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Volume 3 • Issue 6 2014



42 |

Electronic Communications to the Trucks – A Blessing and a Curse!



GPS SOLUTIONS 24 | WEBFLEET from TomTom Telematics Helps Zores

46 | History of the Self-Loading Dolly -- 42 Years of the Collins

Towing & Metal Recycling Increase Efficiency and Accurate Record Keeping

26 | Integrating Dispatch and Fleet Management Software

Hi-Speed<Dolly Changing the Tow Professional's Industry

47 | Steck’s 4th Wheel Loader

GPS SPOTLIGHTS 32|Tom Tom Telematics 33|Beacon 34|VTS 35|Budget

36|Tracker 38|Towbook 40|Wyless



Hooked Up I n du stry NEWS

6 |Jerr-Dan 8 |Evans Cooling 8 |Location Based Services: Smarter, Better, Easier 10 |Wrecker Rentals, Inc. 10 |BA Products Co. 11 |Detroit Wrecker 12 |World’s Fastest Wrecker 13 |Road America Explands Digital Dispatch Network 14 |Wyless Telematics - Customer Feedback 15 |All•Grip Fuel 4 thought

49| MDP30

50| Towmate

50| AW Direct<

51| Windshield Cam 51|Worksafe

52| Pheonix

53| S&J

53| S&J

54|Next Generation

54| B/A Products

55| Steck

55| Advanced Specalty Products

18 | What a Show

20| Surviving the Slow Periods


30| Wall of the Fallen / Hall of Fame

4 | Publisher Letter 56| Dealers Place


Tow Professional | Volume 3 Issue 6 |

57| Market Place 60| Ad Index




Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery

Volume 3 • Issue 6 2014

PUBLISHERS Darian Weaver President & Co-Publisher

Jack Hartsfield Vice President & Co-Publisher

Hello from Birmingham, Alabama! As I write this, we are preparing to attend the New Orleans Tow Summit. By the time you read this, the Summit will have already happened. We are excited to go to New Orleans; I have been to New Orleans countless times but have not been there since before Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. Let’s see - Cafe Du Monde beignets and chicory coffee, muffuletta at Central Grocery, the French Quarter Market, Jackson Square, people watching on Bourbon Street, mule driven carriages, casinos, the aquarium… and, oh yeah, the Tow Summit! A couple of years ago, I told my son (now 15) that he would need to earn enough money to pay for half of whatever car he wants when the time comes for him to get a car, and that we (his mom and me) would pay for the other half. This summer, he has been cutting grass to earn money; he is saving some and spending some. The other day, he mentioned to me that we haven’t been giving him spending money this summer, that he has been using his own money every time he does something and that he has had to miss out on doing some things that his buddies are doing because of that. I asked him how that felt, and he said, “It stinks not being able to always do what everybody else is doing, but I want to be able to get a car.” I let him know how proud I am of him for learning what it takes to make it in life! I have three great children and am proud of them all, but this lesson hits home for everyone and most teenagers don’t get it. With this issue, we bring you GPS by TomTom, Safety and Hand Held Devices by JJ Keller, “Fuel for Thought” on the Wisconsin Trade Show by DJ Harrington, “Insightful Talk” by Dan Messina, Company Spotlights on companies affiliated with GPS as well as Damaged Vehicle Movement Products, along with plenty of “Industry News” and “Hooked Up.”

Have a great second half of summer!

Darian Weaver and Jack Hartsfield Co-Publishers

Steve Goodwin Sales Manager __________________________

PRODUCTION Clint W. Cabiness Art Director Kattie Spence Graphic Designer Jill Hasty Managing Editor __________________________

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Thomas Bray DJ Harrington Dan Messina

Executive and Advertising Offices 2007 Old Montgomery Hwy, Suite B Birmingham, AL 35244 Toll free: 888-802-8544 Fax: 205-978-1550 Tow Professional is published nine times a year 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 3 Issue 6 |

Industry NEWS




>>> ment Package was developed around the Florida Rapid Incident Scene Clearance (RISC) program that requires towing companies to carry a significant amount of tools and rigging to rapidly clear the scene of a traffic incident.

Incident Management Base Package

The new JFB Rotator body was motivated by the voice of the customer requiring increased on-scene performance and functionality. Many of the engineered storage solutions were inspired by fire-service industry vehicles and technology. The JFB polypropylene copolymer constructed body is weather-tight, low maintenance and has high impact resistance.

FEATURES • 140% more storage capacity over the standard body, with the ability to accommodate the Florida DOT Rapid Incident Scene Clearance (RISC) tools and rigging. • Aluminum Roll-Up Doors with Painted or Brushed Finish •LED Interior Compartment & DOT Lighting •38 LED Side Marker Lights • 10 Side and 2 Rear Amber Strobes • Wide Variety of Tool Management System Options • Incident Management Equipment Kits Available • Rear & Top of Body Access • Jerr-Dan’s polypropylene co-polymer supplier exclusively warrants the body of the HDR1000, providing a limited lifetime warranty backed by a 48-hour* service guarantee for all HDR1000 units sold and used in North America.

The Incident Management Base tool and rigging package contains many or all of the items needed to comply with state incident management programs being implemented across the country.

Rugged Kit The rugged kit was developed to supplement the base package for customers who require additional rigging, snatch blocks and chains for those severe duty jobs, including sea containers, construction equipment, cement mixers and refuse bodies, along with additional recovery equipment and supplies to perform fuel tanker recoveries.

Spreader Bar Kit The spreader bar kit was developed to further supplement the base package that includes a 112” spreader bar and bridals for sensitive picks.

SILVER VS. GOLD JFB Silver Series is the customizable version. This body includes standard components and allows the customer to choose individual storage solutions through Jerr-Dan after-market parts as “a la carte” options, allowing the end user flexibility to choose individual storage solutions they want to include on their truck. JFB Gold Series denotes the “top of the line.” This body includes the standard components of the silver body plus all available storage solutions. (see Silver and Gold Series Charts) In order to support the growing demand of incident management and quick clearance programs around the country, Jerr-Dan is pleased to announce the availability of Heavy Duty Wrecker tool and rigging kits. The base Incident Manage-


SILVER SERIES Tire Lift / Bus Arm Accessories -Polypropylene storage solution for bus arms and cross tubes -Polypropylene cabinet with pull out drawers for housing the ratchets Fifth Wheel Storage -Polypropylene bracket that hangs on the wall of the body, accommodates fifth wheel adapter plate Frame Fork Storage -Adjustable polypropylene shelving for 7 sets of forks -Adjustable polypropylene shelving for fork adapter, spring hanger adapter & pin bracket -End cap / chain adapter steel storage solution Additional Storage Solutions Available Through After-Market Support

Tow Professional | Volume 3 • Issue 6 |

Jerr-Dan reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design, and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at anytime without notice or obligations. * 48 business hours from notification, valid in North America only, some restrictions apply. Limited lifetime warranty for HDR1000 body provided only by the body supplier and not Jerr-Dan. For more information or to obtain a copy of the limited lifetime warranty, contact Jerr-Dan warranty department.

For more information, visit Jerr-Dan online at

GOLD SERIES Rotary Chain Rack -Patent Pending Chain Carousel -Free rotation with locking mechanism -Holds 100’s of lbs. of chains Chain Binder Storage -4 Designated places for standard chain binders Tilt Down Drawers -3 - 36” x 43” tilt down drawers, each with a 180 lb. capacity Snatch Block Storage -6 Designated places for snatch blocks adjustable to multiple sizes Shackle Storage -24 “peg board” style hooks for shackle placement Sliding Chain Board -Sliding board, holds up to 300 lbs of chains and extends 16” Stay Dry Silo -Polypropylene constructed oil absorbent dispenser -Holds up to 120 lbs. or 30 gallons Tool Chest -C-Tech brand tool chest -All aluminum construction with powder coated finish Recovery Tools -Storage for a standard axe, up to 12 lb. sledge hammer & 36” bolt cutter Storage Shelves -Aluminum shelves for variety of tools, rigging, etc. -Fully adjustable, can be removed from body Dedicated Storage For: - Traffic Cones, accommodates 12 - 36” DOT approved cones - Ladder - Tow Light - Wheel Chocks - Bottle Jack - Flashlight - Fire Extinguisher - Shovel - Grizzly Bar -Spreader Bar

Industry NEWS





Evans Waterless Coolants are very different than typical engine coolants because they contain no water, and there’s no need to add water. Almost all other antifreeze formulations contain 50% water. It may be time to change your thinking about engine coolants. Evans high boiling point of 375°F is more than 100 degrees higher than the boiling point of water-based coolant. Overheating is avoided, as Evans won’t boil in an engine. Evans will not form vapor, and operates at a much lower, safer pressure. There’ll be no gusher of coolant spraying out, and frequent topping off is not necessary. Evans protects against cold weather, too — from minus 40°F to 375F. Also, with no water, Evans avoids corrosion, electrolysis and cylinder liner cavitation erosion. Eliminating these problems improves durability and prolongs engine life.

Evans will last the life of your engine, and never needs changing. You won’t have to think about overheating, or corrosion that slowly eats away at your cooling system. That means less maintenance problems, less headaches, and more productivity. From tow trucks to construction equipment, classic cars to race cars, and motorcycles to snowmobiles, Evans performs like no other engine coolant. Evans offers three formulations: Heavy Duty Coolant, Powersports Coolant, and High Performance Coolant, which is not only used for high performance applications and classic cars, but for everyday cars, as well.

Prolong your engine life. Preserve your investment. Protect your bottom line. Changing your thinking is the first step. It may also be time to change your coolant!

To learn more, visit our website at or give us a call at 888-990-2665.

........................................................... Location Based Services: Smarter, Better, Easier >>> By Dave Sunkenberg, VP Network Services, Agero

Location Based Services are dramatically changing the way consumers conduct their day-to-day activities. From shopping to fraud alerts, GPS enabled smartphones and apps are driving behavior in new and exciting ways. The impact of Location Based Services on the towing industry is just as impressive from dispatch to automatic invoicing. With over 70% of tow professionals carrying smart phones – and with 40% of tow vehicles equipped with a GPS system of some sort – Location Based Services are already providing new everyday efficiencies to a growing number of tow companies. Increasingly, Location Based Services for the towing industry go way beyond dispatch and fleet tracking to use live location data in new ways, allowing tow businesses to take advantage of real-time visibility, accountability, ease, and efficiency not even imagined 10 years ago. Service Providers can now benefit 8

from seamless and more efficient working relationships with motor clubs, improved driver and vehicle monitoring, more accurate mileage records, significant billing efficiencies, a decrease in duplicated messaging and documentation, and improved customer satisfaction scores. That’s why Agero is committed to making the transition to Location Based Services as easy as possible for service providers. Coming this fall, our location-based services product – Roadside ConnectTM – will enable dispatchers to assign trucks to events based on current location and availability ¬– even when out-of-territory. These more accurate, efficient and timely dispatch assignments will result in decreased fuel use, reduced completion times, and increased fleet availability and profitability. It’s also why we’re continually integrating with other location-based service platforms. In fact, we recently announced that Progressive Platforms’ GPS tracking and manage-

Tow Professional | Volume 3 • Issue 6 |

ment software – which offers a wide variety of efficiency, customer service, and fleet utilization benefits – is now fully integrated with Agero. To date, we’ve achieved some level of integration with half a dozen other major industry platforms. With service providers, motorists, and motor clubs embracing a growing range of exciting Location Based Services, the complete integration of these promising apps, tools, mobile solutions, and platforms is clearly the road to the future.

Agero One Cabot Road Medford, MA 02155

Industry NEWS



Wrecker Rentals, Inc.


Wrecker Rentals, Inc., a Georgia corporation with two locations to serve you (Atlanta, GA and Dallas, TX), provides towers with replacement trucks while there is down time due to wrecks or recalls. Most all of the fees associated with a Wrecker Rental are directly billed to the Insurance carrier of the responsible party of the dealership where your unit is being repaired. Currently, Wrecker Rentals is serving the S.E. Region, as well as Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma with future plans of expansion into the Northeast and Midwest U.S. Currently offering a short-term (three-day minimum) and long-term tow truck rental of late model roll back tow trucks and auto loaders. They distribute trucks from both the Atlanta & Dallas office and can normally have a unit to you in as little as 24 hours. Stop by and see Wrecker Rentals at the Tennessee tow show, or anytime youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in the Atlanta area, just drop by the Rental office at 940 Dailey Mill Road, McDonough, GA 30253.

Call the Leasing Office Now at 770-898-1200 or visit us at



Tow Professional | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 |

................................................................. Detroit Wrecker >>> With over 20 years of experience, Detroit Wrecker is the place to go for all your towing needs. Mike Ferrell, Owner & CEO, has been pulling levers since he was 3 years old in his dad’s wrecker. Detroit Wrecker was started when Mike was 13 years old, and he began working alongside his father, with meeting the towers’ needs and improving their business his top priority.

Detroit keeps a full line of parts in stock for Dynamic, JerrDan, Chevron, Century, etc. Mike also works closely with the manufacturers and offers every product needed to get your job done quickly and safely. Whether you need cargo control products, lighting, Back Up camera Systems, jump start kits, clutch pump kits, DOT equipment, lubricants, etc., Detroit has the equipment to take your business to the next level. Detroit Wrecker is 20,000-square-foot facility that includes a 6,000-square-foot show room, in-house paint shop and an all-inclusive fab shop to meet all your needs. Mike Farrell states, “We are not just a part changer; we are a full hands-on shop. Detroit Wrecker also builds their famous LowLoader & Lil Hercules models that have been sold all over the world. Detroit Wrecker CAN and WILL build anything that satisfies the needs of a tow truck driver. This place builds custom trucks, beds, cylinders, and can add nearly any option imaginable to satisfy the customer. Detroit Wrecker has years of experience and an engineering staff to accommodate any customer demands.” Detroit Wrecker also recruited Curtis Sanchez, a champion and expert of towing equipment, to oversee daily operations. Anyone who’s in this industry knows that Curtis is one of the best! He knows how to find the hard to find parts to get the customer back to work. Curtis works hard to make sure the customer not only gets the right part, but it fits their bottom line. Detroit Wrecker also has a website than can meet all your needs. There is an extensive list of products, videos of their equipment in action, and a new Shop by Diagram app. This allows you to see the part by part number and an image of that part when available. The site is very easy to navigate and can help the Tow Professionals get all their products needed in one place. Mike Ferrell recently had a customer, Bill Chandler of Chandler’s Car Carriers, inquire about servicing his Vulcan 20/20. Bill Chandler had a cylinder go bad that was $6,500 to replace with a new one. Mike rebuilt the cylinder in house for $1,200 out the door, and Bill was able to get the truck back to work quickly. The

Cylinder rebuilding services can be a lifesaver when it comes to getting your No. 1 money maker back on the road, and this is just one of the many services that Detroit Wrecker offers. We are just a Toll-Free phone call away, 1-877-869-0030 or 313-835-8700, or email us at Detroit Wrecker Sales 19630 Fitzpatrick St. Detroit, MI 48228 | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional


............................................... World’s Fastest Wrecker >>> Industry NEWS TOWING & RECOVERY

In August 1979, two-time National Stockcar Champion Eddie Martin drove a 1979 Chevrolet equipped with a Holmes 440 wrecker around the Alabama International Speedway (Talladega) at speeds in excess of 130 mph. Official NASCAR electronic equipment recorded an average lap time 109.330 mph, and the unit entered the record books as “The World’s Fastest Wrecker.” The proud Holmes 440 toured automotive events for several years before going on display at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. After a number of years, it was moved outside to make room for new displays where several decades of neglect took its toll. In 2006, after months of negotiations, Miller Industries purchased the unit to return it to its home in Chattanooga. Twin Cities Wrecker Sales, Miller Industries distributor in Minnesota who had expertise in old car restoration work, took on the task to restore the unit to its original character in time for Holmes 90th anniversary and be placed on display in the International Towing and Recovery Museum and Hall of Fame in Chattanooga. Randy Olson, vice president for Miller Industries, said, “We feel the Holmes 440 has been a crucial piece of towing history

as one of the most popular wreckers ever manufactured. Due to the racing history of the particular 440, it is essential that it is preserved for future generations of towers and auto enthusiasts to view.” Randy Olson and SarahBeth Camp of Miller Industries signed over the title and handed the keys to museum executive director Cheryl Mish. “We appreciate all of Miller Industries generous support of the museum in helping us preserve the industries history and graciously accept the Holmes 440 for our collection as we prepare for the industry’s 100 Years of Towing celebration in 2016,” Mish said.

For more information, visit

Photo caption: Cheryl Mish, Randy Olson, Sarah-Beth Camp


Tennesee Tow Show Booth #503


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................................................................. ROAD AMERICA EXPANDS DIGITAL DISPATCH NETWORK >>> Providers Using Wyless Group Software To Experience Instant, Seamless Integration with Trusted International Roadside Assistance Brand With digital dispatch technology rapidly becoming the industry standard, providers have been eagerly awaiting the day when the global connectivity of online communications worked its way into the day-to-day operations of towing and roadside assistance businesses. For users of Wyless Group (formerly Progressive Platforms) software – that day has arrived. In a recent transition, Road America, one of the largest and most trusted roadside assistance brands, has added Wyless Group compatibility to its extensive digital dispatch web service. Now, individual providers seeking to work with Road America as part of its provider network with the speed and efficiency of completely automated dispatching. “The entire industry has been moving towards a single digi-

tal dispatch standard for some time now,” says Bill Dolan for Road America. “The Wyless Group is one of the latest to benefit from standardization as our system now interfaces with theirs seamlessly.” For Wyless Group’s current software users, this means that Road America will instantly become an available provider – capable of placing tow requests, acceptance, and delivering motorist and other information through existing automated systems. In turn, providers will be able to respond to calls with better accuracy and speed – improving both their customer satisfaction rates and overall productivity.

Contacts: Bonnie Verhulst /Bill Dolan/Miguel Cifuentes (888) 293-6672

........................................................... | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional


............................................... Wyless Telematics – Customer Feedback >>> Industry NEWS TOWING & RECOVERY

“I just wanted to say thank you for all your help getting GPS tracking for Abington Sunoco. I had spent several days talking to different vendors and comparing product cost and features. Just when I was about to scrap the idea of GPS tracking because of high upfront cost or being locked into a service contract without having the opportunity to test the product, I contacted Wyless Telematics (nee Progressive Platforms ) and I am very glad that I did. Your zero upfront cost for the tracking units and the confidence you have in your product to allow our company to use your software without being locked into a service contract sealed the deal for me. The system is working well for our company, and it’s nice to know that you are only a phone call away if I need assistance, not to mention I like to do business with a local company if I can. I look forward to your company growing with Abington Sunoco.” Jim Stone Abington Sunoco

“I have yet to find a more valuable tool in dispatching and managing a fleet of vehicles. We have less fuel consumption, shorter ETA's , most importantly, with that being said, higher customer satisfaction. I would highly recommend Wyless Telematics (nee Progressive Platforms ) to anyone that has a fleet that is looking to modernize and “get with the times." And, as far as Tech Support goes, they are second to none with Dennis and Melinda being highly proficient. I usually do not write testimonials; however, I feel that such a great product should not be overlooked.” Lawrence Carroll Director of Operations Autopro's Towing & Recovery, L LC To find about more about increasing efficiency in your business with Wyless Telematics, contact us on 339-469-0978 or visit



Tow Professional | Volume 3 • Issue 6 |

................................................................. All-Grip >>> process, for they provide you with local stock, services and expertise. All-Grip products are sold only through Wrecker and Accessory Dealers because these same tow truck operators also deserve the professionalism, knowledge and inventory that only a local dealer can provide. The local dealer is a critical link in this supply chain. Call your local dealer and demand all-Grip!

All-Grip> is dedicated to providing the Professional Towing and Recovery Operators the finest products and tools to get the job done efficiently and professionally. We never forget that Professional Tow Truck Operators are the users of all-Grip Vehicle Recovery Products and they require and deserve products of uncompromising quality. For 43 years, all-Grip has manufactured and supplied products of uncompromising quality. Innovation, Reliability and Strength are all key words associated with the all-Grip name. There are also words to describe the dealers that sell all-Grip Vehicle Recovery Productsâ&#x20AC;Śwords like integrity, knowledge and professionalism. They are an important link in the distribution 800.748.2651

........................................................... | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 | Tow Professional


Fuel 4 thought By D.J. Harrington



Amazing! What a wonderful show! It was a “show of shows.” Pictures are included so you can see for yourself what you experienced or missed. Towers came from countries as far away as South Africa and New Zealand and from four other states besides those from Wisconsin to attend the annual convention in Wisconsin Dells for the Wisconsin Towing Convention. Every tower competes for their share of the business out-on-the road during the year. During convention time, held once a year, it’s a truly different story because they migrate to their Wisconsin event with their families. It’s not just business. This year, the event was held at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells. All towers and their families gather together for true brotherhood and camaraderie. They



show off their new equipment, new babies, new wives and new husbands and brag about family. One tower, Junior Merten of Merten Service Center does all the towing for the local Nestle Chocolate Plant. Every year, Junior brings with him 20 to 25 cases of chocolate just to share. One tower, Dave Schultz from Homer’s Towing, located in Milwaukee, brings family a day ahead and starts cooking two gigantic pigs for the Friday Night Pig Roast Picnic. Fellow towers, assisted by older children, help serve the well-attended event. It’s Family Time! And what a time it is! The hit of the show this year was the 60 ton Rotator, equipped with the JFB Incident Management Body, the Gold Series. Jerr-Dan put on classes with Mathew Sellner, the sharpest 16-year-old son that I have met.

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Mathew’s mom, Kathy, headed up the children’s program for the convention and provided classes for children of all ages. Sava took part in the demonstration with Jerr-Dan, using their very best rescue-recovery lifting bags. The light show was held in the parking lot behind this beautiful water park. There were trucks of all kinds, from antiques to trucks in memory of lost loved ones. At midnight, the

yearly tradition lead by “mom” Dave Whealon’s mother from Whealon Towing & Service from Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, served every kind of cheese you could think of. And she did so until early morning. The beer was free all weekend. Saturday morning featured a great breakfast under the tent, and then back to the hotel for what they call “talk-n-towing” and “telling tales.” Bill Tomlinson, who had just retired after almost 60 years of towing, along with Craig Goldbeck of Goldbeck Towing, presented the class in the Sierra Vista room, where they delivered the TRAA Level I & II Driver Testing on Friday. Something that Bill Tomlinson had assisted in writing the TRAA classes many years ago, Bill was one of the trainers for TRAA. It would have been great to have all of this on film because Bill and Craig did a fantastic class. Very informative! It was followed up with Bob Truitt from All Grip. That class was also a good one. There’s another family tower that deserves

mentioning. His name is Jeff Roskopf. Jeff and Geri Roskopf own Roskopf’s Service & Towing located in Menomonee Falls. Their son, Greg, took all the pictures you are seeing in this article. Every year, Greg takes pictures and then during Saturday night’s banquet and award presentation, people can see themselves on the big screen for a warm recap of the weekend’s events. At dinner, Geri presented narration that was synced to Rock n’ Roll songs. Well done! Prairieland Towing was very kind to chip in and bring me to the event as your speaker. I sure do hope I’m invited next year because the

friendly and loving atmosphere was one I don’t always feel at every event I attend. And I attend lots of them each year. This show had it all: company flags, antique trucks, great families and mounds of great food and a lot of just being kind to each other. It was a reunion that this industry needs. But that’s not all. What I discovered most of all about this event was lots of “real brotherhood.” Keep it up! TOW D.J. Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar and Damon Corporation. He may be reached at 800352-5252 or by email at, 52 weeks a year, we are as close as your telephone, or at | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional


By Dan Messina


the Slow Periods I was golfing with a friend of mine, and I asked the big question, “How is your business?” There was a pause and a change of tone in his voice, and he said it was his slow period and business was slow. I hear this a lot when I talk to towers. If things aren’t going well, they decide it’s their slow period. As the owner of a tow company, you should know when tows will slow down and adjust your business to make this time more productive. When I owned my company, I knew from Thanksgiving to Christmas would be slow. My customers did not want to tow doing this period. I had a contract near a university. I lost this business during the summer when school was out. I knew what my bills were every month, and they did not change doing slow periods. I knew at the 1st of every month, 20

Tow Professional | Volume 3 • Issue 6 |

the tow calculator went to zero and I needed x number of tows to pay my bills.

Here are a few ideas that can turn your slow times into your most productive times:

Review or Create a Business Plan– The most important thing you can do for your business is to have a business plan. If you have one, let’s modify it; if you don’t have one, let’s create one. This is simply just identifying what you want your business to look like. It’s important to write this down on paper. What type of services do you want to offer and what type of services do you offer today? This would be a good time for improving on the services you offer today.

Expand Your Business – Talk to your customers

Improve Your Skills – The business is changing and

and see if there is anything new they are doing that you can help them with. Review your market and create new services that meet today’s needs.

you have to do the same. Go buy a suit and go out and network and meet your customers. offers great training for the business owner. It’s time to join.

Improve Customer Service – Remember, we are

Take a Vacation – A simple vacation gives you a

a service business. Let’s look for ways that we can improve our service. Look at your staff and see how they communicate with the customer, and find out if there is anything you can do to help them be a better company.

chance to clear out the cobwebs and start fresh when you get back. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, just get away. (Go Fishing)

Get Organized – Clean up your shop or storage yard, Market – This is something towers are not good at. If you read my article in last month’s magazine, you’ll see times are changing and we have to learn how to market better.

clean up your staff and clean up the way you do things that create problems. Define a way to run your business and each job relating to the business.

Meet Your Customers – Go visit your best cusCross Train – Use this time to teach your dispatchers what the driver is faced with when they go for a tow, and teach the drivers what the dispatchers are faced with when the drivers don’t have a good tow ticket.

tomers and sit down and have a coffee with them. Talk about things in the neighborhood or hobbies they are working on. Just go meet them. | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional


Meet Past Customers – Visit the business you lost

Thank Good Customers – When was the last time

and see if there is anything you can do to get them back. If they left you for a specific reason and you fixed it, let them know. Ask them what it takes to get your business back

you talked to your best customers? If your competitor is talking to them more than you are, you will eventually lose them. Send them gifts or some way to say thank you for their business.

Begin a Referral Program – Go out and thank the people that referred your business and try and have additional people start referring business to you. Come up with some type incentive for them.

Modify Website – If you don’t have a website, get one. If you have one, make improvements to let your customers know you are changing with the times. Network – Join organizations or associations in your

Learn More About Your Competition – Find out if there are any new players you are competing with or look at your current competition and see what they are doing. Identify their best customers and find out why that customer uses them. Learn More About Your Market – The market is changing; find out why. Identify what you will have to do in the future to compete and what changes will be necessary.


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market. Show them you are interested in the same things they are, such as the local chamber of commerce or other local businesses. Sponsor a little league team or some other school event.

Social Media – Start using social media, such as Facebook. This is the fastest way to tell people about your business.

than towing a vehicle. Start implementing or doing things mentioned above and you will be surprised how your business will change. You are going to find that you will have to do things you are not used to doing, but you will be required to do these things if you want to stay in business. If you want to stay in business, use your slow periods as grow periods. These times can be the most productive times for your business. I know this sounds like a lot, but there are many resources at your fingertips to make it easy. Get all your employees involved to and let them offer suggestions on how to improve the company. They are in the trenches every day, so you will be surprised with the results. Remember, it all starts with you. If you lead, they will follow. TOW

Get Involved â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Get involved in the community. These

If you need help, call us or go to

are the people you service. You should never have a slow period in your business ever again. There will just be times when you are doing things other | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 | Tow Professional




The Challenge

44 trucks providing service across the Indianapolis Metro Area and surrounding states Zores has been providing towing, metals recycling, auto parts and auto body services for more than 87 years. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, the company has five offices and more than 80 vehicles in their fleet, 44 of which are used for towing and metals recycling, and are equipped with the TomTom Telematics solution. The company provides local and long-distance services, covering both the metro Indianapolis area, as well as out-of-state locations.

New city contract significantly increases call volume In 2011, Zores’ towing operations won a contract with City of Indianapolis Police Department (IPD), significantly increasing call volume. As part of the agreement, Zores was required to respond to any calls from the IPD within 20 minutes, or incur fines and a contract review. With this requirement in place, along with the increase in call volume, IT manager David Schroeder knew that he would have to improve the company’s GPS and telematics capabilities – and quickly!


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“The contract with the police department significantly increased our volume, and came with a requirement that we be on the scene in 20 minutes or we’d be fined,” said Schroeder. “We knew that drivers weren’t always taking the best routes, and wanted to make sure that they would meet this requirement. We also needed a way to certify to the IPD that we were meeting the time requirement, should there be any questions.”

The Solution Increased efficiency and accurate record-keeping According to Schroeder, the decision to move to TomTom Telematics has significantly improved efficiencies, and made it easy to communicate with the IPD. He said, “In the beginning, the police department was telling us three or four times a week that we didn’t make the 20-minute window. With TomTom WEBFLEET we were able to show them that we did – and saved ourselves quite a bit of money by not having to pay fines.” The system also helps them meet the 20-minute requirement, even when the police don’t necessarily give them an exact location.

“Now that we have this system, even things like the hiring process have become easier. We no longer have to worry about whether candidates are familiar with every part of the city, as we know they will get accurate, detailed directions to every job,” said Schroeder. “And the benefits in terms of efficiency and reporting have improved our bottom line. We’re able to provide the service levels necessary for our IPD contract, and manage the increased volume and opportunity that comes along with that. The system provides unbelievable Return on Investment for us. I’d recommend it to anyone.”

“Oftentimes, we can show that the original call didn’t provide the correct location, so that resets the clock for us,” said Schroeder. “We also find TomTom’s maps – which include mile markers – extremely helpful when we get a call for a vehicle that is between two exits on the highway. We can pinpoint where they are on the map and get there more quickly.” TomTom Telematics’ WEBFLEET has also improved operations significantly, because WEBFLEET is integrated with Zores’ dispatch system job information and directions are sent directly to the driver in the vehicle. According to Schroeder, “TomTom makes it simple for us to map where our drivers are going. They didn’t always use the best routes, but now, because we are sending directions directly to them, they are getting where they need to be faster and more efficiently. The savings have been significant.”

TomTom WEBFLEET has also helped Zores uncover fraud within their organization – and help drivers when they have been victims of crimes. On more than one occasion, drivers have been held up by thieves and were able to contact dispatch to let them know they were in trouble. Because they could track exactly where the vehicles were, office staff could send police to the location to stop the crime. The Zores staff was also able to uncover a scheme where one of their drivers was using company vehicles to buy and sell vehicles after-hours. By tracking the vehicle, the Zores staff was able to uncover the crime and provide proof. Across the company’s tow and recycling operations, TomTom Telematics has made a significant impact. TOW TomTom Telematics 866-459-3499 | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional


Integrating Dispatch

& Fleet Management Software Dispatch is essential to your business. It is also frequently cited as one of the biggest headaches in towing. But technology advances have made it possible to integrate dispatch and fleet management – and finally streamline the repetitive business processes and potential for mistakes that can plague even the most organized tow managers. Obviously, there are many things to consider when undertaking a search for new technology. There are the hard 26

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factors – how many trucks, how many calls a day, how many dispatchers, etc. And there are the business factors – are drivers based out of an office, do schedules change throughout the day, how do you determine who to dispatch where? Another important factor to consider are your current business practices – how do you receive jobs, dispatch them, get the driver to the right location, record the job, and bill for the job?


TomTom Telematics provides many businesses with the tools to operate more efficiently – including live traffic updates and vehicle tracking. WEBFLEET also provides operators with an accurate arrival time to the customer site, as it takes into account expected traffic on the route to reach the customer for each vehicle in your fleet. In many cases, getting all of this done requires manual processes that are repeated in different systems, raising the probability of errors. Like virtually everything related to electronics, technology has changed. Processes have become more efficient, more accurate, and have provided a safer driving environment for the operator.

Perhaps the most important thing to focus on is implementing technology that works together. For instance, the last thing a dispatcher wants to do is create an order in dispatch software and replicate the info into an application to get to an operator. This process can be extremely time consuming, and take up valuable time that could be dedicated to dispatching additional jobs. By using TomTom Telematics’ fleet management solution, WEBFLEET, your dispatching process can transform into a seamless one that resembles the following: | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional


Integrating Dispatch

& Fleet Management Software 1. Determine best/closest/appropriate operator to send job to 2. Operator electronically receives job info and navigates to the site

3. Operator one-touch updates for the status of jobs 4. Operator confirms completion and closes out job 5. Operator available the next job Let’s Talk About Driver Safety In addition, driver safety is a bigger concern than ever before. Here are some numbers* to consider: • 13 – the number of states that have banned all handheld cell usage while driving • 23.2 – the number of times more likely you are to be involved in a safety-critical event if you’re texting while driving • 44 – the number of states that have banned text messaging while driving • $11,000 – the average fine for an employer of a driver who causes an accident while using a mobile device If you’re using phones to dispatch and communicate with your drivers, you could be held liable for incidents that occur. TomTom Telematics has proven to provide towers with a safe and legal alternative to dispatching jobs to operate in the field. So, not only is a tower able to dis-


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patch more jobs in the same amount of time with the same resources, but they’re able to do this without the same liability. For this reason, and many other reasons, the best towers have implemented an integrated dispatch, routing and fleet management solution. TomTom Telematics can integrate with your software and can deliver all of the dispatch and driving information a driver needs to the truck, can be voice-enabled, and allow one-touch and hands-free calling if the driver does need to call the office. TOW *Source: TomTom Telematics 866-459-3499 | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 | Tow Professional




TomTom Telematics is committed to helping our customers lower their environmental impact. WEBFLEET provides a dashboard report on daily fleet carbon footprint, calculated using the vehicle mileage and fuel consumption (miles per gallon etc.). This can help you implement an internal carbon footprint reduction program or meet external incentives or requirements put in place by local or national governments. We are always looking for new features to enhance our fleet management solutions that help our customers manage their resources more efficiently.

TomTom Telematics is a Business Unit of TomTom dedicated to fleet management and vehicle telematics. Our WEBFLEET platform is a Software-as-a-Service solution â&#x20AC;&#x201C; used by small to large businesses to improve vehicle performance, save fuel, support drivers and increase overall fleet efficiency. TomTom Telematics 866-459-3499

TomTom Telematics is proud to partner with leading tow management software:


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Towing & Roadside Software Made Easy Beacon Software is driving the towing industry to a new level with Dispatch Anywhere. Customers dispatch over 7 million calls annually using Beacon’s products. They integrate with 11 different motor clubs to electronically receive calls (no typing) and to submit invoices. Beacon now links to 15 major GPS companies – including TomTom, StreetEagle (Garmin), Teletrac, iTrak, VehiclePath, Fleetmatics and others. Their Mobile Apps for Apple and Android greatly simplify the dispatch process. Dispatch Anywhere enables you to dispatch more calls with less stress and greater employee accountability. Dispatch Anywhere benefits include: • Tracking driver/truck locations on our Visual Dispatch screen or Mobile Dispatcher App for Apple and Android. • Dispatching calls directly to mobile devices: cell phone, TomTom, Teltrac, iTrak or StreetEagle Garmin. • Allowing drivers to update their dispatched calls by sending data back to dispatch. Data such as time stamps, VINs identification numbers, odometer readings, and more can be input directly from their cell phone, Smartphone App, TomTom or Street Eagle. This automated system eliminates many commonly made dispatcher mistakes. • Providing turn-by-turn audible driving instructions – no need for drivers to look at their directions and take their eyes off the road. • Uploading photos of accidents, existing vehicle damage, parking violations, documents, driver's license, etc. to protect your company against unwarranted accusations. • Processing credit cards and printing/emailing receipts from DA Smartphone apps for Driver and Dispatcher. • Automatically validating addresses for all incoming calls. • Finding motorists using the software’s Locate feature. This features pings signals off of cell towers, pinpointing the cell phone users location – just like on television. Dispatch Anywhere is an easy-to-use application that provides solutions for the towing industry by helping companies stay connected, efficient and organized. Android/Apple apps that will track a driver’s cell phone are also available at no additional cost. TOW For more information, visit or call 866-437-6653. | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional



Software is just another business tool, and, like any proficient business owner, you should evaluate this and other parts of business on a regular basis. Investing in the future profitability of your business should be part of your annual review and budgeting process, what works and what does not. VTS Systems offers more than just a towing and VSF software. Our goal is to help our clients manage their businesses more efficiently by providing management resources and sound advice based on years of experience, which includes, among others, a solid and reliable PC/server based software platform.

All products and services have a life cycle, just like a working tow truck, software should be upgraded or replaced to meet your needs. Unlike a truck, software does not wear out, but it does have a half-life, and you should expect your software company to provide regular updates with added features to help you remain competitive. Assuming that all software will perform as advertised, the availability of daily support to answer questions, fix operator issues, and be there in an emergency, is far more important. Moreover, allowing your company to become caught up in the technology race is a position you should avoid. Just because it is new, it does not mean that it is better, or that your company needs it.


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For example, what appears at first to be a wonderful whiz-bang feature offered by cloud-based software is the ability to enter data from a smartphone. Whereas this is a great feature, before you say “WOW I‘ve got to have that,” ask yourself the following questions: • Are my driver/operators competent typists or texters? • Do my driver/operators have the capability to quickly navigate the software application, and correctly enter billing data without having someone else review and check their data input? Mistakes frequently go unnoticed until it is too late to rectify without significant financial cost. • Do my drivers have the time to enter invoicing data, or would I rather them proceed to the next money earning tow or incident? • Am I trying to push a square peg into a round hole? How you answer the questions above, maybe depend on gender and age. If you are under 35 years of age, you are frequently more comfortable with technology and ongoing change. If you fall into the age group above 35, then you may want a solution that not only meets your needs, but also allows you to choose the features you need within an application. This solution may be less complex, and easier to use. VTS Systems will help you decide which features and technology best suit your company-specific needs. In 2001, VTS Systems was the first company to integrate into its software automated online DMV access, and, later, after collaborating with other industry leaders, now offers more than 28 individual state DMVs online. In 2010, VTS Systems was the first towing and VSF Software Company to offer integrated electronic certified mail for lien processing. “NO MORE GOING TO THE POST OFFICE.” To provide these and other advanced features, VTS Systems chose to collaborate with Auto Data Direct and TomTom Telematics, along with other leaders within our industry, who could provide advanced features at a lower cost. TOW To discuss your needs with no obligation, call Lisa Truitt or Nigel Pestell 281-373-3072.


BudgetGPS is a vehicle and fleet tracking solution geared for any industry but specifically tuned to support fleet management within the towing industry. BudgetGPS offers a month-to-month service (no contracts) with low upfront and monthly cost. BudgetGPS delivers a full set of features for a single low price. Features include: Live Map with 20-second vehicle updates to the map with live Google traffic and map or satellite views, Historical breadcrumb view with 6 months of history; Alerts and Monitoring for PTO, GeoFence, Ignition, and Speeding; Reports including, Driver Distance, State Mileage, Stops, Speeding and more. BudgetGPS integrates with TOPS to offer a true visual dispatching tool where users are able to view vehicle locations as well as call location

/ destination information on the same map. (TOPS not required) BudgetGPS uses industry-leading hardware that is mounted discreetly inside the cab of the vehicle. We offer several models of hard-

ware, including OBD pluggable devices (for vehicles equipped with an OBD II port) as well as asset tracking devices. BudgetGPS is developed and supported inhouse by BudgetGPS! TOW For more information: 866-800-8677 Opt 2 Call or visit our website today to sign up for a 30-day free trial!

Customer Testimonials BudgetGPS allows our company to monitor our Drivers and Trucks in realtime. We no longer have drivers passing each other on the road to work jobs across town. The fuel savings alone pays for the system. Curt – Grand Rapids Towing

Your system has really helped in dispatching drivers. The system saves time in determining which load to assign which driver, and has eliminated hours of calling drivers to determine their exact location. GeoFence alerts help us determine when drivers are located at key locations and destinaPhillip - Euro Trucking tions. | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional



Brad Pitt Teaches Lessons for Tow Company Owners In the movie "Moneyball,” Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, the manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team. The owner of the team does not want to spend all his money on new players. Billy wants to be the best and so needs to do it with the best players at the best price.

Top 5 lines from Moneyball 1. He passes the eye candy test. He's got the looks, he's great at playing the part.” Teams have always made their choices by this evaluation process. He improved his team when he started to look at how to run his team differently. When it comes to making business decisions, such as tracking your trucks and communicating with your drivers, many companies look to Tracker for help to better understand the underlying issues and solutions. So, getting a solution to challenges that your company has by doing it differently than you have in the past is almost certain to improve your bottom line percent-


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age. My company, Tracker Management, as an example, has focused on making sure the underlying services provided will serve our customers’ needs by utilizing this approach. Offering tools that focus on delivering the services our customers expect more so than “look good or playing the part” has served both our towing customers as well as our company well over the last 20 plus years.

2. Your goal shouldn't be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins.” This piece of insight is showing him another way to improve. Not needing to invest money in players, but to invest in being more productive. Focus on tools such as the management software,

GPS tracking and Driver communication devices, such as tablets and smart phone solutions, will help you as a business owner get the wins (bottom line more profit) that you want. Your team can improve by having a seamless and effortless flow of your calls through your office from the time the calls come in until the records of that call are archived, all without excessive employee payroll.

3. “These are hard rules to explain to people. Why is that a problem, Pete?" Pete was having a little bit of an issue with understanding that the changes they were implementing with their team had at times fallen on closed minds with their players and management team. He knew the change would give him the best chance to win and, although it was different and some of his players did not understand, he pressed on. If improving your company and its bottom line is your goal, then changing how you do it now is good for you. Tracker Management can help you get there.

4. “Why do you like him? Because he gets on base.” This shows the most important reason why a company needs to have the proper tools to win. Towing companies invest in Tracker because we know how to help them “get on base,” and that equates to more wins for their company.

5. “If we try to play like the Yankees in here, we will lose to the Yankees out there.” Again, this statement in the movie shows that you can win by running your team differently than your competitors. Utilizing tools that they do not have or use poorly will give your company the best chance of improving and winning. TOW P.S. The Oakland A’s won 103 games that year. P.P.S. See Tracker Ad below | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional



Towing Software in the Cloud Cloud-based towing software has exploded in popularity.

Owners and managers are always looking for ways to gain an edge, and towing software you can use from just about anywhere is a great example of a tool that’s making a big difference in towing and recovery.


The tremendous growth of cloud-based towing software is fueled by several advantages and capabilities that are impossible to ignore: Simplicity. When using cloud-based towing software, you can be up and running in just a few minutes. With no software to install and no

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hardware compatibility issues, the process is quick and simple. Plus, with software in the cloud, you don’t need a license for every computer, and you can say goodbye to those costly upgrades – you’re always running the latest version. Accessibility. Towing software in the cloud means you can use the system from anywhere you have Internet service. From a tablet in your truck, on your computer at home, from your smart phone – you always have access to your towing software. When a customer or insurance company asks for information, you can send it to them, quickly and easily. There’s no such thing as having to get back to the office to find the file or leaving something on the wrong computer. Mobile Apps. Mobile apps are powerful for Towing and recovery. Making the job easier for drivers and giving them the ability to do more

ice, you have the system for a monthly fee. Many companies won’t even ask you to sign a contract; you’re free to leave with your data any time you aren’t happy. There are many things to consider when you add a new software tool for your business. Increasingly, cloud-based software has become the standard because the advantages cannot be ignored.

About Towbook

on the road means less to do in the office and better customer service. Mobile apps have many great features, including: Pictures can be automatically added to the call, Drivers can get a customer’s signature on their phone and have it appear on an invoice they email or text to the customer, Plate to VIN features or VIN scanning can pull in the full VIN plus the make, model and year. You can even have dispatchers or managers dispatch calls from a smart phone or tablet on weekends or overnight.

Safe, Secure, Reliable. Most cloud-based software is very dependable, safe and reliable. Your data is backed-up constantly on modern servers in a highly secure environment. Plus, reliable cloud-based software companies make it so you can export your data as needed. Price. You should test drive your towing software before you sign up. With cloud-based software, there are little or no upfront costs and you should never have to pay for an upgrade. Much like your mobile phone or Internet serv-

Towbook Management Software is headquartered in Michigan and has provided cloudbased towing software for over 7 years. With the industry’s most advanced and flexible software, Towbook supports all types of towing and recovery operations. At Towbook, we take great pride in having the industry’s best customer support. Support is free and available 24/7/365 – even on holidays. TOW 855-869.2665 (855-TOWBOOK) No Setup Fees. No Contracts. No Worries. | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional



Taking to the Road Efficiently TELEMATICS Every business wants to increase profits, productivity and communication, but implementing solutions can often be costly and timeconsuming. Weighing out the costs and benefits of a new deployment can further discourage managers from exploring options. To best understand how tow companies can increase efficiency, we researched the needs of drivers, dispatchers and managers. We found that to be more efficient in the industry tow companies require real time management, constant connectivity, and software that provides drivers with resources they need in their truck.

of operators, so regardless of location, drivers remain on the most advanced network, ensuring no downtime and no dead zones.

Road REQUIREMENTS Managing in REAL TIME To ensure efficient use of fuel, effective use of time, and the safety of drivers, managers and dispatchers need real time technology. The use of a platform that detects Power Take Off (PTO) and provides standard GPS tracking back to the center can show unit location and speed to improve dispatch and tracking. For improved performance, we suggest a platform with a three-axis accelerometer, which supports configuration of acceleration, braking, and cornering at multiple levels. Comprehensive platforms offer mobile management through Android and iOs and can help with fleet organization, job dispatch and evaluation of driver behavior.

Constant CONNECTIVITY No truck driver wants to be in the midst of delivery and enter a dead zone where they lose a signal and end up driving in circles or asking a station host for directions. Nor does the company want to incur costs for changing location mid-travel and later find out the driver never received new instructions. With suppliers now having the ability to change their delivery requests at any time, the importance of secure and reliable connectivity has never been more important. Wyless Telematics offers national connectivity through the largest network 40

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While drivers will always require GPS to get on location on time, system advances can improve ETA and customer communication. Improved features include advanced mapping and geo-zones. Advanced mapping uses satellites and algorithms to provide up-todate configurations keeping drivers informed of traffic changes. Simultaneously, geo-cities track progress and alert dispatch and the customer when the truck enters the area so everyone is constantly informed and connected. So, what solution is right for your company and how will you deploy it? The cost of hardware, training required and human resources needed to implement a solution that meets these needs is less difficult than previously thought. Wyless Telematics provides a holistic solution, including free hardware, the largest wireless network, and real-time software that meet dispatch, driver, and manager needs. The best part is they supply the hardware free of charge, offer software training and provide integration support to ensure a seamless deployment, all for a low monthly fee. TOW To find about more about increasing efficiency in your business with Wyless Telematics, contact us on 339-469-0978 or visit

A Blessing and a Curse! Electronic Communications to the Trucks – B y T h o ma s B ray

traffic” (called a visual distraction), is not listening to what is going on around him/her (called an auditory distraction), is attempting to manually manipulate the device (called a manual distraction) and is not thinking about driving (referred to as a cognitive distraction). The more types of distraction a device causes, the greater the risk is when using it while driving. Texting, which involves all four types of distraction, has long been recognized as the most dangerous of the electronic distractions. In one study, texting was found to increase the odds of the driver being involved in

In this day and age, there are many communications devices that allow you to instantly contact your drivers. However, some of these devices can lead to an unsafe situation if used improperly. In some cases, it can also lead to a ticket. The issues with electronic communication systems in vehicles have been well studied and the dangers well documented. The problems are “glances” and “attention to task.” When the driver is interacting with the communications device, the driver is not “watching 42

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a safety-related event or crash by 23 times. There are many activities that carry the same level of risk for the same reason — they involve multiple types of distraction at the same time — such as dialing a cell phone when driving or using a computer terminal while driving. Due to the dangers involved in electronic distraction, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) and many states have placed rules on the books limiting the use of cell phones and prohibiting texting while driving. By the way, “while driving” includes while stopped at a stop light or stop sign, and being stuck in traffic. To be “not driving,” the driver needs to be stopped and safely parked in a legal parking place.


The FMCSA and state cell phone regulations are such that a driver can use a cell phone while driving provided certain conditions are met. First, the phone cannot be held in the driver’s hand. It must be “hands free.” The hands-free requirement applies to everything from dialing to hanging up. Dialing and hanging up must be able to be accomplished with “one touch.” Second, the driver must be able to answer or initiate calls while seated normally in the driver’s seat. If the driver has to reach in such a way that he/she has to “leave the driving position” to initiate or answer a call, the driver is in violation of the regulations. | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional


A Blessing and a Curse! Electronic Communications to the Trucks –

The driver does have the option to get off of the roadway (park somewhere where it is legal and safe to park) and use the cell phone, if hands-free is not an option. The only exception to the rules is if the driver needs to contact emergency services to report an emergency. Basically, what is prohibited by the FMCSA (and most states and municipalities that have cell phone rules) is the driver holding the phone, dialing the phone, or having to leave the driving position to initiate or answer a call. If the driver has a hands-free headset or a “smart” vehicle that can link to the phone, then the driver can make and answer cell phone calls. As a company, if you want to have “instant access” to your drivers using cell phones, you will need to make sure that the drivers understand the rules and are equipped with hands-free technology. Otherwise, the drivers need to be told to let the call go to voicemail, and stop as soon as safely possible to check the voicemail.


The FMCSA regulations (as well as most state and municipal rules that restrict texting) prohibit the “manual entering of alpha-numeric characters into a communication device or reading of alpha-numeric information on a communication device” while driving. This is the technical definition of “texting.” Unlike the cell phone regulation, the regulations do not provide an alternate means of texting that would be legal. The only way texting


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S when driving can be done legally is if it can be done hands-free (such as using a smart vehicle system that has “voice to text”). If the driver receives a text when driving, the driver needs to know to find a safe place to park to read and reply to the text. As a company, if you use a text-based system to communicate with your drivers, you need to understand that there will be a delay in the driver’s reply. This is due to the driver needing to find a safe place to read and reply. Anytime a driver that is supposed to be driving replies immediately, you should be concerned that the driver is texting while driving. This suspicion should at least warrant a conversation with the driver to verify that he/she understands and is following the rules. These regulations (like the cell phone regulations) include an exception for contacting emergency services to report an emergency. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! There are circumstances in which the driver really should not be using a cell phone, even if it is hands-free. The issue is that cell phones, even hands-free cell phones, create cognitive distraction. This cognitive distraction may lead to the driver seeing something in front of him/her, but not reacting to it. The driver will be especially prone to these phenomena when there are multiple driving activities that will require his/her attention. An example would be a driver approaching an accident scene. Approaching an accident scene requires covering the brake, checking traffic in the area, checking mirrors to see what traffic coming to the scene is






doing, following the directions of emergency responders, being prepared to stop on a moment’s notice, and actively deciding when and where to stop. A driver that is on the phone may not realize what is going on around him/her, much less be mentally prepared and able to make sound decisions. Other situations, such as heavy traffic, bad road conditions, and bad weather conditions, can lead to similar problems. If the driver is in a driving situation that involves taking in a lot of driving data and making sound decisions, the driver should not be using even a hands-free cell phone. The bottom line is that when the driver is in a difficult driving situation, the distraction of talking on even a hands-free cell phone may be enough to get the driver in trouble. Therefore, work with your drivers on when they should and shouldn’t be using a hands-free cell phone. And remember that there are no circumstances where texting while driving is allowed. TOW Thomas Bray is Sr. Editor – Transportation Management for J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc. Contact him at Also be sure to check out J. J. Keller’s website at Copyright 2013 J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.4 PO Box 368, 3003 Breezewood Lane Neenah WI 54957-0368 | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional




History of the Self-Loading Dolly42 Years of the Collins Hi-SpeedÂŽDolly Changing the Tow Professional's Industry

With nearly 14 years into the next millennium, we continue to measure our progress by our past. Over 40 years ago, Collins forever changed dolly towing for the towing and recovery industry worldwide. Since its very inception nearly 100 years ago, dolly towing, shown below left, required time, space, and maneuvering to get the job done. As vehicles changed, so did the dollies that carried them. The Holmes D9 pan dolly, shown below right, was a staple to the towing industry for decades. Back then, it was an awkward, unpleasant task when vehicles were dollied. It started by the vehicle first having to be raised off the ground with whatever was available to the driver. Then the bulky steel and iron dollies had to be pulled off the truck and assembled underneath the vehicle. The vehicle was then lowered onto the dolly. At the destination point, the vehicle then had to be raised up again, the heavy dollies pulled out from underneath, disassembled and stowed, and the vehicle lowered back to the ground. Seasoned veterans will tell you the process was back-breaking and time-consuming. All that changed in the summer of 1972. Collins' articulating, self-loading dolly, which 46

allowed tow operators to retrieve vehicles and be gone in as little as 60 seconds, was unheard of, prior to their invention of the Self-Loading Hi-Speed?Dolly. The presentday configuration started out very simple in the mid-70s with only four moving parts per dolly side. Simple but not entirely safe. Tow operators eventually pointed out the danger and liability of the "crack bar" coming back and striking someone in the head -- hence the nickname. Collins immediately responded in May 1977 with the invention of the Safety Ratchet System (SRS). This arrested the free motion of the pry bar, preventing people from getting hurt. With thousands of pounds bearing down on the dolly, the Collins Safety Ratchet System continues to protect businesses from damages and liability, and personnel from injury. At present, the Collins Hi-Speed?Dolly continues as the safest, lightest, most advanced dolly in the world -- and the most imitated. Collins has been setting the gold standard of safety, quality, ease, and style of dollies for over four decades. With other original patented features that Collins invented like 8-inch aluminum wheels, greasable aluminum hubs, replaceable and serviceable parts, the HiSpeed?Dolly is indeed unique and original. Additional features introduced by Collins to the towing industry like aluminum axles in 1995 and the aluminum square pry bar in 2010, help make the tow operator's job safer with less worker comp claims. Collins uses more aluminum than any of the imitators' dollies making them the lightest, and easiest to use. Although these features make the coveted Hi-Speed?Dolly a target for copy-cats in the US, China, and Singapore, their imitations are no match for the Original.

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Today, dolly towing is also available to car carriers with Collins' patent-pending Carrier Dolly System. With all-wheel drive, electric, and hybrid vehicles, or cars with low ground clearance or no hook points, the Carrier Dolly System solves all these problems. After being lifted by the mini-dollies, the tow bar is hooked to the dollies and the tow hook to the tow bar. Nothing touches the vehicle. The vehicle simply rides the dollies up the bed. The system also doubles as a motorcycle dolly. For vehicles without wheels, the patented Tow Cradle works for both carrier and highway dollies. TOW Collins Mfg Corp. P.O. Box 1299 Jacksonville, OR 97530 (800) 332-9220


Stecks 4 Wheel Loader

Calls for quickly moving vehicles with broken ball joints continue to grow. While many use skates or Go-Jacks, many towers find that due to their inability to safely load and secure a vehicle, especially on the aluminum bed roll back wreckers, they find the need for a sturdier device. Steck’s 4th Wheel Loader is a tough 24” x 14” hardened aluminum fabricated platform with two 4” x 10” Polypropylene roller wheels, six 5/8” holes for mini-J hooks for loading assistance and 1” axles which provides a safe platform to easily hold and secure up to 5 tons while loading a vehicle. The 4th Wheel Loader also includes two shims that allow the driver to raise the vehicle with busted ball joints, lost wheels and severely bent axles and place it at a desired height for secure loading on the roll back. The Loader is 4” high (without shim blocks) with a built in 6” X 1 ” handle which will allow you to store the

25 lb. Loader behind your seat or tool box. Quicker loading and unloading while preventing further damage to vehicles by allowing the driver to center, pull and properly secure the vehicle on the roll back bed as well as preventing bed damage to the roll back. We have also found that the shops where the towers drop the damaged vehicle has a similar problem because GoJacks do not work well outdoors, which result in many damaged floor jacks trying to move the vehicle into the shop. The 4th Wheel Loader with its two Polypropylene wheels works well in gravel and dirt to move the vehicle directly into the repair bays and frame racks. TOW Steck Manufacturing Co. 1115 S Broadway Dayton, Ohio 45417 937-222-0062 | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional



Tow Professional | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 |


Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery


MPD 30 MPD 30 SP solid paint marker from Competitive Advantage makes permanent marks on a wide variety of surfaces. Formerly known as Tow Pro, MPD 30 SP is an excellent choice for glass, metal, rubber, chrome, concrete, wood and plastics. The versatility of applications led to the renaming. MPD 30 SP is solid paint and is capable or writing under the most extreme conditions, including wet (even underwater), cold (down to -40) and hot temperatures. The performance under a wide variety of extreme weather conditions makes it the ideal marker for the towing industry, auto auction sites, scrap yards and oilfield maintenance. MPD 30 SP is available exclusively online at in seven colors. MarkingPenDepot also sells Sakura Solid Paint Markers, Unipaint felt tip markers, Posca removable markers and AutoWriter removable body shop markers. Competitive Advantage 41775 Elm St, Unit 403 Murrieta, CA 92562 Phone 951-304-9370 Fax: 951-677-2678 | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 | Tow Professional



Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery


TowMate 3-in-1 LED flare/flashlight/work light kit The TMPRO-3-1 is a sturdy US Manufactured rechargeable emergency light system. Replace chemical flares with the LED flare function, illuminate a work area with its LED work light, or utilize its ultra-bright LED flash light for increased visibility. The units’ battery life can reach more than 15 hours. System includes a rechargeable 12V DC charging base. Units start at $225 (as pictured).

Go to or call (800) 680-4455 for more information.


Tow Professional | Volume 3 • Issue 6 |

AW Direct® Touchscreen Cut-Protection Gloves Your work gloves have one task — protect your hands from cuts, scrapes and punctures. But your hands need to do more, like using your smartphone. The new RadianG Touchscreen Cut-Protection Gloves, available from AW Direct, let you tap, swipe and type on your mobile device. Plus, provide excellent abrasion, cut, tear and puncture protection when you’re on the job. Make these your new work gloves today. Atomic LED Strobing Cab Marker Lights Replace your dull factory lights with brighter, more visible flashing cab markers. Atomic’s LED technology generates a brighter light for increased visibility while requiring less draw on your electrical system. And forget about drilling holes in your expensive truck. Just reuse the factory holes. AW Direct features Atomic LED lights for Ford F250–F750(1999–2014), Chevy/GMC Silverado/Sierra (2007–2014) and Dodge Ram (2003–2014). Order your lights today. (800) 243-3194

Windshield Camâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 4 Camera Professional Truck Video Security Windshield Cam is the original and the leader in Multi Camera Truck Video Security for commercial trucks with a long 2 week recording time. The 4 Camera Windshield Cam System records all 4 sides of the truck, protecting you 24/7 against theft, vandalism, hit & runs, traffic accidents and road rage. The 2 side mirror cameras are very important in providing proof in sideswipes and merging accidents. The Rear Camera records all activity behind the truck. Make great training videos, too.

WorkSafe USA, Inc The NO-JACK A tow truck operator's duties typically involve the use of a service jack for tire changes, repositioning broken ball joints and tie rods to prepare a tow, just to name a few. WorkSafe USA, Inc. is proud to present the NO-JACK vehicle lift system for self loading wheel lift wreckers. The NOJACK system allows a self loading wheel lift wrecker to be utilized as an on-site automotive service jack, eliminating the need to carry service jacks and jack stands on the wrecker.

To view Windshield Cam truck video footage, please visit or call Ron at (403) 616-6610.

WorkSafe USA, Inc. | (217) 487-7045 | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 | Tow Professional



Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery


Phoenix USA, Inc. introduces 100 Series Work Lights These new mountable work lights provide high-powered light where you need it. And since they’re LED, they emit a brighter beam, stay cooler, last longer and are extremely affordable in relation to other lighting types. The 4.6 inch diameter round work light has six high intensity LED diodes, 750+ lumen, 18 watt, and 10~30 VDC operation, black housing and polycarbonate lens. Stainless steel adjustable stud mounting bracket and hardware included. Full dimensions: 4.6” dia. x 1.7” depth. The 5 inch square work light has five high intensity LED diodes, 600+ lumen, 15 watt, and 10~30 VDC operation, black housing and polycarbonate lens. Stainless steel adjustable stud mounting bracket and hardware included. Full dimensions: 4.4” x 5” x 1.7” depth. For more information: Leigh Ann Netherton Phoenix USA Inc. 51 Borden Street Cookeville, TN 38501 931.526.6128


Tow Professional | Volume 3 • Issue 6 |

S&J New Axle Chain New large hook opening Axle Hook for your towing needs. One end of the chain with 3 sizes of hooks, other end to fit most any size frame or location and allow slack take up.

S & J Manufacturing, Inc. 203 Commerce Drive Cuba, MO 65453 Phone: 573-885-4460 Fax: 573-885-3351

S&J New Webbing V Strap S&J Metal Mfg releases their new webbing V Strap with 24â&#x20AC;? extension to keep winch hook out from under the automobile being loaded. Helps prevent damage to oil pan, spoilers, and bumper

S & J Manufacturing, Inc. 203 Commerce Drive Cuba, MO 65453 Phone: 573-885-4460 Fax: 573-885-3351 | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 | Tow Professional



Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery


Next Generation Tool Co. Portable Automotive DVR "Your Digital Eye-Witness"

B/A Products Co. Alloy Snatch Block

This new item is a must-have for recording what actually happens during driving incidents. Features include: HD Quality; Loop Recording and Motion Activation; Wide Viewing Area; Excellent Night Vision; Color Screen. Multi-functional as a DVR, Digital camera and Microphone; Both 12v and Battery Operated; Auto ON/OFF. Excellent for insurance, legal claims and new drivers. Know where your drivers or family is going. 1 yr. Mfr. guarantee. Call us today at 1-800-874-5625.

B/A Products Co. (800) 327-3301


Tow Professional | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 |

Steck Manufacturing I-Bolt

I-Bolt is a universal tow eye with a 2” x 1 ½” loop connected to a 7” long steel shaft with unique gripping teeth that lock into the threaded holes on the front or rear of imports and some domestics. Insert the I-Bolt into the threaded hole engage the gripping teeth by turning the loop clockwise (while holding the knurled 1 ¾” knob) until the teeth engage behind the nut or in the threaded hole. Steck Manufacturing Co. 1115 S. Broadway | Dayton, Ohio 45417 937-222-0062 |

Advanced Specialty Products Inc. 2 in 1 Rust Converter

This new revolutionary hi tech product chemically converts existing rust into an inert polymer barrier that protects against any further corrosion and oxidation on any metal surface. There is no need to scrape, grind, or sandblast the rust that exists. Advanced 2 in 1 Rust Converter leaves a smooth black polymer surface all in one step! It can be painted over or left as is. Protects against salts, acids, UV rays, and friction! * Also leaves a clear protective finish on non rusted metal. Call 631-648-9862 Or visit | Volume 3 • Issue 6 | Tow Professional




Tow Professional | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 |


MarketPlace | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 | Tow Professional




Tow Professional | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 |


Tow Show Booth #622

Tow Show Booth #702 | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 | Tow Professional



Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery



Advanced Specialty Products . . . . . . . . . . . . .54

Aldridge Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59

Alexander Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38

all-Grip . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Amerideck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58

Anchor Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 Atlanta Wrecker Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57

Austin Hinds Motors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57

Austin Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 B/A Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13, 57

Beacon Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33, 58

Blingmaster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58

Bowers Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57 Boxes 4 U/ Crashfilm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59

budgetGPS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35

Collins Dollies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 CTTA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

Custer Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

CW Mill Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48

Dangelo's Custom Built . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 Detroit Wrecker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15, 23

Direct Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 DJ and Dan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48

Dynamic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Eartec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52

ECM Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50

Evans Cooling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44





Eye3Mobile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Flash Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 FlowStop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Hal Kresser Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Hallmark Consultants Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 Holly's Message Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 IAA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 Industrial Netting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57 International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum / Wall of the Fallen . . . . . . . . . . . .30 Jerr-Dan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .IFC Keystone Tape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55 Larson Electronics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 LDC Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 Lift and Tow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28 Lodar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Loganville Ford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 Marking Pen Depot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Mfr. Express . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .BC Midwest Regional Tow Show . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Miti . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Next Generation Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 North American Bancard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Phoenix USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 Pillow Protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Powerbilt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 Powerhouse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 Recovery Billing Unlimited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43

Tow Professional | Volume 3 â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 6 |



Recovery Consulting Services . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Robert Young's Wrecker Sales & Service . . . .56

ROI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60

Rugged Tow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36

RV Wheel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60

S&J Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53

Specialty Equipment Funding . . . . . . . . . . . . .IBC

Steck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

Surplus Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59

TomTom Telematics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29

Towbook . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29

Towmate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Tow Partners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59

Tracker Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37

Travis Barlow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 Triple K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 Tru-Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53

VTS Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35

Web Rigging Supply, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Weiss Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59

Windshield Cam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57

Worksafe USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54

Worldwide Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56

Wrecker Rentals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

Wyless Telematics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41

Yale Cordage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45

Zacklift . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58

Tow professional issue 6, 2014  
Tow professional issue 6, 2014  

Your Resource for Towing & Recovery