The Week's Features
New song by Mike Corbin celebrates COVID-19 front-line workers
Explosion of unit’s colors catches the eyes of motorists and kids
Mural remembers those who lost their lives in service to the industry
New site looks to connect repo employers with job seekers
Two-stage jack has a lifting capacity of 25 metric tons first stage
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing July 15 - July 21, 2020

Santander Agrees to Pay $550M to Settle Auto-Lending Lawsuit

Santander Consumer USA reached a $550 million agreement to settle charges from 34 attorneys general that it made auto loans it knew low-income and subprime borrowers could not pay.

The lender is set to pay consumers $65 million in restitution. But the bulk of the settlement — $478 million — comes in the form of loan forgiveness. Santander agreed to waive about $45 million in loan balances for consumers who had defaulted as of Dec. 31 but whose cars were not repossessed. Santander will also waive at least $433 million in deficiency balances — the amount consumers owe after their cars are repossessed — although the attorneys general said that figure could be as high as $663 million.

Source: bankingdive.com.


Click here to read more

American Towman Cancels All 2020 Tow Shows

In light of the uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, the banning of large social gatherings in the host cities and the concern for the safety of attendees and exhibitors, American Towman has cancelled all four of its 2020 shows in Cleveland, Las Vegas, San Antonio and Baltimore.

The decision was made after comprehensive discussions with each of the convention centers in those cities, a release from the company stated.

“Given the current climate of the pandemic and the edicts of mayors and governors not allowing conventions, it has become impossible to plan and hold our shows in these cities,” A. T. Expo Corp. President Henri “Doc” Calitri said in the release.

“Tow business owners and industry suppliers are facing unprecedented challenges to their businesses caused by the pandemic,” Calitri continued. “Our company, too, has been hit hard. But American Towman plays the leading role in our industry for connecting our industry suppliers with the owners of towing and recovery operations. We know that tow bosses and suppliers alike count on us to be a catalyst to their success and growth. Our commitment to this important role is steadfast.”

American Towman said that an announcement on the dates for next year will be made shortly.
Given the current climate of the pandemic … it has become impossible to plan and hold our shows in these cities,” said A. T. Expo Corp. President Henri “Doc” Calitri.
Inside Interstate: Top Tow Boss Shares His Story of Building Success in a Tough Market

On A Mixer Mission

0 4678eBy Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Mission Wrecker Service has been one of the finest wrecker services in South Texas ever since it was founded in 1970 by David Pizzini and Llyod Mooney. Current owners Muhammad Choudary and Vernon Oliver bought Mission Wrecker Service in 2002, merging its operations with their company A Ace Towing.

Mission Wrecker Service was recently called to handle an overturned mixer along eastbound State Highway 151 and Pinn Road inside Loop 410 in San Antonio, Texas.

“The incident occurred on July 3, 2020 at about 6am in the morning,” said Vernon’s son Matt Oliver, operations manager and heavy-duty supervisor for the company. “We were called out by the San Antonio Police Department at 6:32 a.m. Our Century 9055 arrived first on scene at 7:05 a.m.”

According to the company officials the mixer had a blowout and caused it to rollover fully loaded with concrete. The mixer ended up blocking both eastbound lanes of Hwy 151.

Along with one of their 2007 Century 9055s, Mission sent one of their 2018 Jerr-Dan JFB 50-tons. Operator Gilbert Gonzales was in the 2007 Century 9055 and operator Pete Flores was in the 2018 Jerr-Dan JFB 50-ton.

“This was an all-hands on deck effort to rig our 9055 to do a reverse roll with one four-part line to lift, and one two-part line to catch,” explained Matt. “We rigged our Jerr-Dan JFB 50-ton on the wheel side to do a low pull on the steer axle, and we also rigged a two-part line to the drum of the mixer to help pull.”

Matt informed, “Also, the axles were chained up before uprighting due to broken leaf springs and shifted axles and a blown steer tire. That is why it could not be towed conventionally and a lowboy bus trailer was used.”

The mixer was upright and on its wheels by roughly 9:25 a.m.

After uprighting the mixer and getting it turned in the proper direction on the highway, Matt called in Jason Banis from Banis Towing to bring his lowboy bus trailer to haul the mixer.

Banis Towing showed up to load the mixer on their 2021 Kenworth T800 pulling a 2021 Trail-Eze 50-ton lowboy bus trailer.

“This took the efforts of both of our 50-tons and one of the winches on the Trail-Eze,” Matt said. “After loading the mixer onto the Trail-Eze lowboy bus trailer, both 50 tons and the Trail-Eze went in tow to the City of San Antonio Impound Facility to assist in unloading and parking the mixer.

“It was a great show of teamwork and two different companies coming together to get the job done,” Matt said.

Banis added, “I want to say thank you to Mission Wrecker for calling us to assist them with our little boy on a rollover. We bought the Trail-Eze lowboy bus trailer in January and it has been busy ever since hauling wrecks for several wrecker companies.”

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!

It’s Not to Be

Well, it looks like the trade show season is over for the towing and recovery industry.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many if not all of the tow shows that had been planned for 2020 have been cancelled. No doubt that the pandemic has created its share of havoc with the industry’s business owners and ancillary entities.

It’s a shame, too, as I personally was looking forward to seeing all of my good friends in the industry at the American Towman shows. It’s always great to share stories, chug a brew or two and exchange pertinent information with all of the great people that are a part of this industry.

However, in 2020 it is not to be.

I have a strong feeling, though, this industry will bounce back with a vengeance in 2021—and all of us will be looking forward to seeing each other at the industry’s hot spots for trade shows.

Of course, we’ll be in touch through Tow Industry Week and American Towman Magazine, keeping you up to date on the latest news taking place in towing and recovery.

--Charles Duke

By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


Have you diversified into any new revenue streams to cope with the pandemic?
Yes
No
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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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July 15 - July 21, 2020
Philadelphia towman Tyree Ward is being hailed a hero after rescuing a drowning woman at a Wildwood, New Jersey, beach. Image - 6abc.com.

Towman Saves Drowning Woman

A Philadelphia towman is being hailed an "instant hero" for his quick work rescuing a woman who was drowning in the water at the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey. Tyree Ward, a towman and auto mechanic said anyone would have done it, but emergency officials said not everyone is so selfless or brave. It happened Monday night just after 8 p.m. with no lifeguards on duty. That's when Tyree heard screaming. A woman was crying out that her friend was drowning. He dropped his towel and phone and jumped in. "I thank God that He put me there," Ward said. "Everything just happened the way it did. Nobody but the Lord that that put me in that place." Officials said the woman would not be alive if not for his selfless act. Source: 6abc.com.

South Carolina Towman Killed on I-26

A towman is dead after an accident on I-26 Tuesday afternoon. According to Cpl. Matt with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, a 2018 Freightliner tow truck was traveling eastbound on I-26 when it struck a 2007 Dodge parked in the emergency lane on the right side of the road. After striking the car, the tow truck went into the tree line, struck a tree and ejected the driver, who was not wearing a seatbelt. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The name of the driver has not yet been released by the Newberry County Coroner. The accident remains under investigation by the highway patrol. Source: wltx.com.

FMCSA Allowing Drug-Testing Flexibility in Driver Re-Hires

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a temporary waiver that allows fleets to forgo pre-employment drug testing for drivers who have participated in a controlled substances testing program that meets the requirements of 49 CFR part 382 within the previous 90 days of hire or rehire. Current regulations limit that time period to 30 days. The waiver is effective from through Sept. 30. FMCSA said that as fleets begin to recall drivers who were furloughed, laid off or otherwise not working for more than 90 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the costs of screening those drivers would be detrimental to employers. The waiver is meant to “provide relief from the administrative burdens and costs associated with administering the tests and allow them to return drivers to the workforce in a more efficient manner,” the agency noted. Source: ccjdigital.com.
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July 15 - July 21, 2020
‘Towing’s Troubadour’ Mike Corbin has recorded a tribute song to all those on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic called, And They Went Back In.” Cover art.

‘And They Went Back In’

Veteran singer-songwriter Mike Corbin recently released a tribute song honoring the front-line workers in the fight against the coronavirus, “And They Went Back In,” featuring lyrics by American Towman Editor-in-Chief Steve Calitri.

The melancholy, earnest tribute calls out:

“Losses mount from the spread/But you can’t cry/Lean toward the next bed/Pray for blue sky … Folk on the front line/Behind the kerchief … The invisible harm/And they went back in.”

Calitri and Corbin have been collaborating on songs since 2011’s first Towman Ballad, “The Road Calls.” Corbin recently helmed the Spirit RV around the country for two years with his wife, Ilce.

“And They Went Back In” is available to listen to on YouTube and for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.

Source: AT staff.

Towman Killed on [b]I-44 in Oklahoma

A towman was hit and killed while on the job near the town of Fletcher, Oklahoma, July 8.

Bernardo Martinez worked at Sergio’s Towing Service since October.

Martinez died at the scene of a crash on I-44 on the H.E. Bailey Turnpike, one mile east of Fletcher, according to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol news release.

Martinez was on the westbound shoulder of the interstate, standing next to a 1999 Ford F350 that was being loaded onto his 2009 Peterbilt wrecker. A car driven by Karen Cole went off the right side of the road and struck Martinez – causing him to be thrown into a ditch – and the Ford F-350, according to the news release. Cole’s vehicle then partially drove onto the wrecker’s rollback bed and struck the headache rack, the news release states.

“This guy was a solid, just genuine, great, honest guy, and a good worker,” colleague Cody Ceballos said. Martinez leaves behind a wife, four children and two grandchildren.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for his family at: gofundme.com/f/in-loving-memory-of-bernardo-martinez?utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link-tip.

Source: kfor.com.

CTTA's Eric Gould Passes Away

Eric Gould, media and marketing manager for the California Tow Truck Association, passed away suddenly July 3.

CTTA President Quinn Piening spoke of Gould’s contribution to the association. “As many of you know,” Piening stated,

“Eric played a huge part in so many things we have accomplished in the past and was crucial to many of the current works we have in flight. He was a model employee as anyone who knew him will attest, but more importantly, he was an example to all of us of what a truly wonderful person looks like.”

Gould leaves behind his wife, Dana. A GoFundMe account has been established to assist Dana during this time: gofundme.com/f/eric-gould-memorial-fund.

Source: CTTA.

Tennessee Tow Show, Tow [b]Museum Weekend Cancelled

The 2020 Tennessee Tow Show and International Towing Museum Weekend in Chattanooga, Tennessee, scheduled for Oct. 8-10, has been cancelled.

A statement from the event organizers read, “In light of the uncertain health impacts surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, we are announcing the cancellation of this years' October events. We are very grateful for the outpouring of support from our Museum Weekend sponsors and Tennessee Tow Show sponsors and exhibitors. … We again congratulate the 2020 Hall of Fame inductees. We cannot wait to see you accept the industry’s highest honor at the 2021 Hall of Fame induction.”

Source: tennesseetowshow.com.

Bill Prohibits Tow Companies [b]from Offering Payments

Michigan Gov. Whitmer signed Senate Bill 173 into law July 8. The bill prohibits a wrecker, recovery or towing service from offering to a local unit of government a payment, fee or commission to induce the local unit of government to enter into a contract with or secure business for the service.

The bill also prohibits local governments from entering into the same contract. The bill was sponsored by State Sen. Jim Stamas.

Source: wkzo.com.

TRAO Cancels 2020 [b]Midwest Regional Tow Show

The Towing & Recovery Association of Ohio canceled its 2020 Midwest Regional Tow Show, according to an announcement by the Association on its Facebook page.

The show, which was scheduled Sept. 24-27 in Mason, was canceled by the organization due to “increased and overwhelming concern” related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event, but we know it’s the right decision based on the information we had today,” the announcement read. “Our primary concern is the health and safety of others.”

Source: facebook.com.
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July 15 - July 21, 2020

On A Mixer Mission

0 4678eBy Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Mission Wrecker Service has been one of the finest wrecker services in South Texas ever since it was founded in 1970 by David Pizzini and Llyod Mooney. Current owners Muhammad Choudary and Vernon Oliver bought Mission Wrecker Service in 2002, merging its operations with their company A Ace Towing.

Mission Wrecker Service was recently called to handle an overturned mixer along eastbound State Highway 151 and Pinn Road inside Loop 410 in San Antonio, Texas.

“The incident occurred on July 3, 2020 at about 6am in the morning,” said Vernon’s son Matt Oliver, operations manager and heavy-duty supervisor for the company. “We were called out by the San Antonio Police Department at 6:32 a.m. Our Century 9055 arrived first on scene at 7:05 a.m.”

According to the company officials the mixer had a blowout and caused it to rollover fully loaded with concrete. The mixer ended up blocking both eastbound lanes of Hwy 151.

Along with one of their 2007 Century 9055s, Mission sent one of their 2018 Jerr-Dan JFB 50-tons. Operator Gilbert Gonzales was in the 2007 Century 9055 and operator Pete Flores was in the 2018 Jerr-Dan JFB 50-ton.

“This was an all-hands on deck effort to rig our 9055 to do a reverse roll with one four-part line to lift, and one two-part line to catch,” explained Matt. “We rigged our Jerr-Dan JFB 50-ton on the wheel side to do a low pull on the steer axle, and we also rigged a two-part line to the drum of the mixer to help pull.”

Matt informed, “Also, the axles were chained up before uprighting due to broken leaf springs and shifted axles and a blown steer tire. That is why it could not be towed conventionally and a lowboy bus trailer was used.”

The mixer was upright and on its wheels by roughly 9:25 a.m.

After uprighting the mixer and getting it turned in the proper direction on the highway, Matt called in Jason Banis from Banis Towing to bring his lowboy bus trailer to haul the mixer.

Banis Towing showed up to load the mixer on their 2021 Kenworth T800 pulling a 2021 Trail-Eze 50-ton lowboy bus trailer.

“This took the efforts of both of our 50-tons and one of the winches on the Trail-Eze,” Matt said. “After loading the mixer onto the Trail-Eze lowboy bus trailer, both 50 tons and the Trail-Eze went in tow to the City of San Antonio Impound Facility to assist in unloading and parking the mixer.

“It was a great show of teamwork and two different companies coming together to get the job done,” Matt said.

Banis added, “I want to say thank you to Mission Wrecker for calling us to assist them with our little boy on a rollover. We bought the Trail-Eze lowboy bus trailer in January and it has been busy ever since hauling wrecks for several wrecker companies.”

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!

When In Doubt – Drag It Out!

0 81ce7By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

One of the best things about doing recovery work is that every job is different and you just never know what you are going to be called to do. When your name is Battelini and you grew up in towing and recovery in a family that has been in business forever … you’ve seen and dealt with many different scenarios.

Albert Battelini is the president of the company he co-owns with his brother Anthony and their father Dominick. The family also runs Battelini Wrecker Sales, a full service dealer for NRC Industries.

On Sept. 28, 2018 Battelini’s was called to pull out a very heavy oversized piece of road construction equipment that was stuck on Coles Mill Road in Monroe Township, New Jersey.

“We were called by the contractor,” Al said. “They had pulled their asphalt milling machine off the road the night before. It weighed in at 88,000 pounds. It had rained two inches overnight and the heavy machine sank, got stuck in the mud and they couldn’t move it.”

Milling machines, or cold planers, are heavy-duty construction equipment used to do asphalt milling, also known as asphalt grinding. Within milling machines, there is a large rotating drum that removes and grinds the asphalt surface. This rotating drum holds the carbide cutters that actually cut the pavement.

The carbide cutters are positioned in such a way that after being cut, the milled pavement is automatically moved to the center of the drum. The pavement is then loaded onto a conveyor belt attached to the milling machine. This machine uses a front-loading conveyor system that also picks up any pavement that falls off the conveyor during milling—which makes it a long, heavy cumbersome piece of equipment to manage.

To deal with this massive piece of equipment, Al responded in his always-reliable “Ole12” heavy wrecker: a 1982 Western Star/1986 3500 NRC heavy. It’s a 40-ton unit with a three-stage fixed boom and a 35,000-lbs. underreach. It also has a 60,000-lbs. Braden drag winch, which Al put to good use on this job.

After doing his walkaround, Al got busy rigging the machine so he could get in unstuck.

“The milling machine weighted 88,000 pounds,” he said. “I just used two Grade 100 1/2-inch chains and two 17-ton screw-pin shackles hooked to (the) base of (the) machine; used the 60,000-lbs. drag winch with (a) 1-inch cable and 18-ton snatch block hooked back to Ole12 with a bridle.”

Once the milling machine was rigged, Al was at the controls of Ole12, squatting down to watch the progress as he applied steady tension on the drag line and inched the machine out of the mud and back onto the road.

“Easy work for Ole12 and the drag winch,” said Al.

(Note: This article previously appeared in the October 3, 2018 edition of Tow Industry Week.)

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!

Corn Planter Rotated from the Dam

0 5b041By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Owned by Robert D. Fenimore, B&F Towing Co. is an American veteran owned and operated company in business since 1967. They operate from two locations in New Castle, Delaware, serving the state, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland mainly. They’ve also been known to tow from Maine to Florida for their customers.

On May 13, 2020, a farmer called B&F to recover a high-dollar corn planter that had gone in a ditch on his farm in Middletown, Delaware. Always up for a challenge, B&F heavy recovery specialist Chuck Bonadio was dispatched in B&F Unit 129, an NRC 40/50 sliding rotator.

“The job piqued my interest,” Bonadio said, “because I don’t do much farm implement work here. After talking with the farmer on the phone, I responded by myself with our 40/50 sliding rotator.”

When Bonadio arrived, he met with employees of the farm and got a brief crash course on this particular corn planter. They explained how it worked, what was solid to hook to and what he needed to stay away from. The planter had slid off the side of the pond dam after the operator miscalculated the turn.

Bonadio explained, “Due to the fragility of the components, it had to be lifted straight up and rotated back to the roadway. The challenge was that I had to boom past the first 12 feet of the implement to hook to a solid point for lifting. It was rigged around the main post of the implement over the top of the wheels.

“Using a 12-foot round sling in a basket, rated at 42,400-pounds and the right main line with a 12-ton block in the line,” he continued, “I lifted the implement straight up, but the lean wouldn’t come out of it and it was pretty sketchy. I took the left boom line and hooked to the low side and was able to level it out and then rotate it back to the road and set it down.

“The farmer had told me that it weighed 10k on the phone ... he lied to me!” Bonadio exclaimed. “The weight that I lifted was right at about 30,000 pounds. The boom was slid all the way back and fully extended.”

Bonadio proudly concluded, “I had about four hours in total in the job including travel time and there was zero damage to the implement after the recovery was completed. It was a successful, outside the box job.”

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!


MIDWESTERN - Charleston, IL
$85
(pop. 21,838)

SOUTHERN - Naples, FL
$150
(pop. 20,600)

EASTERN - Hamilton, NJ
$150
(pop. 26,503)

NORTHERN - Monroe, MI
$135
(pop. 20,405)

Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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July 15 - July 21, 2020

A Mural Tribute to the Fallen

Sanchez b6954Edwin Sanchez proudly displays his mural made for fallen brothers and sisters.

By Randall C. Resch

It’s rare to learn of tow employees who step outside daily responsibilities to showcase off-duty talents.

Here’s an example of tower talent about one tow operator working behind his scenes to promote operator safety and slow down move over awareness. Edwin Sanchez, a veteran tow operator and aspiring artist working as night manager for San Diego’s Cortes Towing.

Cortes serves California’s highway patrol, the law enforcement community and the motoring public. They’re one of two evidence contractor’s for the CHP in the entire San Diego County and very active in San Diego’s towing and recovery community hosting tow operator safety courses and are a huge advocate of operator safety. They were a solid participant when American Towman’s, Spirit Ride, made its way through the southland.

Share the Message

Even as a kid, Edwin had a long time ambition of being recognized as a folk artist, hoping to create a small mural for the company’s office. To that, he saved his earnings to purchase an airbrush tool, compressor as well as supplies and colors needed for the project.

Because he’s the company’s third shift, night manager, Edwin spent most weekends working on the mural. Because he’s part of Cortes’ light- and heavy- operations, he wanted his mural to display heavy wreckers, safety striping and the visual presence to spread the message of slow down move over.

Edwin’s mural, “In Honor of the Fallen,” was painted in memory of the women and men who lost their lives in service of the industry. The brightly colored mural is a full-sized sheet of plywood with colors, arrangement and composition that deliver a solid message of safety. Ghosted in the mural’s center read the words, “In Loving Memory of Our Fallen Brothers and Sisters of the Towing and Recovery Industry.”

To left of the mural’s center appears a large, all-white, heavy wrecker, similar to the big rig that San Diego’s veteran tow operator Fred Griffith was operating the afternoon he was killed by a DUI motorist. California leads the entire nation in tow operator fatalities counting approximately 44 operators stuck and killed on California’s highways since 1934.

Finding a Home

Edwin estimates he invested over 2,000 hours in the project; and after about 18 months, his project is completed.

He asked me if I could help him find a home for the mural, so we took to a flurry of phone calls and e-mails. We initially contacted the International Towing Museum in Chattanooga, his first choice.

“It really would be an honor to the memory of the women and men who were sadly killed,” Edwin said. I’d really be honored if this could be displayed in the Museum in Tennessee.”

Unfortunately, the museum’s limited wall space didn’t allow for the mural’s physical size.

That wasn’t a stopper. In late May 2020, I contacted Quinn Piening, president of the California Tow Truck Association, asking if the CTTA would be interested in this one of a kind painting to display at CTTA’s new Sacramento offices? Within a day Quinn messaged me back eagerly stating, “We’d be honored to hang it at the office and have a spot picked out for it already.”

After a few shipping details were sorted out, Johnny Cortes, owner of Cortes Towing, made the appropriate arrangements to send Edwin and his mural to be delivered to Sacramento.

Soon after, Edwin personally delivered the mural to CTTA’s corporate office in Sacramento.

Edwin’s mural reflects a solemn reminder of the dangers towers face when working white line environments. It consists of multiple layovers of pattern, paint and art content, each met with substantial time to await layered paint to dry.

I admire Edwin’s commitment on this project, especially him giving of his time and weekends being a graveyard shift worker. Thanks to Edwin’s wife, Nicky, for supporting his vision and sharing his available time.

And thank you, Edwin, for having the resolve to complete a project of this magnitude: one that supports the towing and recovery community. If you’re ever in Sacramento, stop by CTTA’s new location to see Edwin’s mural.

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.

Towing Tank Vehicles Safely

hazmatplacards3 cecb4By Brian J. Riker

Most every heavy-duty tower has towed a propane or fuel oil tanker at least once in their career, some do it almost daily. Have you ever taken the time to learn about the different types of tanks, their contents and what to look for before servicing them?

The first step for the tow boss before accepting these types of jobs is to make sure you are properly insured, licensed and your operators are trained in recognizing the hazards associated with tank vehicles. Just because most states grant an exception from the CDL endorsement requirements for the first tow of tank and hazmat loads does not mean you are free to just hook and book.

Secondary tows are not exempt from any regulation. You must be registered as a hazmat transporter when engaging in tows from anywhere other than the primary point of disablement.

Many transporters are surprised to find out they must display placards and have a hazmat endorsement on their CDL to transport an “empty” fuel or propane tanker. Unless the tank has been cleaned and purged by a properly credentialed facility, it is not empty. Residue can be just as dangerous — if not more so — than a fully loaded tanker.

If the last product hauled was hazardous and the shipper (truck owner) can’t provide you with a certification that the tank is clean and purged, then you must treat it as if it were loaded. This includes having a manifest for the residual product and a copy of the emergency response guide in the cab of your tow truck. If the tank is certified clean, remember to cover the placards as it is a violation (with a hefty fine) to display placards when they are not required.

Routing can cause trouble when towing a vehicle hauling hazardous materials. Most tunnels, and some bridges, restrict hazmat to certain lanes, time of day or outright prohibit it at all times. Be sure to be aware of these restrictions on your route before beginning as the fines are hefty and can result in the loss of your CDL for violations.

The same holds true for railroad crossings. Passenger vehicles (buses) and vehicles hauling hazmat are required to stop between 15’-50’ from the nearest rail before crossing grade-level tracks. Towmen must make sure the way is clear and there is enough space to fully clear the tracks before proceeding. Failure to do so is an automatic 60-day suspension of your CDL under federal regulations for the first offense.

Perhaps the most important consideration before towing or servicing a tank vehicle is the pre-trip inspection. Here are some things to inquire about before providing service:

• Knowing the reason for the tow is important as it can help you identify issues that may pose an extreme risk, such as a wheel end failure that may result in a fire should you tow the truck away with that wheel on the ground.

• Is the tank loaded or empty (residual or purged)? What product is/was in the tank? It is not advisable to tow loaded tanks from the rear as the weight transfer may overload the steer axle since the product will tend to move towards the lowest part of the tank, putting more weight on the axle left on the ground.

• Is the tank bottom valve closed? Many delivery drivers fail to close this valve between stops. This valve keeps product from leaking should the plumbing under the truck be damaged.

• Are all the other valves and loading hatches closed and secure? If you are not intimately familiar with the tank system, demand a company representative make sure the tank is ready for transport.

• Check closely for leaks using your eyes, ears and nose. Do not touch a substance with your bare hands and when in doubt ask the vehicle owner to provide guidance. It is not normal to smell residual propane or fuel oil coming from a tanker unless it has just finished delivery of product. Other types of tankers, such as liquid nitrogen delivery tanks, do have venting as a normal part of their operation, so if in doubt ask a qualified company representative if the vapor you smell or see is a normal event.

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: yourdotguy.com.

What’s That Obnoxious Noise?

trainhornFINAL f33c2By Randall C. Resch

The site “Trainhorns.us” is for train horn enthusiasts; their opening statement is, “We believe that, ‘beeping’ your horn is for soccer moms. If you drive a truck, especially a lifted pickup, then you really ought to have a horn that blasts when you need to tell the minivan in-front of you to get out of the way.”

Train horns? I’ll start with this fact: a tow truck is not a train. I’ve heard train horns blast inside at tow shows and they’ll scare the proverbial “crapinski” out of anyone standing nearby when they boom.

To ask towers why they need train horns, many say they need them to help clear traffic when they’re responding to urgent police requests.

Sorry … wrong answer.

A discussion about tow trucks and train horns is comical to me. While the past and current climate of tow truck response suggests a sameness with firefighters and law enforcement responding to emergency calls, some tow operators drive as though they are first responders with the same allowance.

While their actions are well-intended, having first-responder mentality oftentimes causes towers to push their tow trucks faster and more dangerously. The history of the towing and recovery industry has recorded literally hundreds of operator crashes and fatalities where questionable actions have caused towers to lose control, run off the road, crash into others or overturn.

Get Outta’ the Way

California Assembly Bill AB-2245 (regarding the decibel levels of aftermarket horns) is one of those goofy vehicle code sections where the act of being “too loud” is determined by an officer and is an easy citation to write.

An officer who was interviewed in a YouTube video about train horns in cars stated, “It’s technically illegal because it’s unreasonable.” They may violate state vehicle codes at the moment the truck’s operator gives them a joyful blast.

One particular horn can emit an ear-piercing blast anywhere from 115’ (at 10’) to 135’ (at 100’). These kinds of signals are oftentimes used in commercial applications for emergency signaling. It can be bought on-line for nearly $8,000, plus tax. If ya have that kind of cash for this kind of playful spending, God bless ya.

AB-2245 is an act to amend Section 27000 of the Vehicle Code relating to vehicle horns. This bill would prohibit a motor vehicle from being equipped with an aftermarket horn that emits a sound greater than 110 dB(A). AB-2245 was written to ensure that motor vehicle horns, “shall not emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound and a motor vehicle shall not be equipped with an aftermarket horn that emits a sound greater than 110 dB(A).”

Blurrrrrrt …

Notably, train horns are loud and oftentimes obnoxious where a single, in-traffic blast could earn an expensive ticket when not used in an emergency situation.

Accordingly, if you have $8,000 burning a hole in your pocket and you have to have train horns, be sure you know the exact wording of your state’s vehicle code as a means to defend a ticket.

In police officer forums, some cops comment on unnecessary use of train horns saying, “I'm thinking it’s gonna end with an actual arrest for DisCon (Disorderly Conduct) for excessive noise, and then the vehicle being towed at owner's expense unless there is another licensed driver right there at the scene.” Another officer wrote, “What is the point in scaring the living crap out of somebody just for the heck of it?”

Bottom line? To have train horns on your tow truck means it’s best to resist that urge to blast them. It’s not the horn … it’s how they’re used.

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.




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July 15 - July 21, 2020

The Power of Color

0 39d54By George L. Nitti

A dull personality, even in the form of an inanimate object like a tow truck, comes to life with color.

For owner John Maye of Priority Wrecker Service, in Glendale Heights, Illinois, branding his business had much to do with the power of color.

“I like bright colors and I like cool things,” Maye said, “Our company is known far and wide because of our colorful and memorable graphics.”

Of the company’s 27 wide-ranging units, their 2018 Kenworth T880 Century 1135 Rotator epitomizes the best of what you might find in their fleet.

Maye said, “It’s the best truck I ever bought. It’s convenient for day to day use and is very versatile.”

This rotator, which is part-wrap, part-paint job, has a black and red base which then sets the groundwork for the added layers of yellow, green, purple and blue.

The company name “Priority,” is spelled out in large bright red lettering, popping out across the unit’s side, hood, side doors, rotator and back, partly enhanced by a thick purple and blue shadow.

On the unit’s cab is a catchy symbol, a circle with a big “P” encased within it, in the form of a medallion.

“That too was part of our branding strategy,” said Maye.

The colors keep coming at you, particularly the bright green at the back of the truck spelling out “Heavy Rescue” and the bright yellow, spelling out “Wrecker Service.”

“Our trucks are favorites of kids,” Maye said. “We are big supporters of the community and our trucks are designed with kids in mind.”

One of Maye’s favorite Disney cartoons, The Minions, is a hit with the kids.

Then there is the catchy slogan at the front side of the unit which states, “You Call, We Haul, That’s All!”

Maye said, “I just came up with that one day and thought to put it on the side.”

Yes, plenty of colors all around to make this truck shine.

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!

Old School Meets New School

0 431d3By George L. Nitti

Creative artist Mark Long, of Razor Wraps and Graphics of Fredericksburg, Virginia, got his start like many in the graphic design: by first learning to paint by hand. However, time and money factored into his transition out of paint. Long since has opted to do wraps, particularly on tow trucks.

One wrap that he recently executed was for a 2017 Peterbilt 389/Century 5130, owned by A&M Truck Repair and Towing of Locust Grove.

“If I had to custom paint that heavy-duty wrecker,” Long said, “the cost could run as high as $25,000-30,000 and take me a month to two months to do it. That same truck can be wrapped for six grand and take three days. Tow owners don’t want their new trucks sitting that long to get custom painted.”

Part of his design procedure he calls “Old School.” The blue flames found on the front and side of the chassis would fall into that category, as he has been doing flames for many years.

Another striking feature of the unit is the beautiful A&M logo on the side of the unit, which also has an “old school” feel. Its distinct metallic background and creative font give it pop against the more traditional theme found often in the towing industry.

The design process takes on a more eclectic flair with swooping lines and swishes found on the back end. Long considers these creations to be more “New School.”

“My designs come from my head,” Long said. “I build all of my graphics from the ground up. It’s just my style and being creative. I guess it’s a mix of old school with new school.”

One can see his unique style on display, particularly the explosive, complementary bright colors often found in his palette. The colors create a cosmically modern design through the use of dark red, silver, blue, black and white.

A&M owner Jeremy Beveridge has been thrilled with the result, saying, “People love all of our trucks.”

(Ed. Note: This article previously appeared in the May 9, 2018 edition of Tow Industry Week.)

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!

Elements of Black

0 a4ea6By George L. Nitti

Although graphics often speak volumes about a tow truck, in some cases the truck itself speaks more loudly. Like a person of character, sometimes it ain’t the dress, it’s the person inside.

Over the last two years, Rusniak’s Service Inc. of Buffalo, New York, has done a makeover of its American flag-themed fleet, doing away with its traditional bright colors and opting for a more modern design.

Their 2006 Kenworth/Jerr-Dan 50-ton expresses this sensibility and is characteristic of what you will find on their other units as well.

“The truck was painted about a year and a half ago and then wrapped with the American flag,” said Joe Afciutto, general manager. “Black is the new look.”

Black is back in vogue these days, becoming a popular theme countrywide. In this case, the flag is all black, waving along the unit’s side, as the cutout stars pop out in a bright red.

Perfectly picking up the color of the stars is its all red background, pitted against other black elements, like a two-toned Converse All-Stars sneaker.

And black is everywhere on the unit: the front grille, rims, fender, visors, bumpers, fuel tanks, front light encasings and more.

“We take pride in our fleet,” said Afciutto. “We get comments all of the time like, ‘You have beautiful trucks.’ ”

The Rusniak name stands out on the boom while its largely written phone number on its back side is easy to read.

Character shines, as does this bright red truck with elements of black.

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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July 15 - July 21, 2020

Stertil-Koni Portable Hydraulic Jack

product7.2020 81169Stertil-Koni’s first portable air-over hydraulic jack, model SKB25-2, can service vehicles in the maintenance bay or on the road. The two-stage jack weighs 60 lbs. and has a lifting capacity of 25 metric tons first stage, with a final stage of 10 metric tons. The portable design incorporates a 21.6” handle that folds for easy transport and an optional mounting bracket to secure it out of the way in a service truck or workshop. Height is 12.5” without extensions; 2” and 4” extensions included. The jack also has a built-in overload valve and deadman safety switch.

stertil-koni.com

Pro-Vision Hybrid HD DVR

PROVISION1080 26582Pro-Vision Video Systems’ new 900 Series Hybrid HD DVR combines 1080p HD recording and observation technology in one device for video coverage on commercial vehicles. The unit simultaneously records video and provides camera views on an in-cab monitor—including the rear view while backing up and blind spots while turning—in 1080p HD resolution. Pro-Vision has also released a new line of 1080p HD cameras designed for the 900 Series. Pairs with up to six cameras providing 360-degree video coverage; features include built-in Wi-Fi, automated wireless file transfer and GPS tracking.

provisionusa.com

Ford Launches Telematics Platform

FordTelematics d940aFord Commercial Solutions has launched Ford Telematics, a web-based software platform and subscription service designed to grant fleet managers easy access to important connected vehicle data. Through Ford Telematics, commercial vehicle customers can monitor their fleets with GPS tracking and geofencing, get live vehicle health alerts to plan and limit downtime, set reminders for vehicle service, analyze driver behavior and help manage fuel usage to potentially reduce costs.

corporate.ford.com.
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July 15 - July 21, 2020
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July 15 - July 21, 2020
RISC launched RepoHiring.com, where repo employers and job seekers can post and find job opportunities, respectively.

New Employment Site for Repo Industry

The Recovery Industry Services Co. is now getting involved in the employment part of the repossession and recovery industries.

RISC launched RepoHiring.com in an effort to helps connect collateral recovery industry employers with qualified job seekers. Free for both employers and job seekers, RISC emphasized this site is designed with the asset recovery industry in mind.

The company acknowledged the collateral recovery industry has been particularly challenged to identify and retain qualified employees.

“The old process simply wasn’t very efficient,” RISC said in a statement, while noting that without a centralized resource, industry job seekers found opportunities through word of mouth, Facebook, Indeed, Craigslist or other social media.

“None of these sites were designed with the collateral recovery industry in mind,” RISC added.

RISC explained RepoHiring.com is geared to fill that gap across the gamut of roles in the repossession and collateral recovery industry including agents, lenders, forwarders, industry service providers, skip tracers, locksmiths and more.

Employers can post unlimited free job opportunities on the site in just minutes. They can also search the database of registered job seekers with public profiles.

Job seekers can create a profile and save it to apply for future opportunities. They can upload a resume or build out an employment profile.

“Once the profile is built, applying for jobs is as easy as a single click,” RISC said.

RISC noted RepoHiring.com currently serves all U.S. states with plans to expand as demand grows.

Source: autoremarketing.com

RISC Extends Free [b]Education Offer

The Recovery Industry Services Co. recently extended its fee waiver for RISC Pro Membership, including CARS Certification Training, for the fourth straight month. The company said in a news release that billing will be on hold until Aug. 1.

RISC believes the fee waiver will help current members save on monthly expenses as well as allow new members to sign up to take advantage of free education.

“We have seen a 40% increase in membership over the last three months. This is a great sign that we are helping agencies during this hard time get the value of membership without any expense,” said RISC CEO Stamatis Ferarolis. “We will continue to monitor how markets are doing and consider additional waivers if the financial strain continues.”

Source: autoremarketing.com.

Repo Suspension [b]Ended July 1 in Alaska

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy recently announced that legislation that temporarily suspended the repossession of vehicles ended July 1.

The suspension was a part of Senate Bill 241, which has been set to expire after June 30 unless an earlier deadline was set by the governor.

“There’s parts of it that are going to revert back to what the laws were. In other words, these suspensions are now sunsetting. (June 30 was) the last day for some of these,” Dunleavy said.

The law temporarily suspended repossession of any sort of motor transport, including motor vehicles, airplanes or watercraft.

Source: ktuu.com.

Agent Attempts [b]Same Repo 17 Times

An Idaho Falls, Idaho, man was arrested after he reportedly threatened a man attempting to repossess his car with a gun on June 28.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Troy Terry, 47, and the victim were familiar with each other after the victim had made previous attempts to repossess the 2017 Kia Soul.

The car had been up for repossession for 135 days because Terry was behind on payments. The victim said he had been to the residence 17 times in attempts to repossess the car.

The victim told the Idaho Falls Police Department he was loading the car onto a tow truck when Terry threatened him with a rifle. The victim said Terry pointed the gun at his chest and said, “I’m going to (expletive) kill you.”

Terry told police he was only threatening to shoot the victim’s tires, not the victim himself. He said the gun wasn’t loaded.

The victim said Terry threatened him with the gun as he was driving off with the car.

Terry was charged with aggravated battery, punishable with up to five years in prison. He posted $4,000 in bond and was released from jail. A no-contact order was issued between him and the victim.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 10.

Source: postregister.com.
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