The Week's Features
Many have announced June openings and taking reservations
That includes the graphics on this 20-ton unit
And the potential solution may be outsourcing
Cantrell’s Towing and Scholle's Towing team up for cushion recovery
Grease has an operating temperature range of -80 to 400 degrees F.
Events
Cleveland, OH.
Aug. 19-22, 2020
Las Vegas, NV.
Sept 9-12, 2020
San Antonio, TX.
Oct. 16-18, 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 May 27 - June 02, 2020

Flipped, Flopped & Fried In Kentucky

0 c7e56By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Tri-State Towing and Recovery based in Evansville, Indiana, originated in Henderson, Kentucky, from Rideout's Service Center. They have been providing quality and dependable service to the tri-state area for more than 35 years. Gary Crawford owns Tri-State, Eric Crawford is the company’s General Manager and Terry Hailman is the Evansville Manager.

On Oct. 16 at 8 p.m., they were called to Smith Mills, Kentucky, to recover a flipped-over trailer by the Union County Sheriff’s Department.

Tri-State dispatched heavy operator/riggers Franklin Hammond, Lance Wayne and Steve Bell with their 2020 Kenworth T880/NRC 50/65 65-ton composite sliding rotator, 2018 Kenworth T880/NRC 50/65 65-ton composite sliding rotator and a 2001 Kenworth T800/NRC 9240SR 40-ton sliding rotator.

Hammond informed, “When we arrived, the tractor was still upright; but the trailer was on its side.”

The team staged the three NRC rotators to upright the trailer and started rigging.

“One low line was used from the NRC 9240SR to the tractor tandems,” explained Hammond. “We utilized straps to stabilize the trailer and prevent the wall from buckling.”

All three rotators were rigged to 12” straps on the trailer. After the upright, the crew re-rigged the trailer, lifted it from its wheels and placed it in the road.

The trailer had a load of chicken breasts in Gaylord containers that had been knocked about when the trailer flopped over. These containers are also referred to as pallet containers, bulk boxes, pallet boxes, bulk bins, skid boxes, and tote boxes.

As this is Kentucky, this made for a hazmat scenario. This crew has dealt with many hazmat situations before and are trained and equipped for hazardous materials clean-up, so they put on their Tyvek suits before dealing with the load.

Hammond said, “It was stabilized while we inspected and re-positioned the load to make it safe to tow.”

Once everything was secure, operator Bell towed the tractor-trailer unit to Tri-State’s Evansville facility with the NRC 9240SR.

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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Canada Tow-Truck Turf Wars Lead to Nearly 200 Charges

Toronto-area (Canada) police have laid nearly 200 charges, including murder and arson, in relation to a violent turf war in the towing industry.

Police allege competition for control of the towing market has resulted in a "scene of violence" in the region.

Rival companies were allegedly fighting over not just the profits of towing vehicles, but subsequent insurance frauds.

Police say the turf war was connected to several organized crime groups.

"Their fraudulent billing, fraudulent repairs, [and] fraudulent physiotherapy claims have earned them millions in illicit income," said York Regional Police Superintendent Mike Slack said May 26, when announcing the charges. "And when these profits were not enough they staged collisions using drivers they recruited".

"As the profits increased, so has the demand for the territory, and the need to control that territory through violence," he said.

The region has seen at least 30 arson attacks believed to be connected to the towing industry over the past year, and multiple drivers have been shot at or killed, according to newspaper reports.

An investigation found that the towing companies worked with complicit auto repair shops, car and truck rental companies, and physiotherapy clinics to defraud insurance companies. Tow truck companies would hire fake drivers to stage accidents on roads and in parking lots, police claim.

When a group of insurance companies tried to fight the fraudulent claims in court, their law firm, Carr Law, became the target of violence, threats and extortion, according to police.

Source: bbc.com.
"As the profits increased, so has the demand for the territory, and the need to control that territory through violence," York (Canada) Regional Police Superintendent Mike Slack said.
Texas Towman Organizes Slow Down, Move Over Rally after Fire Truck Accident on Scene
Don't Miss It!
The Recovery Business Boot Camp at The Towman Games in Cleveland will cover four essential topics: Documenting the Recovery; Billing the Recovery; Collecting on Recovery Invoice; and Economics of Recovery Equipment. Join instructors John Borowski, Ron Myers, Marcus Miller and Brian Riker as this four-hour course (offered on two separate days) covers the full scope on getting paid for your work. The Recovery Business Boot camp will take place at The Towman Games, August 19-22, 2020 at the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland, Ohio. towmangames.com.

towmangames.com

FMCSA Issues Final Rule on HOS Changes

TowingImage 4515aBy Brian J. Riker

The hard-fought and long-awaited revisions to the hours of service for U.S. interstate drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles have finally been released to the public. Most towing companies, by strict application of the definition of interstate commerce, fall under these regulations and not state hours of service regulations.

Although the FMCSA hasn’t published these rules in the Federal Register as of press time, they have indicated they plan to do so this week. Once published, there will be a 60-day public comment period and then the final rule will take effect 60 days after that. By early October, the new rules should be in effect.

The key issue for the towing industry is our on-call 24/7 nature and the shortage of qualified workers vs. the very limited emergency service exemption to the HOS rules. This makes the perfect storm where a tow boss is often called upon to respond immediately, even when the HOS rules may not allow them to do so.

Although the final rule has neither a towing-specific exemption nor the extreme flexibility we enjoyed prior to 2004, it is a step in the right direction.

The key change that will most impact the towing industry is the expansion of the short-haul provision for drivers of vehicles requiring a CDL to 14 hours, and 150 air-miles radius from their work reporting location. This will harmonize the regulation with the short-haul exception already enjoyed by drivers of trucks that do not require a CDL.

The other change beneficial to the towing industry is to the 30-minute break provision. Currently drivers must take a 30-minute period of off-duty time before driving after the eighth hour since their last break of 30 or more minutes. The new rule only requires an interruption to continuous driving of eight hours or more. On-duty activity such as loading or fueling can count as the 30-minute break. This is a huge benefit for the towing industry with the amount of activity other than driving a tower typically does in a shift.

The FMCSA also modified the adverse driving conditions provision to allow for up to 13 hours of driving time in a 16-hour window, up from the previous 11 hours of drive time in a 16-hour window. What this means is a surprise storm, truly unexpected traffic delays (such as from a crash) or other unforeseen conditions will not force a driver to attempt to push through or speed to cover the miles within the 11 hours of drive time. Instead, they will have an additional two hours to drive, allowing them to relax and slow down a bit for safety.

The last change pertains to drivers that use sleeper berths. The new rule will allow a driver to effectively “pause” their 14-hour clock for up to three hours by splitting their 10-hour rest period into any combination of at least seven hours in the sleeper combined with a later period of up to three hours off-duty (to make 10 total).

Neither of these periods will count against the 14-hour clock, which in effect allows for a pause and up to a 17-hour duty cycle in any 24-hour period. It is worth noting the longer period must be in a sleeper berth, so if your truck does not have a sleeper you can’t use this split or “pause.”

Although not perfect, this final rule from the FMCSA shows they’ve listened to the industry for the past few years and are working to make the regulations we must operate under more manageable.

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.

Keeping It Up

Many towing companies have gone the route of getting more community-oriented with birthday parades, performing delivery services and the like.

Undoubtedly, on some level, this has fostered some new relationships for tow companies.

With reports that business is picking up at some shops across the country, things are slowly but surely getting back into the swing of things.

Once things come all the way back around, how many of you plan on continuing to do those community-oriented things? Knowing that the push will be on for making up lost time and revenue, it may not be such a bad idea to keep up some degree of contact with new relationships you have built.

It’s the best kind of promotion you can have.

--Charles Duke

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rprecovery.com
By Don Lomax
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Where has your MOST challenging job ever occurred?
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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
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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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May 27 - June 02, 2020
Sue Redenbaugh, co-owner of Craig's Towing & Repair of Lacrosse, Wisconsin, was one of 42 businesses in the city to receive emergency relief grants. A total of $168,200 was awarded to 42 small businesses in La Crosse. Image - wxow.com.

Towing Company Receives Relief Grant

Craig's Towing & Repair of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and 41 other small businesses received the second round of emergency relief grants from the City of La Crosse. The city accepted the application after they received more money from the Common Council and the CARES Act to award a second round of small business relief grants. Craig's Towing co-owner Sue Redenbaugh said they will use the money for payroll purposes so no one loses their job. "It was challenging because money wasn't coming in like normal to pay people," she said. "But I tried to keep their families going as much as I could so they didn't have to go through unemployment." According to a City of La Crosse press release, $168,200 was awarded to 42 small businesses. The grants saved 372 local jobs. Source: wxow.com.

Mitsubishi Fuso to Discontinue New Truck Sales in U.S., Canada

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, Inc. announced that it will discontinue new truck sales in the United States and Canada. A press release from the company stated that Mitsubishi Fuso’s focus will shift to a service-focused operation in these markets. The company plans for Fuso customers in the United States and Canada to remain supported through an authorized Fuso service network for warranty repairs, maintenance services, and replacement parts until 2028. Mitsubishi will continue to support the eCanter all-electric trucks that are in operation in the United States under the terms of each customer’s respective special lease. Source: daimler.com.

Diesel Prices Rise for First Time Since January

The U.S.’ average price for a gallon of on-highway diesel increased for the first time since the beginning of the year during the week ending May 26, according to the Department of Energy’s weekly report. Prices had fallen nearly 70 cents over 19 consecutive weeks from $3.079 per gallon during the week ending Jan. 6 to $2.386 per gallon during the week ending May 18 before a slight uptick of four-tenths of a cent during the most recent week. Diesel prices now stand at $2.39 per gallon nationwide. The nation’s cheapest fuel can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $2.175 per gallon, while the most expensive fuel can be found in California at $3.182 per gallon. Source: ccjdigital.com.
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May 27 - June 02, 2020
Ken Monkhouse of the “Highway Thru Hell” TV show passed away Sunday night of a heart attack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed. Image - hopestandard.com.

Ken ‘Monkey’ Monkhouse [b]of ‘Highway Thru Hell’ Dies

Jamie Davis Towing of the television show “Highway Thru Hell” confirmed Ken Monkhouse, a Hope, British Columbia, Canada, tow truck driver who found many fans on the show, died May 24.

“He was a wonderful and compassionate man, with a great sense of humour. We’ll miss his spirit and his big heart. R.I.P. Monkey,” the TV production stated on their Facebook page. Jamie Davis Towing confirmed Monkhouse passed away of a heart attack.

“Ken Monkhouse was an amazing guy, great work ethic and a good friend,” said the post on Jamie Davis’ Facebook page. “Missing you forever.”

Condolences have also been rolling in on online tow truck forums, with several asking the family be given time to grieve. “Rest in peace Ken, we will drag your chains from here,” one post read.

Source: hopestandard.com.

Trucking Freight Volume [b]Ticks Upward

More than 45 percent of fleets responding to a Commercial Carrier Journal survey about the coronavirus’ impact said they expect to see an increase in freight levels over the next 30 days, while only 19 percent expect to see a decrease—a clear signal that carriers expect to see customers shuttered by stay-at-home orders begin to reopen.

Over the course of the pandemic, roughly 80 percent of survey respondents consistently said freight volume had decreased. However, bolstered by improving conditions and the prospect of brighter days ahead, 38 percent said they have brought back drivers and another 39 percent expect to bring drivers back in the next 30 days.

Non-driving staff are also climbing back into the workforce, with 30 percent of carriers saying they have already brought back non-driving employees and another 28 percent noting they expect to bring them back by the end of June.

Just more than half of all respondents (51 percent) said they had applied for and received a Paycheck Protection Program loan. Only 3 percent were turned down and 42 percent said they did not apply.

Source: ccjdigital.com.

Lynch Expands at New Location

Lynch Chicago—after 28 years at its Bridgeview, Illinois, location—recently opened its new 44,000-sq.-ft. site in Alsip, close to I-294, I-57 and I-80.

The new building is more than twice the size of the old one, allowing for additional technicians in both install and repair, a larger parts department and a new state-of-the-art paint and body shop facility. The new eight-acre lot also dwarfs the former three acres, allowing for more parking and a display of more equipment.

The company said in a press release that “the new location will allow us to better support our customers and their business needs.”

Source: lynchchicago.com.

All Pro Towing Helps Couple [b]Escaping Pandemic

As COVID-19 cases racked up in New York City, New York, Kyle Kinard and his wife loaded up their SUV and set out to leave their Brooklyn apartment behind.

But their second stop of what was supposed to be a smooth-sailing road trip to eastern Washington didn’t go entirely as planned.

“My wife was kind of looking on Google Maps and picked out the Sheyenne National Grasslands south of Fargo, so we decided we were going to poke around in there and try to find a spot to sleep for the night,” Kinard says.

Instead of getting a good night’s sleep, what they got was their Kia getting stuck in a trail of mud.

Kinard, who’s a senior editor at Road & Track magazine, recently wrote about their off-road experience; the article shining a light on a Fargo man and his business.

Nathan and Marty Lohman of All Pro Towing in Fargo came to their rescue.
The father-son duo admit they were nervous to get in a truck with Kinard amid the pandemic, but knew they had to help.

“We were pretty scared, you know,” says Marty. “I was riding out there with Kyle in my tow truck and we were sort of looking at each other. That was at the beginning, so we didn’t shake hands, and we were nervous.”

They ended up freeing the SUV in less than 15 minutes, and Kinard says he’s glad he made that call to Lohman.

Even in the face of a pandemic, being there for others is what Lohman says he’s here for.

“We have to keep going. Us, law enforcement, medical, we have to keep going to do the rescues,” he says.

The Kinards made it safely to Pullman, Washington, after being on the road for 45 hours.

Source: kvrr.com.

Kansas Towman [b]Honored with Parade

Towman Michael Walton, who was killed in a vehicle accident in Butler County, Kansas, during severe weather earlier this month, was honored with a tow truck parade.

Walton was a AAA tow truck driver.

“He was just an amazing individual,” said fellow AAA towman Bryan Page. “He would bend over backwards to help anyone with anything. We can all say that we are very proud to have known Michael Walton.”

About 30 tow trucks made the trip to honor Walton. Attendees said they were surprised by the number considering the short notice.

Source: kwch.com.

Lynch’s Towing Recovers Dump [b]Truck after Culvert Collapse

A Brockton (Massachusetts) Department of Public Works dump truck fell into a culvert after the roof of the culvert collapsed May 12. The driver escaped unharmed, according to the Brockton Fire Department.

It took about three hours to remove the hulking city dump truck from the culvert after firefighters first arrived, said Deputy Chief Joe Marchetti. The heavy-duty vehicle was removed by a tow truck operated by Brockton-based Lynch’s Towing.

“The Brockton Fire Department put one of Lynch’s towing members in a rescue harness,” said Marchetti. “We had ropes attached to him to keep him safe as he attached their chain onto the truck in order to pull it out.”

Department of Public Works officials remained at the scene, guarding the collapsed culvert as they assessed the damage, fenced it off and put up barricades.

Source: enterprisenews.com.
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May 27 - June 02, 2020

Teamwork Recovery In Iowa

0 105f7By Jim ‘Buck” Sorrenti

On Saturday, March 24, 2018, Dan Cantrell of Cantrell’s Towing and Recovery in Carbon Cliff, Illinois, was contacted by a trucking company to recover one of its reefer units. The trucking company wanted the unit to be recovered without having to remove the 44,000 lbs. of breakfast products.

This accident occurred on the I-80 to I-280 eastbound ramp near Davenport, Iowa, during a heavy snowstorm. The Iowa State Police had a tow ban on all vehicles because it was a safety hazard with the road conditions.

Cantrell assessed the scene and figured the best way to recover the unit was with air cushions. He then contacted Al Scholle from Scholle's Towing and Body Shop to see if they would be willing to assist him with the recovery using their Matjack Jumbo Cushions.

Scholle's Towing and Body Shop, based in Peru, Illinois, is a family-run business that has been serving the Illinois valley area since 1972.

“We were called to assist with our air bags for this rollover,” John Scholle said. “It was agreed we would do the recovery the following morning … after the state lifted the tow ban.

On Sunday morning, Cantrell and his driver Scott responded with their 2001 Kenworth W900/55-ton Jerr-Dan and a 2006 Peterbilt 388/Vulcan V-70 heavy.

“My father, Al Scholle, my two brothers Chris Scholle and Jim Arboit, Skyler Frederick and myself traveled to the scene with our air bag unit, our 1996 Peterblit 378 with an 8808 Challenger 50-ton rotator, and our 1998 Peterbilt 379 with a Holmes 1801 45-ton,” Scholle said.

The recovery team checked the load in the trailer to find it was mostly liquid egg yolk bags and a half dozen skids of frozen egg whites toward the nose of the trailer.

Cantrell backed his Vulcan V-70 down into the ditch where he lifted the rear of the trailer slightly, allowing Scholle’s crew to place a MatJack jumbo cushion in place and two starter bags.

“From there we worked the bags forward placing six Jumbo cushions under the trailer,” said John. “Once there was clearance for straps, Cantrell’s 55-ton Jerr-Dan and our 8808 rotator were rigged to the trailer and his V-70 was previously rigged to the tractor. We then let the bags do their job until at full inflation and then finishing the upright with the trucks.”

The casualty was then towed to Cantrell’s with his V-70. It was there for a short period until the trailer and cargo were picked up and delivered.

“Thanks to Danny from Cantrell's for giving us the call to come help out. With our combined equipment and experience we got the job done. Great teamwork,” said John.

(This article originally appeared in the May 16, 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!

Towers Big & Small

0 81548By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Tri-State Towing and Recovery has locations in Evansville, Indiana, and Henderson, Kentucky, and provides a variety of services. Gary Crawford owns Tri-State, Eric Crawford is the company’s GM and Terry Hailman is the Evansville Manager.

Lance Wayne is a heavy recovery specialist for Tri-State and runs one of their 65-ton NRC sliding rotators. Lance is the proud father of two children, Kinsley, 6, and Luke, who is a 3rd grader. It is not out of the ordinary to see Kinsley and Luke doing a ride-along with Lance in his rotator. With his father’s guidance over the years, Luke has learned how to set up the platform on a rotator, rigging and how to operate the tow trucks.

At 7 a.m. on March 17, 2020, Chris Pyle, the shop manager of Poshard and Sons Trucking in Petersburg, Indiana, called Tri-State. Lance and Luke responded in Tri-State’s 2018 Kenworth T880 with an NRC 50/65 rotator to the coal pile in Petersburg.

Upon arrival they found a tractor upright with a Vantage frameless trailer rolled over on its side with its load of coal mostly spilled.

“Luke and I did our walkaround of the scene and decided where to set the rotator up,” Lance said. “I staged the rotator and Luke started scooping the remaining coal out of the rolled-over trailer. I picked up the cylinder and plate off the tractor and let him drive it off.”

At this point they finished shoveling the body out, then placed the fifth-wheel plate and the cylinder in the trailer while it was still on its side. With the remote, Luke rotated around to put a chain with an 8’ continuous loop around the center pin. He ran an auxiliary line to Lance’s outrigger to a red 12’ continuous strap to the wheels.

Luke set it up and caught the trailer, then they hooked it up and towed it to Ruxer Truck Center body shop in Jasper.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Luke for wanting to follow in my footsteps and one day work alongside of me running his own rotator,” said Lance.

Editor’s Note: To towers and first responders everywhere…

BE SAFE OUT THERE!!!

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!

(Not So) Simple Act of Kindness

0 b1b87By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On April 21, 2020, there was a fatal crash on State Route 59 in Hurricane, Utah, after a vehicle went off a cliff and plunged to the bottom of a 100’ ravine.

It was reported that officers and emergency personnel were dispatched to SR-59 near the Hurricane Hill trailhead, commonly known as the Hurricane Overlook, on a single-vehicle crash involving a green Geo Tracker. The SUV came to rest roughly 260’ below the edge of the cliff. When officers reached the wreckage, they found the driver, an elderly man who was in his early 80s, inside the vehicle and deceased.

Great West Towing & Recovery, based in St. George, offered to recover the vehicle from the ravine at no cost. Owned by Lee Clarke, Great West Towing & Recovery was founded in 2009.

The recovery of the Tracker took place on April 29.

“Nobody called us on the recovery,” said operator Cameron Kent. “We heard about it on the news then realized it was still there days later, so I started calling around to get more info on it and found out only liability insurance and they were not paying. So we offered to recover the car but without any charge to the family.”

It was a hazard having the vehicle down there, so they came up with the game plan to remove and dispose of the vehicle.

“The wrecker we have that has done countless recoveries is a simple 1995 Chevy 3500 light-duty NoMar wrecker boom truck with dual winches,” Kent said. “Had to use one of our flatbeds, a 2019 International 4300 MV with a Chevron rollback to help tie down the wrecker to keep it planted to the ground.”

The location of the vehicle made for a not-so-simple recovery that entailed adding extra feet of cable to reach the vehicle from the top where the wrecker was located. They used almost 500’ of cable on this recovery, two 100’ cables and a single 200’ cable along with the dual 50’ cables on the NoMar boom truck.

Kent and operator Adam Clarke were the ones rapelling down the cliff while owner Lee Clarke was up top throughout the operation. Lee controlled the winches from the NoMar wrecker as the two operators were lowered down then hiked into the deep ravine where the Tracker was located to rig it for recovery.

“Adam and I had to rappel and/or hike down and rig the winches and snatch blocks,” Kent said. “We had to re-rig the winches about four times to prevent the SUV from falling back down into the ravine. Fortunately, we always bring extra cable.”

The deadlift (the point when the vehicle is off the ground and winching through the air straight up the cliff wall) was just about 98’. Once they got it topside, they loaded it on their Chevron rollback and hauled it to their yard.

“This recovery actually went much smoother than we thought it would considering the location of the vehicle,” Kent said.

The recovery began at daybreak and was completed about four hours later. Hurricane Police officers were on hand during the recovery operation.

Great West Towing and its crew deserves respect for its successful recovery at no charge to the family that did not have the means to cover the costs. Simple acts of kindness go a long way.

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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NORTHERN - Bronx, NY
$125
(pop. 1,438,159)

SOUTHERN - Charlotte, NC
$85
(pop. 809,958)

EASTERN - Baltimore, MD
$85
(pop. 622,104)

WESTERN - San Jose, CA
$200
(pop. 1,015,785)

Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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May 27 - June 02, 2020

FMCSA Issues Final Rule on HOS Changes

TowingImage 4515aBy Brian J. Riker

The hard-fought and long-awaited revisions to the hours of service for U.S. interstate drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles have finally been released to the public. Most towing companies, by strict application of the definition of interstate commerce, fall under these regulations and not state hours of service regulations.

Although the FMCSA hasn’t published these rules in the Federal Register as of press time, they have indicated they plan to do so this week. Once published, there will be a 60-day public comment period and then the final rule will take effect 60 days after that. By early October, the new rules should be in effect.

The key issue for the towing industry is our on-call 24/7 nature and the shortage of qualified workers vs. the very limited emergency service exemption to the HOS rules. This makes the perfect storm where a tow boss is often called upon to respond immediately, even when the HOS rules may not allow them to do so.

Although the final rule has neither a towing-specific exemption nor the extreme flexibility we enjoyed prior to 2004, it is a step in the right direction.

The key change that will most impact the towing industry is the expansion of the short-haul provision for drivers of vehicles requiring a CDL to 14 hours, and 150 air-miles radius from their work reporting location. This will harmonize the regulation with the short-haul exception already enjoyed by drivers of trucks that do not require a CDL.

The other change beneficial to the towing industry is to the 30-minute break provision. Currently drivers must take a 30-minute period of off-duty time before driving after the eighth hour since their last break of 30 or more minutes. The new rule only requires an interruption to continuous driving of eight hours or more. On-duty activity such as loading or fueling can count as the 30-minute break. This is a huge benefit for the towing industry with the amount of activity other than driving a tower typically does in a shift.

The FMCSA also modified the adverse driving conditions provision to allow for up to 13 hours of driving time in a 16-hour window, up from the previous 11 hours of drive time in a 16-hour window. What this means is a surprise storm, truly unexpected traffic delays (such as from a crash) or other unforeseen conditions will not force a driver to attempt to push through or speed to cover the miles within the 11 hours of drive time. Instead, they will have an additional two hours to drive, allowing them to relax and slow down a bit for safety.

The last change pertains to drivers that use sleeper berths. The new rule will allow a driver to effectively “pause” their 14-hour clock for up to three hours by splitting their 10-hour rest period into any combination of at least seven hours in the sleeper combined with a later period of up to three hours off-duty (to make 10 total).

Neither of these periods will count against the 14-hour clock, which in effect allows for a pause and up to a 17-hour duty cycle in any 24-hour period. It is worth noting the longer period must be in a sleeper berth, so if your truck does not have a sleeper you can’t use this split or “pause.”

Although not perfect, this final rule from the FMCSA shows they’ve listened to the industry for the past few years and are working to make the regulations we must operate under more manageable.

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.

A “Not So Funny” Wheel and Tire Story

Changingaflat 44277By Randall C. Resch

I oftentimes look back to the days of towing before flatbed carriers formally arrived. In the early 1970s, I was a fledgling tow truck driver working for a small San Diego tow company near downtown and the beach areas.

Because I was driving a clunky, smoky, 1952 Aston Martin DB2 drophead coupe, I learned a valuable lesson about removing and replacing Boranni spin-on, spin-off axle caps. As said in classic car forums, “Boranni wire wheels were the sexiest wheels of all time.”

Without knowing it then, the mechanical process of removing Boranni wheels was simple; smack the spinner with a soft-headed brass hammer and repeat the ditty of, “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey,” so to remove the spinner. Changing tires was the easy part of learning, but sling towing the car from its rear bumper would prove to be a harder lesson to learn.

At some point in my “going to school routine,” my $1,500 beater Aston overheated and needed to be towed from where it broke down. My old boss Mike was a really great employer and allowed me to go get the car after my workday was complete. After 5 p.m., I headed to its location in my wrecker, a newer Ford F-600/Holmes twin-line 500 sling truck.

Having been a tow truck driver a whopping three years, I competently attached the sling to the Aston’s undersides and headed to the yard. So, what’s the problem? While en route, I hadn’t yet learned that “righty-tighty” was true for towing cars outfitted with spinners backwards. As I towed the Aston forward, the Boranni caps unscrewed causing both tires and rims to eject. One stayed within the front wheel wells while the other headed down the street. Damage was minimal, but I was mortified nonetheless.

Tire Changes with a Twist

What is tow company liability when towers accept tire changes for motor clubs and other providers?

Christine and I drove I-5 toward San Diego’s downtown on one of those incredible summer days common to Southern California. Due to the holiday, there was moderate to heavy traffic; in front of us, a slow-moving convoy of fully restored low riders. One of the Chevys lost its rear tire and wheel and bounded across four lanes of traffic. Luckily, the tire and wheel stopped against the K-rail.

If tow companies work to remove a driveshaft and not replace it due to potential liability, why do tow companies change flat tires and accept liability to replace it? As in removing a driveshaft, the lug nuts have to be removed as well as removing the lugs on any conventional wheel hub. Is the liability any different?

I often think about that day I caused operator-inflicted damage to my own car. The sad truth was it became painfully clear that I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. As for the Aston Martin, it’s long been gone and I kick myself in the backside knowing that Hagerty.com estimates a vintage ’52 Aston to be valued somewhere around $250,000. I guess it’s fair to say I wasn’t too bright; now all I have left are my memories.

In keeping with the late Dave Lambert’s “Tow First” theory, would conducting tire changes be a reasonable process in protecting a company’s assets and responding operator safety? If a tow company changes a tire and it comes off once the customer’s departed the scene, someone's certainly gonna pay for any resulting damages or be responsible for an accidental injury or unfortunate death. Stranger things have happened, right?

So, for the sake of argument, should flat tire calls be "transport only,” where the motorist’s vehicle is towed or transported to a tire repair facility?

What’s your take?

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.











Budgeting for Normal

TowBusinessOperations a848dBy Brian J. Riker

As a large portion of the country begins to ease shelter-in-place restrictions, life may begin to return to normal.

Almost every business around the world has felt an impact from the COVID-19 virus pandemic, and towing is not alone in its overnight drop in workload. While this issue has touched each company differently, we all can learn from the struggles we have faced and emerge as stronger businesses.

What if I said there is a better way and life does not have to be this difficult?

Diversity is key to weathering the typical ups and downs that all businesses endure. During the crisis is not the time to begin looking at opportunities to diversify (although some towers have successfully done so).

Business owners and employees alike should be looking at ways to diversify their earning potential, maximize savings and reduce expenses wherever possible. Not just for the next few months or next year—but forever.

Managing cash flow is imperative to survival, especially as many large customers have adjusted their payment terms to 45 or 60 days or more—without even asking if the change was acceptable to you, the vendor. This has caused some businesses to struggle just to meet payroll because they simply did not have enough cash flow to cover the unexpected change in their “normal.”

Same with employees; as many live hand-to-mouth without any savings set aside.

Small businesses and individual employees don’t have the muscle of large corporations to declare a new payment due date, so they must have a different thought process on money management to survive.

I have chosen to live my life, both personal and business, debt-free. After nearly going bankrupt almost two decades ago I decided “never again.” That means no car loans, no credit cards or other debt. If I can’t pay cash for it then I don’t need it. It has not been an easy road to get where I am; there have been many struggles, missed opportunities and failures along the way. I have chosen to delay pleasure short-term for the long-term benefit of my financial health.

Operating a business without leveraging credit is not something that happens overnight. Many will not even think it’s possible, but it can be done. Some of the largest trucking companies in America are 100 percent debt free; you can be, too.

If you didn’t have a payment to fret over, how much different would your outlook be on this pandemic? What could you do for your community and your team if your focus was not on making the payment now that cash flow has dried up?

The first step towards financial independence is an often-overlooked step that is critical to both personal and business financial success: a budget. A zero-base budget—not a dream budget or projection of what income might look like—but a budget based on actual known income or cash reserves.

Give a priority ranking to each payable, then assign your money from most important to least important until it is gone. Repeat and readjust as income changes—it’s that simple. Once the basics are covered and the fat is trimmed you should be able to build an emergency fund, pay off debt and build wealth beyond your dreams.

I recommend prioritizing in this order: food, shelter, utilities and transportation for your personal budget. Business priorities would be insurance, payroll, property/physical location, utilities and equipment payments. Hold no sacred cows: everything is on the table to be cut or sold, if necessary, for survival.

Business owners: you must be sure to include your minimum required take home in your business budget. Your personal finances must be in order if your business has any chance of survival. Do not simply take home what is left; this will never allow you to get ahead and build a retained earnings account for the next crisis … and there will be a next crisis.

Debt only works when everything else works as expected. One little hiccup or major disaster (like COVID-19), and your house of cards will come crashing down. Debt is not a tool; rather it is a shackle that binds you instead of setting you free to prosper without worry.

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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May 27 - June 02, 2020

Going ‘Big’ in Texas

0 b240b
By George L. Nitti

In Texas, everyone knows that size counts. Everything’s “bigger in Texas,” and that includes the size of the graphics one might find on a tow truck.

Drawing on this quintessential Texas idiom is Speedway Towing in Whitney, with its oversized logo on their 1998 Kenworth T300 chassis with a 20-ton Century 4024 body.

For a tow truck, going “big” ensures that it’s spotted from afar. In large orange/neon reflective lettering, the name Speedway can’t be mistaken or missed as it pops out due to its sheer size.

“We wrapped it real big as I was going for that Texas ‘theme,’ ” said Speedway owner Jerry Moore. “The wrap was done by 517 Designs, one of our local businesses which I like to support. I wanted to make sure that our name stood out.”

Under the Speedway lettering, the word “Towing” stands out composed of a diamond-plated gray-themed design with a shadow of reflective neon, giving it pop and contrast.

The racing stripes next to the Texas-sized lettering correspond with the company name. Adding more flavor, the unit’s predominantly red, white and blue colors stand out; as does the state flag, where its lone white star shines through as a background to the lettering.

“When we go up to Dallas and Fort Worth,” Moore said, “people take pictures of it all of the time. Also, at Lake Whitney, the getaway capital of Texas where we are three miles away, it draws attention. In the summer there is quite of bit of tourism and weekenders that keep us busy.”

(This article originally appeared in the August 23, 2017 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!

Fighting On

0 86762By George L. Nitti

One of the keys to any successful business is to know your customers and give them what they want—sometimes even mirroring their tastes and culture.

AJ’s Complete Auto Repair & Towing of Fairborn, Ohio, aims to please their large customer base of Air Force clientele.

“We are right across the street from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and have a lot of military customers,” said Jim Ashbrook, AJ’s owner.

This tow company of five tow trucks has orchestrated a couple of patriotic-themed wraps; one being their 2014 Dodge Ram 5500 with a Jerr-Dan 19.5’ aluminum bed.

At the heart of the design are the characteristic stars and stripes, emblematic of many patriotic-themed wraps. On this one, red and white stripes cover the hood while a row of blue and white stars are aligned along the unit’s front side.

A Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor takes flight in the design in honor of the neighboring Airmen.

“Select Signs did the wrap,” said Ashbrook. “The guy who designed it recommended the plane, and I confirmed it with a friend of mine who is in the Air Force and we went with it.”

Behind the Raptor is a tear effect, with heavy steel undergirding the image and diamond plates adding to the overall effect of hardcore machinery.

“Our customers love the truck,” said Ashbook.

AJ’s company name also stands out next to the Raptor and over the metal cutout, as does the phone number.

Ashbook said, “The ‘A’ stands for ‘Angel,’ who is my wife and partner.”

The company was started 20 years ago as an auto repair shop, eventually branching out several years later into towing.

Though the coronavirus has temporarily upended life as we know it, AJ’s fights on as Memorial Day serves as another reminder to honor our brave military men and women.

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! 
 

Mario's First Hybrid a Tribute to Frontline Workers

0 366e7Mario’s Towing has added a hybrid Hino-based tow truck to its fleet, believed to be the first of its kind in British Columbia, Canada. General Manager Nicholas Moretto said the idea started a year ago when he went to Gemm Diesel Ltd. to get the custom truck built.

Mario’s added decals to the Hino truck to showcase the fact that it is a hybrid but also a nod to first responders.

“There can’t be a better time to thank our front-line responders right now for the global pandemic we’re all going through. So, we thought of such an opportunity to say thank you to them because, without them, I don't know where we’d all be right now,” said Moretto.

The hybrid Hino, backed with a Vulcan car carrier, is a combination of battery power and diesel. The truck is equipped with a rechargeable battery just below the deck. The cab is designed with fewer blind spots and the lights shut-off while idling, which is big for the towing company.

“It was a huge feature we focused on … it’s great to be able to sit there now and not be idling,” said Moretto.

He knows how important it is to take care of the planet not only for him but for his two kids.

“I think we need to be better corporate citizens, all of us, I think we need to make the attempt to drive a little cleaner in the environment and we have to live here so let's look at the future and be less detrimental to it every day,” said Moretto.

Source: castanet.net.
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May 27 - June 02, 2020

Hot Shot’s Secret Spray & Stay Grease

spray 051b8Hot Shot’s Secret’s new Spray & Stay Grease is an aerosolized synthetic grease that can be sprayed on metal, paint, rubber and plastic without drips or runs to protect moving parts and machinery from sticking or binding. The thick formula makes it easy to spray on vertical surfaces without making a mess; provides long-lasting lubrication and protection while being resistant to water washout. Spray & Stay Grease has an operating temperature range of -80 degrees F to 400 degrees F.

hotshotsecret.com

Access Tools Roadside Service Light

light 1 21ce2Access Tools’ new Roadside Service Light is a multi-purpose portable worklight and emergency hazard indicator for roadside service work and other automotive purposes. The light features a 500 Lumen COB LED and five lighting modes, including high, low, steady red, strobing red and SOS red. The light features an adjustable hanger arm that doubles as a stand; it runs on three AA batteries.

caropeningtools.com

Kenworth T880S Adds Optional Fixed Grille

kenworthfixedgrille 1cb71The Kenworth T880S with set-forward front axle has added an optional fixed grille. A radiator-mounted grille allows the hood to be opened in applications where equipment is mounted to the front of the T880S. The T880S is offered with a set-forward front axle ranging from 14,600 lbs. to 22,800 lbs., and is standard with the PACCAR MX-13 engine. For weight-sensitive applications, the 10.8L PACCAR MX-11 engine is 400 lbs. lighter than larger displacement engines and provides up to 430 hp and 1,650 lb-ft of torque.
kenworth.com
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May 27 - June 02, 2020
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May 27 - June 02, 2020
National Automotive Finance Association President Joel Kennedy recently identified the top eight challenges facing the collateral recovery industry.

NAFA IDs Top 8 [b]Collateral-Recovery Challenges

As part of a series appearing in Auto Remarketing Joel Kennedy, president of the National Automotive Finance Association, discussed the top eight challenges facing the collateral recovery industry.

He stated that through his experience, the following were the industry’s primary challenges: lagging repossession, skip, and recovery rates; days to recover are increasing; poor/declining collateral sale proceeds; volume of recoveries and agent management is unmanageable; lack of confidence in managing specialty accounts (such as military, bankruptcy, non-self-help states, and sovereign nation reservations);  loan and payables associated with recovery and sale activities are unmanageable; immature skip and recovery operations, and; managing non-auto recoveries.

As a possible solution to the top eight challenges, Kennedy said that he has seen the value of a more exhaustive outsourcing arrangement for everything from skip through recovery and disposition, representing a change from a previously held opinion.

Source: autoremarketing.com.

Santander Agrees to Pay $550M to [b]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.

Five Shot, One Dead [b]in Truck Repo

A Garrison, Kentucky, man has been charged with murder after shooting five people and killing one of them during an auto repossession, according to Kentucky State Police.

In addition to a murder charge, Michael Justice is facing four assault charges after he allegedly shot five people trying to repossess a 2004 Chevy Silverado May 13, police said.

The repossession caused a dispute that led to gunfire, police said.

Bryan Biggs, 37, died at the scene, police said. The other four victims were Thompson Biggs-Cox, Aaron Cottrell, Bonnie Dalton and Kari Biggs, all of whom are from West Portsmouth, Ohio.

Source: kentucky.com.

Auto Loan Execs [b]Allegedly Stole $5M

Executives of a suburban Chicago, Illinois, auto loan company and an accountant have been charged with misappropriating more than $5 million from a suburban Chicago auto loan company, federal prosecutors announced May 15.

James Collins, chief executive of Evanston-based Honor Finance, the company’s chief operating officer, Robert DiMeo, and accountant Michael Walsh are charged with mail fraud.

The men are accused in U.S. District Court with diverting money owed the company between 2011 and 2018 to Skokie-based shell company, LHS Solutions Ltd., which they controlled.

The men allegedly used LHS Solutions to buy GPS devices they later sold at inflated prices to Honor Finance, according to prosecutors. The GPS devices were installed in vehicles purchased with Honor Finance loans so that they could be located and repossessed if the borrowers defaulted on their loans.

Collins, DiMeo and Walsh allegedly kept the excess cash, which was used by themselves and their family members, prosecutors contend.

Source: newsobserver.com.
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