alleging the plaintiff was convicted of a felony, lied on a job application, or a letter alleging a company’s workers were “unprofessional” because they engaged in voyeurism. If you are a “public person” there is a higher standard. The public persons standard is that the Plaintiff must prove the defendant made or published a false statement with actual malice, i.e., knowledge the statement was false or reckless disregard for whether it was false or not. If you cannot claim defamation for some reason, there are many other claims that may be applicable. For example, in one of my cases my client alleges “abuse of process” Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

which is the initiation of a lawsuit with an improper purpose. In another case, my client alleges tortious interference with business and/or contract, because the defendant tried to induce a person to break a contract with statements we allege are lies.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT DEFAMATION?

First, hire a passionate trial lawyer sooner rather than later. The only thing more expensive than a lawyer is not having a lawyer. I recommend one, like myself, who became a lawyer to protect small businesses from evil lies and corruption. That lawyer has to have a tolerance for the hate he or she will receive from the defendants. Second, keep good records. Keep a file with every little thing said. Keep a notebook with notes of everything you know. Keep track of the time, place, and manner of everything. Take pictures of everything. Also, have others do the same—your employees, friends, and anyone with relevant information. If appropriate, file official records to document the problem. This may make your records more reliable. Always assume you will need to prove “what happened” later. Lawyers prefer too much information to too little. As your lawyer, when I take your case to court, I have to show the following: 1) what the defendant(s) said; and 2) that they knew what they said was untrue when they said it. In Ohio, damages are presumed in defamation but the more evidence I have of damages, the better. I need my client to give me that information. Third, in the defamation context, I generally recommend that you be aggressive in taking your case to court. Usually, we are

not dealing with reasonable people in a defamation situation. It is expensive, but I will tell you this— the biggest mistake you can make is underestimating your opponent. Never, never underestimate what evil people will do. Once it is in court, you can force the defendants to the negotiation table and force them to abide by a set of civil rules with court supervision. For example, if they cross lines of decency while you are in court, you can quickly apply for a restraining order. This is harder if you are not already in court. Also, often, there is little downside to moving the issue into the courts. It is entirely appropriate to use a legitimate lawsuit as negotiating leverage to enforce your rights. If the defendants cooperate, perhaps you can dismiss the case or negotiate a settlement. The mere threat of a lawsuit often fails to deter illegal behavior, although we typically send a “cease and desist” letter before litigation, to show that we were trying to work it out without going to court. Also, you should consider that lawsuits take a long time and preparation for a lawsuit takes time. The sooner you start, the sooner you will reach the end. One of the biggest problems I face is clients who waited too long to consult me. We don’t have to file the lawsuit right away. But we do have to start preparing for one right away—and the preparation part is usually not that expensive. There is no reason to neglect immediately consulting with an attorney. Competition in the recovery and towing business is fierce. Keep track of what your competitors are saying about you. Consult with a good trial attorney sooner rather than later. Never be afraid to fight for the truth.

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • North 85


North 86 • September 2021 | Towman.com


Hampshire Towing displayed the Spirit Ride casket at a collegiate baseball game honoring first responders in July.

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AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • North 87


North 88 • September 2021 | Towman.com


Episode 5

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


Case Closed

The Truth, The Lies, and the Ugly By Josh Brown, Esq.

Josh Brown is an attorney at Cassone Law Offices, LLC. where he represents dozens of small businesses throughout Ohio as business counsel and litigator.

D

efamation is not protected by “free speech” and the First Amendment. Some people learn that the hard way. Let’s say a wealthy drug-dealer buys some property near your tow-shop. If that wasn’t bad enough, let’s say you discover that drug dealer applied to the local zoning commission for a permit to dispose of hazardous waste on his property. What would you do? Perhaps you show up at the zoning commission meeting and protest. Perhaps you would gather a group of other people in the community to do the same. And let’s say you get the zoning commissioners on your side—they rule in your favor? What do you think the drug dealer would do? Perhaps the drug dealer declares a political war on you. He starts a website. He gets local media involved, maybe even pays them off. He recruits local people to join in. How does he motivate all these people? Perhaps he tells your customers that you are corrupt and about to lose your business. He tells your suppliers that you were drinking and driving, cheating on your spouse, and that you stole money from the government. When you go to apply for a concealed carry permit, he tells everybody that you are “arming up” and that you are a danger to the community. When you help your elderly neighbor move some boxes out of his house, the drug dealer takes pictures of it and tells the world that you are clearly and obviously selling drugs. You notice that people are getting concerned. But you don’t back down. The next time you go to the zoning commission, you wear a body camera and you post the video online so there is no question about what happened. You feel good about the whole thing. However, on your way into the meeting, you picked up a packet of papers

South 84 • September 2021 | Towman.com

off a table, which was meant for public distribution. At the end of the meeting, you throw those papers away. The drug dealer cuts up a clip of you throwing those papers away and tells everybody that you threw away public records. He says you are now a criminal. He has a lacky file a false police report. He recruits and funds candidates to run for the zoning commission, on the campaign promise to stop people (like you) from destroying public records. He rents property to local firefighters to bribe them into spreading his falsehoods. Local authorities, like the county prosecutor and the police release written statements that you did nothing wrong. You are completely vindicated. But the attacks persist anyway. In fact, the zoning commissioners are very open about the fact that they do not care about those reports. In fact, the sitting zoning commissioners see the writing on the wall and join the bandwagon in trashing your reputation . . . well, except for one. One zoning commissioner goes to bat for you. He pays a price. The drug dealer then organizes a door-to-door signature campaign to have that one commissioner removed from office. The petitioners have no basis, so they make up one. The canvassers feed the people the false information discussed above. While they speak with people on those people’s porches, the canvassers even show the video clip of you throwing away papers, saying that the video proves your wrongdoing. Do you think this cannot happen? Its exaggerated? This just couldn’t happen? As an attorney who handles defamation cases, I can tell you that this is no exaggeration. I represent businesses that have been attacked in similar ways. I represent individuals with similar allegations. Not only do they suffer through the damage of the defamation


itself—they have to pay me quite a bit of money to represent them in a defamation lawsuit. And it is hard to get your day in court if you do not prepare adequately.

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW DEFAMATION WORKS

Free speech is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and every state constitution in the U.S. However, defamation is not protected. Defamation in Ohio is “A false statement about the Plaintiff that: causes injury to a person’s reputation; exposes him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame, or disgrace; or affects him adversely in his trade or business.” Opinions are protected speech. The drug dealer above could tell everyone and anyone that he thinks you are a jerk, or corrupt, or whatever. However, it becomes defamation when he states demonstrably untrue factual statements, that he knows are untrue, especially when he implies that he has special knowledge of those facts. In Ohio, as in most states, examples of defamation may include statements alleging the plaintiff was convicted of a felony, lied on a job application, or a letter alleging a company’s workers were “unprofessional” because they engaged in voyeurism. If you are a “public person” there is a higher standard. The public persons standard is that the Plaintiff must prove the defendant made or published a false statement with actual malice, i.e., knowledge the statement was false or reckless disregard for whether it was false or not. If you cannot claim defamation for some reason, there are many other claims that may be applicable. For example, in one of my cases my client alleges “abuse of process” Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

which is the initiation of a lawsuit with an improper purpose. In another case, my client alleges tortious interference with business and/or contract, because the defendant tried to induce a person to break a contract with statements we allege are lies.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT DEFAMATION?

First, hire a passionate trial lawyer sooner rather than later. The only thing more expensive than a lawyer is not having a lawyer. I recommend one, like myself, who became a lawyer to protect small businesses from evil lies and corruption. That lawyer has to have a tolerance for the hate he or she will receive from the defendants. Second, keep good records. Keep a file with every little thing said. Keep a notebook with notes of everything you know. Keep track of the time, place, and manner of everything. Take pictures of everything. Also, have others do the same—your employees, friends, and anyone with relevant information. If appropriate, file official records to document the problem. This may make your records more reliable. Always assume you will need to prove “what happened” later. Lawyers prefer too much information to too little. As your lawyer, when I take your case to court, I have to show the following: 1) what the defendant(s) said; and 2) that they knew what they said was untrue when they said it. In Ohio, damages are presumed in defamation but the more evidence I have of damages, the better. I need my client to give me that information. Third, in the defamation context, I generally recommend that you be aggressive in taking your case to court. Usually, we are

not dealing with reasonable people in a defamation situation. It is expensive, but I will tell you this— the biggest mistake you can make is underestimating your opponent. Never, never underestimate what evil people will do. Once it is in court, you can force the defendants to the negotiation table and force them to abide by a set of civil rules with court supervision. For example, if they cross lines of decency while you are in court, you can quickly apply for a restraining order. This is harder if you are not already in court. Also, often, there is little downside to moving the issue into the courts. It is entirely appropriate to use a legitimate lawsuit as negotiating leverage to enforce your rights. If the defendants cooperate, perhaps you can dismiss the case or negotiate a settlement. The mere threat of a lawsuit often fails to deter illegal behavior, although we typically send a “cease and desist” letter before litigation, to show that we were trying to work it out without going to court. Also, you should consider that lawsuits take a long time and preparation for a lawsuit takes time. The sooner you start, the sooner you will reach the end. One of the biggest problems I face is clients who waited too long to consult me. We don’t have to file the lawsuit right away. But we do have to start preparing for one right away—and the preparation part is usually not that expensive. There is no reason to neglect immediately consulting with an attorney. Competition in the recovery and towing business is fierce. Keep track of what your competitors are saying about you. Consult with a good trial attorney sooner rather than later. Never be afraid to fight for the truth.

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • South 85


Fastway Towing & Recovery from Sarasota, FL plans to bring this Cecil Burrowes hand-painted, air-brushed gem on a 2018 Ford F550 to Baltimore and the American Towman Wrecker Pageant.

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

South 86 • September 2021 | Towman.com


South 88 • September 2021 | Towman.com


Episode 5

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


Case Closed

The Truth, The Lies, and The Ugly By Josh Brown, Esq.

Josh Brown is an attorney at Cassone Law Offices, LLC. where he represents dozens of small businesses throughout Ohio as business counsel and litigator.

D

efamation is not protected by “free speech” and the First Amendment. Some people learn that the hard way. Let’s say a wealthy drug-dealer buys some property near your tow-shop. If that wasn’t bad enough, let’s say you discover that drug dealer applied to the local zoning commission for a permit to dispose of hazardous waste on his property. What would you do? Perhaps you show up at the zoning commission meeting and protest. Perhaps you would gather a group of other people in the community to do the same. And let’s say you get the zoning commissioners on your side—they rule in your favor? What do you think the drug dealer would do? Perhaps the drug dealer declares a political war on you. He starts a website. He gets local media involved, maybe even pays them off. He recruits local people to join in. How does he motivate all these people? Perhaps he tells your customers that you are corrupt and about to lose your business. He tells your suppliers that you were drinking and driving, cheating on your spouse, and that you stole money from the government. When you go to apply for a concealed carry permit, he tells everybody that you are “arming up” and that you are a danger to the community. When you help your elderly neighbor move some boxes out of his house, the drug dealer takes pictures of it and tells the world that you are clearly and obviously selling drugs. You notice that people are getting concerned. But you don’t back down. The next time you go to the zoning commission, you wear a body camera and you post the video online so there is no question about what happened. You feel good about the whole thing. However, on your way into the meeting, you picked up a packet of papers

Midwest 84 • September 2021 | Towman.com

off a table, which was meant for public distribution. At the end of the meeting, you throw those papers away. The drug dealer cuts up a clip of you throwing those papers away and tells everybody that you threw away public records. He says you are now a criminal. He has a lacky file a false police report. He recruits and funds candidates to run for the zoning commission, on the campaign promise to stop people (like you) from destroying public records. He rents property to local firefighters to bribe them into spreading his falsehoods. Local authorities, like the county prosecutor and the police release written statements that you did nothing wrong. You are completely vindicated. But the attacks persist anyway. In fact, the zoning commissioners are very open about the fact that they do not care about those reports. In fact, the sitting zoning commissioners see the writing on the wall and join the bandwagon in trashing your reputation . . . well, except for one. One zoning commissioner goes to bat for you. He pays a price. The drug dealer then organizes a door-to-door signature campaign to have that one commissioner removed from office. The petitioners have no basis, so they make up one. The canvassers feed the people the false information discussed above. While they speak with people on those people’s porches, the canvassers even show the video clip of you throwing away papers, saying that the video proves your wrongdoing. Do you think this cannot happen? Its exaggerated? This just couldn’t happen? As an attorney who handles defamation cases, I can tell you that this is no exaggeration. I represent businesses that have been attacked in similar ways. I represent individuals with similar allegations. Not only do they suffer through the damage of the defamation


itself—they have to pay me quite a bit of money to represent them in a defamation lawsuit. And it is hard to get your day in court if you do not prepare adequately.

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW DEFAMATION WORKS

Free speech is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and every state constitution in the U.S. However, defamation is not protected. Defamation in Ohio is “A false statement about the Plaintiff that: causes injury to a person’s reputation; exposes him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame, or disgrace; or affects him adversely in his trade or business.” Opinions are protected speech. The drug dealer above could tell everyone and anyone that he thinks you are a jerk, or corrupt, or whatever. However, it becomes defamation when he states demonstrably untrue factual statements, that he knows are untrue,

Midwest 86 • September 2021 | Towman.com


especially when he implies that he has special knowledge of those facts. In Ohio, as in most states, examples of defamation may include statements alleging the plaintiff was convicted of a felony, lied on a job application, or a letter alleging a company’s workers were “unprofessional” because they engaged in voyeurism. If you are a “public person” there is a higher standard. The public persons standard is that the Plaintiff must prove the defendant made or published a false statement with actual malice, i.e., knowledge the statement was false or reckless disregard for whether it was false or not. If you cannot claim defamation for some reason, there are many other claims that may be applicable. For example, in one of my cases my client alleges “abuse of process” which is the initiation of a lawsuit with an improper purpose. In another case, my client alleges tortious interference with business and/or contract, because the defendant tried to induce a person to break a contract with statements we allege are lies.

information. If appropriate, file official records to document the problem. This may make your records more reliable. Always assume you will need to prove “what happened” later. Lawyers prefer too much information to too little. As your lawyer, when I take your case to court, I have to show the following: 1) what the defendant(s) said; and 2) that they knew what they said was untrue when they said it. In Ohio, damages are presumed in defamation but the more evidence I have of damages, the better. I need my client to give me that information. Third, in the defamation context, I generally recommend that you be aggressive in taking your case to court. Usually, we are not dealing with reasonable people in a defamation situation.

It is expensive, but I will tell you this—the biggest mistake you can make is underestimating your opponent. Never, never underestimate what evil people will do. Once it is in court, you can force the defendants to the negotiation table and force them to abide by a set of civil rules with court supervision. For example, if they cross lines of decency while you are in court, you can quickly apply for a restraining order. This is harder if you are not already in court. Also, often, there is little downside to moving the issue into the courts. It is entirely appropriate to use a legitimate lawsuit as negotiating leverage to enforce your rights. If the defendants cooperate, perhaps you can dismiss the case or negotiate a settlement. The mere

SO WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT DEFAMATION?

First, hire a passionate trial lawyer sooner rather than later. The only thing more expensive than a lawyer is not having a lawyer. I recommend one, like myself, who became a lawyer to protect small businesses from evil lies and corruption. That lawyer has to have a tolerance for the hate he or she will receive from the defendants. Second, keep good records. Keep a file with every little thing said. Keep a notebook with notes of everything you know. Keep track of the time, place, and manner of everything. Take pictures of everything. Also, have others do the same—your employees, friends, and anyone with relevant Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • Midwest 87


threat of a lawsuit often fails to deter illegal behavior, although we typically send a “cease and desist” letter before litigation, to show that we were trying to work it out without going to court. Also, you should consider that lawsuits take a long time and preparation for a lawsuit takes time. The sooner you start, the sooner you will reach the end. One of the biggest problems I face is clients who waited too long to consult me. We don’t have to file the lawsuit right away. But we do have to start preparing for one right away— and the preparation part is usually not that expensive. There is no reason to neglect immediately consulting with an attorney. Competition in the recovery and towing business is fierce. Keep track of what your competitors are saying about you. Consult with a good trial attorney sooner rather than later. Never be afraid to fight for the truth.

Midwest 88 • September 2021 | Towman.com


Episode 5

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


Case Closed

The Truth, The Lies, and the Ugly By Josh Brown, Esq.

Josh Brown is an attorney at Cassone Law Offices, LLC. where he represents dozens of small businesses throughout Ohio as business counsel and litigator.

D

efamation is not protected by “free speech” and the First Amendment. Some people learn that the hard way. Let’s say a wealthy drug-dealer buys some property near your tow-shop. If that wasn’t bad enough, let’s say you discover that drug dealer applied to the local zoning commission for a permit to dispose of hazardous waste on his property. What would you do? Perhaps you show up at the zoning commission meeting and protest. Perhaps you would gather a group of other people in the community to do the same. And let’s say you get the zoning commissioners on your side—they rule in your favor? What do you think the drug dealer would do? Perhaps the drug dealer declares a

West 84 • September 2021 | Towman.com

political war on you. He starts a website. He gets local media involved, maybe even pays them off. He recruits local people to join in. How does he motivate all these people? Perhaps he tells your customers that you are corrupt and about to lose your business. He tells your suppliers that you were drinking and driving, cheating on your spouse, and that you stole money from the government. When you go to apply for a concealed carry permit, he tells everybody that you are “arming up” and that you are a danger to the community. When you help your elderly neighbor move some boxes out of his house, the drug dealer takes pictures of it and tells the world that you are clearly and obviously selling drugs.


You notice that people are getting concerned. But you don’t back down. The next time you go to the zoning commission, you wear a body camera and you post the video online so there is no question about what happened. You feel good about the whole thing. However, on your way into the meeting, you picked up a packet of papers off a table, which was meant for public distribution. At the end of the meeting, you throw those papers away. The drug dealer cuts up a clip of you throwing those papers away and tells everybody that you threw away public records. He says you are now a criminal. He has a lacky file a false police report. He recruits and funds candidates to run for the zoning commission, on the campaign promise to stop people (like you) from destroying public records. He rents property to local firefighters to bribe them into spreading his falsehoods. Local authorities, like the county

West 86 • September 2021 | Towman.com


Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • West 87


prosecutor and the police release written statements that you did nothing wrong. You are completely vindicated. But the attacks persist anyway. In fact, the zoning commissioners are very open about the fact that they do not care about those reports. In fact, the sitting zoning commissioners see the writing on the wall and join the bandwagon in trashing your reputation . . . well, except for one. One zoning commissioner goes to bat for you. He pays a price. The drug dealer then organizes a door-to-door signature campaign to have that one commissioner removed from office. The petitioners have no basis, so they make up one. The canvassers feed the people the false information discussed above. While they speak with people on those people’s porches, the canvassers even show the video clip of you throwing away papers, saying that the video proves your wrongdoing. Do you think this cannot happen? Its exaggerated? This just couldn’t happen? As an attorney who handles defamation cases, I can tell you that this is no exaggeration. I represent businesses that have been attacked in similar ways. I represent individuals with similar allegations. Not only do they suffer through the damage of the defamation itself— they have to pay me quite a bit of money to represent them in a defamation lawsuit. And it is hard to get your day in court if you do not prepare adequately.

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW DEFAMATION WORKS

Free speech is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and every state constitution in the U.S. However, defamation is not protected. Defamation in Ohio is “A false statement about the Plaintiff that: causes injury to a person’s

West 88 • September 2021 | Towman.com


Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • West 89


reputation; exposes him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame, or disgrace; or affects him adversely in his trade or business.” Opinions are protected speech. The drug dealer above could tell everyone and anyone that he thinks you are a jerk, or corrupt, or whatever. However, it becomes defamation when he states demonstrably untrue factual statements, that he knows are untrue, especially when he implies that he has special knowledge of those facts. In Ohio, as in most states, examples of defamation may include statements alleging the plaintiff was convicted of a felony, lied on a job application, or a letter alleging a company’s workers were “unprofessional” because they engaged in voyeurism. If you are a “public person” there is a higher standard. The public persons standard is that the Plaintiff must prove the defendant made or published a false statement with actual malice, i.e., knowledge the statement was false or reckless disregard for whether it was false or not. If you cannot claim defamation for some reason, there are many other claims that may be applicable. For example, in one of my cases my client alleges “abuse of process” which is the initiation of a lawsuit with an improper purpose. In another case, my client alleges tortious interference with business and/or contract, because the defendant tried to induce a person to break a contract with statements we allege are lies.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT DEFAMATION?

First, hire a passionate trial lawyer sooner rather than later. The only thing more expensive than a lawyer is not having a lawyer. I recommend one, like myself, who became a lawyer to protect small businesses from evil lies and corruption. That West 90 • September 2021 | Towman.com


lawyer has to have a tolerance for the hate he or she will receive from the defendants. Second, keep good records. Keep a file with every little thing said. Keep a notebook with notes of everything you know. Keep track of the time, place, and manner of everything. Take pictures of everything. Also, have others do the same—your employees, friends, and anyone with relevant information. If appropriate, file official records to document the problem. This may make your records more reliable. Always assume you will need to prove “what happened” later. Lawyers prefer too much information to too little. As your lawyer, when I take your case to court, I have to show the following: 1) what the defendant(s) said; and 2) that they knew what they said was untrue when they said it. In Ohio, damages are presumed in defamation but the more evidence I have of damages, the better. I need my client to give me that information. Third, in the defamation context, I generally recommend that you be aggressive in taking your case to court. Usually, we are not dealing with reasonable people in a defamation situation. It is expensive, but I will tell you this—the biggest mistake you can make is underestimating your opponent. Never, never underestimate what evil people will do. Once it is in court, you can force the defendants to the negotiation table and force them to abide by a set of civil rules with court supervision. For example, if they cross lines of decency while you are in court, you can quickly apply for a restraining order. This is harder if you are not already in court. Also, often, there is little downside to moving the issue into the courts. It is entirely appropriate to use a legitimate lawsuit as negotiating leverage to enforce your rights. If the defendants cooperate, perhaps you can dismiss the case or negotiate a settlement. The mere

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • West 91


2021 Exhibitors

For a complete list of exhibitors and updates, visit us at atexposition.com Access Tools AEO Space Wheel DriverLocator.Com Alliance Funding Group Allstate Roadside Amdor American Sweeping System American Towman Magazine American Transportation Insurance Group American Wrecker Sales SC AmeriDeck - pg. 54 Amur Equipment Finance Anchor Graphics - pg. 67 Arizona Prof. Towing & Recovery Association Ascentium Capital Auto Data Direct Bakslyder LLC Baremotion BBSI Worker comp & payroll Beacon Funding Beacon Software TowLien.com Datow Software Chevron West/Golden West Towing Equip. Clean Diesel Specialists Collins Dollies Command Light Commercial Best Insurance Services Copart Auto Auctions CTTA/ERSCA Curtis J Vernon Insurance Agency Custer Products - pg. 61 DewEze Mfg. Dibuduo & Defendis Insurance Discovery Bay Insurance Drive Dynamic Towing Equip. & Mfg. East Coast Truck & Trailer Sales - pgs. N 83, M 85 Edge Truck Equipment Center - pg. W 89 Elite Commercial Insurance Elite Specialties Agency United Coalition for Motor Club Safety Enviro. Chemical Solutions - pg. W 88 Excel Sportswear ExxonMobil Farmers Ins / Khasim Ins Agency FCar Tech USA Federal Signal Finex Group LLC Five Star Registration FleetNet America FULLBAY Repair Shop Software G.L. Anderson Insurance

GEICO GM Consultants Guniwheel Dist. by LKQ Corp. - pg. W 88 Haas Alert Hanby Environmental Honk Technologies Hydraulic Shop i BUY REMOTES - pg. W 91 ICW Group Insurance - pg. 29 Idaho Wrecker Sales Isuzu Comm. Truck of America - pg. 7 Journey Business Solutions Joyride Kalyn Siebert Landoll Corporation Leavitt Group Lien Enforcement - pg. W 96 Lubnau Gonzalez Insurance Agency Mach 1 Services McCandless International Trucks MercurySend.com Midco Sales - pg. W 86 Midland Equipment Finance Quick Cash for Remotes - pg. M 86 Mike Keith Insurance Miller Industries - pg. 2 Mobile Binaries Mobile Create USA Mobile Video Computing Sol. - pg. 34 Motorcycle Towing Services Murphy Bank Nation Safe Drivers (NSD) National Automobile Club NRC Industries Omadi OMG Tow Marketing - pg. 68 ParkingPass.com Payroc / NXGEN Peak Auto Auctions - pg. 25 PeakPTT - pg. 63 Peddle - pg. 29 Penny Pockets PGM Recovery Systems Phoenix USA Planet Halo Prof. Exchange Service QuestX Towing Services R.A. Storelee Insurance Ramos Oil Company Ranger SST RealWheels Corp. Riggs Truck Roadside Pro Roadside Response

RoadSync Robinson Oil Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales RP Recovery Consulting RRA Tow Truck Insurance - pg. W 87 Rush Towing Systems Safety Up Safety Vision Santander Bank - pg. Back Cover Santiam Enterprises Sea Crest Insurance Agency - pg. W 89 Secure Tow Servicase - pg. 63 Sierra Pacific Insurance - pg. W 83 Southern California Tow Equipment Specialty Vehicle Equip. Funding Spill Tackle Magnetworks / Stamp Works Steck Mfg. Co. Sterling National Bank TCF Capital Solutions TEC Equipment - pg. 60 The Dispatch Agency TJR Equipment Todd Equipment TOMAR Electronics Tow Brokers Insurance - pg. S 83, W 85 Tow Industries - pg. Tow World Towbook Management Software - pg. 3 TowToolz TowTruckLocator.com Tracker Management Sys. Trail King Industries - pg. 21 Transit Pros Truck Body Sales, Inc. Webfleet Solutions Two Way Radio Gear towXchange UniFirst Corp. Urgently US Fleet Tracking Utah Professional Towing Alliance Verdant Commercial Capital W Star USA Warn Industries - pg. 5 Whelen Engineering Co. Whiterail Reviews Will-Burt Company WorldClass Insurance Services Worldwide Equipment Sales WreckMaster Xpress-Pay - pg. 26

*Supplier names in bold are display advertisers in this issue with their ad page number cross-referenced.


threat of a lawsuit often fails to deter illegal behavior, although we typically send a “cease and desist” letter before litigation, to show that we were trying to work it out without going to court. Also, you should consider that lawsuits take a long time and preparation for a lawsuit takes time. The sooner you start, the sooner you will reach the end. One of the biggest problems I face is clients who waited too long to consult me. We don’t have to file the lawsuit right away. But we do have to start preparing for one right away— and the preparation part is usually not that expensive. There is no reason to neglect immediately consulting with an attorney. Competition in the recovery and towing business is fierce. Keep track of what your competitors are saying about you. Consult with a good trial attorney sooner rather than later. Never be afraid to fight for the truth.

Work the non-traffic side - Stay Safe!

AmericanTowman.com | September 2021 • West 95


West 96 • September 2021 | Towman.com


Episode 5

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 - September 2021  

American Towman Magazine - September 2021  

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