The Structure of the Towing Industry

Raleigh, USA - May 13, 2018: Highway road in North Carolina with closeup of East Coast towing truck car by accident crash

In my last article, I wrote about things that happened to me as I learned about towing.  In this article,  I want to discuss the structure of the towing industry.  Keep in mind that this is my opinion based on things that happened to me and how I look at the towing industry.  The industry consists of three parts:

  • The tow companies
  • The towing associations
  • The towing media

As we look at each part, I want to remind you again that this is my opinion.

Tow Companies – My company did private property tows only.  Private property towing was not a popular thing with bigger tow companies.  As a result, they looked down on me.  I was a member of the local Texas association, and even though I was on their board, they still looked down at me.  Because of my success in the industry, many tow companies were interested in learning about private property towing. For the next two years, I traveled to all the tow shows and held seminars on private property towing.  It was successful, and I would have 50 to 100 people in each class.  I got to meet a lot of tow companies and made many friends.   I did learn that many of the tow companies did not get along.  This created a battle between the big companies and the small companies.  The association that I was a member of in Texas wrote a law that was to put the small companies out of business while they made a lot of money.   I was trying to get a large tow company in Michigan to register with my current company.  She said no and accused me of keeping the smaller companies in business.  She went to a customer I was trying to sign up and told them if they used TowTrax they would not tow for them anymore.  

That’s when I learned that: Big companies don’t like small companies and small companies don’t like big companies.

Towing Associations – As I watched what the association I belonged to was doing to the smaller companies, I left them and started my own association.  The law that was passed required all drivers to be licensed and certified. Certification with the state, and the test they had to pass also cost $150 to the association giving the test.  The association that wrote the law went to a national association and made a deal.   I was told they would give the national association $25 dollars for every driver that took their test.  My association grew fast; I was soon at 1,125 members compared to the other association that had less than 200.

I went to the national association to see if I could use their test.  My association was a member of the national association. I was told the other Texas association had an exclusive and they would not let me use their test.  I don’t know if you ever saw the national test, but you need a slide rule and a lot of prayers to pass.  Again, it was meant for the little guy to fail.  The state of Texas told me that since I had my own association, I could write my own test.  Because my test was easier, and we did it in Spanish and traveled all over  Texas to give it. We tested 97% of the drivers and my association made over a million dollars.  This upset the other Texas association and the national association whose members were mostly large companies who lost a lot of money.  As I reached out to other associations offering them help, they felt I was trying to do something for my benefit and not theirs.  There is little or no trust with associations.  I never did figure out how a national association made up of big companies with few members make all the rules for the other 50,000 tow companies. I also found out that most states have more than one association because they can’t agree on the issues that face their state.

Most state associations don’t get along with each other.

Towing Media – The towing media is made up of three magazines.  Tow Times and American Towman, who have printed magazines and put on tow shows in various cities.  The third is Tow Professional magazine.  They are the new kid on the block.  When life was good, I was doing seminars and writing articles for all the magazines.  Then when Tow Professional entered the scene, they asked me to write articles for them.  I was flattered and I started to write articles. Then one magazine did not want my articles anymore, then another magazine decided they did not need my articles anymore.  Then I stopped doing seminars at the tow shows. When I attended tow shows all the magazines had booths at the shows.  Then that stopped.  If you were a magazine that did a show, the other magazines were not allowed to have a booth there.  I’m not sure if they are even allowed to attend their shows. It was sad.  I was very successful with the seminars and writing articles, but now I can’t for a variety of reasons.  I know thousands of towers, and my seminars were standing room only.  However, the towers lose because I’m restricted on what I can do based on various rules.  

The media that supports the industry just does not get along.

As bad it sounds with tow companies not getting along with other tow companies, and associations not getting along with other associations, and the media not getting along with each other it’s still the best industry I’ve ever worked in.  The people work hard, and they deserve better from some of the support groups in the industry.