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California towman comes to rescue of trooper under attack
Extra-thick low-clearance roadside mat is 2' wide by 4' long
Delinquency on payments highest since 2010
Man of Steel graphics are a company’s moving billboard
Some 32,000-pounds of peanuts makes a mess
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Running Productive Meetings

photo a717cBy Randall C. Resch

Tow companies are known for hectic schedules and sporadic operations, and it makes for little time to hold company meetings. However, you gotta have 'em. Meetings are a necessary evil and part of well-run companies to keep the business ball constantly rolling forward.

I've found Thursdays as the best day to hold meetings, far from Monday overloads and Tuesday frazzles. By Friday, most employees are already thinking "weekend," and aren't in any mode that suggests attack.

It's been said that in the first 10 minutes of most presentations, 80 percent of an audience has checked out mentally—most because they don't want to be there or they're forced to be.

Here are nine suggestions to make company meetings productive:

• Itinerary outlines. Outlines are important when many topics are discussed and several individuals are making presentation. Topics for discussion should be outlined to detail the meeting's message. Meetings minus agendas are non-productive with no formative beginning or end.

• Signup sheets. Participants get attendance credit by signing in. If specialty topics are discussed, notation of attendance should be forwarded to employee files. (It could serve later as evidence of training when vicarious liability raises its ugly head.)

• Identify discussion leaders. Instead of one presenter leading the entire meeting, task lead drivers or staff members with topics for presentation during the meeting's course. Delegating topics to employees introduces them to an administrative mindset while instilling confidence. Have them prepare a short, but concise outline to follow.

• Control the meeting. To eliminate chaos, stay on topic and ensure forward progress. Task someone as referee to keep the meeting from straying off-point.

• Start on time, stay on time. Meetings that start late waste time and money.

• Close the door. Arrival times are posted for obvious reasons; late arrivals are disruptive. Those arriving late should be held accountable. Send an even stronger message that tardiness isn't acceptable by locking doors so latecomers can't access the meeting unless other arrangements are made or they're allowed entry at a break.

• Keep it light. Heavy-handed meetings are the worst. While serious topics remain serious, discussion should be light and to the point.

• Q&A. The best meetings should stimulate and motivate employees. When topics, messages and information are discussed, there might be questions that need clarification. Management should answer or clarify all questions or, if answers aren't immediately known, research the appropriate answer and make it known as soon as possible. This can be done in person, next meeting, employee mail or posting in a pre-determined location.

• Closing. Close meetings in the time slated while initiating closing remarks; then dismiss.

Your company's management should be holding at least one meeting a month. Bringing employees and management together is a great way to incorporate feelings of belonging and importance. Productive meetings motivate personnel. Feelings of self-worth become collective and morale and productivity are generally higher.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operation's 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. Randall was inducted into the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame in 2014

Tow Trucks and Loose Dollies

hqdefault e39bb( Make sure your tow dolly racks are secure. )
By Randall C. Resch

It only takes a second for a side rack of tow dollies to launch from the tow truck if the truck hits a large pothole, curb or bump in the road. Most tow manufacturers mount dollies somewhere atop the tow truck's deck; typically in the space above the wheel wells. The reason for launch; the dollies weren't restrained or held in place by some form of capture accessory like a clip, lock or carabineer.

You might say, "If they launch ... it's typically the driver's fault."

There's a necessary standard of care that some tow operators fail to monitor, one that shouldn't be overlooked as part of a tower's daily inspection. That responsibility requires towers to ensure that nothing comes off the tow truck during driving operations.

I'm Sorry Officer

That's pretty embarrassing if you're the tower explaining to a reporter or a police officer why the dollies ejected off your tow truck. When dollies come off your tow truck and cause an accident, you'll be listed as the party at fault in the accident.

Here are three examples of accidental discharge:

Example One: A tow truck lost a side rack of dollies on a crowded Interstate. Highway patrol responded to multiple 911 calls reporting that a van had run over a large metal object that had fallen from the backside of a tow truck. The item was reported to be, "a tow truck's dolly," that became lodged in the vehicle's underside causing the van's gasoline tank to erupt into a ball of flames. A reserve police officer and two motorists helped rescue the vehicle's driver and her young son, although she was burned on more than 30 percent of her body.

Example Two: A towman had completed a flat tire call on a quiet stretch of highway when a suicidal motorist intentionally drove into his parked wrecker as the towman was writing a receipt. When the car impacted the tow truck, the unrestrained passenger-side dolly rack launched towards the dirt embankment striking the customer across the face and upper body inflicting near-fatal injuries.

Example Three: A towman was driving down a city street that was in a sad state of repair, when the truck abruptly hit an uneven dip in the temporary pavement. The tow truck was traveling at a speed of maybe 25 mph, but the unrestrained dolly rack flew off the tow truck and onto the sidewalk. Luckily, no one was injured.

Make It Stay

Tow trucks are typically equipped with a set of dollies to make towing and vehicle retrieval possible. Dollies allow tow operators the increased mechanical advantage to tow vehicles that have flat tires, no tires, locked transmissions, accident damages or any other towing scenarios that don't allow vehicles to roll freely.

I personally prefer tow trucks that have dolly systems that stow in a tow truck's side boxes for several reasons: it keeps clutter on the wrecker's bed to a minimum; dolly components are out of the weather; inside storage prevents sun-rotted sidewalls; and most importantly, they can be locked in a more secure location to prevent theft.

Additionally, dolly bunks are a back injury waiting to happen. The same holds true for dollies that have to be lifted to higher locations on the upper decks of a wrecker's bed.

When dollies are mounted topside on a wrecker's bed, employ some kind of retention item so to solidly keep dolly wheels in their stowed locations. The securing item must be made of something with sufficient tensile strength that will keep the dolly rack solid and in place. Bungee cords aren't the right accessory if you're expecting retention.

In order to ensure dollies remain on the tow truck's deck, tow companies should have an operational procedure in place that becomes a topic of discussion at monthly safety meetings. If there's no policy requiring tow operator responsibility, it's just a matter of time before a preventable incident happens to your company.

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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