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Versatile rotator makes water recovery look easy.
The readiness is all.
Attention grabbing tow truck.
Steck Manufacturing introduces new airbag.
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April 30-May 2, 2024
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June 20-22, 2024
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing July 17 - July 23, 2024

Hydration – Not Just for Athletes

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By Brian J Riker

While the heatwave facing most of the Western and Southern U.S. was the genesis of this article it is important to note that hydration is critical regardless of the extreme temperatures, even in winter months. According to a report by the Associated Press, analyzing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2,300 people died in 2023 from heat related illness, the highest in 45 years of records. Sadly, the true death toll is likely much higher.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released a map that predicts above average temperatures for most of the United States this summer. Combine this with their prediction for an above average active hurricane season and we are in for a wild ride this summer!

Back to hydration, what should you do? As an employer, OSHA requires you to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards, including weather related hazards like high heat. OSHA takes this mission seriously, so seriously that they ask for details of your workplace hydration plan during every routine visit and incident investigation -even when hydration did not, nor could have, played any contributing factor in the injury or death such as struck-by or crushed-by incidents.

OSHA standards require you to provide clean, potable water for your workforce to drink as proper hydration is essential to prevent heat related illness. For short jobs, those less than two hours in duration, simple water is sufficient. For jobs longer than two hours OSHA recommends providing electrolyte containing beverages such as sports drinks due to the fact that workers lose salt and other electrolytes when they sweat. Substantial loss of electrolytes can lead to muscle cramping and other dangerous health problems.

Do not wait until you are feeling thirsty to drink, instead workers should drink at least 8 ounces of water every twenty minutes, and it is the duty of the employer to remind employees to drink on a regular basis. When heat stress is high employers should require workers to take regular breaks with the length and frequency of these breaks increasing as the risk of heat stress rises. Keep in mind that some personal protective equipment (PPE) can add to the risk of heat related illness; however that is not an excuse not to wear required or recommended PPE.

Besides the Federal OSHA standards on heat exposure, at least five individual states have their own heat standards that are more restrictive or detailed than the Federal standard. Those states include California, Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington.

For guidance on creating your own heat standards the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published criteria (Publication 2016-105) that includes recommendations for how employers should prevent heat related illness.

In summary, towers are encouraged to always have a supply of drinking water in their trucks and at job sites. This water, especially if in individual bottles, should be protected from exposure to direct sunlight and high heat as these conditions can break down the plastic bottles and pollute the water with microplastics and other harmful chemicals. I suggest keeping bottled water in a cooler chest in a side compartment or under the seat and replenishing often. Carrying a few bottles of low/no sugar added Gatorade, or similar sports drink, in the same cooler chest will ensure availability of adequate electrolyte replenishment when you are caught with an emergency job that lasts longer than expected.

Lastly, please be aware of the early signs and symptoms of heat related illness. Stop working immediately, move to a cool, shady area preferably with air conditioning and seek help if you experience any of the following symptoms:

-- Confusion
-- Slurred Speech
-- Seizures
-- Very High Body Temperature
-- Rapid Heart Rate
-- Heavy Sweating or Stop Sweating
-- Fatigue
-- Nausea or Vomiting
-- Dizziness or Lightheadedness
-- Muscle Spasms or Pain
-- Sudden Rash or Bumps

American Towman Today - July 22, 2024
American Towman Today - July 22, 2024
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Tow Companies See Surge in Car Repossessions

Published: Monday, July 22, 2024

It's been a busy year for repossessions with car seizures in the US increasing by 23 percent compared to the same period in 2023, according to recent data from Cox Automotive.

The figures reveal that repossessions have now returned to pre-pandemic levels, having experienced a sharp decline in 2021 and 2022, before starting to climb again in 2023. Based on the current trajectory, it is projected that 1.6 million vehicles will be seized by the end of 2024, a significant increase from the 1.1 million repossessions in 2021 and 1.5 million last year.

The surge in repossessions is advantageous for tow truck companies across the nation. As more vehicles are seized, the demand for towing services has skyrocketed, Companies like Jerr-Dan are seeing increased business as they provide the essential services needed for the growing number of repossessions.

Cox Automotive does not anticipate a reduction in repo rates to the lows of 2021 in the near future. Instead, it forecasts that repossessions will rise to 1.7 million in 2025, a level not seen since 2019, and could reach 1.8 million annually from 2026 to 2029. This sustained increase in repossessions ensures a steady demand for tow truck services, benefiting the industry.


Repossession rates are expected to rise from 1.6 million in 2024 to 1.8 million from 2026 - 2029.

Bold and Blue, Steel Cut-Outs and Neon 

Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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By George L. Nitti 

Visibility counts, especially if you are Statewide Towing, located in Chelsea, Maine, which covers the breadth of the heavily wooded state. They often pick up and drop off vehicles in Bangor and Portland, nearly 100 miles away from their location outside Augusta, the state capital and thereby show off their signature graphics.   

“I came up with the company name Statewide to reflect our coverage.” said owner Toby Watson, who has been in business for 31 years. “We do everything from Hazmat to light and heavy duty, EV’s and more.” 

Actively employed with a contract with Central Maine Power, who is building a utility line through the entire state, and often transporting solar panels, the company keeps busy with its diverse fleet, which includes a versatile and med/heavy-duty2021 Peterbuilt 389 with an NRC 40 Tri-axle Bed.  

“We just did a job picking up a 28,000 pound excavator and then picking up a 26 ton box truck on the way back,” said Watson.  

Like their other graphics on their tow trucks, this unit is painted blue and includes steel metal cut outs amidst yellow and green neon lettering. The bright colors give clear visibility to the lettering, such as the company name, that is written in a contrasting classic font. 

As for the steel cut outs, Watson said, “I like steel. You can weld it unlike wood. It’s more forgiving.” And as for the unit’s blue colors, Watson says blue is his favorite color and the "color of my eyes."  

“To describe their color, It’s a constantine blue with a purple pearl. Nobody has it. I wanted to step away from what every else was doing and do something different,” he said.  

As for the unit itself, Watson states, “It’s unstoppable. I haven’t found anything it won’t recover off the road or bring back up to the road or moving equipment.  To put 40,000 pounds on top of the deck and be able to haul a tractor trailer at the same time., there is nothing out there that i found that will do what that does.” 

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Managing Editor: George Nitti
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July 24 - July 30, 2024
Dexter Johnson

Agero Launches 4th Annual Summer Hustle Program

Published: Thursday, July 18, 2024

Agero, a leading motor club offering software and support for roadside assistance providers, announced its fourth annual Summer Hustle program, "The Performance Series." This initiative recognizes and rewards service providers for their exceptional customer service during the busy summer months.

Running from June 30 to September 7, the program aims to acknowledge those who excel in providing high-quality assistance. Over the ten-week period, Agero will distribute a total of $30,800 in prizes, awarding $200 each to 14 weekly winners based on performance metrics, with special $300 prizes during the Independence Day and Labor Day weeks.

This year's program introduces weekly bonus prizes for the top East and West regional providers with the highest "Photo Capture" percentages, rewarding those who document their completed jobs with photos. This practice helps verify service completion, accelerates damage resolution, and prevents false claims.

Agero will highlight top performers every Friday via email starting July 12. Open to all contracted U.S. and D.C. service providers in good standing with Agero, the Summer Hustle program aims to support and incentivize the dedicated professionals who keep drivers safe on the road. For more information, visit Agero Summer Hustle.

Veteran Tow Truck Driver Killed in Chicago Shootout

Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Early Wednesday, July 10, in Roseland, Chicago veteran tow truck driver Dexter Johnson, 59, was fatally shot in a gun battle with an SUV owner, who was also killed. Chicago police have not clarified what triggered the altercation, but relatives and neighbors reported that Johnson was assisting with a booted SUV when its owner opened fire. Johnson, a concealed-carry license holder, returned fire.

Johnson’s cousin, N. Hill, praised him as a responsible gun owner and a dedicated family man. “He was highly regarded and worked tirelessly for over 30 years,” Hill said. Johnson, who had three adult children, always celebrated his grandmother’s birthday, who is soon turning 102.

“He was the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back,” Hill added. “His work ethic was unmatched, and he was deeply committed to providing for his family.”

Neighbors, shaken by the event, expressed their sorrow. "No one should ever have to die for material things," said a resident. Another neighbor remarked, "Dexter was always there to lend a helping hand. His loss is a huge blow to our community."


George Kuntz Elected TRAA President

Published: Tuesday, July 16, 2024

In a significant leadership update, the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA) has announced that George Kuntz of North Dakota has been unanimously elected by the Executive Cabinet to serve as the new TRAA President. Kuntz, a long-time member of the Executive Cabinet, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his new role.

Kuntz’s appointment follows his extensive tenure on the Executive Cabinet, where he has been instrumental in shaping policies and advocating for the towing and recovery industry. His deep understanding of the industry and proven leadership skills make him an ideal choice for this critical position.

In a related move, the Executive Cabinet has elected Jeff Roskopf, who previously served as TRAA President from April 2015 to April 2019, to fill the 1st Vice President position vacated by Kuntz. Roskopf’s return to the Executive Cabinet in this new capacity is expected to bring continuity and additional strength to the organization’s leadership team.

Both appointments are subject to ratification during the Fall Board of Directors Meeting, in accordance with TRAA bylaws (Article IV, Section 11).

"We are confident that George Kuntz and Jeff Roskopf will continue to drive our mission forward and provide exemplary leadership to our members," a TRAA spokesperson stated.

For more information about TRAA and its initiatives, visit TRAA's website.

New Rule Devastates Reformed Tow Truck Drivers

Published: Monday, July 15, 2024
Ontario's new rule barring tow truck drivers with criminal records from getting certified is devastating for many in the industry. The legislation, aimed at curbing criminal activity, requires operators to undergo a criminal record check for certification.

Tow truck drivers like Igor Jakovljevic, who has worked for over a decade, are deeply affected. Jakovljevic, who has a 24-year-old weapons prohibition, is now unable to support his family.

"Towing is not just a job for me; it's a passion. Financially, it's devastating," he said. "I would have never imagined losing my job because of legislation changes targeting criminals in the Greater Toronto Area."

The Ministry of Transportation introduced this law in response to increasing violence and criminal activity in the industry. However, many believe it unfairly punishes those who have reformed. Shuri Durand, whose husband runs a towing business in Mississauga, highlights the lack of an appeal process.

"My husband's completed rehabilitation programs, attended counseling, and made positive changes. Taking away his license undermines the progress he's made," she explained.

John Edwards, another driver affected by the new rule, shared, "I've turned my life around, but this regulation doesn't consider that. It's heartbreaking to see my efforts dismissed."

Joey Gagne, president of the Canadian Towing Association, says the new regulations impact a small number of tow truck operators. He encourages affected drivers to seek help from the association and suggests that those with historical, non-extreme offences might look into obtaining a pardon. "Some people either don't know about that or haven't been prepared to go through that process," he said.


Tow Company Unveils North America's First EV Tow Truck

Published: Friday, July 12, 2024

Canadian tow company CAA is introducing what it claims to be North America's first all-electric tow truck, the Lion5, which will operate in the Quebec area.

This development comes 80 years after the company launched its initial horse-drawn towing services. The towing platform for the Lion5 was manufactured by XpaK Industries.

“Roadside assistance has always been a core part of CAA-Quebec’s mission, and our step into electric towing is a natural progression. We are committed to leading by example and playing a significant role in environmental protection,” stated Marie-Soleil Tremblay, president and CEO, in a press release.

The tow truck is equipped with a 210 kWh capacity and can travel up to 310 km (192 miles) on a single charge. The 800-volt battery packs are produced by Lion Electric. CAA will be testing the truck in various towing scenarios and weather conditions over the next few months.

CAA-Quebec also utilizes other electric vehicles, such as the Hyundai IONIQ, Ford F-150 hybrid, and the F-150 Lightning.

“This vehicle provides efficient service while greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, showcasing the versatility of Lion trucks,” said Patrick Gervais, vice-president of trucks and public affairs at Lion.

“With this new 100% electric tow truck, made in Quebec, we are contributing to the transformation of the towing industry. We are proud to be part of a more sustainable and cleaner future with partners like CAA-Quebec and XpaK.”

The towing platform is 25-30% lighter due to its use of lightweight materials and the electric nature of the truck, which also eliminates the risk of hydraulic fluid leaks.


New Law Requires Photo Evidence Before Towing

Published: Thursday, July 11, 2024

A new state law signed by Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro will soon require tow companies to take and provide photographic evidence before towing a vehicle. 

State Representative Jose Giral, who sponsored the bill, introduced this legislation in response to numerous complaints from constituents about wrongful tows. Starting in September 2024, towers will need to take photos that clearly show the vehicle's license plate, the specific parking violation, and any relevant signage before the tow. These photos must be provided to the vehicle owner free of charge and kept for 60 days or until the vehicle is claimed. 

"This simple but necessary measure would ease the appeals process for parking violations in Philadelphia and allow for a fair system that keeps both drivers and the enforcers of our laws accountable for their actions," said Giral. 

Some companies already take photos as a precaution. However, it will now be mandatory, and tow companies will need to be diligent in capturing clear evidence of the violation. 

The Philadelphia Parking Authority is on board with the new requirement, and there is potential for this legislation to expand to other areas in Pennsylvania, such as Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. 


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July 24 - July 30, 2024

Rotator Fishing

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2024

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Sometimes your GPS can get you into big trouble. Case in point, a lady driver discovered that when her GPS told her to take a right in her 2019 Chevy Silverado, it led her to veer off a rampway and break through a small fence. She ended up landing into a pond about the size of a football field, just outside an Auto Owner’s Insurance Company.

Fortunately, she had insurance on her totaled vehicle and swam away unscathed.

The dispatch came in early morning to P.J.s Towing of Lansing, Michigan. They were called by the Sheriff’s County Office to meet up with a two-man dive team and initiate a water recovery. Led by 20-year veteran heavy duty tow operator Jeff West, P.J.’s brought their 2022 Kenworth W900 with a Century 1150.

“Jeff met the dive team there. They came up with a plan on how they were going to get it out. Jeff instructed the divers to hook an endless loop around the rear wheels, shackle them, and join them together with a unity ring, wherein a winchline was sent from the rotator,” said owner P.J.

He continued, “From there, we were able to winch the truck from 12 ft. under water all the way back up to land. Then we picked it up with the rotator and set it down on one of our rollbacks and transported it back to the shop.”

According to P.J. it was a smooth recovery, in large part thanks to the operating ease of the rotator, which made light work of what might be classified as a medium duty tow, taking into account the water resistance and weight of the Silverado.

P.J. said, “The rotator is great. It’s versatile, you have 35 feet or so of reach and 50 thousand pound winches. With smaller trucks, the boom goes out one stage, so you may only have an extra 8 feet and the winch lines are not nearly as heavy-duty.”

Although a fairly standard recovery, PJ advised, “Figure out the safest way to recover the vehicle without doing further damage to it and work with your police department.”

Helicopter Recovery 1, 2, 3 

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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By George L. Nitti

It’s not on a tower’s everyday checklist to encounter a recovery involving a helicopter. Some may seem so easy that towing companies might wish they had more to invoice on – a nice piece of change compared to those more conventional pickups from a motor club dispatch.  

Jerry Zehrung III, lead operator for Schofield, Wisconsin tow company Lightening Express Towing, said, “I never thought I’d have a helicopter hooked on the boom of our heavy wrecker. It’s just that you really never know what kind of call you’re going to get.” 

Zehrung relished the opportunity to sink his teeth into something just a little more offbeat than his day to day, finding his first-time helicopter recovery a bit of a thrill ride, literally. Bringing his 30-ton 06’ International on a Jerr Dan wrecker into the wreckage scene, a half mile ride on a piece of overgrown land once a landing strip, you might say he found it like a Safari ride, sans giraffes and elephants, cougars and hippos. Zehrung was having fun driving driving down a bouncy half mile trail on soft sand towards destination recovery. 

Upon arrival, a team from the anonymous helicopter company included a mechanic and trailer driver waiting on Zehrung to play his part in this recovery encounter.  

“It was a catastrophic failure,” said Zehrung. “The helicopter was 3000 feet (about twice the height of the Empire State Building) up in the sky before it had engine failure. The pilot had to do a steep dive to get the blades spinning really fast. Unbelievably, everybody walked away.” 

First things first, Zehrung got out of his wrecker and did a walkabout through the long, tall grasses in order to find a spot to position his wrecker. He didn’t want to plant it on a soft spot. 

“I wanted to make sure I could get the wrecker into position to lift the aircraft,” he said. 

Rigging would be no problem. The crew of the helicopter company had it under control, including concocting specialized rigging made of steel cable to hook onto the blades of the helicopter rotor.” 

“We told them that their having more knowledge of the aircraft that it would probably be better for them to rig to the helicopter and let us rig our tow truck to their rigging.” 

With everything under control, Zehrung was in command of the lift off, lowering his 19-foot stick to the helicopter rotor, and then attaching his winch line to the steel cable which was attached to the helicopter. All Zehrung had to do was lift up and put down the casualty onto the specialized trailer, as easy as 1, 2, 3. 

“It couldn’t have been more perfect the way that it landed,” said Zehrung. “The whole thing took about 45 minutes.Every now and then we get some pretty crazy stuff.” 

Indeed, recoveries often come in surprise packages. You never know what you’re going to get in that cracker jack box. Even a helicopter. 

Bigger is not Always Better

Published: Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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By George L. Nitti

Although tow operators are skilled at maneuvering their units in tight spaces, some spaces prove more challenging than others, requiring a different approach and equipment. 

Such was the case when McGuire’s Towing & Recovery of Ashland, Kentucky was called in the afternoon to recover a dump truck weighted down with more than 10,000 pounds of gravel. It had overturned on a narrow county road that was partially under repair.  

“The dump truck went up the hill and had to back down the hill,” said principal tow operator Stephen McGuire. “When there’s a lot of weight on a small road and you get too close to the edge, it will give way. So this dump truck rolled right over into a ditch.” 

Ideally McGuire’s would have recovered the dump truck with their 50 or 60 ton rotator, but that was impossible under the circumstances.  

Arriving on scene 65 miles from their location, brothers Stephen and Sam McGuire brought in their 2018 Ram 5500 2465 Century 12 ton/SP 9000 Side Puller and a 2015 Peterbuilt 337 Century 3212 16 ton. 

Stephen said, “The two trucks that we got in there were about as big as we could get in there.” 

Looking at the little room in which they had to maneuver and the extreme angle at which the dump truck was perched, Steve admitted that the recovery looked daunting, saying to himself, “This is going to be a nightmare. Maybe we will come back tomorrow.” 

But as the two brothers prepared for the job (they have been working together since they were kids driving with their father at 8 to 10 years old) they were resolved to finish what they started. 

Stephen said, “Working with my brother – we kind of feed off of each other. We’ve never left anything behind.  Everything we went after, it’s came out and it’s come with us at the time we went to go with it.”  

The first line of business was clearing the area and offloading some of the gravel. Fortunately, a Kubota Excavator was being used along the county road and was available for their use to clear away brush, briar thickets and poison ivy around the casualty.  

“We also had to deal with a huge hornet nest that was buried in that bank on the top side of the dump truck,” said Stephen. 

Then the tow operators positioned their trucks in front and behind the casualty. 

“We had to take the front hubcap off to get the truck in place because there was no room to get any angle. We backed up one truck a mile and half while the Dodge was driven in.” 

Establishing winch lines to the casualty, Stephen ran a three-part line to the front springs of the passenger side of the dump truck while Sam handled the back side, running a two-part line to a tree about 50 feet up the hill and back down, where it was hooked to the backside of the driver’s side. 

Tightening up the lines, they checked for any issues that would have “showed themselves up” during the recovery process and slid the truck up sideways until they were able to upright it by first sliding the rear onto the road and then pulling up the nose of the truck. 

“We had to work quickly,” said Steve. “In these hills it gets a little darker a little faster.” 

With mission accomplished in less than an hour, the truck was drivable, with no damage. 

Show Yours @ TIW

Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor George L. Nitti at; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman Magazine!

July 24 - July 30, 2024

A Lesson in Heat Management

Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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By Randall C. Resch

If you’re serving environments typical to extreme temperatures, know that “extreme heat” is hazardous to one’s welfare, regardless of strength and physical conditioning. As of Wednesday, July 09, 2024, 151-million Americans were under heat alerts, representing 45-percent of the population. Extreme heat is reportedly the deadliest threat to people in all parts of the world. Extreme heat kills twice as many people, which is more than hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural weather events combined.

It happened to me thirty years ago. A DUI motorist careened down a darkened, mountain grade, across center markings and continued 700-feet over-the-side. As it launched beyond the roadway’s edge, it rolled several times ejecting its lone occupant killing the motorist instantly.

Called to work the recovery, I arrived on-scene in the company’s off-road wrecker to assess the recovery. I was faced with varying, dangerous conditions, adding, by surprise and in the darkness, we happened on two other vehicles (one stolen) within the recovery’s footprint.

In best interests of safety, the Incident Commander approved my plan to return the next morning with two recovery wreckers and two carriers; to bring them all up in a single effort. Because mountain lanes were steep, narrow and winding, we requested Caltrans be on-scene to handle traffic control with a pilot truck as escort.

With wreckers “winching hard doing their thing” five operators made strenuous trips up and down the steep embankment “humping” cable, chain, snatch-blocks and debris. Throughout the recovery, we drank plenty of water to stay hydrated and rested to save strength. Long story short, three vehicles were recovered without incident. When we -- reached the storage yard with our casualties, mid-day temps hovered at 100-degrees.

I sat on one wrecker’s fuel-tank steps only to turn blazingly hot. My skin was pinkish red accompanied by instant dizziness. Without indication, drivers said my eyes rolled in my head. I passed out face first in the heated dirt. “Mr. Randy, Mr. Randy … are you OK,” said my teammate Manny.

I recall someone righting me as I laid in the dirt while someone’s fingers swiped clods of muddied dirt from my mouth and nose. Inside the ambulance’s cool air-conditioning, I remember the ambulance headed Code-3, si’reen a’ blaring and the ambulance’s box “rockin’ and a’ rollin.” The ride seemed like forever.

At the hospital, paramedics hurried my gurney to an ER space where nurses and doctors quickly initiated “cooling treatments” to bring my core temperature down. Once all was said and done, an ER doctor quipped, “You were three bags low,” referring to three-liter bags of electrolyte fluids pumped into me to replace electrolytes depleted by my high-heat activities.  

Learn From Me

When it comes to heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps, pay attention to simple symptoms like:

-- High body temperatures (103°F or higher)

-- Hot, red, dry, or damp skin

-- Fast, strong, bounding pulse

-- Headaches, maybe dizziness, lightheadedness

-- Nausea or vomiting

-- Confusion

-- Losing consciousness (passing out)

-- Depending on the nature of heat emergencies, fluids may or may not be part of a medical response

Extreme heat events easily become true emergencies. Towers, be sure to hydrate, take frequent breaks, and “undress to the occasion.” Retreating to cool interiors of a tow truck’s airconditioned cab can also help avoid overheating. To that point, the following link is the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) “downloadable poster” for your office and training needs. Link:

I remind owners to hold “periodic training” regarding work in excessive heat environments. And that proves true to safety instructors (like me) who sometimes impart “lessons learned” having experienced them through the School of Hard Knocks. Because we’re just into the hot of summer, expect that extreme weather events will continue. 

Operations Editor Randall C. Resch is a retired, veteran, California police officer, former tow business owner and industry advocate. As consultant and trainer, he authored and teaches tow truck operator safety courses approved by the California Highway Patrol. For 51-years, he has been involved in the towing and recovery industry. In 28-years, he has contributed more than 700-safety focused articles for American Towman Magazine, and is a frequent seminar presenter and beauty pageant judge at tow shows. In 2014, he was inducted to the International Towing and Recovery Industry Hall of Fame, was the 3rd recipient of the industry's "Dave Jones Leadership Award," and is a member of American Towman’s Safety Committee.

Email Randy at


Redundant Systems – Are Your Prepared for Natural Disaster?

Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2024

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Brian J. Riker

As Hurricane Beryl sowed destruction in parts of the Caribbean this past week, and on the heels of recent devastating flooding and tornados throughout the Midwest and Central United States, I asked myself if I was properly prepared for a natural disaster to strike my home and office. The answer, sadly, was not quite. In my quest to be prepared, please allow me to share a few tips with you.

Redundant Systems

Our lives now depend upon near instant communication, not just for continuation of business, but for alerts from government safety agencies, news and other important notifications that may just save our lives. Long gone are the days of having a secondary telephone line or a two-way radio to stay in touch with critical people. Today we need to think about having multiple providers of these services.

This past February, a planned software update by AT&T, one of the largest global telecommunications firms, left their network down and out for days while they tried to recover from a botched software update. If you were one of the millions of businesses that relied upon AT&T for your telephone or internet services, you were left in the dark. This highlights why you should always have a second supplier of critical services, independent of the primary supplier. Updates, disaster response and the threat from organizations hellbent on disrupting networks are everyday hazards. You have spare trucks, so why not spare telephones, computers and internet providers?

Pro Tip

When choosing internet or telephone, make sure these independent providers have separate networks and don’t share resources in your area. You might be surprised at how often the major telecom companies share resources, especially in rural or underserved areas.

Bug Out Bags

Anyone living in the western US, where wildfires are commonplace, is familiar with the concept of a bug out bag. This is a bag that is always at the ready containing critical documents, medicines and life essential items that you can grab and go as you run out your door. Even for areas not prone to wildfires or other natural disasters the concept of a bug out bag is important.

For personal lives, it should contain just as stated above, life critical items and key identification papers like birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, bank account numbers and such. Everything you need to survive and reestablish your life should something happen to your home.

For your business, the same concept applies; however the information contained within is more complex. Included in this bug out bag should be spare keys to facilities and equipment, emergency contact information for employees and critical accounts and service providers (you can’t count on restoration of computer-based files quickly) and emergency action plans that are updated at least annually, more often for very complex operations or when key people change roles or leave the company. Perhaps you need two of these bags, one for your key person to grab at the office and a duplicate kept off-site, perhaps at your home, to ensure the information is always accessible.

Having the employee contact information on paper, rather than relying on your cell phone contact list or H.R./payroll database allows for quick contact using alternate methods such as driving to their home or using a public or borrowed landline when your cell phone is down.

Fortunately, most business today is conducted electronically, so your bug out bag really can be a three-ring binder with emergency plans and critical business contacts inside while your data is stored remotely on a cloud based or physical server that is located somewhere other than at your office. Having your business computer data backed up to multiple systems is important to reduce the risk of your backup device being compromised from the same disaster. This goes beyond just natural disasters and includes fires, theft, computer hackers, ransomware and more.

Your bug out bag should also contain a dedicated cell or sat phone, laptop computer and independent cellular or satellite-based modem, something separate from your primary internet and telephone provider, so when one fails there is a chance the other will still work. It is also well advised to keep an old-fashioned am/fm radio in there for monitoring emergency alerts and maybe a handful of traditional two-way radios, not the cellular based ones, but traditional two-way radios.

Pro Tip

As an amateur radio enthusiast, I encourage you to develop a relationship with your local ARRL club since they often practice for restoration of critical communications during disasters and likely have the experience and equipment to help you maintain service to your community, especially related to police or fire department activities your business may support.

Geographical Separation

With modern weather forecasting being better than ever before we often have advanced warning of most natural disasters. If you make it a habit of monitoring news outlets, weather broadcasts and community alerts you should be able to place some physical separation between you and the disaster, at least for some mission critical business assets. Get your most important trucks to higher ground or out of the direct path of the storm while you can so that they are available to serve immediately after the event has passed.

This same concept applies to garaging all your equipment in one location, worse yet, inside one structure. Should you have a fire or other catastrophic loss to that facility you will lose your ability to conduct business. Spread out your equipment, especially one of a kind or mission critical pieces, across separate buildings or better yet, separate facilities when possible.

Pro Tip

Remote alarm and video monitoring can help expedite emergency response when something does happen to your facility or equipment. As with your telecom needs, consider installing more than one platform for telematics inside your vehicles. Thieves are good at finding and disabling factory telematics, along with most aftermarket devices, however very few will anticipate you have redundant systems for gps tracking and geofencing. Monitoring and responding to these alerts in real time can help recover valuable equipment quickly in the event of theft or vandalism attempts.

In conclusion, disasters strike without prejudice. Please review your personal and business life safety needs to ensure you will survive whatever may come your way. We often forget to prepare ourselves even though we are in the business of rescuing others form unfortunate circumstances. Please take a few moments to prepare so you can avoid becoming the next victim.

Speeding is a Reckless Act 

Published: Wednesday, July 03, 2024

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By Randall C. Resch 

Police investigators alleged a speeding carrier failed to stop for a red signal light, which was later determined to have been “red” approximately ten-seconds. According to witnesses, cameras and debris at the crash scene, “evidence” estimated the carrier was traveling at about 60-mph in a 30-mph zone when it slammed a Los Angeles, CA, metro bus, June 2013. Upon impacting the bus, the carrier’s weight and momentum, sheared a curbside hydrant and continued into the front facade of a convenience store. Based on total annihilation of the bus and carrier, “speed” was said to be the “obvious” primary factor in this horrific collision. 

As the tow operator reportedly clinged to life at an area hospital, LAPD investigators continued their investigation to determine whether or not charges of vehicular manslaughter or murder would be forthcoming. 

In Philadelphia, July 2022, another tow truck scenario resulted in a violent crash that killed a female motorist when the speeding tow truck T-boned her car. In May 2023, allegedly a speeding wrecker struck a 67-year-old bicyclist as he crossed one of Houston’s intersections.  

First Responder Mentality 

Recently, a long-time southern California wrecker driver was ticketed for driving 50-mpg in a school zone. He said, “I was a bit over the speed limit cuz’ I was heading to a crash on the highway.” He asked if he was exempt because he was a first responder? Sorry dude, tow trucks in California aren’t “authorized emergency vehicles.”  

It's important towers fully understand “how” their state vehicle code defines tow trucks when it comes to towers being “first responders.” In many states, tow trucks aren’t recognized as such. What does your state’s vehicle code define? 

With no authorization to display red and blue lights, or narrative to specifically describe tow trucks as first responders, towers aren’t authorized to respond in Code-3 manner (emergency lighting and sirens), or use emergency shoulders to respond. The same goes for using center divider turn-outs to make U-turns. 

When towers follow internet videos, they’ll see influencers promoting Code-3 response which further complicates the issue. While Code-3 response (for tow trucks) may be authorized in some states, there’s no authorization across the board for all states.  

Defined by Law 

Especially true to tow trucks responding to collisions, there are three driving actions that oftentimes “go out-the-window.” 1.) Getting there “first” is a driving force of getting paid. 2.) Towers try to meet twenty or thirty-minute requirements of law enforcement contracts. 3.) For responders headed to emergency calls, “Sirencide” is an emotional reaction where personnel feel a sense of power and urgency that ignores reason and prudence. 

So, let’s talk basics when it comes to response. There’s no doubt that when a tow operator hears “Expedite,” or thrusts into “first responder mode,” unsafe driving behaviors are likely to occur. This is especially true to towers paid by commission or companies who monitor police frequencies. Racing to the scene isn’t an art, but a collision waiting to occur. 

Getting there First 

While getting “there first” is a noble thought, unsafe driving actions go against simple law. For example, California’s Vehicle Code Section, 22350, Basic Speed Law, describes, “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”  

There’s nothing reasonable or prudent about driving large and heavy tow trucks at speeds too fast for conditions. Tow trucks don’t stop-on-a-dime and are far from being nimble at higher speeds. 

Let this narrative serve as another reminder that a conviction for speed, reckless operation, or preventable crash could garner a total number of points against one’s driver’s license. A cumulation of too many points could make the offending operator “uninsurable” by tow company insurance providers.        

Operations Editor Randall  C. Resch is a retired, veteran, California police officer, former tow business owner and industry advocate. As consultant and trainer, he authored and teaches tow truck operator safety courses approved by the California Highway Patrol. For 51-years, he has been involved in the towing and recovery industry. In 28-years, he has contributed more than 700-safety focused articles for American Towman Magazine, and is a frequent seminar presenter and pageant judge at tow shows. In 2014, he was inducted to the International Towing and Recovery Industry Hall of Fame, was the 3rd recipient of the industry's "Dave Jones Leadership Award," and is a member of American Towman’s Safety Committee.  

Email Randy at

July 24 - July 30, 2024

Bold and Blue, Steel Cut-Outs and Neon 

Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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By George L. Nitti 

Visibility counts, especially if you are Statewide Towing, located in Chelsea, Maine, which covers the breadth of the heavily wooded state. They often pick up and drop off vehicles in Bangor and Portland, nearly 100 miles away from their location outside Augusta, the state capital and thereby show off their signature graphics.   

“I came up with the company name Statewide to reflect our coverage.” said owner Toby Watson, who has been in business for 31 years. “We do everything from Hazmat to light and heavy duty, EV’s and more.” 

Actively employed with a contract with Central Maine Power, who is building a utility line through the entire state, and often transporting solar panels, the company keeps busy with its diverse fleet, which includes a versatile and med/heavy-duty2021 Peterbuilt 389 with an NRC 40 Tri-axle Bed.  

“We just did a job picking up a 28,000 pound excavator and then picking up a 26 ton box truck on the way back,” said Watson.  

Like their other graphics on their tow trucks, this unit is painted blue and includes steel metal cut outs amidst yellow and green neon lettering. The bright colors give clear visibility to the lettering, such as the company name, that is written in a contrasting classic font. 

As for the steel cut outs, Watson said, “I like steel. You can weld it unlike wood. It’s more forgiving.” And as for the unit’s blue colors, Watson says blue is his favorite color and the "color of my eyes."  

“To describe their color, It’s a constantine blue with a purple pearl. Nobody has it. I wanted to step away from what every else was doing and do something different,” he said.  

As for the unit itself, Watson states, “It’s unstoppable. I haven’t found anything it won’t recover off the road or bring back up to the road or moving equipment.  To put 40,000 pounds on top of the deck and be able to haul a tractor trailer at the same time., there is nothing out there that i found that will do what that does.” 

Attention Grabbers: Bright Yellow Trucks and Dinosaur Deliveries

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2024

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By George L. Nitti

When you are looking for a tow truck, some colors are clearly easier to spot than others.

 According to William Alexander, owner of AAA Towing of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. “Yellow is very noticeable,” he said, “and pairs well with green, which is the other color on my truck.”

Alexander notes that his four-truck tow fleet, which includes 3 flatbeds and a boom truck, are all painted yellow and airbrushed with green ribbons by their in-house employee named Soldier.

His 2001 GMC Topkick with a 21 ft. Century bed recently grabbed my attention as I was driving around the island of St. Thomas, not far from the island of St. John, where I reside. My wife and I had taken the ferry over to the larger island and soon spotted Alexander’s bright yellow tow truck parked at a storefront.

Circling the truck, I first noticed the green ribbon on the back cab of the unit tied in a bow containing the name Don Richards, aka Abbadon, who was a former tow owner that was murdered in 2019 as the ends of the bow extended along both sides of the Century bed

“He was my best friend,” said Alexander. “He was shot in a parking lot, after someone called him for a tow. It was a set up.”

I also noted on the bright unit, just to the right of the hood, a small emblem of a lion.

“I’m a Leo,” said Alexander. “To me, the lion represents stamina. This business isn’t easy. You have to be ready to go out at all times of the day. If your body is not built for this shit, you just can’t do it.”

On the hood of the unit, writ large is the word “CAT” which stands for Caterpillar engine.

If Alexander’s yellow tow truck however is not an attention getter for you, a recent job he did transporting a Dinosaur from a school cross island would surely turn your head.

“I was driving around the island with it to advertise an event being held at the high school from where I picked it up,” he said. “Everybody was honking their horn, wanting to take pictures. I was a movie star now.”

It’s Showtime 

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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By George L. Nitti 

It’s Showtime! Yes, Red River’s latest eye-catching, hard to miss wrap is somewhat of a departure from their previous wraps, inspired by a party barge boat with graphics designed by Digital Effects Signs and Graphics of Texarkana, Arkansas.  

Texarkana, a border town between two states (“one leg in Texas, one leg in Arkansas”), is not too far from the Red River, which the company was named after.  

The company name clearly stands out, written in large red, yellow and white letters that slant down on the sides of their 2020 Freightliner with a 22-foot steel JerrDan rollback. 

Brad Sinyard, the driver of the unit, said he was given some autonomy on the design.  

“I just wanted it to look like the party barge that the Bossman has,” said Sinyard. “He lets me do what I want for the most part. I’ve been with the company for nine years. We grew up since we were little bitty.” 

Bold and colorful is how Sinyard describes their newest unit. “It makes a statement of who we are.” 

Besides its clear lettering, its colors burst with a design that can be characterized as graffiti art.  

“It’s something you would see on trains,” said Sinyard.  

On the outside, the name Wayne Akins is memorialized.  

“He is the owner’s father, who passed away in 2013 and was a towman,” said Sinyard. 

Akins started the company in 1979, according to owner David Akins. “My father’s daily mantra to customers was to make sure to always tell them that ‘Everything’s Gonna be Alright,’” said Akins. “It just stuck with us. Now we tell our customers that. We know that it’s not the best situation at the time. But things will get better.” 

To match up the exterior bold design with the inside, Sinyard said that the seats, dashboard and other areas inside the truck were redone, giving it somewhat of a retro, modernish feel and definitely something for customers to feel better about, particularly when listening to the new sound system that was put into the truck. 

On the backside of the rollback, it states “It’s Showtime.”  

No doubt about it, this wrecker was born to shine. 

Brag @ TIW!  

Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine! 

July 24 - July 30, 2024

Inflatable Air Bag

Published: Friday, July 12, 2024

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Steck Manufacturing Introduces the EasyWedge Inflatable Air Bag Three-Pack Combo. 

Key Features: 

-- Durable & Multi-Use: Ideal for emergency vehicle access, vehicle repair, construction (window and door fitting), appliance leveling, DIY home use, and more. 

-- Three Sizes Included: Perfectly sized for various markets and applications, with individual bags also available. 

-- Compact & Lightweight: Easy to insert into tight spaces, non-marring design protects surfaces, trims, and finishes. 

-- Heavy-Duty Construction: High-frequency sonic welded edges ensure long-lasting durability and a tight seal. 

-- Ease of Use: One-handed operation with precision inflation control and quick deflation. 

-- Versatile Tool: Essential for towmen, vehicle repair professionals, contractors, and more. 

-- Reliable Solution: Great for accessing hard-to-reach areas during lockouts, auto repairs, and building construction. 

For more information, visit: 

All-New ZEON XD Winches

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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Warn Industries has introduced the all-new ZEON XD winches for trucks and SUVs, marking a significant upgrade from their previous ZEON winch model. Leveraging over a decade of experience, the ZEON XD is part of Warn's Premium Series and is designed, engineered, tested, and assembled at their ISO-quality-certified facility in Clackamas, Oregon. This winch features a new high-performance electric motor and gear train, achieving a best-in-class line speed of up to 40 ft/min.

The ZEON XD is available in two capacities, 10,000 lb. (ZEON XD 10-S) and 12,000 lb. (ZEON XD 12-S), both equipped with Spydura synthetic rope. The winch boasts enhanced IP68 and IP69K waterproof ratings, corrosion-resistant fasteners, full-metal armor for protection, and the most efficient three-stage planetary gear train to date. Additionally, it includes a corded waterproof remote and HUB wireless receiver for remote control via the WARN HUB app.

For durability and reliability, the ZEON XD features a large-diameter aluminum-alloy drum to reduce stress on the rope, the strongest through-drum rope attachment, and an ultra-reliable Albright contactor for electrical control. The winch also offers a limited lifetime warranty on mechanical components and seven years on electrical parts, supported by Warn's global service network.

For more information, go to

Bi-Directional Pneumatic Air Hammer

Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2024

airstrike small 48555

The AIRSTRIKE -  Bi-directional Air Tool. From fleet repairs to heavy equipment, its 3,000 blows per minute deliver maximum power. 

Durable, compact, and loaded with accessories, this is the ultimate pneumatic hammer and puller you need in your tool kit.  


Quickly pull stuck fuel injectors 

Remove diesel/gas NOx & particulate sensors 

Pull stubborn oil tubes & stuck oil seals 

Attach to locking pliers for popping stuck fasteners and more 

Loosen hydraulic fittings 

Remove stubborn nuts and bolts without thread galling 

Remove harmonic balancers 

Bust seams of spot welded bonded panels 

Hem narrow window flanges

View more details here: 


July 24 - July 30, 2024
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July 24 - July 30, 2024

Auto Loan Delinquency Continues to Rise  

Published: Wednesday, May 01, 2024

A study by attorneys at Thompson Consumer Law Group analyzed 2022 and 2023 auto loan data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to see which states had the highest percentage of auto loan balances delinquent for more than 90 days. Their results showed it’s not only a problem everywhere but it’s increasing. 

Between 2022 and 2023, the percentage of auto loan balances over 90 days delinquent in America increased from 3.81% to 4.2%, and every state experienced an increase.  

The study showed these states with the highest percentage of auto loan balances delinquent: 

Mississippi: 6.77; Alabama: 6.05%; Georgia: 5.71% Louisiana: 5.69%; Indiana: 5.29%; Hawaii: 5.24%; Michigan: 5.24%; Delaware; 5.2%; South Carolina: 5.2%; North Carolina; 5.14%. 

A lending officer at Michigan First Credit Union says he sees delinquent payments steadily climbing.  

Jeff Fitrzyk, their chief lending officer, said, “We’re also seeing an increase in repossessions, both voluntary and involuntary,” he added, noting people are dealing with inflationary pressures that demand their immediate attention and one of the things that often falls behind are auto loans, which seem to be returning to their pre-COVID levels. 


Towman Murdered in Florida 

Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Towman Juan Garcia, 39, owner of JL Towing, was murdered late Wednesday, April 10, in what police authorities are investigating as a connected crime involving another woman who was carjacked and murdered as well.  

Garcia was killed at a house just before 10 p.m. Wednesday night. It was one day before Katherine Aguasvivas was kidnapped in a separate crime. At the house, Orange County deputies said more than 100 10 mm shell casings were found. WESH2’s Tony Atkins personally saw more than 80 markers from just outside the house and crime scene. 

Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said the green Acura seen in the kidnapping video showing was the same vehicle Garcia and his company towed from an Orange County apartment complex at some point last month. 

Lemma also said rounds both in Garcia’s murder and where Aguasvivas’ body was found in Osceola County matched one another. 

“At the scene, there are more than 100 rounds, but a good percentage of those rounds on the ground are 10 mm, the gun used in the murder of our victim that we found burnt up in the vehicle in Osceola county,” Lemma said. 

At last check, the suspect or suspects in the Taft shooting are still on the run. 


Florida Repo Driver Shot During Repossession 

Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Last Thursday, a repo driver in Port St. Lucie was allegedly shot six times after trying to repossess a vehicle. 

The agent, 28-year-old Tristan Hastings, attempted to repossess a vehicle where he encountered 59-year-old Omar Sueque. 

As can be seen on video, Sueque placed himself between his car and the tow truck yelling, “Hey, get out, this is private property,” and “I have cameras here.” Undaunted, Hastings can be seen ignoring the borrower and edging his truck further back toward the car. 

Infuriated, Sueque can be seen charging up to the truck and punching Hastings through the open truck window. Equally outraged, Hastings leapt from his truck and chased after Sueque. 

Repossessions Inc. owner Bill Kelly watched the video and said that he was surprised that the tow truck driver followed Sueque. 

“What did he get out of the car for and chase the guy? He should have just continued with what he was doing and left,” Kelly told them. “I’ve had people, a pregnant woman, lay down between the car and the tow truck. Obviously, you get out of Dodge, you don’t want to be involved in a situation like that.” 

Tre Smith of Off the Chain Towing and Recovery said that he cut his workday short Thursday after he heard about the shooting. 

“It’s a little too close to home,” Smith said. “I’m on my way to do the same thing, so can I make it back home?” 

” My heart goes out to him, and his family and we offer our condolences,” Smith said.

Decatur, Alabama Considering Banning Night Time Repos

Published: Tuesday, December 19, 2023 After two men were killed involving repossessions in Alabama, city leaders in Decatur are considering banning repossessions at night.

The first deadly incident occurred in September involving Stephen Perkins, who was shot and killed by police in Decatur after his car was subject to repossession. Three officers have been fired as a result of that deadly confrontation that took place in the presence of the repo driver.

Last Wednesday, tow owner Jason Click was shot and killed in Huntsville, Alabama during a night time repossession.

Both incidents are galvanizing change.

Billy Green, executive director of the Alabama Towing and Recovery Association, indicated that their organization may need to turn to lobbyists to advocate changes that will make repossessions safer.
He said, "We may need to look at the laws on the books and what protections there are for the repossessor."

State Senator Arthur Orr has been following Decatur's situation closely saying he's committed to finding a solution to prevent further tragedies.

"I think it's important that we do look at how we are doing the repossessions and if another state or municipality has a better or safer option out there that they have put in the code to improve the safety and de-escalate the potential for violence, that's something we need to look at."

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