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News reports note uptick in tower activity downtown
Motorist awareness of the law touted on truck
Roadside steps to increased safety awareness
New design makes down-driveway hookups easier
Puts cap on assets; forces four off board by end of year
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingFebruary 21 - February 27, 2018

City Agrees to Use Tow List

The Central City (Illinois) Council has agreed to utilize the city of Centralia's approved towing rotation list to handle the removal of vehicles following a traffic accident. The announcement followed Centralia discussing an ordinance that would have required towing companies to maintain their principal place of business within the city limits. The village president said there was nothing in the Central City municipal code mandating that a certain towing company or companies be used, so there is no need to enact an ordinance to open up the eligibility. Source:
From the American Towman News Bureau
Alex Denman. Photo credit:

Towman Warns About Safe Driving

An Eau Claire, Wisconsin, towman has one thing to stress about icy roads after getting hurt on the job last year. "If you do have to go somewhere, go slowly. It's better to arrive late than dead," said Alex Denman, with Chad's Towing. Last year, Denman was on a call recovering a vehicle when a car came sliding from the right and collided with the back of his truck sending him into the ditch. He has fully recovered, but finds too often people are going too fast and not paying attention to their surroundings. "It's terrifying being out there on the side of the road knowing that people aren't looking, "Denman said. Source:

Towman Shot in St. Louis

A towman was being treated after being shot with a rifle in St. Louis, Missouri, early Sunday. Police say the victim was in his tow truck when a man pulled his car in front of the truck, turned the hazard lights on and got out with a rifle. The victim told police the man fired several shots, hitting the victim several times. The shooter then drove off. Police said the victim is stable and the investigation is ongoing. Source:
Towman Warns About Safe Driving
Wisconsin towman says motorists are going to fast
City Agrees to Use Tow List
Will use in lieu of drawing up new ordinance
Towman Shot in St. Louis
Towman hit several times; police say he’s stable

McKinney Joins Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald Towing & Recovery Equipment recently added Gene McKinney to its leadership team as general manager.

McKinney joins from Jerr-Dan Corp., where he led as Southeast Regional Manager.

"I saw a great opportunity here," McKinney said. "I really appreciate the aggressive growth of the [Fitzgerald] company. They believe in having enough inventories on hand to meet customer needs in all aspects of the business.

"My goal is to make Fitzgerald Towing & Recovery Equipment the No. 1 Jerr-Dan distributor in the country. Fitzgerald's expertise on glider kits goes hand-in-hand with wrecker sales. I believe this will allow us to get that No. 1 spot."

McKinney has 40-plus years of experience in the industry and 21 years of experience as regional manager at Jerr-Dan. McKinney will help Fitzgerald plan for nationwide growth by working with both the manufacturer and customers.

Spilled Fuel & Multiple Tractor-Trailers in Florida
• February 21 - February 27, 2018

Gee, Thanks Punxsutawney Phil

Ahhh, winter.

It's a tow business' utopia, right? The snow is falling by the foot, all that money is coming in, the operators are all busy—tow businesses can go on like this forever, correct?

Well, according to a recent piece written by Dan Spies, executive director of the Pennsylvania Towing Association, all is not as heavenly as it may seem.

There's a constant pressure on the business round-the-clock; equipment is continuously running, operators are going non-stop and the phone is ringing off the hook.

If the equipment breaks down, there's a problem. The business is down a truck, thus straining the other units that have to pick up the slack. Calls for dead batteries take their toll, as many companies don't stock the most common ones used (according to Spies); and those that do, run out of stock with no delivery date in sight for additional stock.

Winter is also flu season; if your company unfortunately is affected with the bug, chances are you're going to have at least one operator—maybe more—calling in sick. That puts additional pressure on your "lucky" unaffected drivers. (By the way, check out Brian J. Riker's excellent Tow Business & Operations article this week on dealing with the flu season.)

Then there's the human factor. All of this pressure and bad weather sometimes (oftentimes?) leads to tempers flaring, thus the business owner has to put up with even more.

Add in the element of balancing safety with bad weather, road conditions and trying to provide decent ETAs ... "it's like a jungle out there—sometimes you wonder how you keep from going under," (apologies to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five).

I'll have to admit: I never thought of it from that angle until reading Spies' article. It all makes sense, too.

So this week, I'll just say to be careful during the five weeks of winter we have left (thanks a lot, Punxsutawney Phil) and take copious notes of how to do it even better next year.

--Charles Duke

Winching a Car Down a Hill

Winchingdownhill b75d5By Don Archer

I was out of breath and running to help my little brother when my wife's hand slapped me in the face, waking me from my dream. The phone was ringing and she was telling me to GET UP!

I was on-call and it was the Highway Patrol needing a wrecker.

I jumped up, put on my uniform and boots, and headed out the door on a cold December night.

When I arrived, the Trooper pointed me in the direction of the crumpled Ford Focus. It was up an embankment about 30 feet, lodged between some trees.

My job that night was to winch a car—down a hill. Unless the plan was to just cut her loose and let her roll, it wasn't going to be easy. I first needed to dislodge it from the trees; then, without losing control, bring it down the hill and land it safely on the shoulder. The trick was keeping it from running me over or rolling out into traffic.

As I surveyed the casualty, I stepped back for a minute just out of sight of the patrolman and scratched my head ... I couldn't have him thinking I was stumped. As I stood there scheming for a solution, I was reminded of the dream I was having only moments earlier of a somewhat similar dilemma I'd been up against years ago.

I was 10 and my little brother Troy was in trouble with the neighborhood boys. He'd retreated to as high a spot as he could get up an old oak tree. I ran to the sound of his yelling and found Kevin, Marty and Darrel gathering wood and placing it at the base of the tree. Their plan was to smoke him out.

Being a year older than the oldest of the boys, my first inclination was to run up yelling and threatening to "Kill them all," but since Marty had his BB rifle I decided against it.

I suppose I could have just let them do what they were gonna do; but I was responsible for my little brother. Since I'd already seen and heard the commotion, I had a stake in whatever happened next.

I assessed my options. I could try and take the BB gun from Marty and scare them all away but where would that leave us tomorrow? I looked for another solution.

I tried reasoning with the kids; that didn't work. I tried bargaining, "We'll rebuild your club house." But each solution offered was just dismissed with a wave of their hands.

And just when they were convinced I was out of options, I lunged at Marty and knocked the BB gun out of his hands.

All eyes on me, the gun fell at our feet. I kicked it and jumped on it. Marty jumped on me and we scrambled for control. Right when I was about to wrench his prized Red Rider free, twisting it from his grimy little hands, they made a move I didn't expect.

One would pull on my arm while the other would yank on the gun. When nothing seemed to work, Kevin stood up, reared his foot back like he was going for a homerun in kickball and kicked me in the face.

That's the bad news.

The good news is all that blood and hollering scared the living daylights out of 'em, and they ran off. Troy didn't get smoked out and we didn't have to fight again the next day. Of course I had a bloody nose and a sore upper lip for a couple of days but sometimes going backwards works.

Back to the present. I noticed a sturdy oak tree almost 20 feet up from the wrecked Focus.

Could this be the solution I was looking for?

I walked it out, did a little math, added in a splash of geometry and decided it'd work. All that was left was the implementation. I snatch-blocked off the tree and used two winch lines, one pulling against the other. I first pulled the car backwards toward the tree and maneuvered it so that I had the control to not only dislodge the car, but also swing it free and slowly lower it to the shoulder, avoiding additional problems.

I thought I'd been stymied, but everything worked as planned and I walked away victoriously and gained a little something from the whole ordeal: a new perspective.

I couldn't immediately see the solution when I arrived. But the reason wasn't because it was too dark, or too cold or I was too tired. It was because I was stuck—I didn't want to see the bigger picture. I wanted to recover a vehicle that was wrecked down an embankment not up one.

Just like that day and this casualty, sometimes the best solution to a problem is something you can't plan for. You get lucky, and it simply appears.

Don G. Archer and his wife, Brenda, own and operate Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, MO. Don is also multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at Want to learn more email him direct at
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Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti, a digital roadside assistance platform, recently announced an upcoming integration with Towbook's cloud-based towing software. Roadside assistance and towing professionals will be able to accept and manage jobs on the Towbook platform. Stop by their booths during the American Towman ShowPlace taking place at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 9-12.;
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