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The Week's Features
It’s more common for operators to be assaulted on the job
Commissioner said she was “sickened by the story”
Design features extension for tandem- or tri-axle jeep dolly
Showcasing an orange and black scheme
Categories include Recovery Agent of the Year, others
Events
Las Vegas, NV.
May 14-15, 2020
Cleveland, OH.
June 17-20, 2020
San Antonio, TX.
August 14-15, 2020
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 19-22, 2020
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing February 19 - February 25, 2020

Tow Company Has to Return Money and Cars

The city of Wilmington, Delaware, has issued a cease-and-desist order against a local towing company for illegally towing cars in the city, and ordered it to refund money to anyone whose car it towed. The company also has to release any vehicles still in its possession.

Robert Goff, city solicitor, informed National Auto Movers LLC that only law enforcement officers and city officials have the legal authority to remove vehicles from city streets.

Wilmington started investigating the company in January after a car owner reported their car was towed outside of the Queen Theater. The city also informed the Queen Theater and Residence Inn that businesses in the city cannot hire towing companies to tow vehicles off public property.

Source: delawareonline.com.


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Woman Arrested in Connection with Yard Theft, Assault

Police have arrested one of two suspects who they say broke into 21st Century Towing in Portland, Oregon, on Feb. 12, stole a pickup truck and then hit an employee while fleeing the scene.

The company owner said an employee was injured by a woman, since identified as Nicole O. Penagos-Clare, who broke into the business to get her towed vehicle back.

Just after 2:30 a.m., officers responded to 21st Century Towing on the report of a crash. The owner of 21st Century Towing stated that a woman had snuck under the gate to steal her pickup truck that had been impounded the prior evening.

Surveillance video showed a man with bolt cutters trying to cut through the fence. When he couldn’t, Penagos-Clare managed to squeeze herself under the fence and found her impounded pickup truck. As Penagos-Clare rammed the gate to get out, a towman was on the other side attempting to unlock it. She slammed into the employee and then fled the scene.

The employee sustained a broken collar bone but is expected to be OK. 

On Feb. 15, an officer was dispatched to a residence where an anonymous caller said they saw the video of the hit-and-run on television and believed the suspect was there.

When police arrived, they saw Penagos-Clare. She ran from officers but was captured and arrested.

She was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of robbery in the first degree, assault in the second degree, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and failure to perform the duties of a driver-injury.

Detectives are still asking for the public’s help to identify and locate the other suspect, who is described as a white man who is 60 to 70 years old with white hair.

Police also want to locate a van that was possibly used by the suspects.

Source: kptv.com.
On Feb. 15, an officer was dispatched to a residence where an anonymous caller said they saw the video of the hit-and-run on television and believed the suspect was there.
New Braking Technology Leads to a Safer Ride for Towing Industry
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Join Paul Stephens of B/A Products for his seminar, “Mitigating Damage Claims.” This informative seminar will show attendees how to reduce the probability and possibility damage accusations and will present strategies to deal with damage accusations in the event they occur. It will take place during Tow Industry Week at the Westgate Paradise & Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 14-15, 2020. atshowplace.com

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Boom Truck Recovery in Jersey

0 6b1b5By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Panek's Service Center in Livingston, New Jersey, was established in 1931. Ted Panek is the owner/operator of the family business started by his grandfather, John.

On Dec. 18, 2019, at approximately 1:15 p.m., Panek’s Service Center received an urgent call from the Essex Fells Police Department requesting a rapid response to a call of an overturned boom truck with a worker trapped under one of the outriggers.

Panek’s responded with a 2006 Peterbilt/Jerr-Dan 35-ton wrecker and a 2001 GMC 3500 HD 4x4/Chevron twin-line wrecker. While responding, the police captain on the scene called and requested an expedited response as time was a factor for the trapped worker.

Panek called Livingston Collision—an auto body repair and towing service also based in Livingston—and requested that they respond with their 2011 Kenworth/Century 1140 RXP 40-ton rotator, service truck and scene support trailer.

Once on scene, while setting up to free the worker, the Essex Fells Fire Department, First Aid Squad and the USA1 Urban Search and Rescue Team dug under the overturned boom truck to free the worker.

With the worker safely rescued, Panek’s and Livingston Collision formulated an extensive plan to recover the casualty while waiting for the power company to cut the power to surrounding service lines. They also waited for OSHA officials to arrive and conduct their investigation along with the Essex Fells Police Department.

On scene were fire and rescue squads from the nearby towns Essex Fells, Roseland, Verona, Montclair, Newark and Millburn; Public Service Electric & Gas; West Essex First Aid; Atlantic Medics; and the Essex Fells Police Department.

On scene from Panek’s were Panek and certified heavy towing and recovery operator Thomas Daniello.

Livingston Collision came with rotator operator Clint Richards, operator J.R Crawford, scene support/photographer Bradley Crawford, service technician Dan Keenan and service technician supervisor Ryan Condit.

Once the all clear was given by the officials on the scene, Livingston Collision pumped off the hydraulic tank. Panek’s and Livingston Collision worked together to separate the boom from the turret by unpinning the boom, which was kinked in a number of places, making it impossible to draw it in.

The left outrigger had to be cut off because it was bent and unable to be collapsed.

“The truck was held in place by the rotator utilizing two doubled-up winch lines, and the 86-inch boom was held in place by the 35-ton Jerr-Dan,” said Daniello. “During this point in the recovery, severe snow squalls had come through the area, along with 10- to 15-degree temperatures, which didn’t make for the best working conditions.”

With the boom unpinned, the truck was lifted and brought down to the roadway for the upright by the 35-ton Jerr-Dan, and the rotator was used to catch the load. The truck was winched around to the back of the 35-ton and moved out of the immediate scene.

“It was now 2 a.m.,” Daniello said. “After 13 hours on the scene and due to the ice conditions, a decision was made by both tow companies to cut the boom in half and bring it down to the roadway where it would be left until dawn.”

In the daylight hours, Livingston Collision responded back to the scene with its rotator, and a Landoll trailer owned by Eagle Auto & Truck Services in Parsippany. Eagle loaded the boom, and the truck and boom were transported to Panek’s yard.

Editor’s Note: Look for the print version of this recovery in an upcoming issue of American Towman Magazine.

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!

Keep Your Head on a Swivel

I guess if anyone built a “towman robot,” it would have to be a machine that has its head on a swivel when doing a job.

It would have to have sensors to detect how fast and how close traffic is flowing. Of course, it would have to have some sort of mechanism to instantly get out of the way.

Often, the tragedy of life taken on the roadways gets the newspaper ink. However, the degree of near-hits I’m convinced is underreported.

(Don’t get me wrong; we in the industry see and pay attention to all the dash-cam videos that appear online. Unfortunately, much of this footage and the frequency it happens doesn’t reach the general public.)

Just last week, dash-cam video showed a vehicle slamming into the back of a tow truck on I-39/90 in Rock County, Wisconsin, narrowly missing a worker on the side of the road in heavy snow conditions. Without the agile movement by the two working on the recovery, this could’ve resulted in two deaths.

I wish I could say that the motoring public is getting better as it relates to safe driving habits; but, let’s face it, it’s not. Speeding, distractions and in some cases a disregard for the law is making matters worse each day.

Be safe, my friends.

--Charles Duke

Environmental Chemical Soltuions’ TC Program

ECS 52835We teach you how to get paid for what you already do – cleaning up spills at accident scenes. This requirement is a billable action covered under liability insurance. Environmental Chemical Solution’s (ECS) TC program addresses all facets of training, cleanup, disposal and billing for the towing and wrecker industry. Come see what ECS has to offer at the American Towman Show Place taking place at the Westgate Paradise & Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 14-15, 2020.

ecschem.com
By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


What is the biggest issue facing the towing industry politically?
Lack of unity amongst towmen
Need of an industry lobbyist
Governmental regulations
Ineffective elected State and Federal officials
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Editor: Charles Duke
Managing Editor: Brendan Dooley
Media Director: William Burwell
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203,
William Burwell x208, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
ATTV Technical Production: OMG National
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
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February 19 - February 25, 2020
Towmen gathered in Tampa, Florida, recently to remember towman Roger Perrez-Borroto, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2016. “We did this for Roger because he’s one of our brothers,” said Ginger Darling of Nationwide Towing. Image - wfla.com.

Towman Killed by Drunk Driver Remembered

Among the headlights of vehicles on the Howard Frankland Bridge in Tampa, Florida, the light of Roger Perrez-Borroto shines brightest. “We did this for Roger because he’s one of our brothers,” said Ginger Darling of Nationwide Towing. Lining up their tow trucks and standing up a large sign, drivers were reminded of the law to move over safely for workers and first responders on the side of the road. “What we do is dangerous because we’re on the side of these roads picking up these cars. Helping with accidents with the police, firemen and paramedics,” Darling said. Four years ago, Perrez-Borroto was helping two stranded motorists on the bridge when Allison Huffman hit and killed Roger, leaving him on the side of the road. The tow operators plan to continue to honor the memory of Roger every year. Source: wfla.com.

Platinum Certification for 71 Peterbilt Dealers

Peterbilt Motors Co. recently announced that 71 dealer locations earned Platinum Service Center certification. The Platinum Service Center program is as an uptime initiative to provide superior service for customers in every aspect of their experience. The locations that have earned the right to be called a Peterbilt Platinum Service Center will receive a special designation in Peterbilt’s Dealer Locator on the company’s website as well as a plaque to showcase in their dealership. “We are very excited to recognize this amazing group of dealership locations for their efforts to go above and beyond for their customers,” said Jason Skoog, PACCAR VP/Peterbilt GM. “This program is just one more way Peterbilt and our outstanding dealer network are committed to driving customer uptime and profitability.” Source: peterbilt.com.

Burglar Opens Fire on Tow Business Employees

Police are searching for a burglar who shot two employees of a tow truck business in Homestead, Florida. The shooting happened Feb. 14 at MIA Towing. According to police, the employees were moving vehicles around the tow yard when one of them noticed a man breaking into one of their personal vehicles. The employees approached the burglar, who shot them both. The men were airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in critical condition. The subject got away in one of the employees’ cars before ditching it nearby. Anyone with information is urged to contact Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Source: local10.com.


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February 19 - February 25, 2020
Yellowstone Valley Tow Truck Association staged a 'light up' for a young girl who is battling cancer. Image – kulr8.com.

Tow Trucks ‘Light Up’ for [b]AddieStrong Campaign

The Yellowstone Valley Tow Truck Association staged what they call a 'light up' to support a very special cause on Feb.11.

Tow trucks lined up near the Billings Logan International Airport flashing their emergency lights to support a young girl named Addie who is battling cancer.

"There's a campaign that's been going around online—especially in the towing community … called AddieStrong," said YVTTA member Kris Moore, "The little girl is facing some health issues. A lot of different tow companies have been coming together to show support by turning on all their emergency lights for her ... something to have some hope for and everybody's pulling for her and we just wanted to come out and show some support."

Source: kulr8.com.

Commissioner Severs Contract [b]over Racial Harassment

Portland (Oregon) City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly has directed the Portland Bureau of Transportation to sever its contract with A&B Towing after learning one of its employees was allegedly the victim of racially motivated harassment, surveillance and arrest.

The employee, Michael Fesser, sued the West Linn Police department, former Chief of Police Terry Timeus, and two former detectives, claiming they fabricated a case against him in collusion with his employer, A&B Towing, and arrested him for a crime he didn’t commit.

“I was sickened by the story of Portland resident, Michael Fesser, who was the victim of racially motivated harassment, surveillance and arrest by former West Linn Police Chief, in collusion with Mr. Fesser’s employer—A&B Towing in SE Portland—after Mr. Fesser raised concerns about racial harassment in his workplace,” Commissioner Eudaly said.

"It came to my attention today that PBOT has a contract with A&B Towing. I have directed the bureau to sever the contract immediately,” he said.

Fesser received $600,000 in a settlement for the suit, which alleged Timeus worked with two detectives to secure statements that would help frame him for stealing from the towing company.  

Source: katu.com.

Commission Updates ETA [b]Regulations in Tow Policy

Several changes in the towing policy for Mineral County, West Virginia, were approved by county commissioners at its meeting on Feb. 11. 

One of the updates to the policy centers on the allotted time for a tow truck to respond from their place of business to a requested location under normal driving conditions. The allowed response time has been set for 30 minutes, and this time frame will assist with the opening of the affected roadway in a timely manner, and to “alleviate the unnecessary time spent by first responders that may be on the scene of the incident.” 

The wording of the policy was updated to say, “Any tow company who exceeds the reasonable response time on two occasions within a six-month period will receive a written letter advising the company of their infraction.” The letter will be a “one and only warning.”

The tow company will be removed from rotation for six months if a third offense occurs.

Roger Leatherman, commission president, mentioned that all county tow truck services were advised of the changes in the policy and that “there were no negative responses.” 

Source: newstribune.info.

Omadi Names Mortensen as CEO

Omadi Inc. has appointed Nathan Mortensen as Chief Executive Officer. He will assume day-to-day leadership of the company, beginning immediately.

“(Mortensen’s) impact at Omadi in the last year and in previous roles makes him the ideal person to take Omadi to new heights,” said Scott Petersen, Omadi’s founder and chairman. “The entire board has great confidence he is the right leader to take Omadi into the future.”

Mortensen has been involved with Omadi since 2015 and joined the company full-time last year as the Chief Operating Officer. During the past year, he has led Omadi to record high revenue and was responsible for overseeing internal operations, customer support and marketing functions.

Source: omadi.com.

Peterbilt Dealer Network [b]Reaches 400 Locations

Peterbilt has announced record dealer network growth, adding its 400th location with a new TLG Peterbilt facility in Dunn, North Carolina.

“Increased uptime and greater profitability for our customers is our primary goal and having a Peterbilt location nearby is a key component to making that goal a reality,” said Jason Skoog, PACCAR VP/Peterbilt general manager. “Network expansion results in higher levels of service and enhanced parts availability, and Peterbilt dealers have made record investments to help strengthen our dealer network.”

“Our dealer groups are committed to delivering the highest levels of service and support for their customers, and growing their footprint is a great way to achieve that,” says Peyton Harrell, Peterbilt Director of Dealer Network Development. “Opening our 400th location was a significant milestone as we continue to expand our network service capacity and open new, first-class Peterbilt locations across North America.”

Source: peterbilt.com.

Navistar Awards Top Suppliers

Navistar recently recognized its top-performing suppliers with its annual Diamond Supplier Award. The award recognizes suppliers from all around the world in a variety of industries; including freight and engineering services, electronics, powertrain and chassis components and advanced safety systems. Twenty suppliers were honored.

“These companies have been vital partners in our own journey to provide top quality products and services for our customers, and we are delighted to acknowledge them with this award,” said Sajid Kunnummal, chief procurement officer, Navistar.

Source: Navistar.com.
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February 19 - February 25, 2020

Boom Truck Recovery in Jersey

0 6b1b5By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Panek's Service Center in Livingston, New Jersey, was established in 1931. Ted Panek is the owner/operator of the family business started by his grandfather, John.

On Dec. 18, 2019, at approximately 1:15 p.m., Panek’s Service Center received an urgent call from the Essex Fells Police Department requesting a rapid response to a call of an overturned boom truck with a worker trapped under one of the outriggers.

Panek’s responded with a 2006 Peterbilt/Jerr-Dan 35-ton wrecker and a 2001 GMC 3500 HD 4x4/Chevron twin-line wrecker. While responding, the police captain on the scene called and requested an expedited response as time was a factor for the trapped worker.

Panek called Livingston Collision—an auto body repair and towing service also based in Livingston—and requested that they respond with their 2011 Kenworth/Century 1140 RXP 40-ton rotator, service truck and scene support trailer.

Once on scene, while setting up to free the worker, the Essex Fells Fire Department, First Aid Squad and the USA1 Urban Search and Rescue Team dug under the overturned boom truck to free the worker.

With the worker safely rescued, Panek’s and Livingston Collision formulated an extensive plan to recover the casualty while waiting for the power company to cut the power to surrounding service lines. They also waited for OSHA officials to arrive and conduct their investigation along with the Essex Fells Police Department.

On scene were fire and rescue squads from the nearby towns Essex Fells, Roseland, Verona, Montclair, Newark and Millburn; Public Service Electric & Gas; West Essex First Aid; Atlantic Medics; and the Essex Fells Police Department.

On scene from Panek’s were Panek and certified heavy towing and recovery operator Thomas Daniello.

Livingston Collision came with rotator operator Clint Richards, operator J.R Crawford, scene support/photographer Bradley Crawford, service technician Dan Keenan and service technician supervisor Ryan Condit.

Once the all clear was given by the officials on the scene, Livingston Collision pumped off the hydraulic tank. Panek’s and Livingston Collision worked together to separate the boom from the turret by unpinning the boom, which was kinked in a number of places, making it impossible to draw it in.

The left outrigger had to be cut off because it was bent and unable to be collapsed.

“The truck was held in place by the rotator utilizing two doubled-up winch lines, and the 86-inch boom was held in place by the 35-ton Jerr-Dan,” said Daniello. “During this point in the recovery, severe snow squalls had come through the area, along with 10- to 15-degree temperatures, which didn’t make for the best working conditions.”

With the boom unpinned, the truck was lifted and brought down to the roadway for the upright by the 35-ton Jerr-Dan, and the rotator was used to catch the load. The truck was winched around to the back of the 35-ton and moved out of the immediate scene.

“It was now 2 a.m.,” Daniello said. “After 13 hours on the scene and due to the ice conditions, a decision was made by both tow companies to cut the boom in half and bring it down to the roadway where it would be left until dawn.”

In the daylight hours, Livingston Collision responded back to the scene with its rotator, and a Landoll trailer owned by Eagle Auto & Truck Services in Parsippany. Eagle loaded the boom, and the truck and boom were transported to Panek’s yard.

Editor’s Note: Look for the print version of this recovery in an upcoming issue of American Towman Magazine.

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!

Cool Cat Rescue

0 ea6d8By Jim “Buck’ Sorrenti

Every now and then you get one right down the road. That might not be so unusual if you tow in a metro or suburban area; but if you’re towing in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming, down the road can be many hours away and in extreme locations.

Such was a recent call for Norberg’s Towing in Green River, Wyoming.

On Feb. 4, 2020, Norberg’s Towing received a call from the owner of a Snowcat tracked vehicle that was in a ditch only minutes away from their yard. (Snowcats are used for snow grooming of ski and snowmobile trails.)

Shawn Sheridan, who manages and operates Norberg’s Towing with his brother Dale Jr., explained:

“The Snowcat owner called us to recover the ’cat from a ditch in Horsethief Canyon not that far from our yard,” he said. “The incident had actually happened the night before. A pickup, pulling a trailer that was hauling the ’cat, lost control and went into the ditch. Another tow company pulled out the pickup and trailer. The owner called us to get the ’cat.”

Shawn and Brian Davis headed out in the Eagle, a 1998 Freightliner FL112 with a Don Hines bed and a Zacklift. It has a factory double frame and is powered by a C12 engine mated to an 8LL trans and has 46,000-lbs. rear ends with full lockers on a walking beam suspension and an 18,000-lbs. steer axle.

When Shawn and Brian arrived on scene, they found the Snowcat stuck off the road down in a ditch of snow.

“When we arrived the ’cat owner was on scene along with a telephone company worker,” said Shawn. “The ’cat was about 80-feet down in the ditch, still on its tracks, but at a 45-degree angle.”

Shawn positioned the Eagle with its business end lined up to where the Snowcat was. He and Brian then hauled the chains down the snowy slope to rig it.

“This ’cat only weighed about 6,000 pounds, but the hydro was locked up. I grabbed it by the receiver hitch and freed the planetary so it would roll free.”

Once it was up out of the ditch, Shawn hooked to the Snowcat’s back end.

“I had to tow it three miles downhill where the telephone company had their own rollback waiting to haul it away,” Shawn said.

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!

Heads Up

0 2bccbBy Josh Wedel
Dewey’s Towing & Recovery; Beloit, Wisconsin

On Oct. 12, 2019, at approximately 4:45 p.m., Rock County Communications requested that we respond immediately with our heavy-duty rotator for a pick-up truck that was in the roof of a garage.

Once on scene, our recovery crew found a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 truck resting through the top of the garage.

The driver had lost control, driven through a ditch, over a decorative berm and launched the truck under a power line to get there. The homeowner was in garage at the time of the incident watching a football game only 12 feet from where the truck landed!

The driver was uninjured, but he needed the assistance of the fire department to exit the vehicle.

Once power and gas were turned off, we were given the go-ahead to lift the truck out of the garage. The challenge was that the only access to the casualty was through the opening in the roof that the vehicle created.

A ladder was used to access the opening and a driver was sent up to do the rigging. We were not allowed to go in the garage because of stability concerns with the walls and the garage door; there was also a large amount of debris inside.

We positioned our Century 1075 75-ton rotator in the driveway and set up for a vertical lift of the Dodge 1500. We rigged two 3/8” Grade 100 chains with positive lock hooks and a control rope was placed on the truck.

Once the truck was rigged, the operator then began to lift the truck out of the jagged hole, like a giant game of “Operation.”

When the truck was successfully lifted out of the garage, we began to set up for lowering it. The truck’s front wheels were set back on the ground and two 4’ 4x6 boards were put in place to chock the tires to keep it from rolling. The rear end of the truck was then slowly lowered to the ground.

Next the police and fire departments inspected and inventoried the vehicle.

Once they were done with the investigation, the truck was loaded onto our waiting flatbed and transported to our impound lot.

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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NORTH - St. Paul, MN
$170
(pop. 297,640)

SOUTH - Orlando, FL
$85
(pop. 238,300)

EAST - Richmond, VA
$95
(pop. 217,853)

WEST - Boise, ID
$125
(pop. 214,237)

Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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February 19 - February 25, 2020

Putting Yourself in Harm’s Way

Bureau c4d7dBy Brian J. Riker

There is a popular video clip circulating on social media this week showing a woman allegedly breaking into an impound lot to take back her car without paying. The woman can be seen ramming the gate with her pickup truck, sending a towman that had just pulled up to open the gate flying backwards and into his truck.

She then backs up, rams the gate again and hits the tow truck. The tower enters the gate and bangs on her window in an attempt to stop her before she makes a third (successful) attempt to exit the impound yard with her vehicle.

While I understand the adrenaline rush that comes from being unexpectedly assaulted and the instinctual reaction to protect your business, it is never wise to place your body between a moving vehicle and a fixed object. The tower could have been seriously injured had the assailant driven forward while he was coming between the gate and the yard.

Sadly, it is becoming more common for tow operators to be assaulted on the job. It is a sobering fact that we must deal with using appropriate security measures. Your life is not worth losing to protect a truck, some pocket cash or prevent a thief from taking a vehicle out of the yard.

Towers are often alone and in dangerous places, responding to unknown persons—which are not all honest calls for assistance. Just as you would not advise your spouse or child to stop and help a random stranger alongside the roadway anymore, we must be cautious as we respond.

Below are some basic tips for personal safety adapted from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommendations for taxi drivers.

Visibility: Keep your truck well-lit with the interior light on when sitting in a parking lot or other waiting area. Avoid having dark tinted windows that will not allow others to see into your cab.

Communication: Make sure your dispatch knows where you are, not just where your truck is. If you are getting out of the truck, make a radio call or note on your electronic dispatch system so that they can check on you if you have been away from your truck for an unusual length of time. Company owners may want to think about enabling idle vehicle alerts that ping dispatch if a truck does not move within a specified period of time.

Cash: Avoid handling cash when possible. This applies not only to tow drivers on the road but also impound lot attendants when the lot is open 24/7 for vehicle retrieval. If you must handle cash, have a well-lit office with safety windows and automatic alarm systems to notify police in the event of a threat. Never go alone into the yard with an unknown person, always bring their vehicle out to them into a well-lit and secure area.

Dealing with Customers: Do not take calls that don’t have a pre-determined destination or from people that can’t provide adequate identification information when calling into dispatch. Notify your dispatcher immediately if a customer changes their destination after you have begun the tow, or if the destination seems unsafe. You have the right to refuse service if you feel unsafe.

Don’t Resist: Never chase after or resist an attempted robbery suspect; give them what they ask for and live to fight another day. Report the assault to authorities and your dispatcher immediately and cooperate with the investigating officer.

Cameras: Live-feed cameras on buildings and trucks, especially for towers in high risk areas, can provide additional safety for towers. Owners should consider installing live cameras if their trucks work in dangerous areas or in high-risk sectors of the industry such as private property impound or repossession. Not only will these cameras reduce false damage claims, allowing you to defend your operators, they will also provide extra security for those working late at night.

Brian J Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC and is a contributing writer to American Towman Magazine and Tow Industry Week. 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

In Praise of the Side-Puller

Sidepuller 07defBy Randall C. Resch

Should you buy a side-puller device for your carrier, or should you just use a carrier and a snatch-block?

The question is reasonable based on what’s available in new and add-on equipment designed to increase the working capabilities of today’s flatbed carriers.

The side-puller device is a fantastic, frame-mounted accessory that has taken carrier operations to a higher level of capability. It has been tested to operational standards for wear and recovery stamina. Because the puller structure is mounted to a truck’s frame and not any part of the carrier’s deck movements, it’s solid and self-contained.

While the towing and recovery industry has changed, in some jurisdictions law enforcement hasn’t kept up. For a side-puller device to not be allowed by law enforcement suggests they’re unaware what side-pullers are capable of doing.

State towing associations need to educate the law enforcement community as to the increased value of the work modern tow trucks and carriers are capable of doing on-scene.

Although rollovers and winch-out scenarios can be worked with a carrier, can you, based on the law enforcement contract, charge for using a side-puller on a truck that shouldn't have been dispatched to a recovery scene?

Most law enforcement contracts were written long ago. As such, their wording has failed to keep-up with the technology of the towing and recovery industry. The same holds true of manufacturers and tow truck associations who fail to promote the improving products used by professional and progressive tow companies and responding operators.

With an increased effort in trying to convince the law enforcement community of the operational value of side-pullers, perhaps law enforcement would be more apt to take their head’s out of the proverbial sand. Today’s carrier capabilities are the best they’ve been since the first flatbed carrier happened on the scene decades ago.

In the hands of a competent operator, a carrier that’s outfitted with a side-puller can work a full range of recovery activities. Otherwise, working a difficult recovery with only a wrecker may sometimes require an additional carrier  to load and transport the casualty. The tow charges stack when two trucks and two drivers could have been handled the same scenario in one swoop.

Asking for a second truck means initial responders must remain on-scene which also becomes a safety consideration. Another tow vehicle must come on-scene with the added potential of an operator being struck on the highway.

Is that being good stewards of the customer’s money and in the best interests of operator safety?

To tow associations and manufacturers of side-puller products, I challenge you to actively put together a promotional side-puller video to send to highway patrol administrators. The video should demonstrate to them what the device is and how effective its use can be.

Remember, the rotator didn’t hit the fast lane until towers demonstrated its value.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week’s Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.

The Employee Handbook Revisited

EmployeeHandbook 4bed3By Brian J. Riker

Do you have an employee handbook? If so, I commend you for being in the top of your field. Many towers do not have any written policies or procedures; in other cases they have some that haven’t been organized into a single source document.

The employee handbook is a living document. It needs to be reviewed at least annually for any changes to your policy or for revisions necessary to maintain compliance with Department of Labor regulations. A written policy is no good if it is not what you are actually practicing.

I often see requests from small businesses looking for another company to share their employee handbook with them. This is a bad idea. I strongly suggest obtaining your handbook from a reputable source such as an employment attorney, labor agency of other regulatory compliance specialist. A good handbook is usually 20 or more pages covering complex legal issues such as sexual harassment, discrimination and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.

The handbook is a legal document, often with the same force and effect as a contract, between you and your employees. It must reflect your policies, the regulations that apply to your size company and the state that you are operating in. Outdated or incorrect information could subject your company to thousands of dollars in fines and penalties should someone make a claim with the Department of Labor or some other state employment agency.

The basic content should include your work rules that apply to all employees like vacation and sick time, late to work, overtime and pay schedule. This is a good place for the required policies and notices such as family medical leave, harassment, workplace violence and equal opportunity policies.

Workplace safety is often addressed in employee handbooks; and while it is a good idea to have this information all in one place, some safety policies may require separate documentation to be OSHA compliant.

Safety policies, such as personal protective equipment, are a good example of policies that should be separate from your employee handbook. Since these policies require frequent updates and routine training, it is usually simpler to keep them separate. If you do include them in your handbook, please be sure to review them often to ensure the most current version is there, and your new and current employees have been given an updated copy.

Don’t forget to give written updated policies to your current employees and be sure to get a receipt acknowledging they have read and understand them.

An employee handbook is a good place to include rules about dress code, truck upkeep, personal use of company facilities/equipment, cellphone use and passenger policies. If these policies are not presented to your employees in writing, they are usually not enforceable. In many cases these types of policies, especially cellphone and passenger policies, must be in writing to satisfy Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

You need an employee handbook as soon as you have an employee, even one that’s part-time. There is no “magic number” that says employers of less than a certain number of people are exempt from compliance with labor or employment laws.

I often hear from employers after an OSHA or Department of Labor visit because they thought they didn’t need to comply until they had 50 or more employees. That is simply not true. True, some reporting requirements are relaxed and some states provide minimal exceptions to some labor laws; however, most of the rules apply to any size employer in our industry.

Brian J Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC and is a contributing writer to American Towman Magazine and Tow Industry Week. 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.
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February 19 - February 25, 2020

My Pride and Joy

0 a2636By George L. Nitti
Devon Landon, owner of Landon’s Towing & Recovery of Hillsborough, North Carolina, knew early in life that he wanted to do something with cars.

With NASCAR a popular sport in the state and the nearby Occoneechee Speedway—once host to legendary stock car drivers like Richard Petty—Landon’s early life was steeped in racing and cars.

“I remember when Dad and me restored a Mercury Cougar to race at the track,” Landon said. “We wanted something unique and thought how orange and black go together.”

That restoration as a 12-year-old would be a formative experience as the day came when Landon decided to get into the towing business.

“I had my first tow truck in high school and some of the kids laughed at me,” Landon said. “Then they went off to college; and when they came back they were coming to me for a job.”

The orange and black company colors are showcased on Landon’s 2018 Ford F-550/Jerr-Dan MPL-40.

“It’s a partial wrap,” Landon said. “Someone locally did it. I told him I wanted something different, something that stood out. I told him I wanted it in black and orange. When I saw the proof, I fell in love with it.”

“Landon’s” is written in a shapely curve in a large font in Harley-Davidson orange, accented with a black shadow and three-dimensional effect. It is intertwined with a tow chain.

“The only thing that I could think of naming my company was after my last name,” he said. “I figured if it was family-owned and operated, it should be my last name.”

In a contrasting font, “Towing & Recovery” stands out along with the company phone number across the boom.

Striping helps fill the space on the back side which is covered with black and orange chevron tape.

“We have seven trucks now,” Landon said. “I started out with a 1988 (Ford) 350. This is my first brand new truck. It’s my pride and joy.”

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

Let Freedom Swing

0 a51d1By George L. Nitti

Although Rod Pimmerman, owner of Liberty Towing in Madison, Wisconsin, was never in the military, he has respect and high regard for the people that serve. He embraced the idea of bringing on a military-themed rotator to his 10-year-old company.

“The military is very strong in Madison, as there is a military base here,” Pimmerman said. “We needed a heavy-duty truck and were looking for (a) rotator.”

After a couple of years of searching, Pimmerman saw pictures of a military-themed unit: a 1997 Kenworth T880 with a 2006 Century 1060 rotator, which was purchased from Express Wrecker.

“The pictures I saw didn’t give it justice,” he said, “but when I saw it in person I was immediately struck by the design.”

The design tells stories and consists of panels of military images honoring the bravery of our servicemen.

“With a name like Liberty, having this truck was a good fit,” he said.

The wrap is a feast for the eyes: tanks, flags, fighter jets, the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, huge navy ships and heroic military figures working together to project American military might—a little something for everyone. On the hood, an exquisitely rendered American Eagle with wings spread out is enveloped by an American flag.

Another panel gives tribute to its former owner’s father, who is wearing a sailor’s hat; behind him is an American soldier firing a machine gun.

Several modern military images come into focus in the background, while a general resembling Patton stands at attention.

“People are always taking pictures of it,” Pimmerman said. “We enter it in all of the shows and parades in our area.”

The Liberty name stands out in huge lettering on the boom. When fully extended, it states, “Boom Baby.”

“We picked up that catchy phrase from some kids who were saying it,” Pimmerman said.

But when the rotator is swinging round, the words “Let Freedom Swing” are found.

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

Eye-Smashing Logo

0 7dcc6By George L. Nitti

Attention to the finer details often makes or breaks many companies. The difference between a five-star and three-star rating is a difference that could impact both a company’s bottom line and what it’s capable of charging.

The key is to be mindful of what level you are playing at.

It holds true in graphic design where the finer details, be it on a logo or paint schematic, can make a big difference in its lasting impact on the customer.

Spending the extra dime on a dynamite design can reap its rewards, especially if the company is striving to capture seekers of finer tastes or those trying to set themselves apart from the competition.

Mr. Kitt’s Towing & Recovery of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, gets kudos for their fine logo design. It explodes with creativity, combining several effective elements into one eye-smashing logo.

Their design can be seen on the side doors of their 2017 Freightliner M2/Chevron 21’ flatbed.

First is the splashy black background behind the yellow “Mr. Kitt’s” that pops out.

Closer examination of the background reveals a hook jutting out on the right side: a subtle yet clever technique tying the logo to the industry it serves.

As for the “Mr. Kitt’s” lettering, the serif font is broken up in places which makes it more appealing.

Below the logo is the expression “23-½ hour service,” in a smaller contrasting modern serif font.

“The reason for that,” owner Anthony Kitt said, “is because we need a half hour to sleep. It’s catchy and people remember you for that.”

When I asked their office manager if their logo made an impression on the public, he said, “I hope it does. Our logo design is consistent; and after a while you get used to it, like any trademark.”

The background of the unit itself is red.

Red, yellow and black. A timeless paint scheme. Pay attention to the details. The rest will follow.

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at bdooley@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!
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February 19 - February 25, 2020

Talbert Offers Modular 65-Ton Trailer

product.talbert 7c5bfTalbert Manufacturing offers the 65SA Modular Trailer. The 65SA trailer takes advantage of Talbert’s custom-engineering experience to incorporate multiple axle configurations based on customer requirements for optimum versatility. Its design features a flip extension to accommodate a tandem- or tri-axle jeep dolly, allowing for maximum load configurations. It can also pair with Talbert’s E2 or E3Nitro axle extension, which dampens axle movement and controls load transfer. The modular trailer maintains a 65-ton rating at half the deck length with a 16-inch loaded side deck height and 6-inch loaded road clearance.

talbertmfg.com

Jerr-Dan Unveils New Carrier

MultiCarCarrier a6d8bJerr-Dan Corp. unveiled its just-launched multi-car carrier at the American Towman Exposition in December. The new carrier allows a fourth car to be towed with the optional underlift.

The revamped multi-car carrier uses an 8.5-ton frame that Jerr-Dan said makes it first in the industry to offer a low-profile three-car carrier with a fourth car option on this level of frame capacity.

Additional benefits of the larger subframe include: reducing the carrier deck off the top of the frame height by 2”; lowering the center of gravity of the load for more stability; providing an additional 1-ton structural capacity; and reducing the main deck height to allow for transport of taller loads, making navigation under bridges and through tunnels more efficient.

jerrdan.com

Landoll Adds Air Disc Brakes

2019 25a6fLandoll Corp. announced a new air-disc brakes option for its 400 Series traveling-axle and 900 Series traveling-tail trailers. The optional Landoll AIRDISC 17 brake system has been integrated with an all-new custom air-ride suspension to bring high-performance braking to commercial equipment trailers. The new brake system is designed for applications with extremely demanding brake usage, as air disc brakes provide consistent performance during extended braking cycles, such as long descending mountain grades. Reduced brake fade and fast on/off response significantly improves stopping distance vs. drum brake applications.

landoll.com
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February 19 - February 25, 2020
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February 19 - February 25, 2020
The North American Repossessors Summit has announced the opening of nominations for their second annual Industry Awards.

Awards Submissions [b]Open for NARS 2020

Nominations for the North American Repossessors Summit second annual Industry Awards are now open. This year’s award categories include Recovery Agent of the Year, Service Representative of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Agency Owner of the Year.

NARS officials said submissions can be made until March 6. The NARS committee will choose the top three nominations in each category before opening voting to the public to select winners.

“All nominees will be carefully vetted based on the quality and detail of submission and their contributions to the repossession industry,” officials said.

To submit someone for an industry award, go to reposummit.com.

The North American Repossessors Summit is an annual conference hosted by American Recovery Association at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas, Texas.

Source: autoremarketing.com.

Woman Guilty in Attack on [b]Truck, Agent Found Guilty

A jury in Chattanooga, Tennessee, returned guilty verdicts against a woman who used a baseball bat to express her displeasure at a repossession agent who was trying to tow her car. 

Cathleen Reeves, who was the subject of a viral video of the incident, was found guilty of vandalism and aggravated assault. She will be sentenced on April 16.

The jury earlier watched profanity-laced videos and listened to the witnesses who saw the act unfold on Nov. 15, 2018. 

Prosecutor Leslie Longshore told the jury that 33-year-old Caleb Egenes had "repossessed Reeves’ vehicle. He located the car, and then went to work. And that’s when Ms. Reeves’ comes out, and she is angry. Angry that her car is being repossessed. She uses a bat to beat the truck and smash the windows, while the man is simply trying to do his job.”

Defense attorney Erinn O’Leary stressed the mindset of her client, who thought she was defending her property from a wrongful repossession. In the eyes of her client, all she saw was a strange man trying to break into her car.

The man who was attempting to repossess the car said he got the order without knowing anything else about the person whose car he was repossessing, as the company he worked with had a no-contact policy.

After getting his order from the company, he found her car at Reeves’ residence.

He hooked the car to his truck, when he said Reeves ran out and demanded he stop. In two videos shown in court, she could be seen screaming “Stop!” and “Put my car down!” and “The car is paid for!” Ms. Reeves then went to the back of her car while the victim went into his truck and locked the doors.

The agent said, "She pulled out a baseball bat and started bashing it on the truck. It was unexpected. So she starts swinging from the passenger to drivers side. Before I could even blink, she was smashing out the window, and I had to jump to the passenger side.”

After Reeves stopped, the man crawled into the driver’s side and let her car down. He then drove off and into a nearby apartment complex, where he called police. 

Two neighbors corroborated the victim’s story. One of them called police after witnessing the act. He said, “I saw a woman attacking a tow truck with a baseball bat, and I thought someone could be hurt.”

Source: chattanoogan.com.

Shots Fired During Repo Attempt

A man has been arrested by Spokane County, Washington, deputies after a shooting Feb. 11 in West Spokane County. 

According to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, two men were attempting to locate a vehicle to repossess it. They arrived at a residence and were approached by another man who said the person they were asking for was not there. 

After the two men got back into their truck, they heard gunshots and the rear passenger side window shattered. 

The driver rapidly accelerated to escape from the gun shots, but lost control and went into a ditch but continued to drive until deputies made contact with them. 

According to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, the suspects began to approach in a truck, firing at the victims. Deputies followed the truck and conducted a high-risk traffic stop.

Robert Edens, 51, and his passenger were detained without incident. 

Edens told deputies he fired shots into the air to protect his property and never fired shots at the victims. Deputies told Eden that in the state of Washington, deadly force cannot be used to protect property. 

Eden's passenger was released without charges. Eden was booked into the Spokane County Jail for two counts of assault in the first degree.

Source: khq.com.

TransUnion: Repos Increased [b]17% from 2014 to 2018

Credit-reporting firm TransUnion calculates that nearly 24 million U.S. vehicle loans were originated in 2018. About 300,000 of those vehicles were repossessed within 12 months, up 17 percent from 2014. Such a quick souring of the loan can be a signal of some sort of auto fraud.

Roughly 1/5 of people who have had a car repossessed over the last several years take out another auto loan within a year of the repossession, TransUnion says.

Source: businessreport.com.
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