The Week's Features
Tow Expo Dallas' winning trucks are highlighted
Towman Scott Shover is being called "a guardian angel"
Redi-Letters' lighted signs easily mount on wreckers
Suspending auto repos of clients impacted by Hurricane Harvey
Or, do government controls actually work?
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August 17-19, 2017
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In his seminar, "Dispatching, GPS and Mapping Innovations," Todd Althouse of Beacon Software will take a look at how a dispatch office has changed in the last 20 years. He'll review modern tools available to dispatchers, such as GPS locations, PTO activity, computer-assisted dispatch for driver recommendations and much more to improve efficiencies. This Management Conference seminar will take place at the American Towman Exposition, November 17-19 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland–register today!
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingSeptember 20 - September 26, 2017

City, State
Waterford, MI
(Pop. 72,166)
Auburn, AL
(Pop. 56,908)
Terre Haute, IN
(Pop. 60,785)
Loveland, CO
(Pop. 72,651)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.

Is a Workman's Comp Policy Really Needed?

workerscompensationforms ac477By Don G. Archer

In more cities throughout the country towing companies are requiring an up-to-date workman's compensation policy from anyone removing vehicles from their lot. Many claim the intent is to cover themselves in the event the individual sent to their property is ill-educated and makes a mistake loading—and injures himself.

But, is this the real reason? Or is it another attempt to thwart the competition by putting up bigger barriers to entry?

Some towers suggest that the reason these policies are in place is to deter do-it-yourselfers from using substandard equipment and zero-safety guidelines to load wrecked vehicles themselves.

In an attempt to avoid a nominal towing fee, and armed only with a come-along and a 1,500-lbs. trailer, many towing company owners have had the displeasure of watching and wincing as men, women and children—old and young--push, pull, and do whatever is necessary to load a vehicle. Some have been harmed.

And, as towers can first-handedly attest, frivolous lawsuits are a dime a dozen.

Common sense and personal responsibility go out the door when tempers flare. Many can recount calls regarding theft of jewelry and cash from vehicle owners upset over being towed due to a parking violation. Or, of accusations of negligent damages occurring over a complete-loss accident recovery—because the owner was underinsured and could not pay the bill.

It's not just the disgruntled; it's also attorneys looking to make a fast buck.

Consider this attempt at a shake-down:

The owners of a small auto repair shop in California were issued an insignificant citation by the Bureau of Automotive Repairs for not including the date of service on their invoices. After being notified of the mistake, the shop made the appropriate adjustments and all was good with the Bureau. They thought the problem was solved.

That is, until a group of private attorneys came after them for "unfair business practices." Threatening to sue, the lawyers wrote the repair shop owner a nasty letter promising the worst.

But the attorneys did provide him with an out. "Just pay us $2,000 and the lawsuit will disappear."

That's all well and good, but should towers be doing this to one another? If we're really just a band of brothers in a tight-knit industry, shouldn't we look out for each other and do all that we can to support one another and the industry?

However, others suggest that requiring proof of workman's comp IS good for the industry.

It protects the very towers who are required to provide the documentation. It gives them a safety net should they become injured, while giving shop owners peace-of-mind in a litigious world.

It also helps to level the playing field.

When more towers are required to carry workman's comp, they'll eventually get the idea that working for low-paying motor clubs and salvage auction yards is not such a good idea. That is, unless they're able to pass the costs along.

Rather than harming the industry, this policy holds the promise of giving the towing industry the boost it needs, forcing the clubs to raise their rates—lest they have no one to call when their members need a tow. Over time, this rising tide should lift all boats.

To those just starting out this can be a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. How can you be expected to pay $1,000 dollars or more per month, when you're only bringing in $2,000? But, just like tires for your truck and a good pair of boots, workman's comp is a necessity you just can't afford to live without.

Requiring it of all who participate is a step in the right direction.

American Towman Field Editor-Midwest Don G. Archer is also a multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. E-mail him direct at

Dangers of the Three-Wheel Technique

dangercopy 129a4By Randall C. Resch

While I understand the safety side of towing, using techniques that aren't sanctioned by the industry brings question as to their origin. But in order to extract a vehicle from a parking space quickly, a new technique has made its way to the towing forefront; enter "The Three-Wheel Technique."

It's the newest craze that's hitting the towing and recovery industry and I'd like to share it with you. I salute new ideas, but there's more than face value here than what some towers may bargain for, especially when the technique has potential for causing tow-inflicted damages and potential injury or death. This one has proved to be costly.

Visualize this: a tow company arrives to a rather typical private-property impound. The tower seems to follow appropriate procedures on the administrative side and then sets out to tow the vehicle. As it's parked nose-in in the parking space, the technique that's used is one that's far from standard and, in my opinion, questionable and unsafe.

The technique is simple; a tow operator backs up to the intended impound and lowers the wheel-lift a smidge above the pavement. Using the inside cab controls, backing up and operating the controls at the same time takes some finesse to avoid contact with the lower front or rear spoiler, splash pan or oil pan. As the wheel-lift's receivers make contact with one of the tires, the wheel-lift intentionally gets pushed farther out so the opposite receiver pivots under and beyond the vehicle's OTHER tire. The wheel-lift rotates past the tire to where the receiver's end has reached the center of the vehicle's underbody.

From inside the cab, the wheel-lift is raised and the far-side receiver contacts the underbelly of the towed vehicle. The vehicle tilts awkwardly where it's balanced only on one tire. From here, the tow operator drives forward moving the awkwardly balanced vehicle to an accessible location. While the process takes only seconds, the potential of damage is huge. Consider these two examples:

Casualty Example 1: Using the three-wheel technique, the tow truck's wheel-lift is lowered below the underside of a new Honda Accord. As the wheel-lift receivers are lifted to make contact with the vehicle's underbelly, it bends and creases the vehicle's entire muffler system. Because the receivers mashed the system's catalytic converter, the owner noticed a change in the new vehicle's performance causing him to take it to the dealer. Once raised on a service rack, there was obvious and noticeable damage to the catalytic converter, muffler and exhaust ... an expensive fix.

Casualty Example 2: Tower No. 2 uses the Three-Wheel Technique to move a vehicle from a nosed-in parking space. The vehicle, a newer Chrysler minivan, was lifted by its underbelly, near the rear floor area. As lift was applied, the floor was pushed upward causing the underbelly to bend. The owner noticed that the large rolling side-doors would not roll freely. His trip to the dealer found a large hump bent into the minivan's floor pan.

To see the Three-Wheel Technique as it's put through its motions looks cool. The whole activity of the technique takes no more than about 30 seconds, but the technique has proved itself precarious and careless at best due to the potential for damage. Remember, when you're in business to not damage a customer's vehicle, the Three-Wheel Technique doesn't promote damage free-towing. The technique appears to be reckless and unconcerned for the property of others.

Just because it looks cool doesn't foster the image the industry expects. I believe that the technique isn't appropriate for the use of the equipment as the manufacturer intended. In the same manner lifting a vehicle with a forklift from the side tends to bend underside components, the Three-Wheel Technique has potential of inflicting expensive damages to your customer's vehicle. I recommend towers use the wheel-lift in the manner that's deemed acceptable by the majority of industry training and standards.
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WreckMaster President Justin Cruse said that the WreckMaster Convention will bring together towers from all over North America to provide a unique and beneficial opportunity to broaden knowledge.
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