The Week's Features
William Ellis’ found day after bridge crash in South Carolina
Mix of approaches creates distinct graphics
Unit simultaneously records video, provides camera views
One of the best things about recovery is that every job is different
Billing will be on hold until Aug. 1
Events
Cleveland, OH.
Aug. 19-22, 2020
Las Vegas, NV.
Sept 9-12, 2020
San Antonio, TX.
Oct. 15-17, 2020
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 19-22, 2020
Dates for Cleveland, Las Vegas, and San Antonio shows moved forward to August, September and October
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing June 29 - July 06, 2020

Agent Shot, Killed During Repossessing

A repo agent was shot and killed as he was repossessing a car early Monday in Lake Dallas, police said. Zach Johnson, 24, worked for Texas Auto Towing Service in Sanger. Business owner Joe Baker said Johnson was hired about three weeks ago. "This is the very first person I've ever lost," said Baker, who's been in business for 20 years. Johnson was killed repossessing a car at the Best Western Inn & Suites in Lake Dallas at about 1 a.m. Monday. Police said Johnson was about to drive off with the car when 37-year-old Barry DeGeorge walked outside, claimed it was his, then went back in. "That's when the gentleman opened up the window of the hotel and proceeded to fire on him," Baker said. DeGeorge fired 12 times, police said. Johnson was taken to Medical City of Denton, where he died. Funeral services for Johnson will take place Friday at 2 p.m. at Meador Funeral Home in Gainesville. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover funeral expenses. DeGeorge is in the Denton County Jail charged with murder. Source: nbcdfw.com.


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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
Don't Miss It!
American Towman Field Editor Terry Abejuela’s “Calculating Recovery Resistance” seminar will highlight techniques for calculating recovery resistances due to the recovery path surface and slope, as well as rolling resistance. This is essential to avoid overloading equipment and ensuring that the recovery operation will be successful. Join Terry for this informative session during the American Towman Exposition at the Baltimore Convention Center, November 20-22, in Baltimore, Maryland. atexposition.com

towmangames.com

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.

Due Diligence Is a Must

Tow companies must perform their due diligence when hiring operators. Not doing so can come back potentially to impact the tow company in a negative way.

Take the case of a family who is now suing the operator and the tow company for a two-car crash that killed a relative. The operator, who police allege was high on drugs, crashed into a Honda Civic where the victim was sitting in the backseat.

In addition to the drugs later found to be in the towman’s system, there was drug paraphernalia found on the seat of the tow truck.

The tow company and its owner are now on the hook as the lawsuit alleges that the towman was not instructed as to how to operate the truck safely. The lawsuit stated that the business also hired the towman while knowing he had a drug problem and failed to properly supervise him.

The lessons behind this should be easy to see. This is an example of an operator who never should’ve been allowed in a tow truck.

Finding and retaining operators in the towing industry may be a challenge, but it’s simply not worth it to ignore your due diligence in hiring.

--Charles Duke

Lodar USA’s IP Transmitters

LodarUSA 5ebd3From automation to towing, the Lodar IP transmitter has universal use across dozens of industries. Choose from a range of functions varying from 2 to 40 available. The large tactile dome buttons are protected by a wipe clean overlay. Button image customization is available, choose from our massive library. Come see what Lodar USA has available for your business at the American Towman Exposition taking place at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland, November 20-22, 2020.

lodar.com
By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


Have you diversified into any new revenue streams to cope with the pandemic?
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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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June 29 - July 06, 2020
Eric Gould, media and marketing manager for the California Tow Truck Association, passed away suddenly July 3.

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, Towing 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.

TRAO Cancels 2020 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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June 29 - July 06, 2020
The body of towman William Ellis was recovered 24 hours after a crash on the Don Holt Bridge in Charleston County, South Carolina, last Wednesday. Image - postandcourier.com.

Missing Towman’s Body [b]Recovered after Bridge Crash

The Berkeley County (South Carolina) Coroner’s Office identified the body of towman William Ellis who went missing following a crash July 1 on the Don Holt Bridge that also injured a Charleston County sheriff’s deputy.

Ellis’ body was found at 1:44 p.m. July 2 in the water near Daniel Island, said Coroner George Oliver.

Ellis owned Carolina Roadside Services, according to a GoFundMe page. He was 45 years old and lived in North Charleston, Oliver said.

Investigators with the Highway Patrol are still piecing together what happened on the bridge, but it’s presumed that Ellis was somehow sent over the edge of the span and into the Cooper River below after the driver of a Ford F-350 pulling a trailer crashed into a deputy’s vehicle. The deputy had pulled up to help Ellis who was assisting a motorist whose vehicle had broken down.

An online fundraiser set up by Ellis’ daughter, Savasha Lloyd, aims to raise $10,000 for funeral expenses (gofundme.com/f/show-love-to-will-he-helped-everyone).

Source: postandcourier.com.

Towman Organizes Town’s [b]Unofficial Holiday Parade

Tow owner George Kuntz said he was disappointed after finding out that the annual Fourth of July parade in Mandan, North Dakota, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So Kuntz, owner of Ace Towing, put out a call on social media to businesses and dozens of car enthusiasts and held an unofficial parade in the town July 5.

“We felt that if other things were going to be held ... Why can’t we have the parade?” he said.

His announcement to the town’s residents encouraged them to practice social distancing. Residents said they enjoyed watching the parade and were happy with the low turnout.

“I’ve always come out here since I was little so it’s kind of like a tradition,” said one Bismarck resident.

According to a local newspaper, this year may have been the first time in its 139-year history the official parade was cancelled. According to the Mandan Parade website, they hope to revive the annual celebration in 2021.

Source: kfyrtv.com.

Stertil-Koni Names Boyer [b]Regional Sales Manager

Stertil-Koni has named Carl Boyer its Midwest Regional Sales Manager.

In his new post, Boyer brings nearly three decades of client-focused sales management, business development and customer service experience to this key Stertil-Koni role.

Boyer will manage a territory that includes Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and parts of Wisconsin — supporting Stertil-Koni’s exclusive distributor network serving these states.

Most recently, Boyer served as Shop Equipment Specialist at Stertil-Koni.

Source: Stertil-Koni.

Towman Struck on [b]Expressway Near Cicero

A towman is in critical condition after he was struck by a car while changing a tire on the Stevenson Expressway near Cicero, Illinois, on July 6.

According to Illinois State Police, a semi was pulled over on the northbound right shoulder at Cicero around 2:45 a.m., and the unidentified towman was responding to help the trucker with a flat tire. Police said the towman was out of his vehicle when a gray 2007 Volkswagen hit the rear of the tow truck, pushing it into the towman.

The incident took place just before 3 a.m.

The driver of the car that struck the towman also was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Source: chicago.cbslocal.com.

Tomar.com Site Revamped

TOMAR Electronics recently launched its revamped website featuring thousands of parts and products available to customers. The company said the new site includes improved functioning and is more user-friendly.

The site will list or include 7,260 part numbers, 14,000 part variation possibilities, 364 product pages across 14 categories, reference articles, installation info and other photos and documents, event listings, live chat and more.

Source: tomar.com.

Mayor Suspends [b]Tickets, Towing for Summer

Everett (Massachusetts) Mayor Carlo DeMaria announced the suspension of ticketing and towing for street-sweeping violations until students return to school.

“During the struggling economy, we don’t want to create more financial burden for families,” Mayor DeMaria said. “This is an opportunity to alleviate financial stress as families in Everett are able to focus on more important needs.”

In an effort to keep the city clean and prevent harming the sewer system, street sweeping will continue as scheduled; however, no tickets and towing will take place.

Source: everettindependent.com.
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June 29 - July 06, 2020

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!

Tanker Flipped on Orcas Island

0 676a9by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Uzek Susol established Orcas Auto Tech/Orcas Towing in Eastsound, on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington State in 1991. Over the years he has handled a variety of situations and developed a reputation for doing some amazing, technically difficult recoveries using some creative rigging.

Such was the case on June 2, 2020, when Orca’s was called by a company for a rolled over tanker.

“At 8:30 a.m.,” Suzol said, “I had a call from one of our local excavation companies for a single-axle water tanker rollover on a narrow private driveway here on beautiful Orcas Island.”

Suzol responded with his Truck No. 7, the “Big Girl,” a 1981 Kenworth W900A with a 1962 Holmes split-boom 750/Zacklift Z20 that he purchased in 2016. The Big Girl has hydraulic spades and Suzol restrung the 200’ pair of 5/8” wire ropes on the drums and also replaced the wire rope for the booms.

“The driver was OK and the tank was empty,” Suzol said. “I surveyed the scene looking at what was available for Holmes trees on the high side.”

After surveying the scene, he found the trees he needed and got busy rigging.

“I set the brakes on the casualty,” Suzol explained, “chained the front axle to the frame with a 1/2 Grade 80 chain, wrapped the driver’s front axle with a Grade 80 recovery chain, wrapped two trees on the high side with continuous loops/snatch blocks.”

Suzol then ran a passenger-side winch line to Tree No. 1 through an 8-ton snatch block to another snatch block/chain at the driver’s side front-axle. He terminated the winch line hook at Tree No. 2’s continuous loop for two lines to the load at the front axle for a roll, then for winching onto roadway.

“I ran 1/2" grade 80 recovery chain through holes in the outer dual wheel,” Suzol said. “I ran a driver’s side winch line from the boom sheave to the snatch block/chain, then terminated it back at the driver’s side sheave for a high-pull for the rollover. I set my driver’s side outrigger and rear spades for wrecker stability. Both winches were engaged and casualty came upright.”

Once the tanker was back on its wheels, Suzol ran a hard chain from the 750’s tailboard to the casualty so he could reposition his passenger-side rigging to a lower position on the casualty to bring the back end back onto the roadway.

“I winched both ends onto the roadway, hooked and towed to the company’s yard,” said Suzol. “From time of arrival on scene to hooked and towing down the driveway was about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

“I don’t get to use this old girl as much as I would like, but she never lets me down and always gives me an adventure.”


Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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MIDWESTERN - Rolla, MO
$50
(pop. 19,559)

SOUTHERN - Brunswick, GA
$65
(pop. 15,383)

EASTERN - Willow Grove, PA
$125
(pop. 15,726)

WESTERN - Ellensburg, WA
$181
(pop. 18,174)

Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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June 29 - July 06, 2020

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.




Hanging On to the Good Ones

truck driver 0e835By Brian J. Riker

As a tow boss, do you find yourself always looking to hire the next new person just to keep a position filled? If so, have you looked at why people do not stay with your company?

It has been my experience that the majority of turnover happens because of a disconnect in communications between owners and/or managers and employees. Most of this is not done intentionally and it is easily avoidable. Even the most mild-mannered among us will walk away if we feel ignored, disrespected or lied to often enough.

Good employee relations begin with open and honest expectations. Employers need to be upfront with the demands of the job, the resources available and the opportunities for advancement or career progression. As owners we tend to look at our business through rose-colored glasses: What is only a minor inconvenience to us may be a major hurdle for employees.

The most common complaint I hear is the job was not what they were expecting. Now, some of this is normal as applicants eager to move on to a new company often only hear what they want to hear about the job. However, as employers we must be careful how we describe the available position to prospective employees. I have often witnessed people move across the country and only last a few weeks at what they believed was going to be their “forever job.”

This can be avoided with straight-forward information about your company. I avoid using phrases like “our top driver makes $XXX per year” or “we treat you like family here.” Often this does not reflect what a new person can achieve and it sets them up for failure and disappointment.

Another area where employees feel left out is when a company offers a bonus program that seems unattainable. If you want to make part of their pay a bonus for meeting specific goals such as fuel mileage and call volume, then the bonus needs to be achievable by the majority of your employees. If they do not feel they can achieve the bonus, or the amount is not significant enough, they will stop trying and morale will plummet.

Listening to and knowing what is going on in your employees’ lives goes a long way to employee satisfaction. It is amazing the difference in attitude you will see when you ask your employees how they are doing and take the time to truly listen.

I know many great people that are ready to or have moved on from this industry simply because their employer didn’t or wouldn’t recognize the struggles the job was causing. None of these problems are insurmountable; they just require attention, care and some compassion.

Perhaps they are going through a rough patch and could use some grace. Maybe something awesome just happened to them that should be recognized and celebrated. Maybe they have dreams and aspirations of their own. Or maybe they’re just feeling burned out and need a break. We all have different ideas of what success looks like, so keep in mind their idea of success may be vastly different from yours.

Owners should not put profits before people. I believe the loss of productivity that results from constant churn costs more than some kind gestures like an extra paid day off or surprise bonus.

Great leaders hire talented people. Give them a direction and then get out of their way. Trust in your people to do the right thing and you just may be surprised how well they do.

Of course, there needs to be guidelines and expectations. When these are properly communicated to your team, they will already know what to do based on your examples as the leader and the company values.

It can be very frustrating for an employee that has great vision to be ignored or even belittled for their ideas. Yes, there is a time and place for everything and sometimes they can’t see the big picture because they don’t have all the information. But I challenge you to learn from those that surround you. You will be surprised at what you can learn from your team when you just open your mind to a different point of view.

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.
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June 29 - July 06, 2020

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!

‘Slick and Splashy’ Rotator

0 8315dBy George L. Nitti


According to Metro Towing and Recovery driver Kevin Richardson, who has been with the Ontario, Canada-based towing and transport company for 19 years, the 2017 Freightliner SD Classic with an NRC 50/65 CS Rotator he drives is “pretty slick” in its yellow and purple.

“We have a body shop,” Richardson said, “and so it is easier and cheaper for us to paint it than to wrap it. We painted it yellow and then added the splashy purple decals. Not only does the paint last a lot longer, but it is easier to maintain when scratched.”

The NRC rotator is painted a solid purple, and perfectly complements its yellow background while other colors of red and green add accent and contrast.

The name of the company stands out in several places, primarily on the side of the unit, where Metro is written in large white lettering. The company logo pops out on the side door.

“It looks flashy with the lights on. It’s a bright billboard,” said Richardson.

On the passenger side of the cab is a white and green decal, a certification standing for “idling clean.”

“It just means that it is certified by the government that it is eco-friendly,” said Richardson. “Canada is cracking down on smog and diesel emissions.”

“Having a rotator makes the job easier. It’s state of the art,” Richardson stated.

(Note: This article originally appeared in the February 21, 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!
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June 29 - July 06, 2020

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.

SparkCharge Mobile EV Chargers

SparkCharge 132e4SparkCharge’s new ultrafast chargers enable service providers to deliver miles of charge to stranded electric vehicles in a fraction of the time of traditional mobile chargers, eliminating the potential need for the vehicle to be towed to the nearest charging station. The portable electric vehicle charging units can extend range from 15-100 miles and can charge an electric car at a rate of 1 mile every 60 seconds without using gasoline. The mobile units can charge at level 3 speeds.

sparkcharge.io
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June 29 - July 06, 2020
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June 29 - July 06, 2020
RISC CEO Stamatis Ferarolis.

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.

Resolvion Survey Gauges [b]Post-Pandemic Repo Landscape

Resolvion recently conducted an email survey of auto finance providers inquiring about repossession activity once the coronavirus pandemic abates and recovery efforts intensify.

One of the telling findings from the survey uncovered the depth of concern that finance companies have about the capacity for the repossession industry to handle the volume of assignments that could be on the horizon.

While auto defaults currently are trending lower, more than 100 million consumer-credit accounts are in some form of modification program.

Most of the institutions who responded were independent finance companies (43 percent), followed by credit unions (35 percent) and banks (14 percent).

Most respondents who were not currently issuing involuntary repossession orders did not know when they expect to resume.

Source: autoremarketing.com.
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