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The Week's Features
Tower ready to recover mobile home gets ploughed by a sleeping truck driver.
Early snowfall sends Wyoming’s Norberg’s Towing 35 miles out for a multi-vehicle winch out.
Things to keep in mind when responding to evidence calls.
Strong company brand underscores “less is more.”
Check out Zip’s line-up of Hi-Vis Safety Apparel, Boots, Gloves and Safety Equipment.
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Aug. 5-7, 2021
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Sept. 15-17, 2021
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing October 20 - October 26, 2021

Smart ROI Auxiliary Suspension

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Link Mfg., Ltd., which develops and manufactures a variety of suspensions, suspension controls and specialty air management products, unveiled the first family of intelligent auxiliary suspension systems - the 8K, 10K, 13.5K and 20K ROI Auxiliary Suspensions Systems. These systems are expected to be commercially available in 2022.

Link’s automated ROI self-steer and non-steer auxiliary suspension systems will increase asset utilization, reduce training time, improve safety, and will be compatible with OEM and aftermarket integration.

The ROI Auxiliary Suspension System will sense and maintain optimal tire-to-ground pressure, reducing tire wear and maximizing fuel mileage. With Link’s intelligent load-balancing auxiliary suspension system, the guesswork of when to lift or lower is removed so even inexperienced drivers can maintain maximum traction without overloading the axles.

Eli DeGroff, product manager, Road Optimized Innovations for Link Mfg. said in a statement. “Unlike traditional all-on or all-off auxiliary axles, Link’s smart suspensions are able to determine the load they need to bear and automatically adjust to precisely accommodate that weight.”

With Link’s ROI Auxiliary Suspension System, fleets will be able to get new drivers trained and working in less time. Mike Leakey, vice president of sales and marketing for Link Mfg., said, “Exceeding axle ratings can be dangerous as well as costly due to unscheduled maintenance and fines. Now even novice drivers can avoid these issues, maintaining safety and efficiency.”

Link’s load-balancing auxiliary suspension system with ROI keeps a vehicle’s drive axles loaded, keeping traction and braking at optimal performance levels. Link’s ROI technology reduces strain on frames and primary suspension components and lowers operating costs.

“Using Link suspensions with ROI technology, fleets and independent owner-operators can expect superior handling, better fuel mileage, reduced tire wear, more uptime, and a lower overall cost of ownership,” said Leakey.

For more information about this product, https://www.linkmfg.com/dealers.


Click here to read more

Towman Games Rebounds on Saturday

The Towman Games emerged with several winners in Cleveland from Triathlon and Pageant of Champions competitions. Billed as Mid-America's Tow Show, the exhibit hall inside the Huntington Convention Center hosted diverse activity, ranging from and light and heavy duty training exercises, with cars, tractor trailers and tankers, skill tests (the Games), music, feast, and supplier exhibits. After a light showing of towmen and tow-women on Friday, the show rebounded on Saturday with eight times the number of attendees.

Towman Games had been postponed from 2020 June dates due to Covid restrictions on gatherings in Ohio, and then again in 2021, from June to October dates."Saturday's turnout was promising," said Doc Calitri, president of AT Expo Corp., "but going forward, Towman Games will need dates with some time-distance from other American Towman shows, wherever the event is held."

Pandemic issues forced American Towman to re-schedule its four shows into a tight run of four successive months. Next up is the 'Main Event' in Baltimore, on November 12-14, the American Towman Exposition.


Saturday floor traffic at Towman Games

Simplicity’s Complexity

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By George L. Nitti

Company branding is a critical component to starting and managing any business, and includes such elements as a strong logo, consistent colors that blend nicely, and fonts that are applied across the business. Strong branding leaves a lasting impression, helping a company stand out to customers who associate its product or service with the brand while attracting new customers with the clarity of that image.

At Chaz Towing in Watsonville, Cal., established in 1987, the company has developed a strong brand with a “less is more” identity that exudes a professional image in its simplicity.

According to Kevin Chavez, operating manager and son of owner Eduardo Chavez, “We wanted something subtle that would stand out. Something that was not overstated but with some complexity.”

Fine tow truck graphics, like mid-coast California wines, harbor intensity wrapped in subtlety as illustrated on their 2014 Peterbilt389 with a 35-ton Vulcan.

“This unit is a perfect for our company and the perfect application for any fleet. It’s easy to use and maneuver,” Chavez said. “The capabilities of the winches and its pulling power are incredible.”

At the heart of the design is the company name which is the primary element that stands out because of its large size, scripted/elegant lettering and contrasting colors that blend subtlety against its yellow and white background.

Adding further distinction, the company name is applied in several key locations, including the side doors, the hood, and the large real estate across the wrecker body. Going the extra yard, however, lies in the fact that even their customized mud flaps restate the company name, not the wrecker company or dealership, a fine point that is often overlooked in branding.

The company name is easy to remember as well. “Chaz.” Chavez said, “We wanted to be unique. Many tow companies go with their last name but we wanted a more memorable marking.”

Which includes their colors of yellow and white. Chavez said, “Yellow grabs everybody’s attention. It represents emergency personnel and catches your attention, making it hard to miss.” Reflective lettering and an array of lights give further enhancement.

Their brand, like their family heritage, was forged over time and proliferates on other company memorabilia, such as pens, backpacks, customized coffee cups, vests and rain gear.

“My father, who started the company with his brothers, immigrated to the states in 1978, first living in Minnesota before moving to the Monterrey Bay area. He came with empty pockets with a dream to succeed,” said Chavez. “He saw the need and demand for towing.”

Now with 11 trucks and family members entwined in the business, with a single-minded focus, company professionalism has become a prevailing theme wrapped in precise branding that strikes notes of simple tastes.
TOWERS GATHER IN LAS VEGAS AT THE WESTGATE, WE GIVE YOU AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE SHOW
By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


I work the non-traffic side of the wrecker/carrier:
seldom
maybe 30% of the breakdowns
half of the time
most of the time
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Managing Editor: Steve Calitri
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
October 20 - October 26, 2021
On The Hook With John Borowski
Wisconsin State Senate's approval of a bill aims to keep emergency responders and tow operators safe when responding to roadside assistance or emergency calls.

Wisconsin Senate Approves Highway Safety Zone Bill 

The Wisconsin State Senate approved Assembly Bill 297, which if enacted into law, will create 'Highway Responder Safety Zones' in Wisconsin.   

Under the bill, these safety zones would be initiated when roadside responders, including fire, police, highway departments, EMS or towing - are present and assisting at traffic incidents.  Similar to current law construction zones, fines and penalties would be increased for any distracted driving infractions while passing through such zones. 

The bill greatly increases penalties for certain traffic violations within 500 feet of an authorized emergency vehicle giving a visible signal or a tow truck displaying flashing red lamps. These traffic violations include failing to follow certain traffic signs and signals, failing to follow certain orders of traffic officers, exceeding certain maximum speed limits, and driving recklessly and using a wireless phone while in one of these zones. Minimum and maximum fines are doubled and any injury to a responder is a $10,000 fine and/or nine months in prison.  

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October 20 - October 26, 2021
John D. Krupnik Joins Joyride from Insurance Auto Auctions

Joyride Autos Brings on Chief Product and Technology Officer

Joyride Autos, the nation’s fastest growing online auction platform and marketplace for undervalued vehicles, today announced that it has brought on John D. Krupnik as the company’s first chief product and technology officer. Krupnik joins Joyride from Insurance Auto Auctions, where he served as chief information officer for 14 years.

“We’re the first mover in a market that historically has been overlooked, and technology innovation is going to be key to our continued success,” said John Wicker, co-founder and CEO of Joyride. “Krupnik is a brilliant technologist with a deep understanding of the problems we’re solving for both sellers and buyers of the growing supply of undervalued vehicles—a category that has never before had a dedicated marketplace.”

Krupnik will be responsible for scaling Joyride’s technology platform, which brings the cumbersome and expensive process of running auto auctions fully online, unlocking new value for both buyers and sellers of unclaimed or aged vehicles. He will build and lead the company’s product, engineering and analytics teams.

“I’ve spent my career in the world of auto auctions, and I’ve never seen a moment that’s more ripe for innovation,” said Krupnik. “The accelerated shift to e-commerce, global supply chain shortage for cars and their parts, and increased average age of vehicles on our roads have all contributed to Joyride’s remarkable early momentum. The opportunity to help lead the Joyride team and innovate in this underserved yet rapidly growing category was an obvious decision for me.”

Since first launching in April 2020, Joyride has already sold 30,000 vehicles on its platform. The company has successfully expanded to California, Texas, Indiana, and Nevada, and recently raised a $2 million seed round to accelerate its entry into new markets.

Tow Company Sues Over Politics

Michael Duritsky, owner of Mike’s Auto Repair and Sales, claims his business in Uniontown, Penn., has dropped as the city entered into contracts with other tow companies. Duritsky claims the reason was because he didn’t support the mayor’s 2019 election.

Duritsky made the claim in a civil rights suit on Oct. 15 in U.S. District Court against the city and former mayor Edward Fike. In the complaint, Duritsky said he had provided towing services in the city since 2003, but that in January 2018, then-Mayor Bernie Kasievich resigned and the council appointed Mr. Fike to finish the term.

Republican Thomas Gerke challenged Mr. Fike for the job in the 2019 election. When Mr. Fike asked for Mr. Duritsky's support and wanted him to put Fike campaign signs on his property and his business, Duritsky refused, telling Mr. Fike he "wanted to stay out of it," according to the suit.

Mr. Gerke won the election in November 2019. The following month, during the last city council meeting in which Mr. Fike was still the mayor, Mr. Fike and the council decided to expand the list of companies providing towing service.

"No rational basis exists for an expansion of this list," the suit said. Mike's Auto was still on the list but now so were four other companies, all offering services to the city on a two-week rotation.

Duritsky and his lawyer are asking for compensatory damages for lost business as well as punitive damages against Mr. Fike.

https://www.post-gazette.com/

Tower Hit by Slumbering [b]Truck Driver

A tow truck operator who was preparing to do a recovery on a disabled motor home in S.C. was hit by a truck driver who fell asleep after 11:30 p.m. on Oct.15.

The motorhome overturned and was forced into the woods off the right shoulder. The tractor-trailer and the wrecker, which were badly damaged, were pushed into the wooded median.

“When he realized the collision was imminent, the tow truck operator dove to the passenger side of the vehicle, a move that spared his life,” officials said.

The driver’s side of the cab was crushed. The tow truck operator had multiple injuries, but they were not life-threatening.

The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured. He told authorities that he had fallen asleep before the crash.

The motorhome was leaking propane and fuel, as well as the tractor-trailer that received breaches in the saddle tanks spilling diesel fuel on the highway and into the median.

Officials said it took several hours to clean up the crash site. The crash is still under investigation.

https://www.wbtw.com/

Escapade with Stolen Tow Truck

A man in an allegedly stolen tow truck led San Diego police on a low-speed chase for more than an hour on 10/18, hitting one vehicle before being apprehended, authorities said.

According to a watch commander, the tow truck’s driver was dropping off a car about 7:45 p.m. in San Diego’s Pacific Beach when the man jumped in the truck and stole it. Police say the truck then hit a vehicle, drawing the attention of officers who began pursuing the driver.
As the chase continued on the interstate, police deployed spike strips to slow the driver down, striking the truck’s front two tires but not ending the pursuit.

The chase later ended around 9 p.m. in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood when officers say they began firing pepper balls at the driver and took the man in custody.

https://fox5sandiego.com/

Used Car Market on Fire

The used vehicle market is on fire again, spiking 5.3% in September, after 3 months of declines. The report comes from Manheim, the largest auto auction operator in the U.S.

Several factors are a play causing an increase in demand of used vehicles and the spike in prices. First, tight supplies of new vehicles due to chip shortages and factory closures resulting from the covid crisis. Normal supply for used retail is about 44 days of sales. In September used retail supply was 37 days. Wholesales supply, which normally is 23 days, was 18 days.

The low supply is also a result of a sharp decline in sales at auctions by the three largest categories of sellers in the wholesale market – rental vehicles, off-lease vehicles and repo companies selling repos. Since rental companies are having a harder time getting their hands on new vehicles, they are holding their rental cars longer. For the repo business, low lending rates and a moratorium on repos during the covid crisis have reduced the numbers of cars at used car auctions.

Further augmenting used car sales is the federal stimulus money disbursed over the last year and a half. The covid crisis has created a “wealth effect” leading people to be flush with cash and willing to pay whatever price for a used vehicle as dealers make record gross profits along the way.

In a telling sign, although it is often assumed that resale value of a new car plummets once sold, resale value of a 1-year old car is up 25%, over $7,759 according to Cox Automotive.

https://wolfstreet.com/

Raising Awareness for [b]Tower Safety

Tow truck drivers from across the Northwest joined in a memorial ride to remember Raymond Mitchell who was hit and killed on I-5 last month. Mitchell was pinned against his tow truck when the rear trailer of a log truck swerved and struck him. The young father was only 33.

“We’re all in this together,” tow truck driver Cory Wells told KOIN 6 News. “We want to go home, too. Slow down and move over.”

The memorial ride for Mitchell began and ended at a casino, where there were food carts. All the proceeds went to help the Mitchell family.

https://www.koin.com/
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American Towman Exposition Gallery
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October 20 - October 26, 2021

Early Winter Winching

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by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

In Wyoming, winter has arrived early and Norberg’s Towing is busy playing in the snow, once again. On Oct 12, 2021 at about 3 p.m. Norberg’s received a call from the Wyoming Highway Patrol to respond immediately to a multi-vehicle mess.

The Norberg brothers headed out with Big Orange and the Eagle. Sheridan Jr. responded in Big Orange, their 1983 Pete with a 750 Holmes built by Moeller Brothers out in San Francisco in the 70s. Shawn was in their Eagle truck, a 1998 Freightliner FL112 with a Don Hines bed and a Zacklift. The Eagle has a factory double frame and is powered by a C12 engine mated to an 8LL trans. It has 46,000-pound rear ends with full lockers on walking beam suspension and an 18,000-pound steer axle.

Sheridan explained, “It was snowing really badly with limited visibility and I couldn't see the road. The snow was very wet and the roads were iced over. So I crept along doing only 1.7-miles an hour.”

Shawn informed, “This was about 35 miles from our shop. Construction signs were setup directing traffic into a single lane, but folks don’t follow directions and with the icy roads and white out conditions it became a mess. Wet snow from 6-inches to a foot in some places. There were four different pileups with at least ten trucks. We had limited time to open the road. Every tow company in the area was out there. There was traffic backed up from east of Rock Springs for a five-mile stretch. Highway Patrol sent me to the back of the crash. I had to work my way forward. The view in my driver's side mirror shows the line of traffic and the icy roads.”

When the brothers arrived on the scene they got busy winching a few different trucks. Sheridan winched his out with Big Orange. He got it back on the roadway and able to drive on its way. Shawn stated, “The nose and front-end of the semi I pulled out with the Eagle was badly damaged, so I hauled it into our yard. With the weather, road conditions and distance, we started at 3 p.m. and didn’t get back till around midnight.When I finally was able to reach Shawn, he was out hunting with his family a few days later. He had shot a big elk when I called him. Good winching and good hunting.”

Shawn Michael Norberg and his older brother Dale Sheridan Norberg, Jr., manage and operate Norberg's Towing Service in Green River, Wyoming, the family business their father Dale Sheridan Sr. and mother Elaine established in 1967. They both grew up in the business and the whole family - their mother, brothers, uncles, sons, cousins, from the oldest to the youngest member, Shawn’s little daughter Billie - are fully involved in the business. The Norberg family has handled every kind of situation from winch-outs to extreme recoveries in the rough Wyoming terrain.

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!

Clean Up On Aisle 69

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By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Around 12 noon on June 25, 2021, the Henderson County Sheriff dispatched Tri-State Towing and Recovery to respond to a multiple vehicle accident on Interstate 69 in Robards, Kentucky.

Heavy operator Lance Wayne informed, “We were told a vac truck had crossed the median of Interstate 69 at the 140-mile marker and a tractor-trailer was in the ditch just south of that. We were dispatched for the tractor-trailer and another company was getting the vac truck.”

Tri-State dispatched operators Frank Hammond in their 2020 Kenworth T880 with an NRC 50/65 65-ton sliding rotator, Lance Wayne in their 2018 Kenworth with an NRC 50/65 65-ton sliding rotator, Steve Bell 2001 Kenworth with an NRC 50/65 65-ton sliding rotator and Gary Crawford with a 2018 Ford F150 and traffic control unit.

When Lance, Frank and Steve arrived on scene, they found a tractor-trailer on its side through the guardrail lying on the passenger side. Lance had been the first to arrive, so when he saw that the trailer loaded with plastic pellets was destroyed, he called the shop and requested the roll-offs, the vacuum and mini excavator.

Stephen Payne was the operator of the 2020 Bobcat mini excavator, Mike Jones drove the 2012 Freightliner with the rolloff trailer and Kale English, Eric Crawford, along with Lance’s young son Luke Wayne were on scene as laborers.

“Hazelwood Towing handled the vac truck themselves as we worked the rollover at the same time. It was north of us,” advised Lance. “We took two rotators and unhooked the tractor to get the unit out of the way. We set up lane closer cones signs and arrow boards so the highway did not have to be closed and everyone was able to work in one lane for safety.”

After they removed the tractor, they began to vacuum up the product in the front half of trailer that was broken away and then loaded it on their Landoll trailer. They loaded the trailer tandems on the rollback then vacuumed the product into the roll-offs container. Once the trailer was empty, Frank and Lance grabbed the rest of trailer and loaded it onto another Landoll trailer.

“We worked until approximately 1 a.m. to finish the recovery and clean-up,” stated Lance. “We came back the next day and cleaned up the brush and ditch line and what debris that was left from the accident.”

Tri-State Towing and Recovery, based in Evansville, Ind., started as Rideout's Service Center in Henderson, Kentucky. They have been serving their area for over 35 years. With locations in Evansville, Indiana and Henderson, Kentucky they cover a large area and provide a variety of services. At their Henderson location, they offer full service automotive repair and maintenance on all makes and models, both foreign and domestic.

Hazelwood Towing & Recovery Inc., also based in Henderson, Kentucky, is owned by brothers Kevin and Kirk Hazelwood. The business, incorporated in 1996, handles light- through heavy-duty towing and recovery. They also offer 24-hour rollback and AAA service and work closely with the Henderson City/County Rescue Squad.

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!

Clothesline Aerator Recovery 

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By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti 

On August 19, 2021, Lisi’s Towing & Automotive Inc. received a call from a lawn care company informing them that one of their aerator machines went into a ditch while they were doing a job at a residence in Pleasantville, N.Y. 

Operators Tim Thomas and Tony Lapolla, both WreckMaster certified recovery specialists, responded with a 2006 Chevrolet 3500 with a Century 412 light-duty wrecker. The Century 412 has a low-profile recovery boom with two 8,000-pound worm winches and a 4,000-pound underlift with a 3-way pivoting L-arm system. Tim was the main rigger and scene coordinator on this job. 

Violet Lisi, Lisi’s Assistant Operations Manager informed, “When Tim and Tony arrived, they found their customer’s damaged and disabled aerator/spray machine located off of a residential lawn. It was positioned on a down-hill steep grade in a large drainage ditch approximately 100-feet from the residence driveway.” 

After surveying and assessing the situation, Tim and Tony decided on the clothesline method to recover the aerator. To successfully move the aerator, they calculated the resistance and distance. Knowing the working load limit of their equipment, the team positioned the Century 412 light-duty recovery unit in the residence driveway. It was steadied with wood shoring planks and the hydraulic rear stabilizer. Then, the recovery boom was elevated and fully extended with 130-feet of winch line deployed. 

The lawn care customer’s utility trailer was disconnected from their pickup truck and was manually positioned at the end of the residence driveway behind the Century 412 recovery unit into a position to load the aerator once it was lifted out of the ditch. Using an extension ladder, the team attached synthetic recovery slings approximately 25-feet midair onto a large tree. A running snatch block with chain bridle was attached onto the aerator. A second winch line with a directional snatch block was deployed to a large tree and back to the aerator. All of this was done to perform and execute the clothesline recovery. 

With all of the prep and rigging in place, the aerator was vertically lifted and simultaneously winched out from the drainage ditch, over a retaining wall and over a split rail fence. Once clear from the retaining wall and fence, they disconnected the directional snatch block and winched the suspended aerator to the recovery unit. 

Finally, the aerator was set onto the waiting utility trailer. Tim and Tony stowed away all equipment utilized in the recovery and the Century 412 was re-positioned to the road. 

Violet said, “The casualty aerator was secured to the utility trailer and the trailer was reconnected to the lawn care customer’s pickup truck. They transported it back to their company terminal.” 

______________________________________ 

Lisi’s Towing & Automotive Inc. of Brewster, N.Y., was founded in 1970 by Remo Lisi. Remo is retired, but the family tradition continues. His son Anthony Lisi now runs the day-to-day operation of the business with his son Anthony Lisi Jr. (Operations Manager) and daughter Violet M. Lisi (Assistant Operations Manager). Lisi’s provides all services from simple roadside repair or an elaborate transportation operation to heavy recovery to the tri-state area.  

Show Yours @ TIW 

Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine! 

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MIDWESTERN – Nacogdoches, TX
$500
(pop. 34,047)

SOUTHERN – Lake City, FL
$250
(pop. 12,099)

EASTERN - King George, VA
$145
(pop. 4,457)

WESTERN - Brentwood, CA
$276.25
(pop. 53,673)

Heavy-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
October 20 - October 26, 2021

“You Sent the Wrong Truck”

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By Randall C. Resch

Last month, in a high-profile homicide investigation, a “vehicle of interest” was seized and impounded by the FBI. September’s news footage showed a wheel-lift wrecker removing a Mustang on dollies … not that it was a big deal in itself, but the tow community unfairly pounced on the responding tow company’s efforts.

The industry’s “Tow Police” ostracized the tower’s use of a wheel-lift and dollies chastising that the evidence vehicle should have been transported by a carrier and “entered” to secure the vehicle’s steering, release the E-Brake, and shift its transmission to neutral.

The manner the tow company towed the vehicle drew negative comments, with many stating the operator’s use of a wheel-lift was an improper choice for evidence service. I say “Hold on … not so fast!”

Are there differences in-responding with proper equipment? Absolutely! Technically speaking, there’s always “The right tool for the job.” The choice of truck may or may not be the right truck based on the evidence collected.

Entry Not Recommended

My course, “Evidence Protocol for Law Enforcement Providers,” focuses on techniques required of towers responding to evidence calls. Unfortunately, tow operators rarely are provided tow procedures in-handling forensic evidence.

For all levels of investigations, there’s reasoning for not entering a vehicle’s interiors and solid reasoning to not touch the vehicle’s body. When vehicles are part of an intense investigation, a four-tire inspection will be closely scrutinized. Where dirt, rocks and mud fragments pinpoint to an environment, a wheel-lift and dollies are the better choice of equipment to not destroy trace evidence.

Careful application of wheel-lift and dolly ratchet straps is proper. Assuming there are no ignition keys, steering doesn’t require tie-down when set into dollies. A dollied car doesn’t need shifting nor does the E-Brake matter.

However, to not attach extension lights or safety chains to towed vehicles violates “written law.” But consider that in high-profile cases (specifically homicide investigations), law enforcement typically follows (escort) closely behind to negate written law when extension lights and tow chains may compromise evidence especially on trunk decks, hoods and doors.

What’s the Difference?

In police work, there’s a discretionary difference between “Letter of the Law” and “Spirit of the Law.” Are extension lights and safety chains required by law? Sure. But towers routinely work situations and accidents where they’re asked to do something outside written law (loading cars upside down, using of shoulders, U-turn’s on highways, center divider cross thru’s etc.) It’s the impounding officer’s discretion to determine the needs of the investigation while evidence towers are bound by contract and professionalism to serve.

Prior to attaching equipment items, be sure to receive authorization from a lead investigator. For safety purposes, explain the nature of “safe vehicle containment” versus evidence. Let the investigator instruct you.

Protecting trace evidence is about handling vehicles with minimal effort and disruption that doesn’t contaminate evidence. Where investigators follow agency protocol and provide instructions, evidence towers are obligated to follow instructions to the letter. I believe there’s no need to enter an evidence vehicle unless instructed.

A serious, improper action caused or created by tow operators could be a determining factor that compromises evidence resulting in non-conviction. If operators step outside the investigation’s “Chain of Custody” or causes an unintentional destruction of evidence, the case could be lost to a technicality.

In a perfect-world, law enforcement should provide (to tow company dispatch) specific details describing the investigator’s (evidentiary) needs. Let the tow company determine the better truck keeping in-mind a carrier outfitted with dollies is capable of handling a wide-range of investigative scenarios, especially where access is problematic.

Critical FMCSA Updates for 2022

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By Brian J Riker

As towers we often forget we are also fully regulated interstate motor carriers in many instances. This causes trouble for the average tow boss when new regulations are proposed or enacted without their knowledge. We do our best to track and report on these changes to help keep you compliant. There are two key changes for 2022 that may become problematic for towers with CDL drivers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had delayed implementation of the Training Provider Registry and Entry Level Driver Training Requirements, which were to become effective in 2019, until February 7, 2022. This regulation requires states to have proof of entry level driver training provided by a listed provider before granting a new commercial driver license or upgrading class of CDL for any applicant beginning the process after February 7th. This will also be required for adding passenger, school bus or hazardous materials endorsements to an existing CDL.

What this means for towers is any driver that you hire without a CDL then want to help them obtain one will need training by a listed provider, which typically will be a full school. There is no workable exception for in-house training, even motor carrier provided CDL training will need to meet the entry level requirements. This has the potential to add time delays and financial burdens to your operation if you do your own training to create CDL licensed drivers.

Another CDL related regulation that is going into effect on November 8, 2021, with a state mandated compliance date of November 18, 2024, requires each state to not renew, transfer, process or issue a new CDL/CLP to any CDL driver that has had a positive drug or alcohol test result, or failure to test reported to the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse without completing the return to duty process. This regulation also requires the states to downgrade (remove the CDL privilege) from any driver that fails to complete the return to duty process.

This regulation is the latest attempt by the FMCSA to remove unsafe drivers from our roadways. Currently there are over 100,000 drivers reported to the Clearinghouse as disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle due to a drug or alcohol test. Of those, more than 95,000 have not even started the return to duty process which means they could still be operating a commercial motor vehicle without proving a negative drug or alcohol result or receiving treatment for their condition. This new regulation aims to prevent that by removing their CDL privileges until they have proven they are no longer out of compliance with the drug or alcohol requirements.

Where this could have a negative effect on towers is if you hire a CDL driver without checking their history in the Clearinghouse (as required by current law) then their CDL is suspended or downgraded without your knowledge. Not only could you have employed a driver with a serious problem, but you could face severe fines or other penalties for allowing them to operate a CMV. Keep in mind, although drug and alcohol testing is not required for non-CDL drivers it could be argued that a downgraded CDL driver, when downgraded for a drug or alcohol issue, should not be allowed to operate any commercial vehicle, even the little trucks that don’t require a CDL but still are DOT regulated.`

Credit Card Machines: A Thing of the Past

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By Randall C. Resch

In a dusty ole’ box, deep in storage, I discovered an old-style credit card machine similar to those mounted at the pumps of Dad’s gas station. I thought this a fun opportunity to peek back as to what services, processes, and technologies were available to towers forty-year’s ago compared to today’s market.

On the contrary, they weren’t “machines” as known in the current sense as these manual devices weren’t power operated. If you worked in a gas station back then, you’ll remember credit card machines as large, clunky, number adjusting, slide handled devices that were part of the island’s cash drawer.

With the customer’s card in-hand, machines mechanically rolled over the card’s raised numbers and info on to a three-inch by seven-inch, multi-sheet form, typically bearing the company’s logo and info. The form’s top copy was “tracing paper,” followed by the same size sheet of carbon paper. The bottom sheet was the thickness of business card stock.

The form and the customer’s credit card laid into an elongated slot where the user adjusted rows of sliding numbers to reflect the purchase amount. Once the form was seated and amount set, the user operated the machine’s slide handle right to left.

With little effort, rollers rolled-over raised numbers leaving the card numbers and customer’s name embossed through carbon-paper. To complete the transaction, the customer received the only the top copy. The carbon and hard copy were turned in.

When it came to day-to-day use, all of my tow trucks and the dispatch office had portable machines. Once considered state of the art (beyond hand printing), these machines were awkward to use and required diligent inspection to ensure the credit card’s raised numbers were visible and complete.

Honestly, I hated using them, yet there were no chips to deal with and no plug-in modules; they didn't stall and a server wouldn't go down. They were problematic in the rain and when stored under the tow truck's seat, dust caused even more problems.

Looking Back

While there’s not much history as to where credit card machines originated, business historians suggest credit card machines morphed out of a need to formalize countertop banking transactions. My research didn’t determine a better explanation, but lore suggested, in 1949, a businessman forgot his wallet and couldn’t pay his client’s dinner. Out of an embarrassing situation came “Diner’s Club,” where merchants retained the card’s information and customers were charged.

Once transactions were completed, if the company’s employee wrongly tossed trashed the carbon copy, an enterprising thief could rifle the trash, retrieve discarded carbon sheets and gain access to credit card information. Forgery became a cottage industry.

Here’s Your Reward

Because credit card forgery was easy business, Dad’s station had this “phone book-sized” manifest listing stolen credit card numbers. Part of every transaction’s process required the station’s attendants to watch for stolen cards that were listed in the manifest. If a card was listed as stolen, the finder received a $5 reward in their weekly paycheck … cha’ ching!

Credit card machines had their problems, but when they worked, they worked well and were far better than trying to cipher a driver's scribbled printing. But as we all know, they went the way of the dinosaur as technology marched on. For a fun look at what the process was about, watch the movie “The Jerk” and see what I’m talking about.
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Operations Editor Randall C. Resch is a retired California police officer and veteran tow business owner, manager, consultant and trainer. For 51-years, he has been involved in the towing and recovery industry. In 24-years, he has contributed more than 625-articles for American Towman Magazine and TowIndustryWeek.com. He was inducted to the International Towing and Recovery Industry Hall of Fame and was the 3rd recipient of the industry's, "Dave Jones Leadership Award." Email Randy at rreschran@gmail.com.
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October 20 - October 26, 2021

Simplicity’s Complexity

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By George L. Nitti

Company branding is a critical component to starting and managing any business, and includes such elements as a strong logo, consistent colors that blend nicely, and fonts that are applied across the business. Strong branding leaves a lasting impression, helping a company stand out to customers who associate its product or service with the brand while attracting new customers with the clarity of that image.

At Chaz Towing in Watsonville, Cal., established in 1987, the company has developed a strong brand with a “less is more” identity that exudes a professional image in its simplicity.

According to Kevin Chavez, operating manager and son of owner Eduardo Chavez, “We wanted something subtle that would stand out. Something that was not overstated but with some complexity.”

Fine tow truck graphics, like mid-coast California wines, harbor intensity wrapped in subtlety as illustrated on their 2014 Peterbilt389 with a 35-ton Vulcan.

“This unit is a perfect for our company and the perfect application for any fleet. It’s easy to use and maneuver,” Chavez said. “The capabilities of the winches and its pulling power are incredible.”

At the heart of the design is the company name which is the primary element that stands out because of its large size, scripted/elegant lettering and contrasting colors that blend subtlety against its yellow and white background.

Adding further distinction, the company name is applied in several key locations, including the side doors, the hood, and the large real estate across the wrecker body. Going the extra yard, however, lies in the fact that even their customized mud flaps restate the company name, not the wrecker company or dealership, a fine point that is often overlooked in branding.

The company name is easy to remember as well. “Chaz.” Chavez said, “We wanted to be unique. Many tow companies go with their last name but we wanted a more memorable marking.”

Which includes their colors of yellow and white. Chavez said, “Yellow grabs everybody’s attention. It represents emergency personnel and catches your attention, making it hard to miss.” Reflective lettering and an array of lights give further enhancement.

Their brand, like their family heritage, was forged over time and proliferates on other company memorabilia, such as pens, backpacks, customized coffee cups, vests and rain gear.

“My father, who started the company with his brothers, immigrated to the states in 1978, first living in Minnesota before moving to the Monterrey Bay area. He came with empty pockets with a dream to succeed,” said Chavez. “He saw the need and demand for towing.”

Now with 11 trucks and family members entwined in the business, with a single-minded focus, company professionalism has become a prevailing theme wrapped in precise branding that strikes notes of simple tastes.

The Show Must Go On

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By George L. Nitti

With a 2021 Kenworth T880 NRC 40 TB Bed enroute to TowXpo San Antonio, and sporting a fresh killer wrap designed by Juls of B & B Signs, Michael Budzinski of Tri-City Towing of Pflugerville, Texas was moving along the center lane of highway 35 at 70 mph when suddenly his front passenger side tire blew.

Budzinski said, “Body parts were flying everywhere. We got it off the side of the highway.”

Fortunately, Budzinski was driving alongside other company tow operators, including owner Mark Chapla, who came to the rescue with his truck that was also an entry in the Xpo’s USA Wrecker Pageant.

Just another day in the life of a tower with all its twists and turns.

The semi-beaten up bed was already entered in the carrier class category but the damage was done. Despite all the work invested in upgrading its tires, fenders and bumper. Despite the cleaning, polishing and detailing of the exterior/interior. Despite all the time it takes to ready one’s unit for intense competition.

Result: no trophy this year for Budzinki’s rollback, done in a glittering patina wrap, with its arresting colors of aqua and rust pulling the eye of any onlooker caught staring in its direction.

“As for the color, it all depends on how the sun hits it. Sometimes its teal. Sometimes aqua. But if you ask me, it’s more like a sea green.”

The design itself, which also includes a rusted theme, was a trait that was in accord with Budzinski’s liking.

“I was split between the Texas and American Flag or the rusted theme. Mark gave me the choice on what to put on the truck,” Budzinski said. “I went for something different, something that stands out and is like no other tow truck.”

Including the creative flair of the tri-city name found on the side doors, popping out in yellow against its teal background.

Winning isn’t everything, although Budzinski laments that there was a time when two trophies were given. And that the work of prepping a wrecker doesn’t stop with a pageant.

Indeed, the show must go on.


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

Uplifting to the Sky 

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By George L. Nitti 

At TowXpo San Antonio, in the 2021 USA Wrecker Pageant, several units vied for Best in Working Class, the winner Commercial Towing Services of Buda, Texas. Tow owner Jonathan Cleaver said, “We were shocked to have won. There were many beautiful trucks.” 

Winning though wasn’t accidental, as several factors came into play to sway judges’ opinions. One factor is cleanliness and how well the truck is groomed. Cleaver said, “We pulled it about a week ahead of time and did a lot of work prepping it.” 

With 54,000 miles, their 2020 Kenworth W990 Century 1150 rotator with 5 winches and a kneeboom (a new style underlift) still looks brand new. Cleaver acknowledges there was some anxiety about its steep cost when he purchased it, but that the investment has paid off. 

He said, “Either we purchased it or our local competitors would have moved in and performed these big jobs.” 

In addition to babying the rotator by keeping it spotless, the company did a make-over of their graphics, leaving it up to the creative freedom of The Print Shop/Wrap Genius of Georgetown, Texas to provide that “Wow” factor that Cleaver knew was essential. 

“We realized we needed something that popped. Prior, our logo and graphics were simple that included only riveted sheet metal with text,” he said. “The Print Shop proposed making changes. Now we get compliments on the truck every day.” 

One “Wow” factor is the bright, cheery yellow striping that emanates upward on the unit’s front side, as if the sun were rising, casting its rays in all directions. The yellow clearly brightens and turns heads and is further accented on the rear and side outriggers along with other key spots. 

Adding juxtaposition next to the vibrant yellow are the more grounded gray and black features that include striping and lettering. This contrast is clearly visible in the company’s name, written large on the side of the rotator, the word “Towing” popping out in creative yellow lettering while “Commercial” is written in a more straightforward black lettering. 

Completing this uplifting design is a hook with dollar symbols inside. Yes, nothing like the sound of “Ka-Ching” when the call comes to move that rotator’s potential from the garage to the bank. 

Brag @ TIW!  

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

October 20 - October 26, 2021

Apparel

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Traffic, weather and surface conditions can often interfere with productivity. Overcome these challenges with outerwear and safety apparel from Zip’s AW Direct. Zip's carries a large selection of high-visibility gear, ranging from economy vests to wide-brim sun shields and full rain suits. Whether you are working road construction or rigging a flatbed load in the rain, count on Zip’s durable workwear to keep you dry and comfortable. Zip’s wide selection of workboots and footwear will also give you the solid footing you need out on the job site. Don't forget to add that personal touch to whatever you’re wearing. Zip's Outfitters and Zip’s in-house, professional apparel printing service, can add your image or logo to most apparel sold. For more information, go to https://zips.com/apparel

Lifting & Recovery Sling

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RimSling presents a synthetic lifting and recovery sling that is lightweight, strong, flexible and compact. It’s high-quality synthetic fibers ensure strength and durability. A special braided guard at the center of the sling and an external cordura sleeve add extra layers of protection when used as a basket. Featuring a high working load limit and slim design, the RimSling is suited for many lifting, rigging and recovery scenarios. It is also ideal for weaving through any small attaching point. With its soft, pliable material, the RimSling can be used in applications with delicate attaching points for reduced damage potential when compared to chain or wire rope. For example, the RimSling can be used with aluminum wheels and won’t leave damage like chains. With proper care, the RimSling lifting and recovery sling can provide years of successful, safe and reliable performance.

Series G2 Wireless Remote Kit from Warn

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The WARN Series G2 winches are made for industrial applications. Now, they also have the ability to be controlled wirelessly with this versatile wireless remote kit.

This control solution can be easily integrated into 12-volt and 24-volt WARN Series G2 winches. The easy bolt-on solution provides users the ability to securely mount the receiver directly to the winch’s control pack.

The system features easy plug-and-play installation and lets users effortlessly control the winch from up to 50’ (15.2m) away for increased winching options. The system is sealed for protection against the elements providing exceptional reliability. Plus, a two-color LED provides clear operator feedback, and the two-button activation sequence guards against accidental power-ups.

The kit includes a wireless transmitter, receiver, holster, mounting bracket, and hardware.

For more information, visit www.warn.com
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October 20 - October 26, 2021
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October 20 - October 26, 2021
The demand for used cars spiked in September.

Used Car Market on Fire

The used vehicle market is on fire again, spiking 5.3% in September, after 3 months of declines. The report comes from Manheim, the largest auto auction operator in the U.S.

Several factors are a play causing an increase in demand of used vehicles and the spike in prices. First, tight supplies of new vehicles due to chip shortages and factory closures resulting from the covid crisis. Normal supply for used retail is about 44 days of sales. In September used retail supply was 37 days. Wholesales supply, which normally is 23 days, was 18 days.

The low supply is also a result of a sharp decline in sales at auctions by the three largest categories of sellers in the wholesale market – rental vehicles, off-lease vehicles and repo companies selling repos. Since rental companies are having a harder time getting their hands on new vehicles, they are holding their rental cars longer. For the repo business, low lending rates and a moratorium on repos during the covid crisis have reduced the numbers of cars at used car auctions.

Further augmenting used car sales is the federal stimulus money disbursed over the last year and a half. The covid crisis has created a “wealth effect” leading people to be flush with cash and willing to pay whatever price for a used vehicle as dealers make record gross profits along the way.

In a telling sign, although it is often assumed that resale value of a new car plummets once sold, resale value of a 1-year old car is up 25%, over $7,759 according to Cox Automotive.

https://wolfstreet.com/

Repo Agent Killed in Oakland, Ca.

 Tim Nielsen, a repossession agent for Any Capital Recovery Inc., was shot and killed in Oakland, Ca., on 6/14 while working on assignment.  

According to Nielsen’s boss and friend Lerron Payne, he was shot at an intersection writing a report in his truck. He then managed to drive away, but crashed into a building in East Oakland, a couple of blocks away.  

Payne said, “He wasn’t even hooking a car. Everything went south. It’s a rough industry, don’t get me wrong but this is pretty much the extreme.” 

Family and friends described Tim Nielsen, a father to four, as their rock and their hero. 

“This is a man that I can say gave unconditional love to everyone and all he ever wanted to do was help people. That was his dream, his purpose in life,” said Jennifer Huff-Wensmann, the victim’s girlfriend. 

Oakland police said no one has been arrested in the case. They are looking at all possibilities, from a random attack to the possibility it was related to a repo assignment. 

https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com

Auto Finance Boom Reported

According to the Brookhaven Courier, a newspaper run by students at Dallas College, the auto finance industry has seen a boom since the emergence of Covid-19, particularly the used car market. Part of this spike has to do with stimulus check and unemployment benefits.

Inske Zandvliet, economics professor at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus, said the demand for used cars is higher due to COVID-19. “People want to avoid traveling on public transport, so they are purchasing cars,” she said. “This leads to the second reason – a new car is a larger purchase. Since economic times are now uncertain, in terms of employment, many people choose to purchase a used car since it is not as expensive.”

Due to the sudden demand for used cars, auto finance companies such as Vehicle Solutions Corp profited, according to CNBC Evolve. 

David Ricci, the company’s repossession manager, said his workload remained steady. “I was expecting to have to repo a lot more cars in the beginning,” Ricci said. “But as it went on, the collections teams ended up keeping the customers current or making payment arrangements, so they didn’t get repossessed.”

Because used cars were selling better, there was a demand for them. “The subprime market was pretty strong, so the cars we did repo sold for a good amount,” Ricci said. The proceeds of the sales helped to offset the losses from cutting back on funding.

https://brookhavencourier.com/107120/local-news/the-auto-finance-boom-during-a-pandemic/

Repo Leads to Arrest in Firearms and Explosives

A repossession of a Mercedes in San Francisco led to the discovery of cache of firearms and explosives in late February. The perpetrator, who had a criminal history, was eventually arrested.

The sequence of events started when 31-year-old Cameron Ybarra shot at a repossessor, missing him and putting a bullet in the driver’s side of his car. After he retrieved items out of the car, he went into his residence, where he retrieved an assault rifle and pointed it at the repo man.

The driver “disconnected the vehicle, fled the area and called 911.”

Police followed up, impounding the Mercedes but were unable to find the shooter until they converged on his residence.

According to a police report, “SFPD investigators from the Crime Gun Investigations Center (CGIC) and Gang Task Force (GTF), along with special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) responded to the suspect’s residence to arrest the suspect and serve a search warrant.”

After officers arrested him, they found inside the house an assault rifle, ammunition, bosy armor, a silencer, bomb making materials and other things.

Ybarra was booked for carrying a concealed weapon, possession of ammunition by a prohibited person, negligent discharge of a firearm, possession of a silencer, assault with a deadly weapon, possession of an explosive device and resisting arrest.

https://www.crimevoice.com/2021/03/09/firearms-explosives/
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