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July/August 2012


Safety 20 | Lifting-related back injuries: A common, but avoidable occurrence

Auctions 26 |Getting to know

GPS 10 | GPS: From Tracking To Reinventing

Insurance Auto Auctions

14 | The total solution for the tow truck company company spotlight

32 | Will-Burt

30 | InSight USA

Industry NEWS

6 | Advanced Warning Systems, LLC by Russ Automotive 6 | Twin State Equipment welcomes,Scott Rahner -

33 | Track What Matters

34 | Custer Products LLC

Product Specialist/Sales and Marketing Manager

7 | New Product Releases help propel Steck’s product lines

IN EVERY ISSUE 4 | Publisher Letter



8 |Don’t Get Clogged up

Cover Image Courtesy of Track What Matters


Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

35 |





Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery

July/August 2012


PUBLISHERS Darian Weaver President & Co-Publisher

hope that this issue of Tow Professional finds you and your company doing well.

Jack Hartsfield Vice President & Co-Publisher __________________________

The year is more than half over; where does your business stand? Every corner I turn, somebody is letting me know how bad the economy is. There is no question that dollars don’t stretch as far as they used to, and that it’s a much tougher market. But I do believe that if you keep your blinders on, stay determined working harder (and smarter) than ever, and have a refuse to lose attitude, you will do a lot more listening to the problems rather than talking about them. Control what you can control and don’t let somebody tell you that you can’t do it in this economy; somebody is going to do it if you don’t. One of the best phrases I ever heard was in 1994 when I first got into publishing; during my training period, my boss asked me this: “If not you, who? If not here, where? If not now, when?” This translates to: Somebody in your town is making it happen right now. Is it you??? In this issue, you will find editorials on GPS Systems and Technology, Clogged dpf filters, and Back Safety, along with company spotlights on Insurance Auto Auctions, Insight USA, Will-Burt, and Track What Matters.

PRODUCTION Clint W. Cabiness Art Director Hal K. Huber Graphic Designer __________________________

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jim Comack Scott Hinterleiter Susan Jablonski Tracy Merrit Barry Nay Wil Reed Travis Rhoden Ricky-Ann Sargent Jim Shellhaas Jeff Simple

Stay Cool. It’s been a hot summer, and there is a long way to go… __________________________

Jack Hartsfield and Darian Weaver Co-Publishers

For a new free subscription, address changes or corrections, please visit and click on the “subscribe” tab.


Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

Executive and Advertising Offices P.O. Box 26308 Birmingham, AL 35260 Toll free: 888-802-8544 Fax: 205-978-1550 Tow Professional is published seven times a year on a bimonthly basis by Over The Mountain Media, Inc., P.O. Box 26308, Birmingham, Alabama, 35260, USA. Tow Professional is distributed free to qualified subscribers. Non-qualified subscription rates are $57.00 per year in the U.S. and Canada and $84.00 per year for foreign subscribers (surface mail). U.S. Postage paid at Birmingham, Alabama and additional mailing offices. Tow Professional is distributed to qualified Towing & Recovery's Top Decision Makers. Publisher is not liable for all content (including editorial and illustrations provided by advertisers) of advertisements published and does not accept responsibility for any claims made against the publisher. It is the advertiser’s or agency’s responsibility to obtain appropriate releases on any item or individuals pictured in an advertisement. Reproduction of this magazine in whole or in part is prohibited without prior written permission from the publisher.

Industry NEWS



Advanced Warning Systems, LLC by Russ Automotive, is pleased to introduce HighLites


Advanced Warning System (AWS) (patent pending), the company’s first product built to protect both responders and ongoing traffic. AWS merges two technologies to ensure that roadside emergencies and responders are easily detected by ongoing traffic. A hy-

draulic platform system allows for a specially engineered LED lightbar to be lifted above casualties which block traditionally mounted lights. The combination of these technologies ensures that roadside responders cannot be missed. With 2012 already being one of the most deadly years for emergency re-

sponders, Highlites AWS is a timely and much needed product. Created by a towing and recovery operator with more than 25 years of experience, Highlites AWS is tailored to serve every type of emergency roadside situation. By effectively alerting on-coming traffic to roadside emergencies, everyone involved receives more protection. Because the towing and recovery industry is such a high risk industry, we spent years developing Highlites AWS including countless hours of roadside testing to bring you the latest advancement in roadside safety. they can’t SLOW DOWN and MOVE OVER if they don’t know you’re there Contact us at


.......................................................... Twin State Equipment welcomes, Scott Rahner - Product Specialist/Sales and Marketing Manager for TwinState Equipment (Las Vegas).


After spending 6 years with Recovery Solutions, Inc., as Sales and Marketing Manager, we welcome Scott to this new position. Scott’s industry experience and product knowledge will be key in developing our Sub6

Distribution Base in the Southwest. Scott will direct the day to day sales activities, and continue to develop our existing customer base. Scott Rahner comes to Twin State Equipment with over 25 years experience in the Towing and Recovery Industry. Starting as a driver for a local New Jersey Towing Company in 1985, Scott moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 1990 opening Quality Towing partnered with his brother. In 1994 Scott became Wreck Master certifide and went on to Level 6/7. Scott owned, operated and managed Quality until 2000 when he moved into Wrecker and Carrier Sales at Smith’s Services in Orangeburg, SC, a Jerrdan Distributor. In 2001 Scott became the Northeast/Midwest Factory Representitive for Dynamic Manufacting. During that time he also worked on designing and introducing new products unitl 2005. Scott took a brief hieatus to work at a Chevrolet Dealer in North Carolina in Commercial Fleet Sales and then

Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

returned in 2006 at Recovery Solutions as Product Specialist and then Sales and Marketing Manager as well as designing and introducing new products. Scott, now based in Las Vegas, Nevada is looking forward to putting his extensive industry experiences to work in developing new customers and distribution for Twin States Equipment and the Jerrdan Cooperation. CONTACT Scott Rahner TWIN STATE EQUIPMENT 4495 Copper Sage Street Las Vegas, NV 89115 702-283-5487

................................................................ New Product Releases help propel Steck’s product lines Unique combination of in-house ideas and inventor submitted ideas blend together in successful releases


New product ideas are the keys to growth in today’s global market. Steck Manufacturing embraces ideas from its tool users. According to John Brill, President, “new ideas are the life blood of our company”. Steck will evaluate each tool and work with the inventor to protect the idea as well as pay a royalty to the inventor based on the net sales of the tool. Last year it was the Axle Popper (71410) which provides even pressure to break loose half

shafts from the transaxle on front wheel drive cars and Air Tool Oiler (16600) with its adjustable oil nozzle allows technicians to easily and conveniently oil their air tool after each use. While Steck’s focus is on auto body repair business where they develop and sell body shop specialty repair tools they also provide products to the Towing industry, their BigEasy Lockout tool kits (32900 and 32955) allows technicians to unlock cars without damaging the car door. Their most recent announcement, 4th Wheel Loader (71480) allows Tow Truck drivers to safely load and secure a vehicle with broken ball joints, lost wheels or locked wheels on their roll back wreckers. Also will allow mechanics and body technicians to steer the vehicle over unlevel surfaces as well as gravel and dirt into the shop and guide it to lifts or frame racks for

repair. Visit our website at or to view our product offerings and videos of some of more popular. CONTACT STECK MANUFACTURING COMPANY, INC. 1115 S. Broadway Dayton, Ohio 45408 -800-227-8325

.......................................................... | July/August 2012 | Tow Professional




Don’t get


B y Jim C oma ck real world work applications, repeated short drive times at less than highway speeds are very common. Also, trucks are increasingly used as machines requiring long idle and extended use in PTO (Power Take Off) Mode. Both scenarios prevent a truck from properly going into its regen cycle which is supposed to clean the DPF filter.



Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

This is where the trouble begins. A clogged DPF filter can result in diesel soot backing up into the engine, causing damage to the VGT actuator, turbo, fuel injectors and EGR solenoid. Also, the unburned fuel injected into the exhaust system, as part of the regen cycle, can go into the crankcase contaminating the engine oil. The most common Cummins DPF related symptoms are clogged and cracked DPF filters; high cleaning / replacement costs; lost income due to truck down time; excessive regeneration cycles; and reduced power / limp mode in PTO. These DPF problems are so common that Dodge/Cummins owners have filed a class action lawsuit which has yet to be settled. Jim Comack at ECM Performance says, “We can get any off road or export DPF equipped vehicle back to full reliability with our unique programming service and customer removal of the DPF filter. Most customers ship their ECM to us, but we can also send a technician anywhere in the world for onsite service.” Customers unbolt the ECM from the engine block, unplug the harness connections and ship it to ECM Performance. The original engine data is read from the ECM and backed up three ways for the cus-

tomer’s protection. A technician then modifies the calibration to shut off the after treatment system / DPF cleaning cycle. Within 48 hours, the new calibration is flashed to the ECM resulting in 100% Code Free operation. After the customer receives their ECM via next day air, they bolt the ECM back to the engine block, replug the harness connections. They must then remove the DPF. Alex M., a vehicle exporter under mili-

tary contact said, “We exported 30 DPF equipped rollback trucks with Cummins 6.7 ISB engines. For 6 months, they were all sitting dead in some foreign yard due to clogged DPF filters. The DPF’s clogged almost instantly due to the use of high sulfur content diesel fuel. This caused the trucks to shut down or go into a limp mode. Though it was the end user’s fault for misreporting the fuel standard for that country, let me tell you, no one was happy about this situation. It held us up delivering additional vehicles to the same customer. We contacted Ecm Performance after receiving a recommendation from a local diesel mechanic that had a similar problem on a farm truck. After ECM Performance reprogrammed the ECM, the end user reinstalled it and removed the DPF. They were so happy that we had ECM flash all the trucks. Now the trucks are in the field,

running great on the local fuel. Mileage and power were also increased.” ECM’s Jim Comack said, “Alex’s problems with Cummins/Paccar DPF equipped trucks are very typical overseas, and very common here in the states for other reasons. Unlike Alex who is a bulk exporter, most owner’s are just trying to make a living with trucks that not reliable. The sole reason of the unreliability is the DPF Filter and a regeneration cycle that just doesn’t work in the real world. It doesn’t matter how many times you tow the truck back to factory service facilities. The only way to restore full reliability is to shut off the Regen Cycle through reprogramming the ECM. They can then remove the DPF. Like magic all their DPF related problems disappear & they can go back to making money.” Cummins, Paccar, Ford, Peterbilt, Kenworth & Sterling Trucks do not endorse, have any affiliation or connection with ECM Performance or its services. All Product names & trademarks featured here are the property of their respective trademark holders. For export & off-road use only. TOW | July/August 2012 | Tow Professional


GPS: From Tracking To


There has never been a better time to assess the potential of GPS-based solutions for your towing and recovery business. By Ji m Shel l haas the convergence in mobile technologies, there has been an explosion in the number and diversity of available solutions - options that can make a material difference in the performance of your business. Before laying out the options, first some perspectives to set the stage: 1. "GPS" ain't just what it used to be. "If past history were all there was to the game, the richest people in the world would be librarians" Warren Buffet. GPS used to be expensive, and all about knowing where your trucks are. GPS navigation is now on your smart phone and all about operational productivity. 2. One size does not fit all. “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers you at all, but goes on making his own business better� - Henry Ford. The proliferation of GPS "bells and whistles" continues and often commands too much attention. The hard part in selecting among GPS-based offerings is looking past the sizzle to choose the right steak to make your business better. How could realtime information improve how you dynamically, better manage operations? 3. Tomorrow won't be like today. Gretsky said it well: "A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be." The right "GPS choice" for your



Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

company should solve not only the issues of today, but position your business for the competitive challenges of tomorrow. "Tracking" used to be the big idea. This remains important, but today GPS is often a component part in a broader solution to drive significant increases in operational productivity - both in the office, and in the field. I have found it helpful to think along a spectrum of options with four levels: See Chart

GPS/Mobile Examples

Level 1 - Tracking, while

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4





• "Black box" in the truck

• In truck turnby-turn directions

• Full integration with dispatch, Mobile messaging (data not text)

• ”Smart dispatch" tools

• Push-To-Talk

• Dashboards

phones • Email to the most basic capability, tracking • CC processing driver phones in the truck • Radios offers for many companies the highest short-term return. It ad• Limit • Fewer driver • Reduced voice • Better Office unapproved calls for traffic with drivers assignments dresses key owner concerns: stops by directions Productivity • Less hassle for • Anticipate vs. • Where are my trucks (my drivers (Dispatchers) • Easier dispatchers react most expensive assets)? training •Improved • Are my drivers staying "on customer service task"? Are they pocketing rev• ?? Big brother • Less • Clear calls on • Shorter Field is watching?? frustration mobile device cycle time enue from jobs that they are finding Productivity • Start next call • Higher doing on the side? locations (Drivers) commissions The more feature-rich offerings • Lower risk • Higher •Better fleet • Higher revenue will have Input/Output connecP&L • Less lost efficiency utilization • Lower fuel costs tions as part of the black box to Impact revenue • Better CF (Owners) track events on the truck (e.g., engine and/or PTO "On" and "Off"), Level 2 - Guiding builds on the basic tracking of show truck travel history ("breadcrumbs"), monitor truck speed, and the "black box" by adding a user interface in the truck for drivers. create "geo fences" to alert dispatchers when drivers are straying This could be a ruggedized device or a derivative of a consumer product into areas where they should not be. Importantly the black boxes are such as a Garmin or Tom Tom. The user interface assists the driver in naviattached to and are tracking trucks (not drivers). The approach cengating to the incident and destination addresses. The better options in ters on driver supervision. | July/august 2012 | Tow Professional


GPS: From Tracking To


this category will first locate addresses on the map of the GPS product in the office, and then transmit the GPS coordinates to the device in the truck so that drivers do not need to enter any address details. A variant of this approach is to send an email to a driver's phone with addresses that the driver can manually enter into the Garmin. This avoids the cost of the "black box", but delivers a lower gain in productivity. Level 2 adds capabilities that benefit drivers - assistance with logistics. The major differentiator in getting to Level

3 - Deploying is to have a GPS solution that is fully integrated with the dispatch solution. In Level 1 and 2, dispatchers will typically be looking at one screen from one provider for truck location, and a different screen from a different provider for dispatching - sometimes on one monitor! The underlying applications are different and so the synchronization of information between the systems is inherently limited. Level 3 solutions meet two key characteristics: 1. The GPS tracking/mapping com-


ponent shows not only truck location, but also truck type, and truck status/availability (provides a complete picture in one screen for dispatchers) along with a list of jobs.

2. The mapping and dispatching components are intrinsically "in sync" - they share the same information database. Given the integrated design, updates to dispatch and mapping happen simultaneously. Detailed information on calls and open jobs is available and displayed on the map. In Level 3, the integration of GPS tracking/mapping with dispatching creates the opportunity for major improvements in dispatching - dispatchers have all the requisite information for better assignment decisions available on the map for visual dispatch. Better call assignment in turn drives improved utilization of trucks and drivers. The better Level 3 solutions will also incorporate mobile messaging in the truck to collect vehicle information (e.g., VIN, odometer) and service delivery details (e.g., Extras, dropped location in storage lot).

Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

Level 4 - Reinventing sounds a bit pretentious. However, integration of the dispatching solution with GPS tracking/mapping enables next generation operational productivity processes that go beyond presenting better information. For example, in dispatch: • Recommending the most logical trucks for dispatchers to assign to a new job (automatically identifying trucks that are close by and soon to be available) to enable better deployment decisions • Enabling dispatchers to assign calls from the map if they choose – i.e., drag and drop a truck onto the “pin” representing an open job to improve speed/efficiency and to make assignment easier. When assigned, call details are sent automatically to the driver's mobile device • Providing "dashboards" so that dispatch becomes a control tower with real-time indicators and alerts for fuel efficiency, validity of incident and destination addresses, truck speed, and call progress vs. plan In addition, by leveraging advances in mobile technology, it is now both practical and af-

GPS fordable to extend the operational processes of the office to the truck. This includes forwarding account-specific pricing parameters (and GPS calculated mileage estimates) to the truck. With this, the mobile device can calculate the correct pricing, and the driver can process the customer's credit card while on-site. Companies can move away from the ticket book and print invoices in the truck. With the convergence of mobile technology, the business process capabilities are integrated with the same device that provides GPS information ranging from your Android smart phone or tablet, to a Wi Fi device of your choosing that connects to a mobile hot spot in the truck (that also provides GPS and monitors/reports truck events - e.g., PTO on/off). So what does all of this mean for you? What are the levers in your business to improve operational productivity? Among the growing range and scope of mobile/GPS possibilities, which approach gives you the biggest "bang for the buck" - now, and into the future? The growing application of GPS in the industry is making it competitive "table stakes". How should you use GPS-based solutions to keep your company among the leaders in operational productivity? "If you are driving comfortably around the track, you are probably going too slow" (Mario Andretti). TOW The author - Jim Shellhaas - is the founder and president of Ranger SST (Ranger Service Solutions Technology, LLC), a towing software and mobile communications company providing dispatching, two-way mobile messaging, GPS tracking/mapping, and impound-lot management solutions for the towing and recovery industry. Towers are invited to call Jim and the Ranger team anytime for consultation at 440-498-1495. Also, see for more information. Jim has more than 15 years’ experience working with the towing and recovery industry, and founded Ranger in 2004 . He has also worked as a consultant with executives in major companies to achieve performance improvements. He is a graduate of Stanford University, earning an MS degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA. | July/august 2012 | Tow Professional




solution for the

tow truck company�

By Barr y Nay CMO at Wyless Inc.

Challenging times call for solutions that embrace the difficulties that your business faces and overcomes them to make sure that you can work smarter and more efficiently. Progressive Platforms has created a total solution that is designed to provide all the tools that a tow truck business needs to be successful. By designing a system that works with what tow trucks companies need and making sure that the system is as efficient, customisable and simple to use as possible, Progressive Platforms has reduced the time needed for implementing and learning how to use the system. The faster the system can be brought into use and applied to your business the sooner your Return on Investment (ROI) can begin.


Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

The system comprises of the following components; 1. Vehicle tracking unit that uses GPS for tracking the vehicle

2. Data connection to send the information gathered by the unit back to the back-end systems 3. Reporting, mapping, alert and dispatch system. The combination of hardware and software allows for the system to be flexible enough to meet the needs of your business. We will now take a closer look at the different components.

Fig 1 Calamp 2610 internal antenna 1 This unit provides a compact platform and is simple to install, it can be installed to detect Power Take Off (PTO) and in addition to standard GPS tracking where the unit shows, the location and speed of the vehicle this unit can also be configured to make use of its three axis accelerometer. By using this capability the unit can bring back driver behaviour data and if you want, it can be configured to multiple levels of acceleration, braking and cornering as well as impact detection. With this combination of functions you can see where you vehicle is, what it is doing and if the vehicle is being driven correctly.

2. Data connection. 1. Vehicle tracking unit Vehicle tracking units have been around for a considerable time, and like most other technologies there have been major steps forward in their capabilities and a considerable reduction in their cost. Fig1: is a picture of one the most popular units we have for tow trucks.

The Calamp device uses Wyless for its data connectivity. Wyless is the leading global M2M managed services provider. Our resilient platform, delivered in partnership with the world’s largest network operators, provides secure, reliable communications with wireless devices in over 120 countries. | July/august 2012 | Tow Professional


3 Reporting, mapping, alert and dispatch system. The software component of the system provides several functions to allow for flexibility and customisation for meeting your needs. These functions are as follows, • Mapping • ETA • Geo-Zones • Driver behaviour • Dispatch

Mapping The mapping function of the Progressive Platforms system shows in a simple and intuitive way where your vehicles are and what they are doing. To provide the maximum functionality the system allows for multiple map views so you can see the location map which will show the last location for a vehicle, the vehicle map which shows a cumulative view of where your vehicle is, the group map which will show all vehicles in a group on the map. This is all achieved through an easy-to-use intuitive user interface,


Fig: 2 and a number of pre-prepared functions; Fig: 2

done by using an algorithm which calculates the distance remaining and the speed.


• By clicking on the pushpins information on that event comes up • By selecting show location details the screen will show a list of each event and information about it • The Group map shows all units in a group • The tow dispatch map shows all vehicles in a group on the map and on the left hand side the vehicle details, speed, current address etc...

A geo-zone is a predefined area set for the vehicle, once the vehicle reaches the area that is defined an event and alert is triggered. Geo-zones can be defined by clicking on the vehicle pushpin and selected create Geo-zone. If you have vehicles that go to a specific area consistently you can see when they enter and leave this area or if you wish to see when a vehicle reaches an area for a job and leaves a Geo-zone, it shows this information. Fig:3 is the Geo-zone window.

ETA The ETA feature shows when the vehicle will arrive at the location it is moving towards this is

Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |


The options that can be defined for the geozone are; • Description address, the address of the geo-zone • Reverse Geocode, takes co-ordinates and turns them into an address • Arrival Zone, this will trigger an alert when the vehicle enters into the defined area around the Geo-zone • Departure Zone, this will trigger an alert when the vehicles leaves the defined the area around the Geo-zone • Auto Notify, automatically alerts when the conditions of the Geo-zone are triggered • Radius, the defined area around the Geozone, you can choose the distance in metres that you want the Geo-zone to encompass. • Lat/Lon, here you can enter the co-ordinates that you wish the Geo-zone to be centred on. • Centre on address, enter the address of the Geo-zone here and click the button, the Geo-zone will then be centred on this point


By defining geo-zones for each job you can make use of the alert feature on the system and be alerted when the tow truck is within a certain distance of the disabled vehicle this will allow you to measure how long it takes for the tow truck to get to the vehicle and start the towing process and/or notify the customer that the tow truck is close. By using the Geo-Zone you can efficiently use all the vehicles in your fleet and improve customer satisfaction by updating them on the location of the vehicle.

Driver behaviour The driver behaviour feature allows for the measuring of how the vehicle is being driven. It allows for seeing acceleration levels, braking levels and cornering. By measuring and analysing the behaviour of the driver unsafe driving and overly aggressive behaviour can be highlighted and addressed. A simple to understand chart shows the events of individual vehicles by clicking on any of the events you can see where and when it happened. A group table is also avail-

Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

able where driver behaviour can be seen in a chart where again you can click and see where events occurred.

Conclusion Progressive platforms have designed a system that makes best use of hardware and software so that it performs as you need in a real world environment. With customisable reporting, alerts and mapping the system can be set to meet the exact requirement of your towing business. Progressive Platforms also provides bespoke systems so that if the system does not meet your requirements it can be customised and designed so that it works and meets the challenges your business faces. TOW For more information and for a demonstration please contact us by email at view our website and see what other applications we provide at or phone us on (877) 306 6478


back injuries: A common, but avoidable occurrence

Using proper posture may be the last thing on an operator’s mind when out on a call. Instead, they may be focused on avoiding oncoming traffic, figuring out the best way to hook the vehicle, navigating slippery or uneven terrain, and braving the elements. While these are all critical, so too is putting the body in the best position to avoid sprains, strains, and other musculoskeletal injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), strains and sprains are the most common type of injury/illness requiring days away from work for tow truck operators, with back injuries comprising the majority.

By Tr avi s Rhode n

WHY IT’S A PROBLEM Back injuries, though extremely common, are not always recognized until it’s too late. Often, the disorders develop gradually as a result of repeated small traumas to the back. Further, the conditions are often ignored until the symptoms become severe. Tow operators may associate a back injury or sudden pain with a specific heavy lift, but often the real cause is the combined interaction of the heavy lift coupled with years of weakening musculoskeletal support due to repetitive small traumas. So, it’s critical that operators utilize proper technique at all times, even when the back is feeling good!

EVEN TOUGHER PROBLEM FOR TOW OPERATORS For tow operators, the work environment is constantly changing and, often, the operators don’t find out what 20

Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

safety they’re dealing with until they arrive at the site. This makes it very challenging to plan ahead. Add to that the variation in temperature, site conditions and location, vehicle condition, and schedule, and it is easy to see why tow operators have a tough time combatting back injuries. That being said, there are measures operators can take to prevent these injuries. Identify the problem areas It is true that no two towing jobs are identical. But, there are similarities in many. And, there’s always one constant: the operator. If the operator can learn to identify the factors that can pose a risk for back injury, he/she can utilize effective safeguards and techniques no matter the specific environment. Back disorders result from exceeding the capability of the muscles, tendons, discs, or the cumulative effect of several contributors. According to the OSHA Technical Manual, these contributors include:

• Poor physical condition—losing the strength and endurance to perform physical tasks without strain • Poor design of job or work station • Repetitive lifting of awkward items, equipment • Twisting while lifting • Bending while lifting • Maintaining bent postures • Heavy lifting • Fatigue • Poor footing such as slippery surfaces, or constrained posture • Lifting with forceful movement • Vibration, such as with driving a truck

• Reaching while lifting • Poor posture—how one sits or stands


• Stressful living and working activities—staying in one position for too long

No matter how great the lifting technique is, if the load is too much, then the body may break down. Operators have to recognize when a manual lift is beyond their physical limits and either use a mechanical aid, get help from another person, use two hands rather than one,

• Bad body mechanics—how one lifts, pushes, pulls, or carries objects | July/August 2012 | Tow Professional



Lifting-related back injuries

move closer to the object being lifted, divide the load into multiple trips, or adjust body posture (in those limited cases where a posture shift will allow the load to be within acceptable limits of the body). Determining an operator’s safe lifting limits is challenging because there is no across-the-board recommendation or standard; the weight a given worker can safely lift varies depending on several factors, including condition of the worker, body posture, closeness to the load, height of the lift, twisting required, and frequency of the lift. Operators cannot simply go by the weight of the object. The same worker who can lift a 50-pound box with ease under ideal conditions may not be able to safely lift the same box when crouched, or the same weight when it’s an oddly-shaped object rather than a box. OSHA notes in an eTool that, generally, more weight can be safely lifted when the:

• Load is close to the body and not too large or bulky, • Lift is at waist height, • Lift is performed in front of the body,

Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Lifting Equation to evaluate manual two-handed lifts during a workplace inspection. The NIOSH equation sets a fixed weight of 51 pounds as the load constant (that is generally considered the maximum load nearly all healthy workers should be able to lift with two hands under optimal conditions.) (To view the NIOSH Lifting Equation and Applications Manual, visit An alternative lifting guide that focuses on male/female population percentages capable of performing a two-handed lift with certain characteristics, rather than on maximum weight limits, are the Liberty Mutual Material Handling tables. (To view and use the Liberty Mutual tables, visit While it is not practical to utilize the NIOSH equation or similar types of guides while out on a towing call, operators can utilize these before going out to a site to get a general idea of a safe weight for various types of work.

• Lift is performed only occasionally, • Lift does not involve carrying, and


• Load has handles.

We’ve all heard the saying “lift with your knees, not your back.” While that statement is a good general rule-of-thumb, there is much more to safe lifting than that.

In determining maximum safe lifts, operators may want to consider utilizing several tools. For example, OSHA often utilizes the National


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IT IS RECOMMENDED TO: • Size up the load—Operators need to get a good estimate of the weight of the object, how the weight is distributed, condition of the object and handholds, and where the object will be taken. (Testing the load by lifting an edge/corner can give many clues as to the characteristics of the load.) • Place the body close to the load—Operators should place their feet close to the object and center themselves over the load, utilizing a wide stance. • Maintain neutral and straight spine alignment whenever possible—OSHA has noted that usually, bending at the knees, not the waist, helps maintain proper spine alignment. • Get a good grip, using two hands where possible. • Lift straight up in a smooth manner, using the legs to push up/ lift the load rather than the back or upper body. • Avoid twists and turns and jerking motions. If turns must be made, operators should step to one side. • Keep the load in the power zone (above the knees, below the shoulders, and close to the body) where possible. | July/August 2012 | Tow Professional



Lifting-related back injuries


LIKE HEAVIER, SMALL-SIZED OBJECTS? In these cases, there may be a better way to lift. In a NIOSH publication, Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling, it is recommended that for heavier small-sized objects (such as a sack) workers:

other lifting-related hazards that operators need to be aware of as well, for example, picking up a heavy tool and holding it. If a tow truck operator can remember to balance tools such as impact wrenches, rather than holding them, it can reduce the risk of sprain and strain. Additionally, just as it is proper technique to not twist or turn or make jerking motions while carrying an object on a two-handed lift, operators should avoid these actions when carrying heavy tools and equipment with one hand.

• Kneel in front of the object;


• Lean the object onto the kneeling leg;

Tow operators often find themselves having to work in many awkward positions. When combined with lifting, awkward postures pose a great risk for injury. In particular, bending while lifting forces the back to support the weight of the upper body in addition to the weight being lifted. OSHA notes that bending while lifting places strain on the back even when lifting something as light as a screwdriver. Bending moves the load away from the body and allows leverage to significantly increase the effective load on the back. This increases the stress on the lower spine and fatigues the muscles. Also, keep in mind that carrying loads on one shoulder, under an arm, or in one hand, creates uneven pressure on the spine.

• Slide the object up onto kneeling leg; • Slide the object onto the other leg while keeping the object close to the body; and • While standing up, keep the object close to the body.

BEWARE OF HEAVY TOOLS When we think of lifting injuries, we often think of a worker trying to pick up a box, container, or similar object to move it from one location to another. While those lifts certainly pose challenges, there are


Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

PLACE HEAVY ITEMS MID-LEVEL OSHA recommends that materials that must be manually lifted should be placed at "power zone" height, about mid-thigh to mid-chest. Operators should evaluate their trucks for optimal placement of tools and equipment, so that the heaviest and most utilized equipment can be accessed easily and within the power zone, where possible. Further, operators should remove obstructions around tools and equipment so that the body doesn’t have to bend while lifting and the load doesn’t have to be farther away from the body than need be.

MAINTAIN EQUIPMENT Tow operators have some built-in ergonomic equipment right on the truck. It is important to take advantage of this equipment; that means keeping it maintained. Obviously, poorly maintained vehicle lift/hoist equipment can pose serious hazards if the load falls. But, beyond that, if handles don’t turn

smoothly or levers stick, it can require more force from the operator—posing risk of injury to the back and other body parts. This should extend to the operator’s cab as well. If the driver’s seat isn’t adjusted properly or is worn down, operators may not be getting proper back support. As much time as operators spend in the cab, it’s important the seat provides proper support—over time, this can lead to increased risk for back injury. Operators should make sure their regular vehicle service program includes those items that make the job easier and safer!

UTILIZE TOOLS AND RESOURCES In addition to the NIOSH Lifting Equation and similar guides, there are many great tools and resources to help operators combat back injuries. For example, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries maintains an Ergonomics Ideas Bank that may be helpful in finding ways to address various ergonomic issues. To view

the Bank, visit In addition, operators may find it helpful to review catalogues from material handling suppliers, speak with others in the tow industry, and/or work with an ergonomics professional. (Often a workers’ compensation insurance carrier will have ergonomics professionals on staff or else can recommend assistance.)

REMEMBER, THERE MAY BE A BETTER WAY Lifting safely requires constant self-reminders. Out on a job site it can be easy to forget to do this. But, if operators can get in the habit, it can save a lifetime of back pain. TOW Travis Rhoden is an editor with J. J. Keller and Associates, Inc. Contact him at For more information on J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. visit | July/August 2012 | Tow Professional


Getting to know By Susan Jablonski

Insurance Auto Auctions ounded in 1982, IAA is driving the salvage auto auction industry, working to provide the best value to buyers and high returns to sellers. IAA’s unique business model combines in-person and on-line auctions into one platform. This well-established model allows the company to flex in ways a single, on-line only auction model cannot.

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Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

What should you expect when you work with IAA? IAA makes it easy and convenient for towers to sell their abandoned and towed vehicles. Towers can free up valuable space on their lots and earn extra revenue.

IAA has unmatched operational expertise. You will find end-to-end solutions and standardized quality assurance practices at each of their 160 North American locations. IAA experts are on hand to assist buyers and sellers alike. IAA has been auctioning for 30 years. It’s no surprise IAA has long standing relationships with more than 900 independent and national towing companies. In fact, IAA is more than a salvage auction company. IAA is considered a single solution for disposition of vehicles.

What exactly does IAA auction? IAA auctions all types of vehicles in all types of conditions. IAA auctions cars, trucks, boats, motor homes, personal watercraft, snowmobiles, and travel trailers. IAA also offers salvage commercial vehicles that range from buses, trailers to trucks and heavy equipment such as cranes, emergency vehicles, farm, forestry and heavy-duty vehicles. Although IAA does not typically purchase vehicles, they do manage the sale and disposition of vehicles for insurance companies, recovered-theft, fleet lease,

rental companies, and charity organizations. IAA consistently produces some of the industry’s highest returns for vehicle providers. IAA has found by providing an auction environment with both live and liveonline bidders creates a healthy, competitive auction that drives the best value and high returns for the vehicle. In fact last year alone IAA auctioned more than 1.3 million vehicles. And as part of a larger global company, KAR Auction Services, (NYSE: KAR), IAA has strong financial cash flow. KAR’s business model offers services before, during and after the auction.

Who can buy at IAA auctions? For the past 30 years, IAA has continued to develop | July/August | Tow Professional


Insurance Auto Auctions and cultivate a mature and global customer buyer base. Buyers include automotive body shops, rebuilders, used car dealers, automotive wholesalers, exporters, dismantlers, recyclers, brokers, and where allowed, non-licensed (public) buyers. Anywhere, anytime access and mobile technology enable IAA buyers access to bid in six languages including: English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Polish and Russian. An estimated 30 percent of IAA’s vehicles are sold and exported to foreign countries. Today, nearly 15 percent of customers choose a language other than English. The team at IAA believes this percentage will continue to increase. IAA follows strict regulatory compliance at the federal and state levels and is well versed in all state titling laws as well as buyer and seller licensing. TOW For more information regarding towing opportunities, please call IAA’s Transportation team at (734) 461-9365, or email If you are interested in selling vehicles to IAA, please call 262-325-1701, or email Lyndsie Erickson at Go to IAA’s website at


Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

StreetEagle GPS

company spotlight

by InSight USA offers ADVANCED GPS TRACKING Designed for the Towing Industry Managing jobs and providing quick dispatching to your fleet is essen-

owned technology company located in the Mid-Atlantic region serv-

tial in ensuring speedy service and optimum customer satisfaction

ing all 50 states. Our sole focus is the development and support of

for towing companies. With StreetEagle, business managers have

high value technologies that help small and medium sized busi-

the tools and resources

nesses improve customer

needed to identify and dis-

service and operate more

patch the closest available

profitably. Working together

driver to incident locations,

with our integration partners

monitor tow lift activations to

such as Beacon Software, we

verify “proof of service”, re-

provide a complete array of

duce unnecessary radio clut-

business solutions with inte-

ter and improve driver

grated GPS Tracking. InSight

behavior. Unauthorized vehi-

USA has proudly dedicated

cle use can be an expensive

over fourteen years of GPS

problem for towing compa-

systems expertise to provid-

nies, StreetEagle can reduce

ing mission critical solutions

this by making owners aware

for the Towing Industry. Our

of all vehicle use. Dispatching can be dramatically improved by giv-

flagship product, StreetEagle stands as one of the most capable GPS

ing dispatchers the capability of eliminating address errors and opti-

tracking solutions with proven performance, flexibility, reliability, life-

mizing navigation to incident locations. Customer service can be

time hardware warranty and 24/7 customer support.

optimized by providing accurate ETA’s to incident locations. InSight USA is an employee


Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

StreetEagle is already teamed up with Beacon Software Company’s Dispatch Anywhere, a premier online

“StreetEagle GPS Tracking has continued to exceed our expectations, when we first deployed the technology, we were amazed at the ease of use and the integration with Dispatch Anywhere. The combination of the two systems has allowed us to improve our customer experience by providing accurate ETA’s and increasing the amount of jobs per driver with the job stacking capabilities, ultimately allowing us to increase our revenues. Glenn Neuner, Owner Neuners Towing towing and recovery management software program. The powerful StreetEagle software can also be easily integrated with any back-end software through the advanced API to connect your customers, dispatchers and drivers for total visibility into the service that you provide. The recent launching of StreetEagle Professional, a complete overhaul of the StreetEagle line of products offers a new web-based application with an updated look and ease of use. StreetEagle Professional takes all the useful features of traditional StreetEagle and adds some great new features. Some of the new features include: additional mapping by Google, single interface to seamlessly handle geofences and locations, improved contact management, posted speed limit alert, user customization for group creation and handling and many more useful features. tow | July/August 2012 | Tow Professional


company spotlight

Increase Revenue and Operator Safety with Will-Burt Night-Scan Light Towers

Will-Burt vehicle-mounted Night ScanF light towers turn night into day for towing operators. Night Scan units deliver high intensity, directional light enabling tow truck operators to work more quickly during nighttime operations. Recovery operations may be completed more rapidly through enhanced visibility. Greater speed means more operations per night turning into more dollars for towing operators. In addition, nighttime illumination increases safety at recovery operations. Operator personnel can see potential safety hazards more easily, avoiding potential injury. In addition, trucks with light towers at recovery scenes are much more visible to oncoming vehicles, alerting them to the presence of the towing vehicle and reducing the potential for collision with the truck or personnel. A light tower may be installed on virtually any vehicle. Units are available in various power options, including 12 volt with LED lights which requires no generator, saving both money and space on the truck. In addition, Night Scan light towers use pneumatic 32

elevation system which may operate off truck air or with optional all-electric with built-in air extension system. Light tower units may be mounted on the roof or side of a tow truck cab and elevated up to 15ft above the truck cab roof. In addition, light towers are deployed quickly, allowing rapid scene illumination and enabling immediate enhanced visibility upon arriving at a recovery scene. An additional capability enhancement of the Night Scan light tower is that light fixtures may be pointed in two different directions simultaneously. This feature allows the truck operator to either focus all light in one direction for maximum illumination or even point on opposite directions for full 360° light coverage, illuminating the entire scene. The directional feature also enables the operator to ensure lights do not create glare for oncoming traffic, further enhancing safety. Will-Burt is the world’s premier manufacturer of telescoping mast and tower elevation solutions – the world’s one stop shop

Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

offering virtually every payload elevation solution from one source – for military, fire, towing, cellular, broadcast and other applications. Will-Burt is 100% employee-owned and has a strong commitment to the continuous improvement process set forth by ISO 9001:2008 quality standards. Will-Burt produces a broad range of telescoping masts and towers that elevate critical payloads, from lights for fire vehicles in addition to towing to surveillance and communications antenna systems for the military and border patrol. Will-Burt masts and towers facilitate safer and more productive operations – for critical missions from the warfighter on the battlefield to the firefighter at a nighttime rescue scene. Will-Burt products are known for their quality, performance and reliability. The company’s broad product range is tested and proved for use in harsh operating environments, from the cold and ice of Canada to the sand and dust of Afghanistan. tow

company spotlight

Bullet Freight Systems Uses Cutting Edge GPS Technology to Track Assets Logistics Company uses Track What Matters Flower Mound, Texas - April 30, 2012 – Track What Matters today announced that Bullet Freight Systems ( in Doral, Fla is using state-of-the art GPS technology from Track What Matters to track its high-value shipments. Bullet Freight Systems currently has 47 trucks and 27 trailers. "We need GPS because of the security risks in Miami, and we ship high-value cargo,” said Kevin Dindial president of Bullet Freight Systems. With an average value of $1M in shipping goods, knowing where the trailers are at all times is of extreme importance. Bullet Freight selected GPS asset trackers from Track What Matters because of the extended battery life contained in the units. “We’ve had to place GPS units inside the trailers because when we had them on the outside, they would get lost or broken if the truck brushed up against tree branches,” said Dindial. Units placed inside the trailers require a longer battery life, and we’ve had problems with other systems.” Because Bullet Freight Systems has experienced great success with the asset trackers from Track What Matters, they have recently equipped all of their trailers with the technology. More details are available at

About Track What Matters Track What Matters provides customized GPS tracking solutions for vehicles in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Africa, the Middle East, and portions of Asia. They support companies who need to keep track of assets, containers, trailers and more. Track What Matters has made a conscious effort to ensure its service is very easy to use while providing comprehensive delivery of vehicle tracking information. Track What Matters, LLC is a GPS tracking company that specializes in creating customized GPS tracking solutions specific to the individual needs of their clients. Leveraging cutting-edge GPS tracking hardware with vanguard and incredibly powerful yet user-friendly web-based software, Track What Matters, LLC has helped numerous Fortune 500 clients improve returns on investments by reducing waste and inefficiencies elsewhere. With a core philosophy of customized solutions culminated with unprecedented customer service, Track What Matters, LLC is the GPS tracking company that leading companies turn to for innovative and customized solutions and 24/7 accessibility. For more information, visit or call 800-293-0420. Email to receive emails that spotlight critical trends in the GPS tracking industry. Get the inside scoop on our GPS tracking strategies - follow us on Twitter: @Trackandsave. tow | July/August 2012 | Tow Professional



company spotlight

Custer Products LLC announced a product line expansion by introducing 7 new LED, Strobe and Battery powered beacons. The new line consist of 3 LED beacons including a 16-watt LED rotator, a 3 watt LED equipment strobe, and a battery operated LED rotator. Four of our new LITE*IT beacons are powerful tube type strobes with up to 17 joules and SAE CLASS 2!

One beacon in our new line is a magnetic suction cup with a 10' cord cigarette plug and 12 joules of power as well battery powered Beacon that is perfect as a temporary warning light. The new LITE*IT beacons will provide safety and warning solution for a multitude of towing, agricultural, transportation and safety customers. This new LITE*IT brand beacon line is manufactured with the same quality and affordability that Custer Products is known. Custer Products has plans to launch many more new or improved products this year which you will find on our website ( Custer Products Ltd has been supplying quality products to the towing, agricultural, trucking, trailer and safety industries since 1993 selling to a network of customers throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, South America and Europe. Custer Products strives to provide first class customer service, quick order fulfillment and innovative solutions to fulfill our customer's needs. For more New Products and information see or contact us at 800-490-3158 for a current catalog. tow


Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |


Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery

HOOKEDUP | July/August 2012 | Tow Professional



Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery



The Digital cloud-based Car Opening Manual revolutionizes Information Accessibility Access Tools, car opening tool manufacturer based in South Florida, has released their famous Car Opening Manual in a cloud-based digital format accessible from mobile phones and devices with internet access. Up until now, an operator had to carry around a heavy 800+ page manual in order to perform an


Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

In-the-Door Tool lockout, or have access to a computer to view the manual from the CD-ROM. The new Digital cloud-based Car Opening Manual revolutionizes the accessibility of information by providing a way to view every page of the manual right from your mobile phone with internet access enabled. The Access Tools Car Opening Manual is unlike any other in the industry. The manual features every vehicle from passenger cars to heavy trucks and semi’s from present day back to 1979. With detailed instructions, diagrams, and pictures to aid the opening, each lockout is researched and tested extensively for accuracy. The Car Opening Manual features a Tool ID system that makes identifying the proper tool quick and easy. This large manual is updated yearly, allowing for the latest vehicles to be added. The manual is available in three formats; Print, CD-ROM, and Digital. With the help of the Access Tools Car Opening Manual, you will become faster and more effective at performing lockouts, which means more money in your pocket. 1628 NW 28TH Street, Miami FL 33142 Phone: 800-323-8324 • Fax: 305-635-1077 | July/August 2012 | Tow Professional




Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |


Call 888-802-8544 for Market Place Advertising | July/August 2012 | Tow Professional



Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery



Alexander Insurance . . . . . . . . . . 25 all-Grip . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 American Safety & Supply . . . . . . 28

Anchor Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 ATIG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Atomic Led . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

BA Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7, 39

Beacon Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Bilt USA Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . 5

Chester Point Programs . . . . . . . 40

Collins Dollies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

Custer Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Dangelo’s Custom Built Mfg, LLC . . . . . . . . 22

Detroit Wrecker . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

DewEze . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Direct Equipment Supply . . . . . . 40

Dynamic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . OBC



ECM Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Flash Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Florida Wrecker Sales . . . . . . . . . 38 FlowStop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25



Progressive Platforms . . . . . . . . . 19

Ranger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Ratler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Ricky’s Truck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

Golden West . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

Road Gear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Insurance Auto Auctions . . . . . . 27

RV Wheel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

Insight USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

ROI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

Lift and Tow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IBC

Specialty Vehicle & Equipment Funding . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Metro Lift . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

Summit Truck Equipment . . . . . . 38

Kinequip . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Marking Pen Depot . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Mfr. Express . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

Midwest Regional Tow Show . . . 29

Miti Mfg Co . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 NA Bancard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Pan Pillow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Pierce Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

Steck Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 13

Tow Musseum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

Track What Matters . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Travis Barlow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Twin City Wrecker Sales . . . . . . . 38

Twin State Equipment . . . . . . . . . 21

VTS Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Will-Burt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IFC



Tow Professional | July/August 2012 |

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July/August issue