The Week's Features
Tower collides with a drunk driver and is seriously injured.
Dump Truck takes out 200 ft. of guardrail and lands in a ditch.
How to protect yourself from unlock damage claims.
The Dallas Cowboys blue and white colors and signature star mark this wrecker’s graphics.
Indispensable for uprighting tractor trailers, heavy tracked equipment, box trucks, overturned mobile homes and more.
Events
San Antonio, TX.
Aug. 5-7, 2021
Las Vegas, NV.
Sept. 15-17, 2021
Cleveland, OH.
Oct. 14-16, 2021
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 11-14, 2021
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing April 21 - April 27, 2021

Why Community Involvement is Critical

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Brian J Riker

I had the honor of participating in the production of a public service announcement video created by the Pennsylvania Traffic Incident Management Enhancement program this past Saturday, March 27. This effort to bring greater awareness to the updated slow down move over law in Pennsylvania is just one example of how towers can be involved in their community.

Service beyond self is a very fulfilling experience. Although community service often leads to increased exposure and more business opportunities, that motivation should never be the underlying focus of your service. Just being a decent member of society should be all the motivation you require and a simple thank you, even left unspoken and simply implied, should be all the reward that you seek. Community service through involvement in important local issues will always have a cascading effect on the quality of life within your town, resulting in many positive returns.

Some areas I have seen affected by community involvement include bettering the lives of team members and their families which in turn can result in a more productive worker. If they no longer need to stress about some issue outside the job, they can then focus on the task at hand which is important not only for productivity but also for safety.

The issues troubling your community may seem small or insurmountable. Either way they will be overcome by the efforts of those with a generous spirit and a genuine love of their neighbors. You don’t need to spend large sums of money, or make huge donations, to have an impact. Often community projects just need volunteers to coordinate or manage the efforts of others that have the money to donate but not the leadership expertise to see the project thru to a successful conclusion.

Time is precious yet we all can find a few hours from time to time (pun intended) to give back to those that helped get us to where we are today. I know without the support and patronage of my community, my towing service would have never succeeded. Without the help of my community when I was a young man with a new family, I would have struggled much harder than I did. For this, I am ever grateful and give back my time when I can, money when I can’t give the time, and support in any way possible when time or money is unavailable.

Volunteering for community service does not need to be limited to something associated with your company, it’s technical skill or even automotive related. For over twenty years I volunteered my time to our local high school drama club as a live audio technician. Not even close to an automotive repair or towing related field but it made an impact on countless young folks as they tried to decide who they were and what they wanted to do when they grew up. Even without any formal promotion or advertising, the community leaders, who were all involved in the arts in my small town, knew who I was and in turn they sent work my way when possible. Now, that is not why I did the volunteer work, it was a passion of mine, but it sure was a pleasant side effect.

Bottom line, towing already has a bad enough reputation from a few bad apples and the public’s general misunderstanding of what it is that we do as an industry so we can use any good press that we can get. Gather up some food for the local pantry, use your crash response equipment to clear away the remains of winter brush, donate some labor to clean up the town park or whatever else you can think of. Do it with love in your heart and maybe a well-placed tow truck or two for when the press comes by for a photo op and you will be surprised with the good fortune that befalls upon you. Even if nothing happens you will still know in your heart that you made a difference for someone in your community.


Click here to read more

The Adventures Ends and Returns

Over 16 years ago, Steve Calitri, serving as publisher of American Towman Magazine, came up with one of the magazines enduring legacies (features), “The Adventures of the American Towman.” Calitri said, “I studied comics so that I could write the episodes. I wanted to portray the tower in an adventure, comic book series.” Together with illustrator Don Lomax, the journey began.

The long running, episodic comic strip followed Armada Towing & Recovery and the dramatic lives of its main characters – AT, Pop, and HP (Horsepower), along with a host of other characters. Storylines involved terrorist acts, international intrigue, to battles with the town councilman and the everyday issues akin to all towers. Recoveries played a major role in many of the episodes as well as heroic acts.

According to Calitri, the comic series was unique in its artwork. He said, “It was vintage old school, everything was hand lettered and hand colored. Something not seen in today’s comic book productions, where everything is digitized through Photoshop and Illustrator on a computer.” 195 episodes later, towers worldwide were sad to see the words “The End” printed on the last strip in the March issue. Lomax needed to step back from the rigors of creating the monthly episodes.

The Adventures however will live on. “We’ve been inundated with calls and emails when The Adventures was missing from the April issue,” said Calitri. “So in May we’re running Episode One again, and the following episodes until we find someone to take the baton from Lomax as the Adventures illustrator.”


You Damaged My Door

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By Randall C. Resch

Being sued for unlock damage is a laughable claim. Defending this type of claim is an easy process. An unlock service is simple. A tower responds to a location, conducts the service, then payment is collected COD, covered by insurance or an auto club’s membership.

Although unlock damage claims are rare, a single complaint can turn into a complaint from hell. One such on-line post trashed a tow company claiming their operator damaged a pickup’s door during unlock service. Although service ended without incident, a $175 repair estimate surfaced two months later.

This claimant alleged the operator “attacked” their pickup’s door using some “coat-hanger tool.” The experienced tower stated there was no difficulty opening the door; he used the same tools for nearly all unlocks. His practice was industry acceptable. Insert a plastic wedge, inflate the airbag and insert a long-reach tool to manipulate the lock.

In my fifty-years of business, two similar claims (against me) surfaced by vehicle owners. They cited my tow operators inflicted damages to door frames “using the wrong-tools.” In both cases, owners were arrogant and nasty having familiar “in yer’ face” personalities.

In the furtherance of their scam, they found body shops eager to write damage estimates. That’s an easy practice for unscrupulous body shops seeking to draw work to their shops. Damage claims are generally false and fraudulent, but because filing a small claims suit is easy, you’re forced to defend your company’s actions.

To protect yourself, the industry is full of accessory and equipment sales companies who sell lockout kits and tools. Use catalogs and product photos to your advantage. With a well-positioned digital camera, take a dozen photos of a like-type vehicle showing placement of tools start to finish.

Position a plastic wedge showing close-up photos of how wedges insert into the vehicle’s door-jamb. Position the air-bag and whatever tool into the gap. When the tool is inserted, include a measuring tape to show the gap’s spread. Present these photos in court.

For additional evidence, support your testimony with photo advertisements from suppliers of unlock tools and airbags. Bring a most recent copy of Zips/AW Direct’s catalog, testifying that lockout tools (of the same kind) were employed in methods considered “standard to the industry.”

Testimony should include a statement saying, “Tools were used in-accordance to standard lockout methods and techniques.” Compare your photographs with the same unlock tools and airbag depicted in the product’s catalog (similar product shots will work).

Knowing how these tools work is your best evidence. Don’t forget to ask the vehicle’s owner if their vehicle had been unlocked before in its many years? Chances are, the older the vehicle, the more likely the damage was inflicted by someone else.

One final detail. An internet search of auto repair labor rates varied widely across the US, even within the same city. It was reported that body shops in AAA’s approved repair network charged between $47 and $215 per hour. Based on most shop's hourly rate, I hardly think a sprung-door can be repaired in one hours’ time.

















Go to Artist for Wrecker Pageant Contestants

By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


I work the non-traffic side of the wrecker/carrier:
seldom
maybe 30% of the breakdowns
half of the time
most of the time
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Managing Editor: Steve Calitri
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
April 21 - April 27, 2021
In Minneapolis, a dumpster set on fire was removed to a safe location by a tower.

Tower Removes Blazing Dumpster

Dean Mathisen, a 35 year old tower for PLC Towing & Recovery in Minneapolis/St.Paul quickly responded to a dumpster that was set ablaze by hooking it up and removing it from a nearby business to the middle of a parking lot.

The St. Paul Police Department says the 35-year-old tow truck driver reported the fire behind a tobacco store in a shopping center, which he also posted on TikTok. He told police he saw a man light the dumpster on fire and run away. The suspect was later arrested.

“People are saying I’m a hero, but I wasn’t even expecting the amount of attention that this has been getting — I was just doing what I thought was best at the time and trying to help out,” Mathisen said.

The burning dumpster was extinguished by fire fighters. No one was hurt and no property was damaged. The tower was deemed a “hero” by police.

https://minnesota.cbslocal.com
On the Hook with John Borowski - 9
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April 21 - April 27, 2021

Tower Hit and Injured [b]in Modesto, Cal.

In Modesto, Cal., a tower sustained major injuries when an alleged drunk driver crossed into his lane.

Gabrial Fernandez, 34, of Modesto, was driving a Nissan, heading south, while the tower, Sammie Franks was eastbound. Apparently Fernandez went through the stop sign, colliding into the tow truck. After the impact, the tow truck struck a couple of other vehicles, as well as a support structure in front of a market.

Franks was taken by helicopter to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. Fernandez was flown to Memorial Medical Center with moderate injuries. Upon his release from the hospital, Fernandez was booked into the Calaveras County Jail on suspicion of DUI causing injury.

https://www.modbee.com/

Friends & Family Gather [b]for Nevada Tower Ryan Billotte

On Friday, April 9, family and friends gathered to remember Ryan Billotte by holding a candlelight vigil for him and raising awareness of the move-over law.

Billette was killed by a hit-and-run driver working on the shoulder of the 215 beltway just outside of Las Vegas.

Outside of a church, Billotte's wife, Becca Billotte said, “We want to push the ‘slow down and move over’ movement. People just need to be more aware this can’t keep happening, they need to come home to their families - we need them home.”

Shannon Jeffers, a close friend of Becca, described what Ryan was like. ”Ryan was very soft spoken, very funny, he had quick comebacks for everything. He was genuine, he took interest in you.

Ryan Billotte leaves behind four stepchildren, all he helped raise and six grandchildren.

https://www.fox5vegas.com/

Tow Truck Crash [b]Causes Power Outage

A tow truck that crashed into a power pole left thousands in the dark around Boise, Idaho, the morning of April 9.

According to Idaho Power, 6,500 customers were affected by the outage, primarily in Southeast Boise and downtown. No one was hurt in the collision, dispatchers say.

Idaho Power says the crash broke the power pole, sending the pole and wires to the ground. The accident caused a "a brief power surge or momentary outage" for a wider range of people around Ada County, most of whom saw their electricity go off, then immediately back on. 

Most of the outage area was restored by 11:30 a.m., an Idaho Power spokesman said, but about 500 customers are still without power.

https://www.ktvb.com/

All Eyes on Orlando [b]This Weekend

The Florida Tow Show, organized by the Professional Wrecker Operators of Florida, kicks off this Thursday with a golf outing in the morning and a food and drink hospitality at night. Exhibits are open Friday, April 9th and 10th. It will be the first tow industry show to take place since the 2019 American Towman Exposition in Atlantic City.

Suppliers and towers alike are anxious to engage again in a face to face venue at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vistas Palace. Since Florida has been one of the most open states during the Covid Pandemic, and tow operations have been working through these challenging times, a good crowd of tow operators from the sunshine state is expected. The show’s promoters are hopeful as well the show will draw its fly-in crowd as it has for the past five decades.

The show is offering plenty of hospitality with Jerr-Dan distributors hosting food and drink on Thursday and Saturday nights, and Miller Industries hosting the show’s Friday night “Street Party.”

For more information check out: floridatowshow.com.

Tow Truck Driver Fights [b]Back to Defend Turf

Tow Truck driver Terry Devers was assaulted in Fort Worth, Texas on March 15 by four people when he attempted to tow a vehicle that was illegally parked. The 4 suspects, who were purportedly part of a mob-like crowd following the YouTube Canadian prankster group Nelk Boys, are currently sought after by police.

Speaking about one of the persons involved, Devers said, "He wanted me to drop his car. I told him it would be $125. Or if he didn’t want to pay the $125 to drop, he could come pick it up from the yard.”

As a result of that confrontation, Devers was bloodied and beaten. "They busted my eye open. I had a bruise on my left shoulder, and they busted my forehead open," he said. "They came over, they surrounded me, I guess they figured, ‘Oh, well he’s outnumbered. He’s going to drop the car.’ Well they had a different story coming to them, I wasn’t dropping the car.”

Devers said he didn’t swing at anyone, thinking that would make things worse, but instead, grabbed something to defend himself.

"It’s actually a bar for flatbed trucks or semi’s that are going down," he said. "I had it just like that and was like, ‘If y’all gonna do something, do something.’"

At one point, Devers said someone jumped in to steal the keys from his ignition.

"I body slammed him out of the truck to let everybody know, hey, I’m not playing. Y’all need to back off," he said.

"They better hope police find them before I do or before the other tow company drivers find them. Because they all want to jump them," he added.


https://www.fox4news.com/news/fort-worth-tow-truck-driver-assaulted

TRAA Advocates for Towers [b]on ATA’s Towing Task Force

The Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA) has secured a seat to represent towers on a Towing Task Force that was formed by the American Trucking Association (ATA).

The Towing Task Force plans to release resources for truckers on how to prevent becoming a victim of what they believe is billing fraud. Second, they plan to introduce two pieces of model legislation in conjunction with the American Property and Casualty Insurance Association and the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

According to Jennifer Wieroniey, Executive Director of ATA’s National Accounting & Finance Council, “The first bill would provide more protections for consumers against towing companies through tools such as regulating when a tow can occur and mandating more transparent billing practices, like the use of a rate sheet and itemized invoices... The second bill would outlaw ‘runners’ who solicit their tow services at the scene of an accident without being requested by law enforcement or any parties involved in the accident. As the national's towing association, TRAA will be the tower's advocate on ATA's Towing Task Force.

http://traaonline.com/
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American Towman Exposition Gallery
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Rate how they handled this recovery
Great job on a challenging recovery.
Hit all the basics on this one. Thumbs up.
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I would approach this recovery differently.
Vehicle(s) could be rigged more efficiently.
More trucks were needed.
April 21 - April 27, 2021

Stone Dump Ditched

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by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

A loaded dump truck goes off the road and Rosenberry Towing is called into action. The accident happened on State Route 800 near Mineral City, Ohio at approximately 4 p.m., April 12, 2021.

Company owner Alex Rosenberry informed, “The call came in as a semi vs. a car. The semi was actually a 2017 KW T800 dump hauling 18-ton of stone in the bed and was said to be in a ditch. We were requested to respond by the trucking company owner.”

Alex and his dad Thad Rosenberry responded with their 2017 Peterbilt 389 with a 50-ton Jerr-Dan Integrated wrecker. Once on scene they found that the dump truck had taken out approximately 200-feet of guardrail.

Alex explained, “It was leaning very hard against the torn out guardrail on a steep, muddy embankment approximately 75-100-feet down deep. The guardrail was holding quite a bit of tension. The casualty however was only about 10-feet off the edge of the road.”

Once Alex assessed the situation and he called for long time heavy operator Craig to bring their 2000 International 9400 with a 25-ton Jerr-Dan wrecker. “Our 2021 GMC 2500 Service truck was also brought out to help with the removal of some flat tires and escort us back to the yard since it was dark for added safety,” he said.

Once given control of the scene by Ohio State Highway Patrol and ODOT, Alex ran a two part line from his Jerr-Dan 50-ton to the driver side frame to hold the unit for safety as he went to the low side to rig another two part line to the passenger side frame in order to lift the unit up the embankment.

Simultaneously a two-part line was rigged to the front spring hangers to the Jerr-Dan 25-ton wrecker to provide the necessary side pull on the truck to get it off the guardrail. “It came up nice and easy the way I did it,” said Alex.

Once the casualty was up on the roadway they began shoveling away at the mud that was packed into the unit and then chain slung the front of the casualty. Alex informed, “We then caged the brakes and moved the unit down the road to a pull off where it was safer to remove the flat drive tires in order to slowly transport the loaded dump truck back to our storage facility.”

We’d like to send congratulations to Alex and his lady Jeanette on the birth of their Princess Raelynn in March 2021. She is Priceless & Precious!!!

Rosenberry Towing, located in New Philadelphia, Ohio, is Tuscarawas counties largest towing and recovery provider. They offer light-, medium-, and heavy-duty towing services. Established in 1969 they have over 50-years of towing and recovery experience. All employees are WreckMaster trained as well as having Traffic Incident Management training. The Rosenberry Towing team is certified and trained to handle any situation that is thrown at them. Alex Rosenberry is the dynamic owner and lead heavy operator for the company. He does any and everything that needs to be done.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Technical Lift in a Tight Place

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by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Lifting a 75,000-pound natural gas engine inside a building is no easy feat. Beard’s Towing had this as a scheduled job at the request of an energy company in Glen Rose, Texas, performing the removal of the massive engine on March 25, 2021.

Beard’s Towing owner James Bennett Jr. made specially designed spreader bars out of 1-inch thick I-beam, 8-inches wide and 8-inches tall.

He said, “In preparation for this lift, we left nothing to chance. Our crew practiced on site in our yard with a 40,500-pound concrete cement drum welded to a homemade skid, similar to the one that Miller Industries has. Also, with a die cast engine and wreckers. This preparation was key due to the distance from the rotators to the engine and the weight factor.”

James Jr. responded along with heavy operator brothers Allen and Richard Knadle with two rotators - "Boss" a 2018 Kenworth T880 Century 1075S 75-ton rotator and "The Beast" a 2020 Kenworth W990 Century 1075S 75-ton rotator.

The massive natural gas 3616 engine that the crew went to pick up was 15-feet long, 7-feet wide and 10-feet tall and weighed 75,000-pounds.

James Jr. did all of the rigging, using the spreader bars he made. Rigging was done using both 60-ton cables to two snatch blocks, to a Miller single point lift triangle, to a center point lift on spreader bars, to a double point pick off each end of the spreader bars.

The job was performed with two lifts. The first initial pick up was to take it out of its home based cradle that was 17-feet 9-inches away from the wrecker, to be lifted and brought 8-feet from the wreckers and placed in a mobile cradle. Picking it up in a building that was only 54-feet long and 40-feet tall.

Then the cradle was fastened to the engine so that the cradle and the engine would be lifted on the second pick. The wreckers were then re-positioned and a heavy haul trailer was backed in next to the engine. Detaching the power unit, one rotator was placed alongside the trailer, and the second rotator was backed to the front of the trailer where the power unit was detached. After repositioning the rotators, the second pick up was 10-feet away. On the second pick up, the engine and cradle was lifted and set on the heavy haul trailer.

From Glen Rose, Texas, the engine was transported by a third-party company to Washington, Pennsylvania.

Thanks to solid planning and preparation, this job was a success, taking 9.5 hours to complete.
………………………………………………..

Beard's Towing, owned by James Bennett Jr., is family-owned and operated. The company, based in Fort Worth, Texas, provides 24/7 emergency light, medium and heavy-duty towing and recovery and roadside assistance to Fort Worth and surrounding areas. Established in 1954, the company boasts a combined 100 years of experience. A strong believer in training, James Jr has regular training sessions to keep his operators on top of their game and also holds cross-training sessions with fire and police authorities.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

River Ramp Recovery

By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On Saturday, March 27, 2021 around 5:30 p.m., the NJ State Police requested the Downe Twp Fire/Rescue Dive Team to assist with removing a truck and trailer that had rolled down a boat ramp at a marina in historic Port Norris.

Tri County Core had been called to bring their wrecker, responding with Big Blue, their Chevy LoPro. Downe Twp Fire/Rescue divers suited up, went into the river, located and hooked up to the submerged vehicle within approximately 20 minutes after arrival. Once hooked up Tri County Core’s tow truck made an attempt, but due to the drop off at the end of the ramp couldn't pull the vehicle out because it needed to be lifted.

Around 7 p.m. Battelini Transport & Towing Service was called by the NJ State Police to complete the removal. Battelini president Albert Battelini informed, “We were called to bring a rotator for a pickup and boat trailer that had rolled down the boat ramp.”

Al’s nephews, Anthony and Wade Battelini, responded with their 2015 Kenworth with an NRC 40/50 50-ton sliding rotator to handle the lift. They also brought their 2020 Kenworth tractor with a 48-foot Trail-Eze slide axle trailer to haul the casualty away.

When Anthony and Wade arrived, Tri County Core had already left, but Downe Twp Fire/Rescue Dive Team were still on scene.

“The boat ramps are made of concrete and at the end of the ramp is a sharp drop off so the pickup had to be lifted up and back onto the ramp,” Al informed. “Downe Twp Fire Dept used their divers to rig it. It was at high tide so it made it difficult. They used a 15-foot endless loop thru the front door posts of the four-door pickup.”

With the NRC 40/50 50-ton sliding rotator’s 3-stage boom extended out with both lines attached to the endless loop, it boomed up and easily lifted and loaded the pickup and boat trailer onto the Trail-Eze 48-foot trailer.

The scene was cleared at approximately at 9:45 p.m. No one was in the vehicle and no one was injured.
___________________________________________________

Tri County Core, a family run business based in Millville, New Jersey, was founded in 2011. The Yearicks family is a salvage company specializing in junk vehicles, parts, boat repairing & service, marine salvage, boat services, scrap metals processing & recycling and towing.

Albert Battelini is the president of Battelini Transport & Towing Service in Landisville, New Jersey. Established in 1921, the company is co-owned by Albert and his brother Anthony. They now operate out of a five bay facility, run 30 tractor/trailers ranging from lowboys and Landols to step decks and have 20 employees and a fleet of more than 20 wreckers. The family also runs Battelini Wrecker Sales, a full service dealer for NRC Industries and others, servicing New Jersey, Delaware and the surrounding New York City area.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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MIDWESTERN – Nacogdoches, TX
$500
(pop. 34,047)

SOUTHERN – Lake City, FL
$250
(pop. 12,099)

EASTERN - King George, VA
$145
(pop. 4,457)

WESTERN - Brentwood, CA
$276.25
(pop. 53,673)

Heavy-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
April 21 - April 27, 2021

You Damaged My Door

unlockdamage 02e4d
By Randall C. Resch

Being sued for unlock damage is a laughable claim. Defending this type of claim is an easy process. An unlock service is simple. A tower responds to a location, conducts the service, then payment is collected COD, covered by insurance or an auto club’s membership.

Although unlock damage claims are rare, a single complaint can turn into a complaint from hell. One such on-line post trashed a tow company claiming their operator damaged a pickup’s door during unlock service. Although service ended without incident, a $175 repair estimate surfaced two months later.

This claimant alleged the operator “attacked” their pickup’s door using some “coat-hanger tool.” The experienced tower stated there was no difficulty opening the door; he used the same tools for nearly all unlocks. His practice was industry acceptable. Insert a plastic wedge, inflate the airbag and insert a long-reach tool to manipulate the lock.

In my fifty-years of business, two similar claims (against me) surfaced by vehicle owners. They cited my tow operators inflicted damages to door frames “using the wrong-tools.” In both cases, owners were arrogant and nasty having familiar “in yer’ face” personalities.

In the furtherance of their scam, they found body shops eager to write damage estimates. That’s an easy practice for unscrupulous body shops seeking to draw work to their shops. Damage claims are generally false and fraudulent, but because filing a small claims suit is easy, you’re forced to defend your company’s actions.

To protect yourself, the industry is full of accessory and equipment sales companies who sell lockout kits and tools. Use catalogs and product photos to your advantage. With a well-positioned digital camera, take a dozen photos of a like-type vehicle showing placement of tools start to finish.

Position a plastic wedge showing close-up photos of how wedges insert into the vehicle’s door-jamb. Position the air-bag and whatever tool into the gap. When the tool is inserted, include a measuring tape to show the gap’s spread. Present these photos in court.

For additional evidence, support your testimony with photo advertisements from suppliers of unlock tools and airbags. Bring a most recent copy of Zips/AW Direct’s catalog, testifying that lockout tools (of the same kind) were employed in methods considered “standard to the industry.”

Testimony should include a statement saying, “Tools were used in-accordance to standard lockout methods and techniques.” Compare your photographs with the same unlock tools and airbag depicted in the product’s catalog (similar product shots will work).

Knowing how these tools work is your best evidence. Don’t forget to ask the vehicle’s owner if their vehicle had been unlocked before in its many years? Chances are, the older the vehicle, the more likely the damage was inflicted by someone else.

One final detail. An internet search of auto repair labor rates varied widely across the US, even within the same city. It was reported that body shops in AAA’s approved repair network charged between $47 and $215 per hour. Based on most shop's hourly rate, I hardly think a sprung-door can be repaired in one hours’ time.

















Is It A Crane Or A Tow Truck?

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By Brian J. Riker



Since rotators were first introduced to the towing industry, there has been an ongoing debate about what they are and what you can do with them. Better awareness of Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance and operator certification in the towing industry has come just in time as OSHA has the towing industry in its sights.



A rotator is not a crane; never has been and never will be. They are not built to comply with the strict standards set forth by OSHA. If they were, their lifting capacity would be reduced so much that they would be all but useless as a recovery vehicle. When used in response to a wrecked or disabled motor vehicle, tow trucks and rotators are exempted from the regulations and operator certification requirements of cranes.



That said, many towers still use rotators on construction sites as a substitute for a traditional crane. This is attractive to the construction company since rotators can usually operate in more confined spaces and usually come at a much lower price point than a traditional crane with the same lift capacity. The usage of rotators as cranes has drawn the attention of the crane industry as well as OSHA.



On Nov. 8, 2018, with an enforcement date of Feb. 7, 2019, OSHA published a final rule regarding updated crane operator standards. This revised standard continues to require the use of trained crane operators, as well as adding a requirement that employers evaluate their competency.



Just like having a drivers license may not mean you are skilled enough to operate all vehicles, having a crane certification does not mean you actually know what you are doing.



OSHA has issued guidance on enforcing this new standard, calling for compliance assistance education by its inspectors during the first 60 days, but only to employers that have shown good faith efforts to properly and timely evaluate all their crane operators.



"But, you said a rotator is not a crane; so why do I have to comply?"



The short answer is that no one is looking at the design specifications of rotators, yet; but they are looking for operator cards and documentation of employer evaluation. Any time you use any of your tow trucks or rotators to lift anything other than a disabled or wrecked motor vehicle or spillage from an accident, you are performing a crane service lift and the operator must be qualified.



I know it is a Catch-22 situation for many. Towing is a tight margin industry with the average towing company only making a 5 percent to 8 percent annual return on investment. We need to continually look for alternate sources of revenue, especially sources that will pay for perhaps the most expensive piece of equipment in the fleet. Combine this with more and more agencies mandating the availability of rotators to be included on police rotations and I see why crane work appeals to owners.



As a compliance specialist all I can do is inform you of the changing regulations and urge you to comply. For some that will mean obtaining the proper training and performing the required evaluations. Others will stop doing non-automotive lifts with their equipment. That decision is yours alone to make.



A few key notes about crane operator training and certification. If your state requires a specific license this updated standard does not affect that program. Additionally, operators in states without a specific licensing standard are still required to be trained and certified by an accredited organization or qualified employer program. As always, this certification or licensure must be provided to employees at no cost.



Certification or licensure alone is no longer compliant. The employer still must provide an evaluation of the operator's actual skills, including their ability to read and understand the written operating instructions for their specific equipment. This evaluation must be documented and performed by an individual that is competent and experienced in the operation of the specific type of crane being operated.



In addition to training, certification and evaluation of newly hired crane operators, all operators must be reevaluated anytime retraining is deemed necessary, usually after an incident or near miss event.



These evaluations are not portable; they don't follow an experienced operator when they change jobs. In addition, one operator employed by multiple companies cannot be deemed qualified if only one employer has evaluated their skills. The good news is that employers do not have to reevaluate any crane operator that was in their employ on or before Dec. 10, 2018, if they had previously evaluated their skills. All operators hired after this date must be evaluated prior to being permitted to operate any crane unsupervised.



The full requirements can be found in OSHA Standard 1926.1427.



Brian J. Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC. He specializes in helping non-traditional fleets such as towing, repossession, and construction companies navigate the complex world of Federal and State transportation regulatory compliance. With 25 years of experience in the ditch as a tow operator Brian truly understands the unique needs and challenges faced by towing companies today. He can be reached at brian.riker@fleetcompliancesolutions.net

Protect Your Company’s Online Reputation

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By Randall C. Resch

An attorney contacted me regarding whether or not tow owners should respond to on-line reviews? While I know no written practice requiring owners answer bad reviews, I believe there’s value for tow companies to get in-front of potentially damaging complaints. A disgruntled customer can create long-term damage to your company’s reputation.

Today’s social media is where customers learn about your company when searching for tow services. While some tow owners feel social media is filled with false information, complaints are damaging when viewed by others, especially new customers. Do you monitor what's said about your company? Even if a complaint is true, do you conduct damage control?

Recently, I looked for a contractor to handle a difficult repair at my house. Although many contractors received complimentary remarks, other contractors didn’t as customers cited shoddy work and management failing to return calls. Because no one responded and complaints went unanswered, I shied away from calling those companies. The fact is: once complaints are posted, they don't go away.

Handling complaints is an easy process in which tow owners should be involved. Although responding to complaints takes time, what’s the downside to not responding? It’s imperative to address a customer when you learn they have a problem. At minimum, invite the complainant to initiate a complaint form. There’s no perfect business free of complaints. Handling complaints is a tough part of doing business, but there’s an easy way to approach them in four steps called “LAST.”

Listen – A complaining customer wants you to hear their story. Let them discuss their concerns.

Apologize – Whether right or wrong, say that you understand the nature of their complaint and you’ll look into the matter. Don’t flippantly tell them to pack sand.

Solve – When complaints are justified, offer a settlement or action to satisfy their complaint.

Thank You – Those words are powerful and beneficial in ending disputes. Thank your customer for their cooperation and patience.

Ignoring customers can make life a living-hell when no effort is made to satisfy them. If they take their rage to social media, your reputation takes the hit. To your advantage, you can initate a professional, thoughtful response that counteracts their complaint. Managing media sites is important. It need not be expensive, but requires dedication to an active response. Why not dedicate a senior employee or manager to monitor sites and respond on your company’s behalf?

I believe doing something is far better than doing nothing. A successful or amicable handling of customer complaints results in them writing a more fair review versus that of simply trashing you. Fair or unfair, ignoring customer concerns only can have a negative effect on future business.
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April 21 - April 27, 2021

For the Love of the Dallas Cowboys

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By George L. Nitti

Not far from the Mexican border, in Laredo, Tex., Orozco’s Crane and Towing, one of the biggest tow companies in south Texas, expresses their love for the Dallas Cowboys on their Cowboy themed tow truck.

As a matter of fact, the company’s love of the Cowboys is right up there with loving one’s job and one’s family, according to office manager Nikki Ramirez who said, “At Orozco’s Crane and Towing there are 3 things we love: our job, our family, and our Cowboys.”

Although their heavy-duty trucks are red and white, this particular 2007 Peterbilt 379 with a 50 ton Century Wrecker / 9055 body style takes on the enduring blue and white colors of the Dallas Cowboys.

Of course, without the cowboy blue star, blue and white could signify anything, but to give it that mark of distinction, the easily recognizable cowboy star stands out on each side of the cabin of the unit.

Also standing out in blue against its white background is the truck’s lettering and phone number, with the company name written especially large, highlighting “Orozco’s.”

Ramirez said, “Mr. Joe Orozco (the owner ) treats all his 49 employees like family, which we in return, treat our customers as family.”

Promoting that “family feeling” is core to the company values, where it is further conveyed through their company slogan, “There is a Difference,” found on the side door.

Ramirez said, “Orozco’s stands by our service and we work our best to make sure our customers get professional drivers, with good clean tow trucks and the best service. We keep our word that everything is going to be safe and our drivers are always on point.”

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

Trendsetting in Pittsburgh

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By George L. Nitti

When it comes to towing in and around Pittburgh, Pa., McGann & Chester Towing and Recovery sets itself a part as a trendsetter.

Tow partners Bob McGann and Bill Chester have been a mainstay in the business for over 40 years, earning a great reputation and building a fleet with more than 60 units.

Co-owner Bill Chester said, “We try to stay ahead of things. Everybody watches what we do and they follow.”

Of course, having an 80-ton rotator is trendsetting, when most are no larger than 75 tons. Their white and orange 2017 Kenworth T800 NRC 80 ton rotator catches eyes and captivates with its prowess.

Chester said, “When they see our trucks they know it’s us coming down the road.”

Red flames are one of their key branding components, occupying a good portion of this ‘tator’s real estate.

Chester said, “About 25 years ago we decided to go with the flames. I wanted something iconic, something that wouldn’t fade out over time. Bob’s father had a 55’ Chevy with flames and they still are popular today. They never go out of style.”

The red and yellow logo on their side doors also stands out, with the McGann & Chester name prominent.

Chester said, “When we first started the company, we talked about whose name was going to be on there first. Since Bob was older than I was, he got top billing. It was the seniority system.”

As part of that overall logo design, a city scape of Pittsburgh adds greater depth and gives us a sense place as does a catchy slogan that states, “Home of the 23 ½ Hour Towing.”

According to Bob McGann, that slogan came about when the company did a grueling 23 ½ recovery at Beaver Pond, from start to finish.

Chester added, “People often ask us what it means and we joke ‘that means we don’t want to do the tow. Call us in a half an hour.’”

Also found on the rotator is another slogan defining their trendsetting image: “Imitated but never duplicated.”

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

Mob Truck Comes to Life

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1972 was a memorable year. It was the year the movie The Godfather hit the big screen, leaving us with a lasting impact. That year it pulled off best picture. There had never been a gangster film made like it before and if you were of Italian descent, it would resonate even more so.

Since then, The Godfather has become recognized as one of the great films in American cinema. It is often quoted by many avid fans and watched repeatedly by movie lovers, who still discover something fresh and new after each viewing. Favorite quotes roll off the tongue such as “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” and “It’s not personal Sonny. It’s strictly business.” The lines are so well known they have become cliché.

In the towing industry, you will find diehard fans as well reciting lines and paying homage to the Godfather, such as Impressive Towing Inc., located in Maspeth, NY, which is a predominately Italian community. “John Gotti didn’t live far from here,” said Victorio Strocchia owner of Impressive Towing. “That’s how it was back then. It was a culture everybody grew up in. Everybody knew somebody who was like that.”

Their black 2008 Chevy Silverado 2500 Heavy Duty with an Underlift gives tribute to the gangster world, providing several familiar images from the Godfather and other characters from the mob underworld.

Remember the horse’s head discovered under the bloodied sheets of a bed, sending a clear message to a Hollywood casting director that when Don Corleone asks for a favor, he means it? Well, you will find the horror on the face of that casting director on the side of their truck.

Or the scene when Michael Corleone assumes control of the family after his father has been shot by his rivals, mustering the courage to gun down a corrupt police officer and the leader of the Tattaglia family over a plate of pasta in a small Italian restaurant? You will see that there as well.

There’s a carefully crafted scene from Good Fellas, a vivid strangling of one gangster by another and a picture of the evil Al Capone. According to Neil Strocchia, “We spent over 8 months working on these graphics. They were airbrushed by Cecil Burrowes. Everybody knows who he is.”

“I approach it the same way I approach any other custom job – to focus on the realism of the airbrushing,” said Burrowes. “For this project I like the fact that the artwork was more realistic with a gray tone effect. Normally I use a lot of colors. The black on silver gives it a more metallic and vintage look.”

At Impressive Towing, Inc they are a bunch of Good Fellas, looking to promote business, be it for towing or autobody services. At the back of the truck, you’ll find the Don himself, with Neil Strocchia and his son front and center stage, sitting next to our favorite big-time gangsters.

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!
April 21 - April 27, 2021

Matjack Landing Bags

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Since 2005, MatJack Landing Bags have provided users the ability to do recovery uprights on tractor trailers, heavy tracked equipment, box trucks, overturned mobile homes, etc… without the use of a “catch” vehicle.

Landing bags work due to a constant airflow and require it to stay inflated. Landing bags are placed under a load with the intention of not allowing the load to gain speed during uprighting operations and descent of the load past fulcrum point. Landing bags lift, support and control vehicles as they come over while allowing the air to escape through 3 ported openings in each cushion increasing control of the vehicle and rate of descent.

Matjack Landing Bags are typically used under wheels of vehicles to control descent but have also been used under frame sections to catch box trucks and mobile homes and even track drives on cranes.

Single lane uprights are now accomplished in a much easier fashion with less set up and quicker dismantle time for those “quick clear incident” situations. Any upright recovery is now quicker, safer and more professionally done when using Matjack’s Landing Bags!

Landing Bags come in complete sets or individually. Everything is included in each set to get you up and working within a matter of minutes.

Landing Bags are made of a special material designed to resist tearing but allow quick repair if damaged in the field. The large Camlock fittings provide for quick assembly and disassembly of the system.

All Matjack Landing Bag systems will provide you with years of trouble free use and come with the same outstanding warranty, service, training and care you have come to expect from Matjack.

https://www.matjack.com/landing-safelift-bags.html

ServiCaseTM 

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FTI Groups is pleased to announce it has released the beta version of its new transportation breakdown case management system, ServiCaseTM, a platform for self-service breakdown management.

Though the official launch will occur in early March, clients can begin using the system today. This innovative platform connects service providers to carriers, enabling them to more easily find someone to help get them back on the road. Carriers can also use ServiCase as a case management system – enabling them to better manage their equipment. There is no cost to carriers for the ServiCase tool, and service providers are receiving a free starter listing for 2021.

ServiCase allows carriers to track breakdowns, locate and dispatch service providers, and to track events through to completion including event status, photos, invoices, etc. In addition, ServiCase gives them access to over 60,000 service providers with the ability to store private notes and ratings with the providers or any others they add to the tool.

“We are proud to introduce ServiCase today,” stated Jeffrey Godwin, president of FTI Groups. “We want to provide carriers a self-serve solution while also supporting the service provider community we have partnered with for more than two decades.”

The ServiCase tool can be accessed by simply registering at servicase.com. Once setup, when a breakdown occurs, the carrier creates a new case by providing information about the vehicle, its location and the service type needed. ServiCase accesses the service provider database to identify the best matches for the job while factoring in information such as the carrier’s own ratings and/or preferred status for providers with whom they have experience.

ServiCase is different from other search services in that the provider is not charged for events or jobs they receive and there is no bidding for higher positions in the results listings. ServiCase does not charge variable fees for large markets and does not dictate rates, though many listed providers are extending their commercial account rates to carriers using ServiCase. Nothing is marked up because payment is made directly to the service provider.

ServiCase is powered by FTI’s sureEcosystem platform, which allows companies to connect directly to the service provider database and communications hub. These powerful tools can be connected to a wide variety of applications from shop maintenance systems to backend systems for third-party administrators. Leveraging the power of this proven system, FTI created ServiCase as a value-added offering to the sureEcosystem family of products.

For more information, visit www.servicase.com/home/media.
 
 
 

Hands-Free CB Radio

handsfree ec4daRoadKing has introduced the first of its kind Bluetooth® CB radio that provides complete hands-free communication bringing the CB Radio into the 21st century.

This is the first CB radio to provide a seamless transition between the CB radio, smartphone, and Bluetooth headset with one touch. Pushing the multi-function button on the Bluetooth headset allows the user to switch between a conversation on the CB radio to an incoming call and talk hands-free.This makes for an effortless transition between a CB conversation and an incoming call.

Ready to go out of the box, it includes the best in class RoadKing CB Radio, the RoadKing 940 noise-canceling Bluetooth headset, which is already paired to the radio, a dynamic 4-pin handheld CB microphone, and an optional push-to-talk button.

This industry-first CB radio system also features a 7-color display, NOAA weather alerts, PA function, and talkback. The new RoadKing voice-activated hands-free CB radio is available now at travel centers and truck stops throughout the US and Canada. RoadKing® is part of RoadPro Family of Brands.

www.roadprobrand.com.
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April 21 - April 27, 2021
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April 21 - April 27, 2021

Auto Finance Boom Reported

According to the Brookhaven Courier, a newspaper run by students at Dallas College, the auto finance industry has seen a boom since the emergence of Covid-19, particularly the used car market. Part of this spike has to do with stimulus check and unemployment benefits.

Inske Zandvliet, economics professor at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus, said the demand for used cars is higher due to COVID-19. “People want to avoid traveling on public transport, so they are purchasing cars,” she said. “This leads to the second reason – a new car is a larger purchase. Since economic times are now uncertain, in terms of employment, many people choose to purchase a used car since it is not as expensive.”

Due to the sudden demand for used cars, auto finance companies such as Vehicle Solutions Corp profited, according to CNBC Evolve. 

David Ricci, the company’s repossession manager, said his workload remained steady. “I was expecting to have to repo a lot more cars in the beginning,” Ricci said. “But as it went on, the collections teams ended up keeping the customers current or making payment arrangements, so they didn’t get repossessed.”

Because used cars were selling better, there was a demand for them. “The subprime market was pretty strong, so the cars we did repo sold for a good amount,” Ricci said. The proceeds of the sales helped to offset the losses from cutting back on funding.

https://brookhavencourier.com/107120/local-news/the-auto-finance-boom-during-a-pandemic/

Repo Leads to Arrest in Firearms and Explosives

A repossession of a Mercedes in San Francisco led to the discovery of cache of firearms and explosives in late February. The perpetrator, who had a criminal history, was eventually arrested.

The sequence of events started when 31-year-old Cameron Ybarra shot at a repossessor, missing him and putting a bullet in the driver’s side of his car. After he retrieved items out of the car, he went into his residence, where he retrieved an assault rifle and pointed it at the repo man.

The driver “disconnected the vehicle, fled the area and called 911.”

Police followed up, impounding the Mercedes but were unable to find the shooter until they converged on his residence.

According to a police report, “SFPD investigators from the Crime Gun Investigations Center (CGIC) and Gang Task Force (GTF), along with special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) responded to the suspect’s residence to arrest the suspect and serve a search warrant.”

After officers arrested him, they found inside the house an assault rifle, ammunition, bosy armor, a silencer, bomb making materials and other things.

Ybarra was booked for carrying a concealed weapon, possession of ammunition by a prohibited person, negligent discharge of a firearm, possession of a silencer, assault with a deadly weapon, possession of an explosive device and resisting arrest.

https://www.crimevoice.com/2021/03/09/firearms-explosives/

Repo Job Turns into Bizarre Arrest

75 year old John Beasly of Tenn., whose white Kia was repo’ed and then reported stolen, was arrested when pulled over driving his own car.

Though the car was registered as stolen, police confirmed Beasley was the registered owner of the car.

“It turns out the vehicle is his. He reported it stolen. It had been repossessed. He did not tell the police that it was not stolen and he got it back, so it could be removed from the system. So, it was still in the system,” said Belle Meade, Tenn. Police Sgt. Jon Carter.

It was then that police learned that Beasley had two warrants for his arrest, one for misdemeanor trespassing and the other for felony vandalism.

Sgt. Carter said, “Basically he called the cops on himself. He completely forgot he reported it stolen. Even when I told him it is still showing as stolen, he said, it is not, it is my car. And then it finally clicked that he reported it when it was repo’ed.”

https://www.wkrn.com/

Anticipated Turn-Around [b]in Repo Business

Although many consumers have been shielded by the federal government’s Covid relief act for delinquency of their mortgage, student loans and rent payments, the same may not be said about auto loans, which are not covered by the act. While the pace of auto repossessions has been slow since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, that may soon change.

“It really depends on how the next several months go,” said Matthew Bavaro, a partner at The Loan Lawyers law firm in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s depending on what kind of relief package Washington is able to pass. We definitely expect to see lenders get more aggressive as the months progress,” he said.

Robert Murphy, a Fort Lauderdale consumer lawyer and a University of Florida law school faculty member, fears tighter credit and more repos may be in store over the long term.

“People are becoming really desperate,” he said. “Longer term I am really concerned — depending on stimulus, this could get a lot worse. I think there is a likelihood we are going to see higher repossessions and a tightening in credit available which has real implications for consumers,” he added.

For those who are in the repossession business, that may be good news, as the industry has taken a hit, operating at 50 to 60% capacity.

“There’s no one in today’s business environment that’s operating at 100%,” said Les McCook, executive director of the of American Recovery Association, which is based in Texas and has members in Florida.

Source: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/
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