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Revving Up for Spring: Recovering from a Dead Winter in the Towing Industry

Winter is traditionally a challenging time for those in the towing industry. Treacherous weather conditions, long hours, and high demand for services make it a true test of resilience. However, this year presented a different kind of challenge altogether. Instead of battling the elements, many towing industry workers were faced with a winter drought – a period of little work and financial uncertainty. In this article, we will explore strategies for recovering from a winter in the towing industry when the usual challenges are replaced by a lack of demand and the need to make ends meet and using that to get ready for the spring season ahead of us. What happens when Mother Nature decides to take a break, leaving tow truck operators and company owners twiddling their thumbs? Do not fret! Here are seven strategies you can utilize to get through it and come out stronger.

Diversify Services: During slow periods, it is essential to diversify the services offered by towing companies. This might involve expanding into roadside assistance, vehicle recovery, or even transportation services for non-emergency purposes. By broadening the range of services, towing companies can attract different clientele and maintain a steady stream of income even when traditional towing jobs are scarce. It does not matter whether it is something that compliments the industry or something completely outside the realm of the towing industry.

Establish Contracts and Partnerships: Building long-term contracts with businesses, municipalities, or insurance companies can provide a reliable source of income during slow periods. Additionally, forging partnerships with auto repair shops, car dealerships, or rental agencies can lead to regular referrals and steady work throughout the winter months.  Don’t forget to take care of your current customers with appreciations and a face-to-face thank you.

Focus on Preventative Maintenance: While towing jobs may be few and far between during a winter drought, there is still plenty of work to be done behind the scenes. Encourage your team to focus on preventative maintenance tasks, such as inspecting and servicing equipment, maintaining vehicles, and upgrading technology systems. Investing time and resources into these areas will ensure that your operation is running smoothly and efficiently when demand picks up again.

Reduce Overhead Costs: During lean times, it is crucial to minimize overhead costs wherever possible. Evaluate expenses such as fuel, equipment maintenance, and administrative fees to identify areas where savings can be made. Negotiating better rates with suppliers, optimizing route planning to reduce fuel consumption, and streamlining administrative processes can all contribute to cost savings that help weather the financial downturn.

Payroll is usually a company’s biggest expense and reducing payroll costs can be a key strategy for weathering the financial downturn. One approach is to implement flexible scheduling, allowing employees to work reduced hours or take unpaid leave during lulls in demand. Additionally, cross-training employees to perform multiple roles within the company can optimize staffing levels and reduce the need for additional hires. Open communication with employees about the financial challenges facing the company can also foster a sense of teamwork and understanding, encouraging voluntary reductions in hours or temporary salary adjustments. By adopting these measures thoughtfully and transparently, towing companies can effectively manage payroll costs while maintaining employee morale during slow periods.

Explore Alternative Revenue Streams: Innovative thinking can lead to new revenue streams that supplement traditional towing services. Consider offering storage facilities for vehicles, selling used parts or scrap metal, or providing training courses for aspiring tow truck drivers. By diversifying income sources, towing companies can create multiple streams of revenue that help cushion the impact of a winter drought.

Utilize Technology: Technology can be a powerful tool for navigating a winter drought in the towing industry. Invest in software solutions that streamline operations, improve dispatching efficiency, and enhance customer service. Embracing digital platforms for marketing and communication can also help towing companies reach new customers and stay connected with existing clients during slow periods.

Futuristic Planning: While it is essential to focus on surviving the current drought, it is equally important to plan. Use this time to reassess business strategies, set goals for growth and expansion, and invest in training and development for your team. By adopting a proactive mindset and looking ahead to brighter days, towing industry workers can emerge from the winter drought stronger and more resilient than ever before.

Surviving a winter in the towing industry is always challenging, but this year presented a unique set of circumstances. Instead of battling the elements, many towing companies were facing a winter drought characterized by little work and financial uncertainty. Even though the winter season may have been uneventful for many in the towing industry, it is crucial to recognize the opportunities it presents to prepare for the spring season ahead. By implementing strategies to navigate the slow winter months, such as diversifying services, establishing contracts, and reducing overhead costs, towing companies can position themselves for success when demand inevitably picks up with the arrival of warmer weather and more traffic on the roadways. Utilizing this time to focus on these strategies can give the towing business a head start in the competitive spring season. By learning from the challenges of winter and proactively preparing for the future, the towing industry can set themselves up for growth and prosperity in the months to come.

Looking at the challenges of 2024

Addressing the challenges of 2024 will require planning and an investment in technology and retaining good employees.     The towing industry will always face the ever-changing landscape of regulatory change and will have to use technology to improve efficiency and safety, Let’s look at some of these challenges.

Employees –   I was at a party at a tow company in Dallas.  While there, I ran into one of my dispatchers that worked for me over 20 years ago.  She was still dispatching at the company that was throwing the party.  I asked, “Kathy, how old are you?”  She was proud of her age and job.  Without any hesitation told me she was 73.    I was surprised. She was still working as the lead dispatcher at that company.  In my mind, I thought what happens when she retires.  Who will take her place?  Who takes the place of the drivers that are in their sixties and have health issues and are struggling to perform their job.

When these types of employees leave, they take a bunch of knowledge with them.  They are key employees that make the company run.  They know all the customers and how each employee is supposed to function.  One thing our industry has done is not prepare for the future.  Not too long ago, I attended a driver training class.  There were about 70 students in the 2-day class, and the instructor was without a doubt the best the industry ever had.  As I watched the class, I noticed a bunch of attendees with blank looks on their faces. I talked to some of them during the 2-day class, and they admitted that there was a large portion of the training they did not understand.  That instructor has been training for years.  I’m sure a lot of the material has not changed. When you roll over a big rig there are only so many ways you can do it.  Two things stood out to me.

  1. The attendees in the class have a different DNA and a different make up of drivers than 20 years ago. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it requires a different kind of training.
  2. The second thing was the instructor. He probably forgot more about towing than most of the attendees know.  The instructor was a good friend, and it stood out that he was getting old.  There will be no other like him.  Who will train the drivers of the future?

Since drivers are the biggest part of any tow company, let’s figure out how to attract the driver of the future.

  1. Let’s draft a precise job description. Use modern recruitment technology. Implement thorough screening, prioritize safety and compliance, and simplify the application and hiring process. Develop a new driver culture with competitive compensation packages.  Develop continuous training programs, maintain open communication, host required events, and establish a referral program.
  2. The problem is the owner may be older and set in his ways. Bring in help.  There are a lot of good people out there that can help you.  When I owned my company, I would meet my night staff at midnight at the Golden Corral, buy them breakfast, and give them an update on plans for the company.  My wife would argue with me that we should not tell our employees everything.  I would tell her they do the hard work, and they should know.  It was the smartest thing I ever did with my company.  My employees felt like they were part owners, and it established great communication with them.

Industry Growth – Our Industry is expected to grow at a steady rate with projections indicating a market value of over 11 billion dollars by 2025. The growth is driven by the increasing number of cars, accidents, and breakdowns.  This growth will increase the number of tow companies to 50,000 in the next year.

Increase demands for commercial vehicles – Global trends including motorization in other countries, and the growing requirement of commercial vehicles for freight transport will drive the towing equipment market.

Supply chain distributions will drive availability – Tow companies are complaining about the availability of new trucks and parts.  This will force businesses to make quick purchases that may or may not be needed.  The increasing demand for used trucks due to truck shortages will drive up prices.  This may have an impact on how your fleet looks.

Inflation – The industry will face challenges from rising costs and inflation affecting the sales and financing of towing equipment. Tow companies will experience sticker shock due to long lead times, equipment surcharges, price increases and higher interest rates, which will complicate the financial planning for your company.

Planning is the key word.  I told this story many times and will tell it again.  Every year my wife and I would take a vacation between Christmas and New Year.  We would get a large suite at some resort and look at the next year.  We would look at things like:

  1. Staff – Who do we hire, and who do we fire? Where do we find good replacement people and what will their requirements be?  What will we pay new employees, and what are the rates for dispatchers and drivers?
  2. Customers – Our customers are more demanding about how they want you to service them, and what they will pay for that service. We would look at our 10 best customers and make sure we continue to service and meet their needs.  We would also look at the customers we were working hard to please and getting nothing in return.  We would give those customers to our competition.
  3. Equipment – We looked at what trucks were falling apart and had to be replaced, and which ones were in the shop for repair. Our trucks were our market tool, so we wanted them to look good.
  4. Technology – How can we improve our business through technology?  That meant trips to tow shows to see the latest and greatest in technology.

Times are changing, and it’s important that you keep up with the changing times.  Remember, your employees are your biggest asset, so get them involved, and you’ll make it through 2024.

Lights on For Landon

Landon Killian is a 5 year-old-boy from Tennessee. He has a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis (NF1) which predisposes him to cancer, specifically a type of cancer that develops tumors along his optic nerves, skin, and stomach. Some of the tumors are operable and some are not and will have to be monitored all his life. Landon has already endured 18+ months of chemo and will likely have to be on chemo for the rest of his life in some form to keep the tumors at bay. Landon is raised by his grandparents Jody and Tammy Killian.

Recently, through the Lana’s Love Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing fun experiences to children with cancer throughout Tennessee, Landon was able to visit Miller Industries. Landon loves big trucks so having the opportunity to tour the facility, sit in and play with the controls of many trucks made for a memorable day. On his tour, he picked his favorite truck and it happened to be Big Wheel Towing & Recovery’s newest yellow 50-ton rotator. Landon even got to operate the controls and swing the boom!

Big Wheel heard of this story from Miller Industries’ Facebook page with a picture of Landon and his family in front of the truck and knew we wanted to do something special for him and his family. Our thought was that since our truck left a mark with Landon, we wanted Landon to leave a mark on our truck. I reached out to the Lana’s Love Foundation where I then got in touch with his family and asked their permission to start a movement to raise money and awareness for their family.

I came up with the logo and concept of Landon Strong to showcase his strength to overcome his daily health challenges and the perseverance to keep pushing through every appointment, treatment, and difficult day. As a company, it was decided to put the Landon Strong logo and his handprint as part of the wrap of the new truck. Additionally, I wanted to start a Facebook challenge asking other tow companies to

1) Take a quick video of their trucks with a message to Landon
2) Post the video to “Landon Strong. Lights on for Landon” on Facebook
3) Donate to the gofundme if you can

“We are blessed to have Big Wheel put Landon Strong and his hand print on their truck and support Landon. We’re so blessed to be able to have Jade set up a go fund me for Landon to be able to help with expenses. It’s a big help and a blessing to know it’s there to help Landon. Jade has been a blessing to our family and we hope to continue the friendship as time goes on.”  said Tammy Killian.

The challenge is ongoing, please participate if you can by scanning the QR code part of this article.

I recently was in Chattanooga and asked the family if they wanted to bring Landon to see more trucks and to finally meet in person after conversing for months via phone. The family happily took me up on that offer. I had to find us a tow company willing to assist in this and Doug Yates Towing & Recovery answered the call to action. On March 18, 2024, Landon and his family, Holly from Lana’s Love Foundation, my husband, Josh and I met at Doug Yates and got the VIP tour lead by Rick Mincy. Landon had a great time and was surprised with some gifts after the tour.

“It was an awesome experience. Landon loves big tow trucks. He was excited to be able to get into one of them. Just to see a smile on his face, makes my day!” said Tammy Killian.

I know wholeheartedly that this industry is composed of some of the nicest people with the biggest hearts. I thank everyone who worked together to make this happen for Landon. Let’s not stop here. Let’s keep raising his spirits and raising funds.

I challenge all tow companies to participate in the Landon Strong Challenge and to follow “Landon Strong. Lights on for Landon” on Facebook to follow along his journey. I can tell you from meeting this family that they truly appreciate every opportunity to share Landon’s story and give him an experience that he wont forget.

Tow Truck First Aid Kit

Those with wrecker experience know the risks of responding to motorists in need.  Although “Move over” laws in many states require drivers to change lanes away from emergency vehicles, ANSI reflective clothing helps make tow operators more conspicuous — especially during inclement weather and darkness, highways are always dangerous.

Critical minutes, even seconds, can make a difference in an emergency and that’s why every tow truck should have a first aid kit, sometimes called as an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit).  Kits differ in size and design, but contents generally include gloves, a tourniquet, gauze/dressings, tape, shears and a CPR face shield.

The IFAK should be readily accessible. One good location is the passenger seat’s headrest. Some kits are designed to be attached there because the front of the headrest is often accessible to drivers and bystanders.

An example of a headrest mounted IFAK.  An open IFAK showing its contents.

A medically trained, well-equipped tow operator may be the first one on scene to render life-saving aid.  The American Red Cross, American Heart Association, and American Safety and Health Institute are well-known organizations that offer CPR and first aid training, often at little or no cost to students. Additionally, The American College of Surgeons offers a class called, Stop the Bleed (https://www.stopthebleed.org/training/), where students receive hands-on training in hemorrhage control through direct pressure, tourniquet application, and wound packing.

A recent example of a tow truck operator rendering critical care came in August 2019 on the New Jersey Turnpike near exit 8A.  Alex Petruccio, of Windsor, New Jersey witnessed the horrific event when the disabled motorist of the car he was to tow, was struck by another car, severing the lower leg of his customer.  With prior training as an EMT and lifeguard, Petruccio quickly packed the bleeding wound with paper towels and improvised a belt as a tourniquet.  His quick actions are credited with saving his customer’s life. As Petruccio said, “I could not stay there, watch that happen, [and] not do anything.”

An example of a tourniquet.

A New Understanding, Attitude of Gratitude

A New Understanding Attitude of Gratitude

For those of you who came by the Tow Professional booth during the Florida Tow Show, thank you. Darian Weaver, the Publisher, and I had lots of fun catching up with you. To all my readers, I was recently diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome and was walking with the help of a rollator. Many great towers have added me to a prayer list, and I greatly appreciate it.

Even though it’s not curable, GBS isn’t contagious. Back in December, my walking gait caught the attention of my neurologist who hadn’t seen me for several months. Without hesitation, she told me to continue down the road to the hospital, and I wasn’t to stop for anything. In fact, if I didn’t go there directly, she would order an ambulance service to take me there. That was December 28th. I stayed several days in the hospital, and with the treatments over the next few days, I missed New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome requires lots of physical therapy and generates periods of fatigue. I can’t quit working on it, or I won’t get any better. Recovery could be a long process.

Feeling sorry for myself with how GBS has affected me, I was asked to join a special zoom meeting with 14 other GBS patients, all of them with different levels of GBS. One was from South Africa, Australia, Ohio, Louisiana, other parts of the US and one from Canada. Expecting my case to be worse than the rest, I discovered that I was one of the better patients. Lots of them were relegated to a wheelchair, and the man from Ohio was in a hospital bed set up in a makeshift bedroom that was formally his dining room. I began to realize all of us have troubles. If we look around, there’s usually someone else that’s worse off than we are.

I am reminded of what my brother-in law, Dan, told me years ago. Being a pastor of a church in Oklahoma, he counseled a lady that had been so busy taking care of her family that she didn’t think she could go any more. She didn’t feel appreciated and certainly didn’t feel that other families went through what she endured. Basically, her time was spent with Dan was complaining about all her responsibilities and commitments. Dan assured her that he had the answer to her problems. As she leaned forward, he told her what to do. “Go home and bake several pies, doesn’t matter what kind of pies really, but make several, but I want you to deliver them to this address. Make sure you leave the pies with someone there and then come back and let me know who you left them with.” The lady thought Dan hadn’t listened to her at all. Did he not realize that she didn’t have any time left for herself?

When the lady returned to meet with Dan several days later, she had learned the names of those people, their illnesses and lack of monetary funds to keep them going. This lady forgot about her needs because she saw others who were in worse shape. There’s always someone in his world who is going through something worse than we are. Like me, I walk slow, but I walk determined to walk better again.

Now, let’s back to the other patients on my GBS group. Some of the men with GBS are paralyzed from the waist down. While driving in North Georgia I saw a sign on the side of a store building. It read, “It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.” As I drove past that building, I gave that statement a second thought because there’s an undeniable truth in it. Thankful people are happy. Here’s an eye-opening story that might help you with stress and reaffirm that thankful people are happy, no matter what happens to them. It’s truly our decision whether to be thankful or not.

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. As he sat on the step, he held up a sign which read, “I am blind. Please help.” There were only a few coins in the hat, just spare change from passersby as they hurried past him. When one inquisitive, but intuitive man was walking by, he took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. As the young boy said, “Thank you”, the man took the sign from the boy’s hands. With the sign in his hands, the man turned the sign around and scribbled more words on the sign and returned the sign back to the boy’s hands. Soon the hat began to fill-up. It wasn’t long before the pile of coins grew inside the blind boy’s hat.

That afternoon, the man walked by the boy again. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?” The man responded with, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said, but in a different way.” He wrote, “Today is a beautiful day, but I cannot see it.” Both signs spoke the truth. The first sign simply said that the boy was blind, while the second sign conveyed how grateful the rest of those walking by are to see the magnificence of the beautiful day.

When your life seems full of troubles, it is hard to maintain an “Attitude of Gratitude”. When everything seems to be going smoothly, we often take precious moments for granted. I do. As I read that story, I examined my life. I have been so blessed with family and friends, and God has been very good to me. Yes, I get very tired these days. At the Florida Tow Show, I stayed in the booth for a few hours and had to rest some to be ready for networking with fellow towers.

I hope after reading this article, you will add me to your prayer list. Please join me and Darian Weaver on the next Tow Professional podcast, one of the fastest-growing podcasts in our industry. See you next time.

Ultrabuilt

Ultrabuilt diligently works to provide some amazing equipment that can assist hard-working towers in all types of recovery situations, especially the tough ones.  We think you’ll agree, and here’s why.

Ultrabuilt Wincebox is the perfect equipment for any farming, oilfield, and construction equipment recovery.   Winchbox attachments are versatile and indispensable pieces of equipment for all industries. With the Winchbox, recovery will no longer be a problem, anywhere or anytime.  Snow, mud, sand, nor ice will no longer be a problem for Winchbox. Regular-duty trucks, built for the road, simply cannot get into places that a skidsteer and a Winchbox can. Why?  The compact design of the Winchbox allows for easy maneuverability in tight spaces, making it ideal for a variety of recovery situations.

The Ultrabuilt HDRU is perfect for towing and recovery operations done in tight spaces or off-road locations where larger wreckers may struggle to access. With its compact size and powerful capabilities, it can handle the toughest recovery jobs with ease. The wireless remote package allows the operator to control the Winchbox from a safe distance, reducing the risk of injury and increasing efficiency. That’s huge! It means that a single operator can easily maneuver the Winchbox into position and secure the vehicle without the need for additional manpower. Overall, this compact unit is a versatile and powerful tool for towing and recovery operations. Its ability to be easily transported and remotely controlled makes it an asset for any towing company or recovery operation.

In most situations, the Winchbox can be billed as specialty equipment. Combining that with the considerably lower cost and added versatility compared to a heavy wrecker, our customers find them to be a game changer for their operation. Winchbox offers a cost-effective solution for businesses in need of heavy-duty recovery capabilities, making it a popular choice among our customers.  With its versatility, lower cost, and ease of use, it has become an indispensable tool for any business that requires reliable, recovery equipment.

Without the complications of other boxes, the Ultrabuilt HDRU requires less maintenance, and has superior structural integrity for the same or less weight. After hundreds of hours of simulated and field testing by structural engineers and industry professionals, this is the Winchbox perfected. The initial building of the frames by certified structural welders, powder coating, and final assembly all happen in Central Oklahoma.

All Winchboxes are built on the same frame with a locking, fold-down safety screen, reinforced tie back points, integrated chain and rigging rack. HDRU30 features a 30k Pierce Bison winch with 180 Ft of 5/8 wire rope, manual or air free spool with onboard air provided by an ARB air compressor. HDRU20 features a Pierce PSHV18 winch with 200 Ft of 1/2 wire rope, manual free spool, and manual tensioner. Optional light kits, wireless remote packages, custom powder coating, and CNC designs are available.

When we least expect it, things can happen. So, before you need help, check out our recovery solutions.  Whether you are in the farming, oilfield, or construction industry, the Ultrabuilt Winchbox is the perfect solution for ALL your recovery needs. With its durability, versatility, and ease of use, this attachment is a ‘must-have’ for any business looking to streamline their operations and increase efficiency.

Contact Ultrabuilt today to learn more about how our Winchbox attachments can benefit you and your business.

Tru-Hitch™ solves challenges with heavy duty towing

While a heavy duty rotator handles accident recovery, the Tru-Hitchexcels in its transporting ability of heavy trucks.  A Tru-Hitch™ working in conjunction with your existing heavy duty rotator can give you the best overall capability and cost savings.

A Tru-Hitch™ on a 16K tractor can lift up to 32,000 lbs. and can tow up to a gross combined weight rating of 140,000 lbs.  In addition it:

  • Does not overload drive axles
  • Needs no special tractors or modifications
  • Does not create a lightened or unsafe steering axle
  • Does not cause uneven braking
  • Does not cause pinch points in sharp turns
  • Is safer and more efficient on long distance tows
  • Has a lower operating cost

The Tru-Hitch™ is the perfect complement to your towing operation fleet and will give you full capability for heavy duty transporting and recovery.  Visit truhitch.com for more information or call 1-800-450-8659 or 860-379-7772 to order your Tru-Hitch™ today.

Custom Built Manufacturing integrated line of Rotators and Heavy Equipment

Custom Built Manufacturing offers 20-ton, 25-ton, 30 ton and 50-ton units on the integrated line. Additional options we offered are a 12k sidepuller, 20k sidepuller, extending rear spades, and on our 50 ton,we offer a 20k belly winch under the boom. When it comes to rotators, we offer 30-ton, 40-ton, 50-ton and 60-ton units.  All materials used in the building process are sourced from vendors in our area. We will accept nothing less than USA-made steel for all our units. We recently started to manufacture 75% of all our hydraulic cylinders here in-house. Out of all other manufacturers, I would say we build more of our parts in-house than all the rest. We build all the steel components, toolboxes, and all paint is done in-house.

Custom Bulit’s warranty is the best in the business with an industry leading 10-year structural warranty on all steel components made in-house. With our customers, we have a 97% customer retention rate. Some of our customers own seven to nine of our units.

After a record 2023 we are looking great again for 2024! We have a full schedule for 2024 and we will be working on more improvements to our facility. We have a few new designs for our products coming out in 2024, you will want t stay tuned!

JERR-DAN HEAVY DUTY WRECKERS AND ROTATORS— ENGINEERED FOR STRENGTH AND DURABILITY

Whether looking to replace an older heavy-duty wrecker or adding new heavy-duty capabilities to a fleet, Jerr-Dan has a model that is just right for each application. Jerr-Dan’s Heavy Duty wreckers are available in 25, 35, 50, and 60-ton configurations, each one built with high-strength steel and designed for maximum power. Each model features a JFB Body made from a polypropylene copolymer material that is high-impact resistant and corrosion-free.

The JD25 Heavy Duty Integrated Wrecker features a 50,000 lb. 2-stage wrecker boom, high- impact resistant and corrosion-free body, and a 3-stage underlift – like all Jerr-Dan models, designed with strength and performance in mind. The JD35 Heavy Duty Integrated Wrecker features a 70,000 lb. 2-stage wrecker boom, high impact resistant and corrosion- free body, and optional 3-stage underlifts. The JD50 Heavy Duty Integrated Wrecker features a 100,000 lb. 2- or 3-stage wrecker boom, high-impact resistant and corrosion-free body, and optional 3- or 4-stage underlifts. The JD60 Heavy Duty Independent Wrecker features a 120,000 lb. 3-stage wrecker boom, high-impact resistant and corrosion-free body, and optional 3- or 4-stage underlifts. All these Heavy Duty wreckers are equipped with E/H (Electrohydraulic) controls, a very user friendly, smooth operating, fully proportional control with an updated hydraulic system, making easy work of large recoveries, and towing.

Another exclusive, the Jerr-Dan Touchlink™ CAN Bus control system, features in-cab electronic controls that come standard with an overhead switch panel and offer an optional underlift control panel. It also provides increased control of the light-bar, front, side, and rear strobes, and flood and work lights.

To improve operator efficiency, each of these models offer an optional fully proportional Jerr-Dan custom Scanreco belly pack remote.

A critical consideration for the company that is purchasing a heavy-duty wrecker for the first time is training. Operators are doubtless experts with their current fleet of small or medium trucks but operating a heavy-duty wrecker is simply not the same experience. Making sure that operators receive proper training and practice with the new wrecker is a key to long-term success.

THE ROTATOR IS DESIGNED FOR MAXIMUM STABILITY AND PERFORMANCE

Jerr-Dan engineers were guided by the principle that the strength and stability of the JD50/60 HDR1000 Rotators platform must be paramount. These elements are clearly visible in its industry-leading scissor-style outriggers combined with its unique 10 million RBM torsion frame design. By properly distributing the forces encountered during lifting operations, the truck and its components remain stable and solid from start to finish. This incredibly stable platform allows an operator to maximize the working area and capabilities of the boom and recovery winches with its best in class 41 feet of reach.

Of course, once the stable platform is built, the rest of the rotator follows the same innovative path. For example, the Jerr-Dan Rotator has a proven independent knee boom underlift that is offered in a variety of configurations to meet customer demands with or without a drag winch. Underlift options include the 53,000 lb. capacity Model 530 three-stage with 147 inches of reach. Other options are the 56,500 lb. capacity Model 565 with either the three-stage 181 inches of reach retracted or the four-stage with 179 inches of reach retracted.

The JD50/60 HDR1000 comes with two DP or Ramsey 50,000 lb. 2-speed boom winches. Jerr-Dan also offers 20,000 lb., 35,000 lb., or 50,000 lb. drag winch options as well as the 20,000 lb. boom-mounted auxiliary winch option. Available in Single Steer or Twin Steer and four or five axle configurations, each chassis is custom ordered to meet Jerr-Dan’s demanding specifications.

The JD50/60 HDR1000 360-degree operational load charts (provided with each rotator) document the full working range, including over the nose of the chassis, which provides a more comprehensive and reliable working area. The customer may also use Jerr-Dan’s Tow Link™ app, available on both the Apple and Google app stores. Tow Link allows operators to enter rigging specifications into its Rigging Utilization calculator and weights, lengths, and overhangs into its Tow Performance calculator so that operators may use their equipment more effectively. All calculations can be saved to aid in reviewing events or setting up new recoveries and picks.

Jerr-Dan’s exclusive Touchlink™ system (the same used in the heavy wreckers) features in-cab electronic controls that come standard and include an overhead switch panel, and an optional underlift control panel. Touchlink allows control of the light-bar, front, side, and rear strobes, and flood and work lights without leaving the cab. It is also pre-wired with three auxiliary circuits in the rear control box and one additional in the cab for those who wish to add custom lighting options.

Each rotator comes equipped with a fully proportional, Jerr-Dan custom, Scanreco remote. The remote is equipped with several features including E-stop emergency shut down, engine throttle up to a preset RPM, winch 2 speed on/off switches, and winch free spool engage. The remote can be operated in a standard rabbit mode or, if necessary, set to turtle, a slower mode. Lighted indicators tell the operator when a winch is in free spool mode and indicate when a winch is in high-speed mode. A switchable night light feature makes the remote more visible and usable in the dark and in low lighting.  It also has built-in safety features that warn the operator and, if necessary, timeout or shut off the system in certain situations, such as if the remote is dropped.

Jerr-Dan offers a wide variety of options to match customer requirements. These include options such as multiple storage solution packages, enabling the user to choose the storage solution that best fits their storage requirements.

FINANCE AND TRAINING SERVICES

To cut down on the financing hassle that often accompanies the purchase of heavier duty equipment, Jerr-Dan Financial Solutions (JDFS) offers quick, professional financing and competitive rates for leases and loans on new and used Jerr-Dan equipment for single-unit operators, large fleets, and everything in between.

Of course, training is critical when buying a rotator. Jerr-Dan offers factory training for rotator customers in a new state-of-the-art training facility. For more information about training, email training@jerrdan,com. For distributors, parts, and service, or more details about Jerr-Dan equipment, please visit www.jerrdan.com.

Welcome to the Florida Tow Show

Orlando, Florida, USA, downtown city skyline from Eola Park.

If you are reading this article, hopefully by now you are planning on joining me at the 2024 Florida Tow Show on April 18th-20th at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace.  Since I have been there many times in the past, let me suggest a few things that you don’t want to miss, along with one or two things you need to do while there.

First, please buy a ticket for the 2024 Hino LG Extended Cab with a Miller Industries Flatbed. Tickets are only $10 each, 12 for $100 and 25 for $200.  Remember, this truck is generously provided by Miller Industries and Hino Trucks with all the proceeds of this raffle supporting the PWOF Education and Legislation programs.  Last year Mike Weber of Auto Undertaker Towing & Repair out of DuBois, PA was the winner.  I buy tickets every year, and you never know if this will be my time to win. There’s nothing better than knowing the cost goes to a great cause.

On Thursday, the 18th, you have the Survivor Fund Golf Classic.  That night Jerr-Dan puts on one great tow show Kick-off Party for the entire family.  It’s always a wonderful time for everyone.  Remember, this is the largest international show of the year in the towing industry.

You will be elbow to elbow with towing and recovery families from all over the world, including Australia, UK, S. Africa, New Zealand, Germany, and Italy just to name a few. Jerr Dan makes sure everyone has an unforgettable time.

On Friday, the 19th, the exhibits open from 9am to 6pm.  The exhibits are located indoors, outside, and there are so many of them to see.  Please visit as many as you can.  It’s because of those exhibitors that there is no fee to attend this great show.  Do yourself a favor and support the exhibitors because they support you.  Lots of them do classes for us.  Make sure you look up schedules of when they are doing a class.  That night is the street party which is sponsored by Miller.  This Street Party is held every year, and it’s the talk of the show.  Nobody can beat a party that’s put on by Bill Miller and Miller Industries. Nobody.

Saturday the 20th is jam-packed with events.  If you have a special lady with you, a wife or a girlfriend, someone you picked up from Disney World, the Woman of the Towing Industry has a luncheon called, “I Am Woman”.  It’s presented by PWOF, Woman’s Division and starts at 11:45am and lasts until 1pm or so. If you are a woman, this is where you need to be on Saturday. It’s the best luncheon you will ever attend.  There are lots of gifts, prizes, and takeaways.  Seating is limited at this luncheon, and I know I’ve told you to much already.  Tickets are only $20 each.  That is cheap for what goes on at this luncheon.  So, get your tickets as soon as you get to the show.  You’ll find them for sale at the Tow Store located in the main hallway outside Citson Hall.

For all the little towers, the Annual Kids Event is Saturday from 9am to 2pm in the Veranda Lower Hotel Lobby.  Free t-shirts available and a remote-control contest with food and drinks all sponsored by Allstate Roadside.  I know about this ‘Lil Towers’ Event.  I used to help with it for at least five years before my legs gave out.  I would have a hard time keeping up with them this year.

Here’s my last tip.  Take a good look at the people you traveled with to this premier event.  Don’t spend your entire weekend with the same people you rode with to this tow show, and don’t eat all your meals with them either.  Look for a spot next to a fellow tower that you don’t know and see how they run their place of business.  Talk about how and why they color code the broom handles on certain trucks.  Particularly ask how they handle employee problems or deal with electric vehicles, or some of their challenges at their place of business.

At night, have a drink with a different tower that you don’t know and hear about the software they’re using.  Ask lots of questions and you’ll discover some wonderful answers.

Oh yes, if you bought a ticket for the raffle like I suggested, at 5PM go to Miller Industries Booth for the drawing.  Good luck everyone.

I’ll see you on the Tow Professional, “On-the Go” podcast.

Suburban Towing 2nd Street bridge Recovery

By: Justin Schaffer & Gina Johns


On March 1st, 2024, Suburban Towing was contacted by the Louisville Metro Police Department for a commercial vehicle accident that had occurred on the 2nd Street bridge spanning the Ohio River. The tractor-trailer involved was hanging off the bridge with the driver still in the truck cab. We were advised to send heavy-duty units. This route connects Louisville, Kentucky to Jeffersonville, Indiana, and is a popular route used by locals to avoid toll roads.

The traffic accident involved a single-ale tractor attached to a refrigerated box trailer with a combined gross weight of approximately 65,000 pounds. The collision with passenger vehicles resulted in the tractor-trailer unit breaching the side barriers of the bridge and stopping just before plunging into the Ohio River below. The trailer’s landing gear broke through the concrete sidewalk and the reefer trailer door header section struck the top of the bridge structure leaving the rear of the trailer elevated about 30 feet above the bridge deck. The truck driver was still strapped inside the truck cab.

Events leading to this accident caused a delay in starting the recovery. There were three passenger vehicles involved with injuries. After the rescue recovery by the Louisville Fire Department and the investigation of the accident scene (including the three vehicles), Suburban sent two rollbacks to recover the vehicles.

 

It was raining and 43 degrees in Louisville that day and working up on the bridge made it feel much cooler. Heavy operators Stanley Stanton, Jeff Edwards, I (Justin Schaffer), and Jim Knight, (scene safety supervisor)  were dispatched.

Once on scene, operations were underway to rescue the truck’s driver who remained strapped in the truck’s cab which was hanging from the fifth-wheel connection suspended over the Ohio River. An expertly trained member of the Louisville Fire Department repelled from the end of a ladder down to the truck cab to free the driver from the truck. The driver was placed in a safety harness and hoisted, with the firefighter up to the bridge deck and safety. Our hats off to the entire Louisville Fire Department for their heroic rescue of the truck driver from the unstable unit.

Waiting during the investigation process gave us time to make our “game plan” to recover the tractor-trailer. We estimated the weight of the cab and loaded refer unit to be 65,000 lbs. We employed our slingshot strategy using three Miller Industries heavy rescue rotators. We were able to lift the front of the trailer and truck and let the rear of the trailer down carefully. At the same time, we winched the trailer backward onto the bridge deck. The structure of the bridge itself created a huge obstacle to work around. Our operators performed this recovery process flawlessly, without causing any additional environmental issues or losing any parts of the truck or trailer. During the recovery, Suburban’s rotator operators communicated by using Sonetics headsets which proved to be a key element of a successful mission. The unit was prepared for towing and towed away from the scene.

Suburban Towing has been a familiar name in Louisville, Kentucky since it was started in 1969 by Irvin Johns. Irvin, along with his wife Gina, are still the owners and very much a part of the driving force of “day-to-day” operations. We are the largest towing company in the state of Kentucky with locations in southern Indiana as well as Texas. Our fleet consists of 90 pieces of equipment: 9 rotators, 15 heavy duties, multiple light-duties, and an extensive transport division. Including myself, Justin Schaffer, along with Stanley Stanton, Jeff Edwards, and Jim Knight, we have over 100 years of active experience invested in the towing and recovery industry.

Aerial Photo Credit: Rich G. Ammon

Looking at Insurance Expenses 2024

Insurance, health family car money travel Insurtech concept on virtual screen.

Several months ago, a young gentleman came to ask for my help.  He wanted to get started in the towing business.  At the time, Terrance knew nothing about towing or how it worked. He was educated and had a master’s degree in business.  I pointed him in the right direction to get started and was surprised to discover that in less than three months his business was in the black.  Terrance analyzed every step in building a business.  He bought his 1st truck and worked hard to find accounts to keep that truck busy.  Terrance tried all types of towing.  First it was motor clubs, then body shops, and a few weeks ago, he did his 1st rep.  Now he is considering private property towing.

The point is this.  Terrance uses his analytical skills to determine what type of tows he needs to do to make money.  Two days ago, he called me to discuss business strategies.  After looking at his expenses, his solution was to increase revenue to survive.  There is only one way to make money.  A person lowers expenses or raises revenue.  As Terrance looked at his expenses, he now knows there are some things you need to run your business, such as:

  1. Trucks
  2. Gas
  3. Drivers
  4. Insurance
  5. Equipment for the truck
  6. Marketing

Terrance realized lowering expenses is difficult, so he will concentrate on adding new accounts and adding revenue stream. He looked at every expense and determined they’re not going down anytime soon, so we are trying to figure out how we can address expenses and lower what’s possible.

One expense we are going to look at is insurance.  I talked to a few tow companies, and they told me they pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, have no claims, and their insurance goes up.  I had a friend in Dallas that had a million-dollar claim, and she almost lost her business because she could not find insurance.  No company should lose their business because they cannot find insurance.  You work hard for years to build a good business, and one accident makes it vanish. I am working with Terrance to see how we can lower insurance expenses. Here are a few things insurance companies face that drive up their costs:

  1. Increased Claims Costs – When the insurance company experiences higher than expected payouts for claims, they raise the rates to cover their costs. This could be due to a higher number of claims, or more expensive claims than predicted.
  2. Inflation – The increase in the cost of goods and services, including repair costs, to keep up with these raising costs, the insurance companies could increase your premiums.
  3. Changes in Risk Assessments – Insurance is based on the assessment of risk. The insurance will look at a person or business and determine the risk is higher than expected, and they will raise your premiums.
  4. Regulatory Change – Changes in government regulations can change how insurance companies operate that would increase their costs, they, in turn, pass it on to their customers.
  5. Investment Returns – Insurance invests the premiums they collect to generate revenue. If these revenues do not perform, this could cause a rate increase.
  6. Market Conditions – Competition and demand in the market can change pricing. If a company loses market share, or if the overall cost of providing insurance goes up due to market conditions, it can lead to higher rates.
  7. Reinsurance Costs – Insurance companies often purchase reinsurance to protect themselves from large losses. If the cost of reinsurance goes up it could cause an increase to your premium.
  8. Natural Disasters or Catastrophes – If there is a natural disaster such as a tornado, flood, or a fire these high claims would influence rates.

I want to avoid some of the conditions that impact expenses by self-insuring the towing industry.  My goal is to get 3,000 tow companies to join my company called The Tow Group, and I will provide them with insurance needed to cover any losses they might occur. Here is a little information about me.

In my 30 plus years in the towing industry, I have successfully done the following:

  1. Started a tow company from scratch and sold it seven years later.
  2. Started one of the largest towing associations in the U.S.
  3. Written articles for Tow Times, American Towman, and Tow Professional magazines.
  4. Taught seminars at all the major tow shows.
  5. In 2009, made the cover of American Towman magazine as towman of the year.
  6. Founder of TowTrax, a multi-million-dollar company that provides tow companies with tows.
  7. Wrote a book, Road Map to Success, about how I built my company.

I want to start something that has an impact on the industry.  With the experience and success of starting a new company, I will have 3,000 tow companies that can help but I need your help to get started too.  If you could answer the following questions for me, it would be helpful:

Question 1. Would you consider using this new company?

Question 2. Without telling me the exact amount, how much do you pay in insurance annually?

Question 3. How many claims did you file in 2023?

Question 4. Without telling me the exact amount, about how much in claims did you file in 2023?

If we can self-insure the industry, I feel we can save you thousands in insurance.  If you have an interest in helping me to get started, just let me know.  Send me an email at dan@towtrax.com, or call me at 469-774-0340.  I have a lawyer researching what is required to accomplish this and will keep you posted on the progress.

Thanks for your help and be safe out there.  We don’t want your insurance to increase.

7 Empowering Reasons Women in Towing Should Rock Towing Conventions!

Abstract blurred event with people for background.

Towing conventions serve as empowering platforms for women in the towing industry to thrive and excel. Get ready to rev your engines and roll into towing convention season like the bosses you are because they are just getting started. It all starts in April with the Florida Tow Show and ends in November with the Baltimore Exposition! Here are seven compelling reasons why attending these conventions is not only advantageous but essential for women working in towing: 

Connect and Conquer: Towing conventions are the ultimate place for meeting fellow fierce females, industry leaders, and potential mentors. Towing conventions offer invaluable networking opportunities! Building these relationships provides support, guidance, and potential career advancement opportunities. It is all about making those connections that will have you cruising towards success in no time.

Stay in the Loop: Say goodbye to snooze-inducing seminars! At towing conventions, you will be treated to the latest and greatest in industry trends, regulations, and tech innovations. Accessing this knowledge equips women with the tools and insights needed to succeed in a male-dominated field.

Skills and Thrills: Who says learning can’t be a blast? Hit up workshops and sessions designed to boost your towing game and leave you feeling like Wonder Woman behind the wheel or behind your computer. From safety tips to customer service secrets, you will leave these sessions feeling like a towing superhero ready to tackle any challenge.

Shop ‘til You Drop: Explore exhibitions packed with the latest towing gear, gadgets, and gizmos. It’s like a candy store for tow queens looking to deck out their rigs, their offices, and tow companies. Explore a diverse array of towing equipment, software solutions, and service offerings displayed by industry suppliers and vendors. Discover innovative products that can streamline operations, improve performance, and drive business growth.

Level Up, Boss Babe: Get certified, snag those trainings, and level up your towing career like a boss. By attending towing conventions, professionals can gain insights into industry trends and emerging market opportunities. This knowledge can help businesses identify new revenue streams, expand their service offerings, and develop strategic plans for growth.

Squad Goals: Engage with a supportive community of women in towing who understand the unique challenges and opportunities faced in the industry. Discover innovative products and services tailored to women’s needs. Share stories, swap tips, and lift each other up because together, we are unstoppable.

Visibility and Representation: Conventions offer opportunities for women to showcase their talents, expertise, and contributions to the towing industry. Increased visibility and representation inspire other women to pursue careers in towing and challenge gender stereotypes.

So, there you have it, ladies—seven fabulous reasons why towing conventions are your ultimate playground for fun, networking, and empowerment. Get involved in as many of the show events as you can. By leveraging these opportunities, women can navigate career challenges, achieve professional growth, and contribute to a more inclusive and equitable industry landscape. Buckle up, because the ride to towing success starts here! How about a BONUS reason?! 

Have Some Fun: Let your hair down, relax and enjoy the company of your towing friends! If there is ever someone else who understands what you are going through and what you need, it is another towing lady.

Do you know a towing lady who deserves recognition?  Please send Tow Professional or Michelle (michelle@michellesukow.com) a message!  We would love to share her story!

Hal Kresser Insurance Agency and Wichert Insurance Services Merge, Unveiling Powerhouse Towing Insurance Agency

Hal Kresser Insurance Agency and Wichert Insurance Services are thrilled to announce their merger, marking the inception of a powerhouse towing insurance agency. This strategic alliance combines the specialized expertise, extensive experience, unapparelled market access, and unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction of both firms.

The newly formed entity emerges as a leader in the towing insurance sector, offering unparalleled coverage options, risk management solutions, and personalized service to towing businesses in the Midwest. Leveraging the combined strengths of Hal Kresser Insurance Agency and Wichert Insurance Services, the merged entity is uniquely positioned to meet the evolving needs of towing professionals with tailored insurance solutions and comprehensive support.

Clients can expect a seamless transition and continued access to a broad range of insurance products and services designed to safeguard their assets and mitigate risks. The merger reinforces both organizations’ commitment to delivering exceptional value, innovation, and peace of mind to towing businesses.

Zip’s Products

Will-Burt Night Scan Light

Emergencies don’t always give you the time to pull out and set up enough bright lights to see what’s going on. Every second counts, so when you’re slowly setting up enough floodlights to see what’s happening, you’re losing precious time. That’s one of the many reasons the Will-Burt Night Scan Light stands out. Able to set up and light up the scene with 60,000 lumens in 15 seconds with only the push of a button, this light lets you focus on what you came to do.

Coming with everything you need to install it, the Will-Burt Night Scan Light installs on top of your truck. No part of it stays inside making extra room. It’s also only 20.25” wide, meaning this narrow light saves quite a bit of space that you can use for other tools and applications. Not only is it very narrow, it lays flat while in a stowed position. However, when you have it up, it stands up to 12 feet tall plus the height of your vehicle. This height gives you a high amount of coverage.

It also does not need a generator, instead it uses the vehicle’s power directly. This frees up space to bring what you actually need. On top of that, you can save money as you don’t have to pay for a generator or to keep the generator running. No more leaving the shop and forgetting to fill up the generator before you leave. As long as your vehicle is running, so is the light.

Of course, while the Will-Burt Night Scan Light works great in emergency situations, it’s also helpful in any job that takes place outside. Whether you’re putting in late nights on the construction site or on the farm, the Will-Burt Night Scan Light can help provide you with an easy way to see. It’s also great for towing as it provides a bright, adjustable spotlight for you to work with.

One of the best parts about the Will-Burt Night Scan Light is that you can control where the light is angled. It provides 360 degrees of light by being able to face opposite directions. This makes it so you can always see what you need to thanks to how convenient it is.

Finally, it has an optional wireless remote. The convenience this offers is very nice as it lets you control the light while away from your vehicle. You can make adjustments as you work to ensure you can see better. This fine-tuning can keep you safe and able to see as you work.

Lucky for you, this light is now available at Zips.com. Item #: WB-721560057

Get more out of your carrier’s winch line with Zip’s Side Puller Recovery Tool

Create the angle you need for a side recovery with your car carrier with Zip’s Side Puller Recovery Tool. Designed for both steel and aluminum decks, this mechanical pulley guide system attaches to the tailboard of your rollback and directs your winch line 180 degrees to the left or right and 90 degrees downward. This versatility prevents your carrier from taking up too much room on the highway and also allows you to retrieve vehicles from tight parking spots. Order Item #: ZP-SPZ at Zips.com.

Access Tools Telsa Lockout Tool

Teslas require a special tool when a lockout occurs. Due to the shape of their manual release, usual lockout tools don’t always get the job done. The Tesla Tool from Access Tools is made specifically to work with their manual release.  It also comes with two Wonder Shields that let you protect the tool from coming in contact with the window glass. This is important as the thin laminated glass used in Tesla windows are harder to work with than traditional tempered glass. Stay prepared by picking up the Tesla Tool today at Zips.com! Item#: ACT-TT

Light Up Your Carrier Bed with Maxxima’s LED Utility Flood Light Bar

Not every dispatch occurs during daylight hours. That’s why you need Maxxima’s LED flood light utility bar. Thanks to its 120 LEDs, this compact, rectangular work light produces a flood beam pattern with 3,000 lumens, enough to light up any car carrier bed at night or in low-light situations. Measuring 29.5″ long, the aluminum extruded light head can be adjusted for precise, directional lighting, and the steel supports can be surface mounted to provide the right setup for the area being illuminated. The polycarbonate lens means it can withstand the elements, and the five-year warranty ensures longevity for the buyer. Order Item #: MTBL-10-A at Zips.com today.

Get More Done with the Lokithor JA2500 4-in-1 Portable Jump Pack and Air Compressor

The only thing worse than a flat tire is a dead battery, especially when you are already running behind. Remedy both situations with a multi-function jump starter from Lokithor. Besides delivering enough energy to jump start most gasoline and diesel engines, this 12V, 2500A power pack is also equipped with a built-in air compressor that’s capable of producing up to 150 pounds of air pressure. Get back on schedule with this convenient and rechargeable jump pack. It’s easy to store in your vehicle, and it’s very easy to use with a digital indicator panel. Order Item #: JA2500 at Zips.com.