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Volume 2 • Issue 1 2013

Lighting 14 |

Illuminating Roadside Safety

18 |

A Bright Future

24 |

It’s More Than Just a Tow

Software 32 | Business Management in Towing and Recovery The Future Direction for Software - A Perspective company spotlight

22 | Whelen Engineering Co. Safety 38 | Expect the Unexpected – Operators Need

23 | Insurance Auto Auctions

to Be Ready for Spills, Hazmat Situations

26 | 33 |Ranger SST

I n du stry NEWS

6 |Heavy Duty Towing Equipment 6 | B/A Products Co.

34 |Beacon Software 36 |Towbook 37 |Cloud Based Technology

7 |ZACKLIFT STIFFLEGS: The industry’s only detachable FIFTHWHEELER legs

7 | Towbook Launches Aggressive Product Changes 8|

Will Dominate Within Five Years!

IN EVERY ISSUE 4 | Publisher Letter

Wall of the Fallen



10 | Care, Custody and Control TO HOOK OR NOT TO HOOK...That’s the Question


Tow Professional | Volume 2 Issue 1 |

42 |





Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery

Volume 2 • Issue 1 2013

PUBLISHERS Darian Weaver President & Co-Publisher

As this publication comes across your desk, Tow Professional begins its second year in the industry.

Jack Hartsfield Vice President & Co-Publisher

We have only been back a short time from attending and exhibiting at the Baltimore Tow Show in November. The show was very well-attended, even though a lot of the companies that typically would attend were very busy working through the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. I would like to thank the people at American Towman for inviting us to exhibit; it allowed us to make the very most of our time spent in Baltimore. Our advertising customers enjoy the additional distribution gained by distributing magazines at the shows, and it allowed us to spend time with our customers that have helped make the magazine possible.


PRODUCTION Clint W. Cabiness Art Director Hal K. Huber Graphic Designer Jill Hasty Managing Editor __________________________

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS I am writing this publisher’s letter just four days after the most horrific murders that I have heard of in my 45 years on earth. On December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, 26 people lost their lives, with 20 of those being 6 & 7 years old. I myself have a 15-year-old daughter, as well as sons who are 13 and 4. My business partner Darian has a 14year-old daughter. I can’t begin to understand the gravity of the loss of a child. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and entire community. In wake of the tragic events, Darian and I (Jack) would like to share with our audience what means the most to us. Our wives and our children are what give us the ambition to produce the magazine in your hands right now. Thanks again to all our readers and advertisers. Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! Darian Weaver and Jack Hartsfield Co-Publishers

W. Chris Anderson Brad Custer Richard Farrell Kelly Ingersoll Dan Messina Lisa Neuberger Jim Shellhaas

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.

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


Tow Professional | Volume 2 Issue 1 | | Volume 2 Issue 1 | Tow Professional


I n du stry NEWS



Heavy Duty Towing Equipment


My name is Tony Strehle. I am starting a new company dedicated to offering affordable towing equipment. The name of my company is Heavy Duty Towing Equipment. I owned a towing company. I struggled each day with the ever-increasing cost of equipment. The equipment you use is supposed to make you money. I couldn’t increase my rates just because the equipment cost more and more. So, I watched as others attempted to import equipment. I learned from their mistakes, and now I present Heavy Duty Towing Equipment. This is quality equipment at affordable prices. I know a good deal is only a good deal if it works. All equipment is from the very finest producers and carries a full warranty that you can count on.

The relationship between a buyer and a seller is important to the long-term success of any transaction. No one wants to be abandoned after their purchase. My pledge is to work as hard for you after the sale as before it. Your satisfaction is critical to my success. I totally understand this. Call me anytime. My life is towing. My life revolves around tow trucks. I encourage everyone to go to my website,, and take a look. I’m looking forward to answering any questions you may have. Sincerely, Winfield “Tony” Strehle 888-824-2002

........................................................... Towbook Launches Aggressive Product Changes >>>

Towbook, a fast-growing provider of Towing Management Software, recently announced an aggressive product development program designed to revolutionize the system and make Towbook the most powerful tool in the market. Customers started to see changes last month and more will be released in early 2013 as the company transforms the system. One highlight of the features released in December is Towbook’s completely redesigned, and easier to use, dispatching module. The new dispatching interface creates a real-time connection between drivers, dispatchers and anybody in your company using Towbook. As updates are made to records, those changes are instantly visible to all Towbook users. Complementing the new dispatching interface, Towbook released a mobile app for Android in December (iPhone is on the way). The mobile app makes it simple for drivers to upload photos and receive real-time dispatching updates directly on their phone. Another key update made last month was QuickBooks integration, which automatically transfers invoices, payments and accounts between Towbook and QuickBooks. This reduces the need for double-entry of information and reduces the potential for accounting errors. The ability for customers to upload and save files in Towbook was also released in late 2012. With this new feature, files can be stored with 6

Tow Professional | Volume 2 • Issue 1 |

each individual impound, truck or account record so information is safe and secure. Most importantly, files can be accessed from anywhere you use Towbook – at the office, on the road or at home for no additional cost. Towbook also recently released an updated reporting module with flexible filtering so users can view (and print or export) reports that meet their companies specific needs. The system also includes graphing and quick overview statistics. Updates customers can expect in early 2013 include integration with multiple Motor Clubs, GPS providers, and a steady stream of changes that make the system more flexible and easier to use. Towbook has been providing Towing Software Solutions for over 5 years and recently added world-class resources to their development team to help deliver the new features and capabilities. Dan Smith, CEO of Towbook, commented that to go along with the company’s superior customer support, his team is “deeply focused” on having Towbook be the easiest to use and most capable solution available to towing professionals. He went on to say that in addition having the most powerful system on the market, Towbook will always maintain its edge as the most affordable system for towing companies.

ABOUT TOWBOOK Towbook Management Software is headquartered in St. Clair, Michigan, and has been providing management software in the towing industry for over 5 years. We take great pride in our system and in having the industry’s best customer support. Our support is free, and we’re available 24/7/365 – even on holidays. 855-869-2665 (855-TOWBOOK) No Setup Fees. No Contracts. No Worries.

................................................................. ZACKLIFT STIFFLEGS: The industry’s only detachable FIFTHWHEELER legs FIFTHWHEELER Stifflegs are the exclusive design innovation of Zacklift International.


Though Zacklift is best known for its famous underlifts, stifflegs are an engineering specialty of Zacklift. With a full line of hydraulic Legs ranging from 20,000 to a whopping 70,000 pounds, Zacklift is the industry’s #1 supplier of retrofit Stifflegs. The star feature, in addition to their built-to-last design, is their trademark “Flip Feet,” a super wide-surface foot pad that has a dual purpose of flat surface stabilization and angled recovery anchor, stabilization. A single one-man, one-step operation easily pulls and replaces a single pin to move between the angle claw for digging and the flat surface for stabilizing. 25,00 pound Stifflegs are an option on any of the 5 models

of removable Zacklift FIFTHWHEELER Underreach. Along with winch and custom aerodyne tool boxes, The FIFTHWHEELER can handle anything it sets out to do. The Zacklift Stifflegs are pre-engineered to bolt into place on the FIFTHWHEELER mounting beam. The Zacklift and legs uncouple from the king pin in exactly the same way as a trailer. The two section lever-operated valve is installed in-series with the Zacklift valve, which includes remote control. All plumbing is cleanly routed through the interior of the FIFTHWHEELER beam at the Zacklift factory. Dual “D” rings are standard equipment on the FIFTHWHEELER Stifflegs. Zacklift International, Inc. (509) 674-4426

........................................................... Dynamic Towing Equipment B/A Products Co. >>> and Manufacturing >>> B/A Products Co. would like to thank everyone who attended our 6th Annual Open House that was held on Friday, November 16. The open house was well-attended, and a good time was had by all. During our charity auction, we were able to raise a record-breaking amount to benefit the children of a local fallen tower. All proceeds from the auction went directly to the Jenna Schreiber, Nathan & Emily Schreiber Education Fund. Thank you for all of your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you all again next year. B/A Products Co. Toll Free (800) 327-3301

Dynamic Towing Equipment and Manufacturing is at it again, bringing yet another solid towing solution to the industry. Dynamic worked with Motor Clubs and Towers across the country to re-design our Service Truck, satisfying the needs of our customers. The Service Truck is equipped with seven storage compartments, totaling an amazing 80 cubic feet of usable space. These huge compartments can be delivered with an optional rack system for vehicle batteries and are capable of providing safe stowing of up to 36 batteries! Accompanying deck space measuring 54” x 85” allows for additional storage options. Giving the truck even more versatility is the 4,000 lb wheel lift, meeting another industry demand. With the sleek body style, the truck is an eye-catcher on the road and within the industry. Dynamic Towing Equipment has built a reputation on trust, providing personal service and developing solid products for the industry. Dynamic further demonstrates our commitment to your satisfaction by providing a 3-year limited warranty for the Service Truck. To request a quote or learn about other towing solutions Dynamic has to offer, call 800831-9299. Also, visit us on the web, | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | Tow Professional



Tow Professional | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | Tow Professional





TO HOOK or NOT TO HOOK... That’s the Question By Richard Farrell

One of the things I learned rather quickly in the towing business was that people sometimes were not happy to see me. Hard to believe, I know, but true nonetheless. If I was there to tow them, I was really charging them “x” amount of dollars so they could find out how much their car repair was going to cost. If this were a recovery, they were spending cash to extricate their car from that ditch that was someone else’s fault! Either


way, they were pissed. I would teach all my drivers to NEVER unhook until you got paid. There is a universal truth called "Care, Custody and Control." What this really means is that as long as you have any type of attachment on the vehicle, you have legal possession; once you drop the unit or unhook your chains, you don't. You cannot just rehook. I have had local PDs try to accuse me of car theft; I did

Tow Professional | Volume 2 • Issue 1 |

once let the car roll back into the ditch. Guess the parking brake let go. (Ha, Ha) Of course, if this was a regular account or customer, then I didn't have a problem, but with the general public, I would tilt the bed or lower the wheel lift and then ask for payment. It would always surprise me that when informed by the customer that they had no money with them and I would just have to bill them, how quickly they would find the

cash when I told them that their car would be towed to our storage lot and when they did have our payment for the additional mileage and storage, their car would be released. My point here is simple‌protect yourself. Keep the leverage, and you will get paid. I would always quote the price for the work before I towed or extricated the vehicle. I never got upset, never took it personal; it's only business. You will find out really quickly which type of customer you have when they get upset with you for not dropping the car in their driveway first! TOW

Detroit Wrecker Sales 19630 Fitzpatrick, Detroit, MI 48228 National: 877-TOW-0030 Webstore: Email: | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | Tow Professional





You may hear me say often that information is power. Two weeks ago, a member asked me if I could provide driver information from other states to compare with their own state. Last week, while I was in Baltimore, I talked to over 250 people and asked them for tow rates and driver pay information from their state. Below are the results of this informal survey. Keep in mind that these numbers may only reflect information from one city out of the state. And, it is not a scientific survey, just a quick survey of tow show attendees. State

City Rates

Driver Pay









% of Tow








$10 Hr

$90 + $3 a mile

% and Hr rate

Maryland Massachusetts

Dispatch Hr $12/$15 $10/$15 Hr




$9 Hr



% of Tow

New Hampshire


Night % Day its Hr

New Jersey



$9/$15 Hr Min. wage/$15

New York

$8 Hr $15 $9/$15


% of Tow

North Carolina


% and Hr rate





Not Provided

30%/35% $15 Hr

South Carolina


% and Hr rate



% of Tow




% of Tow

$10 $17


$174 Per Hr

$20 Hr





$10 $8.80 $8/$12 Hr $9

$12 $9/$16

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The State of Texas hired an accounting firm to do a study to determine a tow rate for private property tows. When the study indicated the rate should be a little over $100, the tow companies went crazy. We had close to 50 tow companies go to the State Capital and protest the study. The State listened to the towers, and, after a few months of discussions, the rate cap was set at $250. The State of Texas caps the private property tow rate at $250; however, most cities have their own cap which is much lower. Several years ago, when negotiating the tow rate with one of the large cities, a councilman suggested $130, but the tow industry representative declined and said that “$121 was enough”! He did that because he was afraid they wouldn’t give us anything if we asked for too much. In order for our industry to survive and thrive, we must stand up for fair rates. We are a necessary evil to most people. Even though we are associated with bad things such as vehicle accidents, injury, and being towed for illegal parking, we keep the highways clear, fix parking problems, and even save lives! We deserve to provide benefits for our employees and make a fair profit. We have to start standing up for our industry and communicate our value to our elected officials. Now Texas is in the midst of determining whether it is feasible to regulate Incident Management (IM) tow rates. (In Texas, an IM tow is any tow that involves law enforcement. such as an accident or arrest.) The final study is due out in December. Although most cities already regulate these rates, we have to watch this very closely, so that it doesn’t interfere with contracts and rotations that are already in place and working well. Do you have statewide regulation for tow rates? If you do, let me know what they are. If we get enough responses, we’ll publish for everyone.

BONUSES During the survey, I asked if they paid bonuses to staff. Here are some of their responses: 1. Most offered no bonus programs. 2. Some paid heavy duty only (6%). 3. Several paid for low damage claims (cash, or % of monthly reduction from last month). 4. Some bonuses were based on call volume. 5. Low customer complaints got you some extra cash.

7. Full time 5 days a week/ 45 hours/ part timers alternate nights/weekends. 8. Weather determines schedule. 9. 5 days a week/12 hours a day/ local tows on-call. 10. 8 hours/5 days a week/every other weekend on-call 1 night a week. 11. 5 days on 2 off/7days on 2 off. Keep in mind that I surveyed over 250 towers from different parts of the country,

so some of this data may be different depending which city you work in. I hope you are able to find this data useful, as it gives you a look at what is going on across the country. Companies get creative to meet the needs of their customers, and, in some parts of the country, weather makes a difference. TOW Dan Messina is a small business specialist,

6. If you had certifications, you qualified for a bonus. 7. Job performance (Work schedule, work holidays, no complaints) 8. Long distance tows 9. Double Time emergencies 10. Rollovers, or bad weather 11. Difficult tows 12. Driver contests

The bonuses consisted of the following: 1. Money 2. Birthday Presents 3. Time off 4. Lunches 5. Tickets (Concerts, sporting events) 6. Meals 7. Christmas bonus ($259 to $1,000) 8. 25% based on tow bill. I’m sure you could add to the list and I would like to hear them, so I can share with others!

WORK SCHEDULE The last topic we discussed was the work schedule of the drivers. Every company I talked to did have some type of schedule for their drivers. Here are a few of the schedules: 1. 5 days/4nights rotating each week. 2. All drivers on call only. 3. 8 hour days rotating nights and days. 4. 5 or 6 days a week/8/10 hour days/24/7. 5. 5 days a week 10 hrs a day/2 on-call shifts per week/50 hour weeks. 6. 8 to 6 Monday thru Friday/on-call every other night and weekend/40 hours then on-call. | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | Tow Professional


Illuminating Roadside Safety it seems there is a story in the news or on an industry forum about a roadside tragedy occurring on our highways. With the advent of text messaging and other distractions within a vehicle, drivers are prone to be less aware of their surroundings than ever before, unless they make the conscious effort to set these distractions aside while in motion. It is no wonder that fatalities resulting from accidents such as these have been climbing steadily each and every year. Sure, state and federal agencies have developed guidelines and standards of operating on or around the roadsides (both for motorists and recovery vehicles alike). However, there are additional ways to protect yourself and lessen the odds of an accident happening to you. One of the main ways being illumination…or lighting!

EVERY DAY B y W. C h r i s A n der son

The Solutions

Grabbing the attention of drivers visually is going to be your best bet at assuring that they will move over or take precautions to avoid your work area. The lighting aspect of roadside safety is particularly important at night. If you do not have adequate lighting at night, you are leaving yourself exposed to potential danger. With that said, manufacturers are working daily to come up with new solutions to these issues in order to save lives.


Tow Professional | Volume 2 Issue 1 |

L i g h t i n g Truck Lighting Is there such a thing as too much lighting on a truck? There certainly can be too little, and on the opposite end of the spectrum are those who seem over the top. Luckily, there are ways to strike a balance of cost-effectiveness and adequate lighting to make you visible to motorists. There are even a number of USA-based manufacturers offering affordable lighting solutions that can now compete with the cheap overseas stuff that almost inevitably fails. The main form of emergency lighting on a given truck is the overhead light bar. Well, that is to say, it was formerly limited to light bars. Atomic LED has created cab lights that can pretty well replace an overhead light bar for some applications as they will flash in an array of patterns chosen on an in-cab control. These units replace the existing cab lights on many trucks and are made to fit specific makes and models. As for overhead light bars, it is clear that LEDs are the way to go nowadays. Drawing less power, producing less heat, and experiencing fewer failures are factors that have contributed to the success

of LED bars in the market. One of the most popular light bars for tow operators has been the 62” Towman’s Justice light bar by Whelen. It is a well-rounded unit for under $1,000 and comes standard with halogen work lights, stop tail turn LED modules, and 10 flashing LED modules (of which more can be added). Changing the way we think about the installation and operation of truck lighting is TowMate’s Power-Link series of 2-wire install light bars that connect to just power and ground at the light bar and at the control, making them essentially wireless. The PLC56U is a 56” light bar that features 20 flashing LED modules, 3 LED work light modules, and 2 LED stop/tail/turn modules. This light bar can also “link” up to a wireless TowMate tow light. Not only are the Power-Link bars manufactured in the USA, but they are also backed with a lifetime warranty on electronics and LEDs. There are some truck manufacturers that will go to the length of outfitting a new truck with an array of lighting, while others leave it up to the end user to install lighting as they see fit.

One of the latest adaptations of bed lighting on a rollback is credited to Jerr-Dan with their Rear Awareness Indicator Lights (RAIL) system. The RAIL system features lights mounted along the flat bed at such an angle that they become perfectly visible when the truck bed is down to load a disabled vehicle. There are countless other LED markers that can be rigged to flash as well, but none do so as simply as the Power-Link marker/flasher combinations by TowMate. These units simply replace your existing marker lights with no additional wiring necessary. They will come on as a marker when powered up, then when the button on the Power-Link control (sold separately) is activated, the markers will convert to a high-intensity LED strobe pattern, of which there are several pre-programmed patterns to choose from. Perimeter Lighting/Traffic Management Even with all the lights on a recovery vehicle active, it is still a good idea to establish a perimeter | Volume 2 Issue 1 | Tow Professional


L i g h t i n g

for the roadside work area. Common methods of doing so include the use of flares, reflective triangles, or “LED flares.” Phoenix lighting offers safety batons that come four to a set complete with a sturdy stand so they can be placed along the roadside instead of traffic cones. Each baton can be set to a steady burn or flashing mode and also feature a flashlight on the end. An example of tower innovation comes in the form of sequencing traffic cone lights. Brian Bell of Bell’s Towing & Recovery in Keithville, Lousiana, utilized electronics from TowMate to create the first set of wireless sequencing cone lights. Since then, TowMate put these into production as a six light kit that converts your traffic cones into traffic arrows and can work in conjunction with a


Power-Link light bar or as a standalone system. The Last Line of Defense Unfortunately, there are times when taking numerous precautions to ensure ones safety is still not enough to deter a distracted driver. For this, TowMate created the “Safety Alert System.” Embracing a concept of a young man named Cody from Kieth’s Auto in Vilonia, Arkansas, TowMate has engineered a system that will certainly save lives. The system includes a hose that is laid on the ground in advance of the traffic cones and features a pressure sensor on the end. When the sensor detects a change in pressure when a car tire runs over the hose, it sends a

Tow Professional | Volume 2 Issue 1 |

wireless signal to a radio receiver that is tied to the truck horn and activates it. The horn being activated gives a moment’s notice to get out of the way of the approaching vehicle. Until the day automotive travel is automated, we will always have to be concerned about what the other driver is doing on the roadway and if they are paying attention. The key factors of roadside safety are the visibility of the vehicle on the scene and clearly defining the work or recovery area. With products being developed by towers and feedback from tow operators being acted upon by manufacturers, there are now systems that can make a difference and potentially save lives. The best advice is to determine the systems that could be best for you and take action to protect yourself from tragedy. TOW

TowMate, LLC. (800) 680-4455 | Volume 2 Issue 1 | Tow Professional


By Br ad Cu s t e r

A Bright

Future Before laying out the options, first some perspectives to set the stage:There are several types of lighting that you will find being used on vehicles in our industry. The common types are incandescent, halogen, high intensity discharge (HID), and LED. The incandescent bulb is a bulb that has a filament to light. As power is applied to the filament, the filament glows and produces heat, which creates light. 18

Tow Professional | Volume 2 Issue 1 |

Incandescent bulbs were the industry standard until a few years ago. LED lighting has been replacing the incandescent bulb as the industry standard for the last several years. LED bulbs provide many advantages over the incandescent bulb. The LED (light emitting diode) is tiny semiconductors that are encapsulated in plastic. LEDs have many advantages over the incandescent bulb. LEDs have much lower energy consumption than incandescent lights. Because of the low amp draw, you may find that 12 LED lights will have the same AMP draw as 1 similar incandescent light. Because of this, converting from incandescent lights to LED lights will save power, which relates to less fuel. This will also allow trucks and trailers to be dressed up many more LED lights without draining power. Another advantage of LED lights to incandescent lights is life expectancy. Because LEDs do not have a filament, they have a longer life expectancy over the incandescent light. The

L I G H T I N G average life of a LED bulb is about 100,000 hours or 6 times as long as the incandescent bulb. Eventually, the filament of the incandescent light becomes weaker, the filament breaks, and the bulb goes out. The LED bulb will become dimmer towards the end of its life and will be replaced before the bulb goes dark. This is an important safety advantage of the LED light. Another safety advantage of the LED light is that LEDs are instant on. LEDs light 200 milliseconds (ms) faster than an incandescent bulb. This will allow the vehicle following to have more reaction time. Two hundred ms may not seem like a lot of time, but it is over a car length at 70 miles per hour. In summary, LED lighting is a more effective light for the truck and trailer industry. The safety issues, power draw, and life expectancy makes the LED light an economical choice over the life of the truck or trailer. It is very easy to replace existing incandescent lights with LEDs. Most LED lights have interchangeable sizes with the incandescent light. LEDs are also the best way to dress up your truck and trailer with multiple lights. Lite – It up. LEDs are also becoming the preferred work light for Work Trucks. Over the last several years, improved technology has made the LED work lights many times brighter than the halogen lights that preceded them. As with all products, some LEDs are brighter than others. The | Volume 2 Issue 1 | Tow Professional



range of lumens for an LED work light is between 30 – 90 lumens per Watt. The light of a standard halogen light is about 12 lumens per watt. LED work lights also require less power draw than the halogen lights. A 36W LED work light will require nearly 2 AMPS to produce nearly 2500 lumens of light, whereas a


55W halogen light will require nearly 5 AMPs to produce about 700 lumens of light. With a halogen bulb, about 90% of the energy is converted to radiant heat. A LED bulb converts only a fraction of that to wasted heat. Another light to consider for work trucks is the high intensity discharge (HID) light. The HID light replaces the filament of a bulb with a

Tow Professional | Volume 2 Issue 1 |

capsule of gas. The light of an HID is formed from an arc discharge between two closely spaced electrodes. HID lights require a ballast, which regulates the voltage that travels to the capsule of gas. Most HID lights have a self-contained ballast built into the housing of the light. The HID light produces more light than the halogen light while consuming less power. The HID light is great for lighting up a scene because the light more closely approximates the color temperature of natural daylight. HID lights usually require 15-20 seconds to reach full power and must cool off before they can be restarted. As you can see, there are several different options for lighting a vehicle. It is important to take many factors into consideration for the lights you use. Like all products, there are differences in longevity and quality. TOW

Custer Products (800) 490-3158

company spotlight


Whelen Celebrates Years in Business

helen Engineering began in 1952 when George W. Whelen developed a rotating aircraft “anti-collision beacon.” This original concept was expanded to create a magnetic mounted beacon used by police, public safety, fire departments, and to convert hearses to ambulance service! Once a garage workshop in Deep River, Connecticut, Whelen has grown into a bustling 600,000+ square foot manufacturing company. Sales, Service and Warehouses in 25 locations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe support the three factories in Chester, Connecticut, Charlestown, New Hampshire, and Coventry, England. The acknowledged leader in the industry, Whelen strives to fill the need for innovative safety warning systems with a large engineering staff backed by a state-of-the-art environmental testing laboratory. The pride and



commitment of its work force, whose average employment longevity is 22 years, is rewarded by sharing the company’s benefits as shareholders in the tradition established by the founding Whelen’s 60 years ago. Whelen is the only U.S. manufacturer of emergency warning equipment to still manufacture its products entirely in the United States. The use of robotics and a motivated workforce allow it to compete with off-shore products. In 1963, Whelen began researching strobe light technology in order to introduce affordable, reliable and highly effective

Tow Professional | Volume 2 Issue 1 |

strobe products to the light aircraft industry and then to the automotive market. Today, Whelen has designed and developed the newest LED technology to create a diverse line of lighting products with exceptional performance and reliability. Now available in ultra low profile lightbars, dash and deck lighting and a wide range of lighthead models, heavy-duty, low current LEDs have quickly become the choice of fleet professionals across the country. TOW

Whelen Engineering Company (860) 526-9504

company spotlight

Insurance Auto Auctions’ National CAT Response Team Handles Record Levels of Total Loss Vehicles in the Aftermath of Sandy By Kelly Ingersoll the wake of catastrophic events, such as Sandy, salvage auto auction companies, like Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA), provide immediate assistance to insurance companies and those affected in surrounding communities in two critical forms.


First, we provide access to networks of towing companies, and second, space to store the vehicles. When necessary, we secure additional land to accommodate a dramatic increase in total loss volume so that the community cleanup process can be expedited. The volume from this catastrophe is record-setting. Overall, the industry is estimating nearly 230,000 vehicles will be totaled and sent to salvage providers. In addition to our existing 11 locations in New York and New Jersey, we have set an additional 18 satellites or holding locations to enable us sufficient space to store the large numbers of cars that need to be removed from households, streets and businesses. Once the vehicles are brought to our auction yards, they are handled with utmost care and safety in mind. By removing flooded cars in storm-stricken areas struggling to recover, IAA is assisting with the public service effort in an efficient and environmentally responsible way. This is a short-term solution, and we expect the cars to be stored in these holding locations for three to six months. IAA’s National CAT Team Five Key Objectives With catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, or any significant weather event, it is imperative to prepare before landfall. IAA has a dedicated and comprehensive National CAT department led by committed senior team members.

This department is fully prepared yearround to support events of this nature. The IAA National CAT team has five key objectives when it comes to managing CAT events: 1. Monitor, track and assess the situation with constant customer communication 2. Plan ahead for storage capacity in hardest hit areas including shortterm holding areas 3. Coordinate IAA team resources and logistics 4. Stage network and technology systems 5. Coordinate towing services capacity and logistics IAA has the benefit of being part of a larger organization, KAR Auction Services. Mobilization of resources and equipment is truly a team effort with our sister company ADESA. To date, we have mobilized hundreds of staff and affiliates to deal with the cleanup and processing of vehicles. In addition, we have transported hundreds of

pieces of equipment, including technology, lighting, vehicle moving equipment, generators, computers, and the like.

Where do these cars ultimately end up? All cars IAA retrieves on behalf of its clients, the insurance companies, are strictly titled according to state laws and sold at our live and live-online auctions in an efficient manner. Many of the vehicles we sell at our auctions are either bought by recyclers, rebuilders or dismantlers and other such organizations for parts. Many also are bought by licensed companies that ship them abroad. All vehicle buyers must be appropriately licensed in their state or country and register with IAA. We follow all salvage buying regulations in every U.S. state and report all sales to NMVTIS and National Crime Bureau. TOW Kelly Ingersoll is director, transportation & CAT logistics for IAA. To find out more about how to work with IAA’s Transportation team, email or call (734) 461-9365, . | Volume 2 Issue 1 | Tow Professional


IT’S MORE Than Just a Tow By Pa u l E .

The average tow truck operator who has been on the road awhile knows the majority of calls are fairly

routine. Operators become accustomed to the simple transports of broken-down vehicles, off-road

extractions, accident scene removal, and up-righting

rollovers. However, being involved in an auto accident or breakdown is not a common occurrence for the

average driver and can, at times, be quite traumatic. Tow operators play a vital role in helping drivers and their vehicles get to a safe place after an accident. It is customer service and addressing the human side of business that makes a difference. Especially in rural areas, local law enforcement may not come to the scene if no one is injured. Accidents occurring at dusk or night hours may also generate additional anxiety for the driver of a disabled vehicle. Business travelers or folks on vacation may be far away from home with no personal contacts in the area. My wife and I experienced a similar scenario while on vacation, in another state, on a holiday weekend. We hit a deer while traveling a rural section of interstate highway at nightfall. After getting the car safely to the shoulder and giving a quick inspection of the damage, I found smashed headlights, anti-freeze leaking, and body panels bent in ways that prevented us from going any further. As we sat on the guardrail without seeing passing vehicles or building lights in any direction, we called 911 for help. Since there were no injuries and no one else involved, a police cruiser was not sent. However, the 911 operator dispatched a local towing company to come to our aid. After sitting in the dark, we welcomed the sight of the amber strobe lights as the tow truck operator positioned the wrecker in front of our vehicle. Doug, dressed in a company-logoed shirt, introduced himself and the tow company, asked if we were okay, and in a friendly, confident voice told us he was there to help. My wife and 24

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I both gave a sigh of relief. Doug loaded us in his warm cab and then began to load up our car. Once he returned to the cab, my wife and I told him our story and asked if he had suggestions for how we should handle the situation. I suppose, still being a bit scattered from the accident, we were not sure. Doug started to relay our options. As we hauled our car back to the nearest town, his office called local rental car offices. To our disappointment, they were already closed for the evening. He suggested we stay at a local hotel that had a car rental office next door. He drove us there and waited as we checked to see if a room was available. Once lodging was booked, we did the paperwork for the tow and Doug offered suggestions for local body shops and gave ballpark estimates for hauling our car back home, if we chose to do that. We grabbed our luggage for the night while Doug took our disabled vehicle to a secure storage area. In the morning, after a night’s rest, we obtained a rental car and contact our insurance agency. Plus, with the information Doug provided, we made the decisions needed for our car’s repair and, most importantly, continued with our vacation! Looking back, Doug was our lifeline that evening. Even more importantly, he acted in a way any stranded motorist would appreciate. Rather than being just another tow taken for granted, we were his tow. He focused on providing the best customer service he could for us that evening. He addressed the human side or customer service side of the tow.

I’m sure there is more, but below is a list of common customer service traits each tow operator should provide: • Professional appearance – clean, and wearing company attire • Friendly, personable demeanor • An introduction that includes a business card and the tow company represented • An offer to take the customer to the nearest restroom, if needed • Patience with customers that are dealing with just experiencing a traumatic event • Tow options for the customer • Reputable local auto body shop options, if needed • Reputable local auto repair options, if needed • Information on the closest car rental facilities and transport, if needed • Hotel options and transport to them, if stranded • Address and contact information for vehicle storage TOW

Paul E. AWDirect Technical Product Support AW Direct 800-243-3194 | Volume 2 Issue 1 | Tow Professional


company spotlight Does your business demand dependable, hard working equipment? Do you need to maintain and supply your business with products you can count on? Are you interested in keeping your investments and expenses under control? If you answered “yes” to any of these, then is the resource for you. has become a major online source for tools, equipment and shop supplies for automotive mechanical trades including the tow industry. With thousands of professional, name brands, their inventory is extensive. From in the shop to out on the road, this online retailer is supplying the best. also recognizes professional customers are knowledgeable about their equipment purchases. By offering online shopping without the added expense of an in-the-field sales rep to tell you what you already know, keeps costs down and prices highly competitive. Free shipping for any order over $99 is the standard. Whether you have one truck or a whole fleet to maintain, the savings really add up. Don’t miss a savings opportunity. sends promotions to their email subscribers and through Facebook newsfeeds to anyone that “Likes” their page. Sign up today. TOW 26

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Business Management in Towing and Recovery

The Future Direction for Software - A PERSPECTIVE

rojecting into the future is


inherently fraught with risk. In the words of that great

philosopher, Yogi Berra, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” However, George Burns quipped, “I look to the future…because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.” While undoubtedly intended for a laugh, this comment is actually quite thought-provoking. The direction for business management software and tools in the towing and recovery industry is already changing and will continue to change at an accelerating pace. 28

Economically: Where Are We Today? Where Are We Headed? Business Is Only Going to Get Tougher The towing and recovery industry is an inherently tough business with major challenges: • Aligning the business to the requirements of priority customers (e.g., police agencies vs. major commercial customers) and service offerings (e.g., stranded motorists vs. heavy-duty rollovers) • Developing competitive advantages in responsiveness and speed, and/or technical capabilities and service quality, and/or operational productivity – all demanding the right people, the right equipment, and the right processes • Managing the business such that the value created in delivering service actually flows to the bottom line –

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By Jim Shell h a a s

starting with the plugging of revenue leaks (e.g., getting paid, thwarting driver misbehavior) Unfortunately, looking forward, the business probably gets even tougher. The downward pressure on pricing and margins is more likely to intensify than it is to ease. A growing economy is supposed to “float all boats.” But the broad public policy options to solve the U.S. debt dilemma will likely have an adverse impact on growth in the short-term. Raising taxes will stifle private sector investment and job creation. Cutting spending will reduce public sector jobs and transfer payments – with negative effects on consumer spending. The worst of the economic downturn is hopefully behind us. However, a sober look at the current economic environment sug-

gests, that for purposes of business planning, it is prudent to seriously consider a low growth outlook, with the potential for inflation.

For most owners, the math works in favor of operational productivity.

Operational Productivity Is an Imperative Based on this outlook, one critical imperative for the owners of towing and recovery companies is to aggressively pursue improvements in productivity. And, the most powerful lever is usually to drive the operational productivity of assets in the field – people and equipment. Consider the following: • How much would your bottom line improve if you increased office productivity by 10% to 15%? Would you save enough to reduce staffing to actually capture the benefit? • How much would your bottom line improve if you increased field asset productivity by 10% to 15%? If each truck completed 9 to 10 calls per shift rather than 8 to 9 calls per shift, how much more revenue would you generate? Would your average fuel cost per mile go down?

Fragmented Management Tools Progressive towing companies have adopted many products to improve their business operations – generally, products developed for other industries. For example: • Pagers that were developed to send text messages to out-of-office sales persons • Dispatch software from long-haul trucking or delivery services • Push-To-Talk phones originally aimed at service contractors and construction • Mobile data terminals used primarily in taxi fleets • Text messaging aimed at young consumers • Credit card processing devices that banks provide for retailers • Engine monitoring from long-haul trucking to track driver fatigue and truck preventative maintenance cycles • GPS navigation devices – e.g., Garmin – developed for the consumer market

Technologically: Where Are We Today? Where Are We Headed?

These products have helped in solving pieces of the operational puzzle for towing companies. However, since most are singlepurpose products, towers are left to put the puzzle pieces together to create a useful business solution. As one tower observed, “I’ve got a bunch of ‘stuff’' that is generally ‘okay.’ But since the pieces don’t work together, it’s like having an inventory of truck parts, rather than having the truck. This 'stuff' is not taking me where I want to go!” A Revolution in Mobile Technology Coupled with piece-meal approaches to business management tools, “smart” phones and tablets are changing the game. Smartphones have now surpassed the number of conventional phones in use. Android – the most open and powerful platform for business applications – is now available and used on more smartphones than Apple (35% more than the iPhone!). According to PC Magazine, “The smartphone/tablet revolution is one of the most life-changing technologies of our time – it will change how business does business.” | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | Tow Professional


A casual observation of people on the street shows how mobile technology is transforming our personal lives. The impact of mobile technology in the workplace may be less evident, but is, in fact, changing how work gets done. Rather than trucks in the field being “somewhere out there,” the interactions will become as if they were in the office across the hall. So, why should you care? What if you could: • Get dispatchers off of the radio and managing what is actually going on in the field (e.g., drivers that have gone offcourse) because all the routine information is flowing back and forth with digital messages (not e-mail or text messaging) instead of error-prone voice conversations • Take pictures from the mobile device in the truck that are automatically linked to job records - available at the push of a


button for dispatch • Go paperless - eliminating paper tickets in the truck because information that is collected is being entered into the mobile device and being automatically entered/stored in your management system • Reduce collection risks by enabling the

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driver - using the same mobile device to run the customer’s credit card on-site • Minimize driver “waiting time” by sending all of the information for the driver’s next call assignment as he is completing his current job • Consistently direct the driver to the intended incident and destination locations by sending validated GPS coordinates directly into the driver’s navigation tool (no driver entry of street addresses) If your competitors mastered the application of mobile technology in their business, could it become an “unfair” advantage?

So, What Are the Implications for Software... And My Business? Strategically, Shift from Diverse Tool Sets to Integrated Solutions Enabling towing companies to meet the challenge for improvement in operational productivity places new demands on the providers of business management tools.

Stand-alone products, while helpful, won't be enough to get towing companies to where they need to go. The direction for goods and services (especially “software”) aimed at improving business management/performance is already evident - a shift: • From individual products to solutions • From a single process or function, to end-to-end integrated business management • From administrative efficiency to operational productivity • From office-centric approaches to advanced mobile solutions in the truck From the perspective of the towing company, the transition in strategic thinking is the same - in a phrase: from products to an integrated, end-to-end solution. There are a few available solutions from which to choose. In assessing options, there are a few high-level criteria to screen solution contenders from the pretenders. Here are the top ten: 1. Does the GPS tracking/mapping component show not only truck location, but also truck type, and truck status/availability - providing a complete picture in one place? Is it available from the browser of your mobile tablet? 2. Are the mapping and dispatching components interchangeable? Do they share the same information? Are both in sync (updated from the same database) - eliminating the need to figure out why what is shown on the map doesn't match what is on the dispatch screen? 3. Does the mapping component show the dispatcher the most logical trucks to assign to a new job (trucks that are close by







and soon to be available) to enable better fleet deployment decisions (productivity!)? Can you dispatch from just the map? Does the mapping component show all job information and allow dispatchers to assign calls - i.e., drag and drop a truck onto the “pin” locating an open job - to improve speed/efficiency and to improve dispatching effectiveness? Does the dispatching/mapping component automatically communicate all relevant call details to the assigned truck driver (eliminating routine voice traffic)? Does the mobile device (not driver) automatically confirm receipt of the information, taking miscommunication out of the equation? Does the dispatching/mapping component automatically insert the correct GPS coordinates into the driver’s navigation tool, eliminating the need for drivers to waste time inputting address information? Does the mobile device calculate the correct charges to the customer on behalf of the driver (the right price), using account-specific call parameters from the dispatching/mapping component – eliminating pricing errors and saving time? Using the right price, can the driver then complete a customer credit card transaction from the truck using the same mobile device with a PCI-compliant process - accelerating cash flow? Does the payment get automatically recorded in call accounting records? Can the driver print an invoice (showing payment) from a mobile printer in the truck? Is the attendant at the storage lot equipped with a mobile tablet | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | Tow Professional


that begins the “Admit” process with all the information that the truck driver recorded in completing the tow? Can the lot attendant use their mobile tablet to track/manage inventory - e.g., scan bar codes and enter vehicle condition information, which then automatically updates the records in the lot storage/impound component of the solution - streamlining paperwork? 10. Can the driver in the truck complete the entire “Clear” process (Ticket #, Extras, Price, Vehicle make/model/color, Lot Location) from the mobile device without talking to dispatch? Will the next call assignment be ready and waiting on the mobile device so that the driver completes more calls and earns more commissions, while the owner realizes higher revenue with only marginal cost increases? Operationally, Get in Front of the Change Management Challenge I have a colleague that would remark in jest, “Changing organizations is easy - it's just two things: change what people think, and


change what people do.” Obviously, this is much easier said than done. Two other notable quotes highlight the change management challenge: “The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work.” --Thomas Edison “If you want something you’ve never had before, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before” -- Drina Reed Solutions are available. However, transitioning to a solution from a collection of products means changing how the company works – probably one step back to move four steps forward. So, the bigger issue is probably not “whether,” but “when” and “how.” The answer is made more complicated by a difficult business environment (wait?) and the competitive risks/opportunity (lead or follow?).

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In thinking about change management, it is interesting to reflect on some history in commercial shipping. Commercial steamships were first introduced in 1784 and were carrying cargo across the Atlantic by 1838. You might assume the commercial sailing ship companies would be the first to migrate to the new solution. However, in 1902, trying to remain competitive, the largest commercial sailing vessel ever produced was launched – with five masts each carrying at least five sails. Shortly thereafter, it sank as a result of a collision with a steamship. Ignoring the changes - economic and in technology - is unlikely to be a winning strategy over the long-term for either software providers or their customers. Back to George Burns: “I look to the future…because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.” TOW

Jim Shellhaas is president of Ranger SST,

company spotlight

RANGER SST Ranger has always focused on helping owners of towing and recovery companies to improve operational performance - one more call per day per driver/truck...while using less fuel! Experience with customers suggests an extra call per day per driver is sometimes a bit of an aspiration, but more calls per driver per week are consistently achievable. Here are the the four key ingredients: 1. Get the dispatcher off of the radio and on to more important tasks - e.g., verifying the locations (GPS coordinates) to which the driver is being sent. 2. Equip dispatchers with (map-based) tools to improve call assignment. 3. Provide drivers with navigation aids that get them to the exact locations that have been validated/confirmed by dispatch. 4. Extend business processes from the office to the driver in the truck - e.g., tracking extras, PCI-compliant credit card processing, picture taking linked to tow jobs, bar code (VIN) scanning, and the on-site printing of invoices. Ranger’s heritage has been operational productivity. But the solution also enables significant gains in office efficiency. Ranger pro-

vides a comprehensive, integrated, end-to-end solution: call taking, dispatching, GPS tracking/mapping (including "drag & drop" SmartDispatchTM from the map), account management/pricing, storage/impound lot management, user-friendly reporting, with accounting/invoicing and a link to QuickBooks. Founded in 2004, Ranger will always be a work-in-process, given a commitment to ongoing investment/development aimed at sustained leadership in towing management software and mobile solutions. TOW (440) 498-1495 | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | Tow Professional


company spotlight


Managing a towing company has never been easier with the availability of new and better software to help streamline and simplify the daily paperwork and manage incoming calls. The last 10 years have produced an abundance of software innovations in the towing industry, and more exciting technologies are on the horizon. Since the start of the new millennium, the towing industry has seen a significant increase in the use of technology to modernize and better run its businesses. Comparable to the introduction of the self-loading wheelift in the early 1980s, Beacon Software’s release of TowSpec a decade ago changed the course of towing company operations. Prior to its release, towing instructions were available only in book form. With the availability of, towing instructions are now just a couple of clicks away. Today, TowSpec is built into desktop and mobile dispatching applications and is available on most cell phones. In the 20th century, business owners used to purchase software and install it on their own computers. This meant that the business itself was responsible for performing its own backups and providing its own firewalls. If a computer died, the owner prayed that everything would not be lost. With those old systems, accessing the office from home was possible, but it was expensive and difficult to administer. Today, with cloud based software packages, such as DispatchAnywhere, you simply need an Internet connection for access to all of your businesses technology. The cloud provider takes care of all the server hardware, firewalls, and backups. This frees the owner from those tasks and allows more time to focus on business. Also, in the recent past, motor clubs would telephone a provider and offer it a call. This process could be time-consuming because


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each piece of data had to be read to the provider over the phone. Since 2002, when Digital Dispatch was created by software vendors, such as Beacon, and adopted by progressive motor clubs, such as USAC, Allstate and Agero, a call is sent electronically from the Motor Club to the Service Provider that is running an application, such as TowMagic. The provider accepts the call, and the Purchase Order is instantly sent to them electronically. This process shaves several minutes off of the old phone method. Recently, the ability to electronically receive faxes and emails from motor clubs that do not use Digital Dispatch has been added. Mobile phones are also now supported, so towers no longer have to rely on looking a PC to receive dispatches electronically. The idea of being able to dispatch from any computer with an Internet connection was just the beginning. Now any device (not just a PC) can receive and dispatch calls and manage the towing fleet with GPS. Drivers no longer have to call the office to process credit card payments. Those payments can be taken right from the side of the road. Future technologies for the towing industry will continue to place significant emphasis on mobility – a key component for all towers. In the near future, the ability to print or email receipts directly from a smartphone will be widely available. Smartphones and tablets will be capable of managing all aspects of towing and road service. With upcoming original software releases, Beacon plans to continue to be a leader in innovation for the next decade and beyond. TOW For more information on current and future products available through Beacon Software, please visit our website at | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | Tow Professional


company spotlight

There when you need us Towbook is changing - fast. The market’s leading web-based towing management software company is aggressively adding new features. With affordable pricing and the absolute best support in the industry, you can count on Towbook to help cut expenses, save time and better service your customers. Since the day Towbook was started, everything we do has been aimed directly at delivering a quality of service that sets the standard within our industry. Towbook has evolved from a small group to a team firmly dedicated to building towing management software based on the latest, most stable technology platforms and the absolute best support in the market. As a towing operator, you can’t service too many customers if your equipment is down or if the tools you rely on aren’t available. We are no different. If we expect customers to count on us, the Towbook system had better be available when they need it. With greater than 99.9% up-time, Towbook is available for your business when you need it. Your business is all about customer service; so is ours. You can bank on our support team being there when you need us, 24/7/365 – even on holidays. Our support is free and our approach is simple; your business is based on servicing customers any time of the day or night, so we’ll be there if you need us. We all need to be confident we’re getting great value for everything we do. Towbook’s model is based on delivering substantial value for a reasonable fee so customers will feel comfortable in their

the towing profession. Our technical and support teams are stellar, and they are absolutely the pride of our company. Having a leadership team with over 30 years of experience delivering business solutions is a great strength for Towbook. Common business and technical challenges are easier to deal with when you have a team of managers who’ve been around the block a few times. We recently released many significant product updates, and many more are on the way for early 2013. Our team is fast at work making sure Towbook does exactly what you need in the simplest way possible. TOW

choice of a solution. We have no setup charges. Our fees start at $49/month, and we have no contracts – leave any time if you don’t think Towbook is absolutely worth what you pay. Founded by Dan Smith, Towbook recently started its 6th year in 36

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If you’ve never tried towing management software, or if you’re looking to make a change, give us a call at 855-869-2655 (855-TOWBOOK) or check us out at

company spotlight

Cloud Based Technology Will Dominate Within Five Years!

For many, ledgers, envelopes, and stamps are memories, yet our industry is struggling to accommodate the never-ending advances in office automation. Google and others are challenging the dominance of Microsoft and Apple by offering cloud or Internet-based systems. However, Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 8, is a bold attempt to move Microsoft firmly into touchscreen and web-based technology, narrowing the gap between itself, Apple and Google. There is little doubt that web or cloud based technology, along with smartphones, tablets and a host of new apps, will dominate within five years. VTS Systems, which currently offers a hybrid management solution, will offer a full cloud based application, beginning mid2013. However, before you throw caution to the wind and give up your solid, reliable PC/server based application, and jump into a cloud based solution, there are questions that you should ask and preparations to make. Currently, without Internet, your PC/server-based system can enter and release vehicles, print statements and operate normally. Without the Internet, a cloud-based business is dead! Turn out the lights, close the door, and go home.

This should not be a showstopper, but it does need you to rethink your network priorities. Reliable, high bandwidth Internet and VoIP telephone services are essential to tomorrow’s towing and VSF businesses. Usually, areas offer three optional broadband providers: cable, DSL, and wireless. Most areas will have two services available. It is important that you have a primary and a back-up solution, one that you can switch to when the primary goes down. Notice that I said when, not if! High-speed 4G wireless, although slower, makes an excellent secondary plug and play solution. Do your research. Do not go cheap; go for a business package. Reliability and bandwidth are most important. Ask about outages and repair history, and get it in writing. Cable offers the most bandwidth for the buck; up and down speed packages vary, so get the details. Some national cable providers have earned a poor reputation for return to service times, so ask around. DSL is the next best offering for bandwidth, as long as the phone lines are solid. In addition, check out bundling packages; TV, phone, and Internet bundling can offer great saving. Remember reliability and bandwidth is paramount! TOW If you need help, call and ask for Nigel Pestell at 281-373-3072 or visit our website to email | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | Tow Professional



the EXPECT UNEXPECTED Operators Need to Be Ready for Spills, Hazmat Situations By Lisa Neuber ger

Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with saying,

“If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it.”


ow that may be true for pre-Socratic thinkers, but it’s certainly not true for anyone in the towing, wrecking, and recovery business. If you run trucks, you know that every day brings new and unexpected challenges. That goes double for spills and hazardous materials incidents. The good news is that you can prepare for the unexpected, whether you experience spills in your garage, your lot, or your drivers confront them on the road.

SPILLS HAPPEN Typically, spills that occur in garages, sheds, lots, or other areas where you store your fleet involve vehicle fluids. These can be gasoline, diesel, and oil — or antifreeze, solvents, and part washing chemicals. These fluids can be toxic when ingested or exposed to skin, and they can be dangerous to the environment. It only takes a small amount of oil to contaminate a large body of water. To be ready for these “in-house” spills, you need to know exactly what hazardous substances you have onsite, how much of those substances have the potential to spill, and how you’ll respond to a spill. On the road, you never know what kinds of spills to expect. Most of the roadway spills that confront tow truck operators will involve smaller fuel spills including spilled gasoline from a ruptured gas tank, brake fluids, hydraulic fluids, or other fluids from leaking automobile parts. But drivers may also be presented with spills from tankers carrying large loads of fuel, placarded trailers carrying hazardous materials, and even unknown substances. Operators who will be expected to deal with emergency spills, or who will have the potential to be exposed to hazardous substances, will need specific training and instructions on how they will handle these situations. 38

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INCIDENT VS. EMERGENCY First, it’s important to know the difference between an incidental spill and an emergency release. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines an incidental spill as the release of a hazardous substance that does not pose a significant safety or health hazard to employees in the immediate vicinity or to the employee cleaning it up, nor does it have the potential to become an emergency within a short timeframe. According to OSHA, incidental releases are limited in quantity, exposure potential, or toxicity and present minor safety or health hazards to employees in the immediate work area or those assigned to clean them up, and they can be cleaned up quickly by workers who are familiar with the hazards of the spilled chemicals. Further, incidental releases can be handled without having to call in emergency response personnel to assist in handling the situation. An emergency release, on the other hand, refers to uncontrolled releases of hazardous substances. OSHA says the following conditions should be considered emergency situations:

• High concentrations of toxic substances • Situations that are immediately dangerous to life or health • Oxygen deficiency • Fire or explosion hazards • Situations that require an evacuation of the area

The difference between an easily handled incidental release and the more difficult emergency situation isn’t merely philosophical. While you can allow employees with a small amount of training to handle incidental releases, emergency situations — and the potential for emergency situations — trigger planning, notification, training, and response requirements under safety and environmental regulations including OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) and Hazard Communication (HazCom) standards.

HAZWOPER OSHA’s HAZWOPER Standard is a complicated set of requirements covering employees who clean up or manage hazardous waste or hazardous substances. Those requirements, found in the Code of Federal Regulations at Title 29, 1910.120, assign a specific number of training hours for different cleanup activities, anticipated exposure levels, and degree of responsibility for employees. Any employee who may be exposed to an emergency spill needs to be trained to handle that situation. Under most circumstances, spills in and around your fleet or on the road will not require you to train employees under the HAZWOPER requirements. However, according to a 1992 OSHA Letter of Interpretation, towing company employees who are “needed temporarily to perform immediate emergency support work” in assisting the on-the-scene HAZMAT team are covered under the training requirements of paragraph (q)(4) of the HAZWOPER Standard. If em-

ployees are routinely expected to perform emergency procedures as part of their job responsibilities, they would be considered part of the HAZMAT team. In that case, they employees would have to meet even stricter training requirements found at paragraph (q)(6). Towing company employees who act as secondary responders, meaning they only help with corrective actions and clean up once the emergency is declared over, are still covered by HAZWOPER and need to meet the requirements of paragraphs (b) through (o). Training requirements are listed at paragraph (e). OSHA points out that HAZWOPER may not cover towing employees who end up transporting hazardous substances, but it always covers emergency responders. If a towing operator assists in the handling of an emergency response, he automatically becomes an emergency responder. Beyond HAZWOPER training, many states, municipalities, and even private towing organizations offer certifications for towing operators who wish to be considered for jobs that involve towing hazardous materials. These area-specific certifications may be required before your company can be included in the call rotation or bid for contracts that may require responding to emergency situations.

HAZCOM Sometimes called the “Right-to-Understand” law, OSHA’s HazCom Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200 says you must train employees who have the potential to be exposed to incidental spills, either at the garage or on an accident scene, to understand the hazards of those | Volume 2 Issue 1 | Tow Professional


Safety spills. You must also train employees in the measures they need to protect themselves from the hazards of the specific chemicals in or at their worksite. You can consult the safety data sheet (SDS) to learn about the proper equipment and training necessary to work with or safely clean up each hazardous chemical.

SPILL KITS Neither HAZWOPER nor HazCom specifically call for spill kits as a way to contain, clean up, and dispose of hazardous substances. But spill kits can fit the bill as a way to plan for how you will respond to a spill. The number of kits you have on hand, the placement of the kits, and the components of the kits will depend on whether you will be cleaning up incidental or emergency spills, the potential makeup of the spills, and the level of responsibility of your employees. Note that if you will evacuate employees rather than have them handle an emergency spill, you may be exempt from certain HAZWOPER requirements as long as you also provide an emergency action plan and train employees in your plan. There are many different kinds of spill kits. Some are expensive, commercially made kits, and others are cobbled together by materials you have on hand. All spill kits are designed to protect employees from the hazards of a spill, while at the same time addressing four


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main areas:

Control, Containment, Cleanup, Disposal You should place spill kits near where you expect a spill could occur and in any vehicle where the driver could be confronted by a spill. Workers should know the location of each spill kit and what it’s designed to do. Because the response to a spill will depend on the type of substance has been spilled, you should develop a set of procedures for dealing with different types of spills and provide training for all employees who will be expected to use the kits. Be sure to train employees on situations that may require an evacuation rather than trying to handle the spill, such as life-threatening releases, fire or explosions, or extremely toxic chemicals. Spill kits should be labeled in large easily read letters and marked for the type of spills they’re intended to address.

NOTIFICATION Post emergency contact information near or on spill kits and train workers in notification procedures. In some cases, federal, state, and local agencies require you to report the release of specific chemicals in certain quantities. You can find reporting information on the safety data sheet. Emergency numbers to have on hand include:

911 (or your local emergency number) — to activate the local emergency response system. This number is especially important if someone has been injured by a chemical and needs medical attention. 800-424-8802 — to alert the National Response Center (NRC) for reporting oil and chemical spills that occur in reportable quantities. The NRC takes calls 24 hours a day every day of the year.

COMPONENTS OF A SPILL KIT The components of your spill kit(s) will depend on the type of spills you anticipate, the probable location of those spills, the size of the potential spills, and whether the spill will threaten sensitive environmental areas. For ideas on what to include in your spill kits, you can consult the safety data sheets for the chemicals at your workplace or the 2012 Emergency Response Guidebook for the type of spills you may encounter on the road. Generally, spill kits contain:

• Personal protective equipment (PPE) — PPE can include gloves, boots, protective covers such as overalls, aprons, or even hazmat suits, face shields, masks, goggles, and hard hats. • Control equipment — Materials that aid in stopping a spill include duct tape, hammers, wrenches, cutting tools, putty and patching materials, wedges, dowels, plugs, inflatable bags, clamps, rope, chains, and leak detectors. • Containment materials — Absorbents include sand, clay, ash, sawdust, and kitty litter. Absorbent pillows and socks may also be applied. • Cleanup materials — These tools include shovels, brooms, mops, pads, scrub brushes, soap, disinfectants, buckets, towels, etc. • Disposal materials — Disposal equipment includes chemical resistant bags, buckets, drums, and hazardous waste labels. • Other considerations — You may also want to include a first aid kit; communication equipment such as a radio, caution signs, and barricade tape; guidebooks; and environmental monitoring equipment such as air quality monitors, meters, and wind detectors.

trol equipment, containment materials, disposal materials, and so on.

INSPECTIONS While there is no regulatory mandate to inspect spill kits on a regular basis, certain elements in HAZWOPER require you to inspect PPE prior to, during, and after use. You can make it a best practice to inspect spill kits on a monthly or bi-monthly basis to be sure all the components are clean, working, and ready to go and areas near the kit are free from clutter.

DISPOSING THE WASTE Before you ever have a spill, check with your state environmental agency on what to do with the waste. Federal and state environmental laws prohibit you from throwing hazardous waste into the trash. If the material you cleaned up was hazardous, chances are the waste will be, too. All media, including any soil, absorbents, and water, that have been contaminated by a hazardous material or oil spill will be subject to restrictions. ou can contract with a specialized waste disposal company ahead of time to help you dispose of your hazardous waste. Also, never simply dispose of a waste liquid down the drain. Contact the local publicly owned treatment works and receive permission in writing before letting the fluid into the system. Be very careful about spills that could reach navigable waterways, too. You may need the help of a waste remediation service if you have a large amount of liquid waste.

PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED While you can never really be sure what will confront you when it comes to a spill, you can make sure your employees are prepared for the unexpected. You can have a plan in place for dealing with the types of emergencies that may arise where you store your fleet or when operators approach an unknown situation on the road. You can train your workers in how to handle emergencies and how to protect themselves from dangerous chemicals. Finally, you can design and assemble a working spill kit to protect workers from the hazards of a spill and help them clean it up quickly and efficiently. TOW

Lisa Neuberger is an associate editor specializing in workplace safety topics and environmental reporting. She is the lead editor for J. J. Keller’s Environmental Alert, The Compliance Guide for Safety Professionals, helping employers stay up-to-date on regulatory news and information. She also helps customers

ASSEMBLING A SPILL KIT If you choose to put together your own spill kit, think about its intended use and pack the kit so that the most important items will be available first. That means PPE needs to be on top, followed by con-

with their safety compliance questions and contributes to leading trade magazines. | Volume 2 Issue 1 | Tow Professional



Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery


Flash Equipment All – New Magnum Lightbar

Fusion Boost Tech LED Heads for the Extreme light out-put at an affordable price. Heavy Duty Housing for Rugged use and a Rugged look. Easy wire interface to simplify installation. The All – NEW MAGNUM Lightbar should be the next choice for you! Just call FLASH EQUIPMENT at 1-800-570-8866 or see our ad on page 3.

Twist Lock Shackles from B/A Products

B/A Products Field Hydraulic Repair Products

• U.S. & International Patents Pending • Forged Alloy Steel with quick locking and unlocking action, which means less time in the “Danger Zone” • Available in 3/4”, 1” and 1-1/4” sizes • Pin permanently attached to shackle and open cross pin becomes a stable handle B/A - Always bringing you the Best Available Products B/A Products Co. • Toll Free (800) 327-3301 Designed for repairing blown hydraulic lines while on the job, our Field Hydraulic Repair Products are designed to temporarily get you out of a jam. The 24” cutter shears through your blown hydraulic line, allowing you to cut the bad section out and then screw the repair union onto each side of the cut hose. Then simply screw the two unions together for a quick, easy and inexpensive repair. After replacing your fatigued hydraulic line, just unscrew the reusable unions and store them away for future repairs. It’s that simple. Available through B/A Products Distributors worldwide. B/A Products Co. WWW.BAPROD.COM • Toll Free (800) 327-3301 42

Tow Professional | Volume 2 • Issue 1 |

New Product Announcement from Custer Products

Towbook – Driving Towing Excellence

We are excited to announce our new 50 watt LED flood light with more than 4000 lumens! We are giving you first opportunity to purchase these lights, as we have a limited supply over the next months. We expect them to move fast, so don't wait.

WL50RCT Specifications 50 Watt LED -

Operating Voltage:10-30vDC Waterproof rating: IP67 5x10watt High intensity Cree LED’s 12V/4.225A ; 24V/1.880A Color: 6000K Die Cast aluminum housing Stainless Steel mounting bracket Flood Beam pattern Dimensions: W 5-3/4 x H 3-7/8 x D 3

WL18RCT 60 Degree LED Flood Die cast aluminum housing with stainless steel mounting brackets. - Operating Voltage: 10-30V DC - Waterproof rate: IP 67 - Current draw 1.4A 12V,0.75A@24V - 1440 Lumens - 30000 hours above life time - Dimensions: 4-3/8"W x 2-1/2"H x 2-1/4"D - 40 per case

WL9RCT 90 Degree LED Flood Light. Die cast aluminum housing with stainless steel mounting brackets. -

Operating Voltage: 10-30V DC Waterproof rate: IP 67 . Current draw 0.85A @ 12V,0.42A @24V 720 Lumens 30000 hours average life time Dimensions: 4-3/8"W x 2-1/2"H x 2-1/4"D 40 per case

Don’t hesitate to call us for more information at 800-490-3158. Check out our new online 2013 catalog.

Jeff Semple Custer Products LLC 4101 Shuffel Drive N. W.

Towbook, a leader in web-based towing management software has announced the release of major new product updates. New features included an Android App (iPhone is coming soon), QuickBooks integration, secure online file storage and powerful, flexible reporting. Updates aimed at ease of use include a completely redesigned dispatching interface and automatic VIN decoding. With many more updates planned for early 2013, Towbook is making waves. 855-869-2665 (855-TOWBOOK) | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | Tow Professional



Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery


Direct Equipment Supply

The Model 10 or Model 20 Fifth Wheel Wrecker Unit converts any standard tractor for towing service in minutes. Virtually indestructible, these units are built strong and built to last. Tow trucks, tractors, buses, and other towable equipment. Operation is very simple and straightforward. Remote control allows one person to operate the lift system accurately while ensuring lift chains and other components stay put. Driving is

also a breeze. The 3 point sling pulls true and steadies the towed vehicle. Features and Benefits • Galvanized Finish • Available in 10 ton or 20 ton capacity • Remote Control Actuator • Hidden Motor Compartment • Stable towing with no side to side swaying. Installation is a breeze and only takes a few minutes. Integral angle iron is inserted into precut slots for forklift or you can use the heavy duty center weight mounted "D" ring for lifting with an overhead hoist. Hand-held remote control comes standard on all units. Massive rugged frame. The hydraulic

Whelen Engineering Announces the Towman’s™ Century™ Lightbar Family

pump and ram system is inside the super-structure and protected from damage by forklifts, tire blowouts, or any number of hazardous situations. No complicated setups. Just plug in and go. Each unit comes standard with an air brake safety assembly, which allows you to provide critical air brake actuation to the towed vehicle, a safety chain tie down system, and 4 x 4 angle iron for loading and towing. Direct Equipment Supply PHONE: 800-992-1478 FAX: 866-303-4682


• Extruded aluminum base • Clip-Lock™ system allows easy dome removal for service without compromising weather resistant seal The new Century Super-LEDB series lightbars feature state-of-the-art optical designs combined with Whelen’s engineering expertise to deliver brilliant bursts of warning light viewable all around a vehicle and at a great distance. This new series has been designed from the ground up based upon Generation 3.5 LED technology. Rugged and low profile at just 2.5" in height, Century models are AMECA certified to meet SAE J845, Class 1 [Amber]. Other features include: • Linear-LED® corner modules with TIR optic directional modules

• Smooth exterior polycarbonate dome that is hard coated for protection against UV degradation • 16 Scan-Lock™ built-in flash patterns • Stud mount Towman’s Century Super-LED lightbars provide superior safety and reliability for tow and recovery trucks while drawing minimal current and helping to eliminate maintenance costs due to the 100,000 hour rated life of LED technology. For additional information, contact Whelen Engineering Company at (860) 526-9504.

• LED Brake-Tail-Turn lights and Work Lights 44

Tow Professional | Volume 2 • Issue 1 |

The new Safety Alert System by TowMate lets you know when the perimeter of your work site is breached, alerting you to get out of the way! When the air hose is run over, it sends a wireless signal to a receiver tied to the horn of the truck, locking the horn in the on position for 15 seconds. This gives you a moment’s notice to get out of the way of the traffic that could otherwise be coming right for you. For more information, or to find a local dealer, visit or call (800) 680-4455.

DealerPlace | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | Tow Professional




Tow Professional | Volume 2 • Issue 1 |

MarketPlace | Volume 2 • Issue 1 | Tow Professional



Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery



Alexander Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 Anchor Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46

Austin Insurance Agency . . . . . . . . . . . .40 AW Direct . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 B/A Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10, 47 Beacon Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 Blades Tow Right . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Bowers Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

Clore . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Collins Dollies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30

Custer Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 CW Mill Equipment Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . .30

Dan Messina . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 Dangelo’s Custom Built Mfg, LLC . . . . . .16 Detroit Wrecker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Direct Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

Dual Tech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45

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



ECM Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 Flash Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Fleet Sales West . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46

Florida Wrecker Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46

Goodyear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 Hal Kresser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 Hanscom K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 Heavy Duty Towing Equipment . . . . . . .43

IAA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Lift and Tow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Lodar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

Marking Pen Depot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 MatJack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 Metro Lift . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

Mfr. Express . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Moduline Cabinets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 NABancard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .IBC, 21

Pillow Protection Corp . . . . . . . . . . . . .48



Progressive Platforms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Ranger SST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 Ricky's Truck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 ROI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48

Rugged Tow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31 RV Wheel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 S&J Metal Mfg., Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Sovereign . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32

Tiger Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 ToolTopia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Tow Connections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48

TowBook . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 Towmate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .IFC Twin State Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45

VTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

Wall of the Fallen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 & 9 Whelen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Zacklift . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

............................................................ MarketPlace


Tow Professional | Volume 2 • Issue 1 |

Tow Professional  
Tow Professional  

Issue 1, 2013 Your resource for Towing and Recovery