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Tow Expo Dallas' winning trucks are highlighted
Towman Scott Shover is being called "a guardian angel"
Redi-Letters' lighted signs easily mount on wreckers
Suspending auto repos of clients impacted by Hurricane Harvey
Or, do government controls actually work?
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August 17-19, 2017
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In his seminar, "Dispatching, GPS and Mapping Innovations," Todd Althouse of Beacon Software will take a look at how a dispatch office has changed in the last 20 years. He'll review modern tools available to dispatchers, such as GPS locations, PTO activity, computer-assisted dispatch for driver recommendations and much more to improve efficiencies. This Management Conference seminar will take place at the American Towman Exposition, November 17-19 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland–register today!
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingSeptember 13 - September 19, 2017

City, State
Waterford, MI
(Pop. 72,166)
Auburn, AL
(Pop. 56,908)
Terre Haute, IN
(Pop. 60,785)
Loveland, CO
(Pop. 72,651)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.

Do You Need Them More Than They Need A Job?

il 570xN.839058563 7rc2 bee30By Don Archer

When he began, it was just him and a rollback. Now, 15 years later, Tom has 10 trucks and 14 employees and can handle anything from a motorcycle to a tractor-trailer. His business was a success.

The team consisted of three dispatchers, eight light-duty drivers and three well-paid heavy drivers. "Well-paid," because they were hard to replace.

Although he'd done it all to get to where he was, Tom was no longer a road warrior. Now his job was the day-to-day management of the business. Employee matters and dealing with customers monopolized his time.

Being the boss is never easy. To make things run more smoothly, Tom made concessions. He knew that to keep good people, certain sacrifices must be made. Besides the more-than-fair compensation provided, his small business was consistently over-staffed. He kept more drivers than necessary because he wanted to have the ability to accommodate requested time off.

But after awhile ... things just got out of hand.

It could have been that he was too attuned to his employees' needs. He understood that family was important, and that people want a life outside of their jobs. So he gave in—and mistakenly made guarantees that frequently allowed a few key drivers to leave before evening drive time; all the while knowing there was no guarantee that the need for those drivers wouldn't erupt at any moment.

And he had some close calls.

One of his biggest fears was not being able to respond when law enforcement needed him. The police scanner can ignite fear in the heart of a man who's made promises he can't keep, and make him say and do things that he might not otherwise consider.

One day in particular had been a busy day for the big trucks. Two of the heavy drivers were still on the road at 6 p.m. and one of them was whining about going home. The third was about to leave to pick up his daughter. But, there were three more heavy calls that needed to get done that evening.

The problem was no one wanted to do them.

At first Tom tried reasoning with the trio. He reminded them of the times when there was no work, and how they were still paid. He then tried bribing them, offering a bonus to the man who could get the job done.

But nothing worked. No one was willing to stay.

So he tried a little harder and reminded them that, "when the work comes in ... that's when the work's gotta get done."

But the drivers had heard it all before, many times. They knew they had him over a barrel and didn't care.

And Tom knew it, too.

So there he stood, broiling amidst the ringing phones, mulling over his choices. The drivers had successfully convinced Tom that he needed them more than they needed a job, and he'd become weakened because of it.

It was in that moment that something in him changed: Tom had had enough.

He snapped. He quit pleading and demanded that the work get done. More specifically, he told them what he thought of them. It all spilled out. His incredulity at their indifference to his sacrifices. What he thought of their never-ending infantile demands for time off. How he wished that it was still just him and the rollback.

As soon as he heard the words come out of his mouth, he knew he'd made a mistake. The mistake was allowing it to get this far. It was his fault that the trio had taken advantage of him; he had enabled their behavior by giving in so many times.

It was in that moment of outrage and anger that he decided to make some changes. He could no longer go on like this.

Over the course of the next three months Tom added much-needed structure to his business. He created a handbook and implemented guidelines designed to circumvent similar catastrophes. He reworked the schedule and changed driver compensation where, rather than longevity, loyalty and consistency were rewarded.

And the trio? When no reconciliations could be made, he was forced to replace them.

Although the fear of not being able to respond still lingered, Tom's changes brought new life to his business.

What he'd learned was invaluable. He learned that people act in service to their own self-interests.

And, in order to get things done, you must have policies in place that align their self-interests with what's best for the company.

American Towman Field Editor-Midwest Don G. Archer is also a multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. E-mail him direct at

You Are the Culmination of Your Decisions

growthchart2 e21ffBy Don G. Archer

John Tatum was driving to what he hoped would be the last call of the day, a simple tire change. It was 5 p.m. in the middle of July, and the hot Arizona sun was taking its toll. The heat was bad, but what John disliked most about driving a tow truck was the way people treated him.

As he watched and waited for someone to notice him after almost eight months on the job, nothing had materialized. He'd done his part, he thought—but it wouldn't come today.

After 20 minutes of trying to get a lug nut off the wheel of a beat-up, last-century Toyota, John finally felt it start to budge. The excitement mounted as he anticipated getting out of the sweltering sun and back into the air-conditioned comfort of his truck.

He put all of his weight on the four-way.

He was about to win in his man vs. metal struggle for dominance ... when his hand slipped off the tire tool, and he hit the ground face-first.

Upset, he quickly lifted himself up and reached for the four-way. In disgust, he flung the iron cross discus-style into an adjacent field.

As his rage smoldered, he was reminded of an incident that happened weeks earlier. He had scratched the paint on a car while attempting to unlock it. Of course, he contended it wasn't his fault.

The locks on both doors were broken, making the task almost impossible. What made it even worse was the car owner's boyfriend attempting to coach him through the process. After a few minutes of ill-equipped direction, John became frustrated and mistakenly scratched the paint.

Walking to fetch the four-way, he thought to himself, "Why do I always get the bad calls?"

Then he remembered what his boss Terry had said while admonishing him for scratching the paint on that car: "It's not what happens to you, it's how you respond to what happens to you that matters," and one that really stung, "You are the culmination of all of your decisions up to this point."

John kicked the dirt and howled, "That's easy for you to say; you're the boss, you're already successful. I'm the one out here in the trenches getting my behind handed to me every day."

Two months later, he was let go. Eighteen months after that, John and his young family would travel more than 1,000 miles to end up at my door, looking for a job.
He seemed like a nice-enough guy, had experience and was willing to work as many hours as I could give him. As always, I did my due diligence.

A call to his old boss in Arizona revealed issues with anger and incidents of damages. What really struck me was after all the stuff Terry had told me ... he was sad to see him go. He said that he really liked John and tried to help him succeed and grow, but it was hard because he refused to take responsibility for his actions.

I did not hire John, but the discussion led me to thinking about my own reactions to my day-to-day struggles. How I continued to falter—even though I was the boss and somewhat successful.

When a customer would challenge a bill and it got up to me, it was hit-or-miss how I handled it. Some days I would take the time to explain the purpose of each line on the invoice and why it was required. However, on other days I might take offense, believing the customer was challenging whether or not the services billed were actually provided.

I was a (sometimes) benevolent boss with employees. Often I would listen and propose solutions to their concerns. Other times I might question their motives, believing their concerns were less constructive and more about work-avoidance or office politics.

This thinking slowly caused me to believe they were the problem. Because I believed outside forces kept getting in my way like John, I couldn't get closer to what I wanted: harmony in my business.

I needed to change, but that's easier said than done. One day you're Zen-like and you think you have a handle on it; then some new challenge presents itself and you lose it. Then you beat yourself up for losing it. It can become a wicked downward spiral if you don't get a handle on it.

The best approach, it seems, is to treat every moment as if you consciously chose to be there ... because the reality is, you did. We are the culmination of all the decisions we've made up until this point.

American Towman Field Editor-Midwest Don G. Archer is also a multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. E-mail him direct at
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