Friday, August 31, 2007

A Thumb's Up, A Thumb's Up and A Thumb's Down

Thumb's Up to AL tow truck driver Doug Turbeville who brought a father and daughter to safety after their car was caught in a flash flood. Read the WAFF 48 News story here and you can also watch the video.

Thumb's Up to AAA of Northern California for offering free towing to drivers who have had too much to drink over the Labor Day weekend, no AAA membership required. Read the Vallejo Times-Herald story here. ***Sorry. The story has been removed from their website.***

Thumb's Down to the IL man who was arrested for running over a tow truck driver in February. According to the Portage Daily Register story, the man was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial. The unnamed tow truck driver did survive, though both his legs were fractured and his right leg was amputated below the knee. Read the article by Todd Krysiak here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The best part of being in towing and recovery...

... is the variety of work.

Check out this boat that came off the trailer and landed on the truck that was towing it. Anyone know what FL towing company is pictured?

Here's a story of a volunteer tow truck driver going above and beyond from the the waterlogged Midwest. It was posted on a blog called "Family History" and used with permission.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

An Unusual Flood Rescue

As many of you are probably aware (some of you probably all too keenly!), here in the Midwestern U.S., last week brought severe storms and flooding. We were fortunate in that other than a sleepless night, we didn’t sustain any damage. Many of our neighbors weren’t so lucky. This morning I found an interesting flood rescue story in my e-mail. It came from our local police chief through a neighborhood watch mailing list and he’s given me permission to reprint it along with the photographs.

Indy Blvd.bmp…Many strange flood stories have emerged, I just have to share one with you. On Saturday afternoon, I had just finished a twelve hour day that started with the Calumet River levy being breached close to the new Cabela’s store. At three p.m., I was up on the I-80/94 Ramp over Indianapolis Boulevard surveying the damage. The boulevard was closed off so it was quiet and peaceful up there, no cars.

Three females and a male were walking up the ramp and stopped to speak with me. They stated that they had left their car in the parking lot of the Amerihost Hotel overnight and they wanted to go back and retrieve it. I asked them if it was a black Chevrolet Equinox and they said yes. Early in the day we had State Auto and Towing remove forty-six cars from the Amerihost parking lot and I knew there was only one car left. A black Equinox with water up to the windows.

When I told them that there car was still in the lot but filled with water, the girls (in their early twenties) began crying hysterically. They then told me something I had never heard before–”Our deceased father is in the back seat of the car.”

I had to do a double take, and asked them again what they were talking about. One of the girls stated that FloodRescue.bmptheir father had recently passed away, and one of the last things he did was buy the Chevy for his oldest daughter. When he died, they had him cremated and his ashes were in an urn, in the flooded back seat of the car.

I called State Auto on my radio and they sent out a tow truck. Donald Kalina, who is our Chief of Emergency Management (a volunteer unpaid position) was the tow driver that responded. He attempted to get back to the Chevy in his tow truck, but because of the high water, he was unable to get close enough to the car for extraction. When he was advised that the girls’ father’s remains were in the backseat of the vehicle, Don offered to wade into the chest-deep, sewage-filled water, to retrieve the urn.

The girls were incredibly relieved and thankful for Don’s selfless act. If anyone ever tells you that there are very few heroes left in the world, please pass on this story…

Sincerely ,
Chief Brian Miller

A Laugh List in Honor of the Dog Days of Summer

IT'S SO HOT AND DRY IN VIRGINIA, NORTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA OR (insert the name of your state here) THAT...
....the birds have to use potholders to pull the worms out of the ground.
....the trees are whistling for the dogs.
....the best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance. water comes from both taps. can make sun tea instantly. learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.
....the temperature drops below 95 F (35 C) and you feel a little chilly. discover that in August it only takes two fingers to steer your truck. discover that you can get sunburned through your truck window.
.... you actually burn your hand opening the truck door. break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 A.M.
....your biggest bicycle-wreck fear is: "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?" realize that asphalt has a liquid stage.
....the potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one out and add butter.
....the cows are giving evaporated milk. are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying boiled eggs.

Thanks to my bro, Bo, for sending this to me!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Millerfest 2007

Miller Industries Millerfest 2007 is coming up on September 14th - 16th in Chattanooga, TN.

"Tow Trucks" In Space!

For those of you with a scientific bent, here's a story on
(some of my regular reading material...)

Seems that the Naval Research Laboratory is working on a robotic "tow truck" to retrieve broken down satellites for repair or salvage and also to clear orbits for safety by removing "derelict spacecraft or space debris" to a junkyard orbit. Read it here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Get 'em, Cowboy!

Check out this CBS 11 news story on a police officer who shot at a driver who tried to run him over in a parking lot and the Texas tow truck driver who leaped into action.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Here's to Towers in SW FL

Kudos to Naples Daily News (FL) writer Ryan Mills for the story "The fourth responder: Tow truck driver central player at rescue scene." Good to read something positive about towing and recovery from an outside-the-industry source. Liked the photos, too.

It features Bud Gruber of Bald Eagle Towing of Marco Island and J.T. Corzo of B&B Towing of East Naples. Bald Eagle Towing's got a nice website at Be sure to check out the recovery photos - especially the one of the helicopter recovery.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Recognition for Rick Bays, another September Hall of Fame Inductee

Rick Bays, owner of Speed of Light Towing in Watsonville, CA, was featured in a story by writer Donna Jones in the Santa Cruz Sentinel today. Read the story here. Bays will be inducted into the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame on September 14.

Bays was profiled in our July '07 issue of Towing & Recovery Footnotes, too, on page 20 of Section 1. Read the story by TRF writer, Andrea Evans, here.

Rick Bays, Walker Verdugo, Rocky Bays, and Pio Ramirez with truck 40, a 1998 Kenworth T-800 with a Century 9055, in front of St. Patrick’s Church, one of Watsonville's oldest and most recognized landmarks.

towPartners Announces "Tow Institute"

A new towing industry training school called “Tow Institute” has been announced by towPartners. The goal of Tow Institute is to bring together Field Operations training with hands-on instruction and Business Management training.

Students will register for a preferred study track, plus a variety of elective classes, during the two-day educational sessions (Friday/Saturday or Saturday/Sunday) that will launch in 2008.

Five events have been scheduled:

March 14-16 in Phoenix, AZ

May 2-4 in Philadelphia, PA

July 11-13 in St. Louis, MO

September 5-7 in Seattle, WA

October 17-19 in Atlanta, GA

Tow Institute is operated by towPartners and is sponsored by Jerr-Dan Corporation, Sprint Nextel Corporation and Aramark Uniform Services.

Classes are open to towing operators, business owners, managers, office staff and any others interested in the towing industry. Instructors include Rick Chron, John Borowski, Michele Godwin, Jeb Blount, Grant MacQuilkan, and Jeffrey Godwin.

The class registration fee is $595 per student. If there are three or more students registering, the fee is reduced to $500 per student. The class fee covers classes, workshops, handouts, breakfast, lunch and evening receptions.

Click here to learn more about Tow Institute.

Click here to learn more about towPartners.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

2007 Tow Woman of the Year Announced

Angela Roper, owner of TIPTOW of Georgetown, TX, has been named as the 2007 Tow Woman of the Year by the Women of the Towing and Recovery Association of America or WTRAA. Roper, a TRAA Nationally Certified Level 1 Towing and Recovery, is currently serving as the WTRAA’s Secretary and was elected as the TRAA’s Third Vice-President this year.

Roper also serves on the TRAA’s Education Foundation Board and is the chairperson for the new TRAA Safety video committee. She is a member of the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum Survivor Fund committee and has served on the WTRAA’s scholarship committee for several years.

Working with other towing professionals, Roper helped to form the Towing Education Council or TEC this year. The TEC was created to educate and prepare towers throughout the country for certification and the first class begins in September at the Austin Community College. Roper has served as the Texas Towing and Storage Association’s treasurer and employed as its Executive Director for three years. She is licensed American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) instructor and a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) Basic Instructor. Roper will be honored in Chattanooga, TN in September.

Click here to learn more about the WTRAA.

Vintage International Wrecker

I came across some nice pictures of this 1931 International equipped with a Manley hand crank on It's owned by Dennis Lynch of A&A Towing in Reno, NV. According to Dennis in his post, it has the original engine and transmission. "It's all there right down to the split wheel rims. And it came with the work order to install the Manley hand crank in 1936. As well as the original title on the chassis from 1931." He was trying to get an assessment on its value.

I emailed Dennis to ask his permission to post a picture here and to see if he had come up with a dollar value on it. He replied that, based on the responses, that it was difficult to put a number on it, but probably in the $25-$30,000 range. (Thanks, Dennis!)

See his original posts with two other pictures of the wrecker here.

Gee, must be nice... have sooooo much money that you FORGET about your impounded $160,000 Maserati like this Parisian man. Read the story here (and keep right on dreamin'!).

If you like NASCAR and towing...'s a good story for you about Mike Potter of Tennessee and the early days of NASCAR by Jeff Bobo in the Kingsport Times-News' Read the story here.

The Bicycling Repo Man; Everyday Heroes; Tow Tater Vandalized

We're all concerned about our health, right? Here's a cool story in The Commercial Appeal about Larry Anderson, a Tennessee repo man, who used two wheels to do something about his health. Read the full story here.

West Virginia Tow Truck Driver and Police Officers Risk Lives, Rescue Man. Don Atkinson of Ace Garage and Wheeling, WV police officers went to the assistance of a man trapped in a burning vehicle. Disregarding the risks to their own safety, the five men stayed with the accident victim and protected him from the flames as best they could until firefighters arrived to put out the blaze and extricated the badly-injured man. Read The Intelligencer report here.

California Tow Truck Drivers Honored for Saving Police Officer's Life. Earlier this month, the California Highway Patrol awarded certificates of commendation to tow truck drivers Leon Vires and Michael Winter. The two towers came to the assistance of Officer Mike Remmel after he was struck by a car on the highway in January 2006. Remmel lost both legs as a result of the incident, but is still working for the CHP. Read the full story from here.

What's up with some people? Tow Tater, the 1951 International boom truck that inspired "Mater" in the 2006 Pixar animated movie Cars, was vandalized at its Route 66 gas station in Galena, KS earlier this month. Read the Route 66 News post here.

Association News from Southwest Tow Operators, Statewide Towing Association of MA, Ontario Recovery Group

Southwest Tow Operators: A year after its formation, Southwest Tow Operators has announced that it now has 100 members following the San Antonio Tow Expo in early August. During the show, the group hosted a compliance seminar concerning the new Texas Towing Act. Representatives from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation or TDLR presented an overview of the legislation received in June. Harriet Cooley, Executive Director for the Towing and Recovery Association of America, was also present to cover information on the newly-required driver certifications. A videotape of the presentation will be available to association members and an update will be given by the TDLR at the April 2008 San Antonio Tow Expo. For more information, contact Joann Messina by email to or call 972-247-9454.

Statewide Towing Association of Massachusetts: William Johnson, president of the Statewide Towing Association of Massachusetts, was interviewed for a BostonNOW story recently. Tow operators are requesting that the MA Department of Public Utilities allow a fuel surcharge to be added to the regulated price of non-consensual tows. Read the full story here.
Gotta love the bit of editorializing that the writer, Christopher Loh, does here: "
A fuel surcharge could increase already-expensive prices for tows that occur when a car is left in an area where is not allowed to be parked."

Ontario Recovery Group:
Doug Nelson, Executive Director for the Ontario Recovery Group, was interviewed by Today's Trucking, a website for Canada's trucking industry. Nelson's been busy promoting respect for the industry and providing towing tips for truckers. Way to go, Doug!

"At the Canadian Fleet Management Seminar (CFMS) in Toronto this past spring -- as he will in the presence of anyone who will listen -- Nelson offered truckers advice on how to minimize the costs of towing and recovery.
He has prepared guidelines for trucking companies who want to ensure their fleets get towed efficiently and most cost-effectively. And the tips range from things you can do when you're actually spec'ing your vehicles to business practices that will ensure prompt and professional service when the time to tow arrives."

Read the full story here.

Standing Ovation, Please!

The Miller Family Foundation has gifted $50,000 gift to the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum or ITRHFM. The check was presented by the foundation’s representative, Will Miller, to George Connolly, the ITRHFM chairperson, in August. The funds will be used for the bronze plaques on the Wall of the Fallen Memorial that display the names of individuals in the towing and recovery industry who have lost their lives in the line of service and ongoing maintenance of the Wall.

Miller stated, "I believe it is important that these brave individuals who lost their lives be honored and remembered for their sacrifices. I also hope it helps to increase public awareness to the dangers towing operators face on a daily basis."

Connolly said, "We thank the Miller Family Foundation for their generous and ongoing support of of both the ITRHFM and the Wall of the Fallen. The Wall of the Fallen has had an impact on many of the families and friends who have lost a loved one, providing some comfort in knowing the industry remembered and shares in their grief."

The unveiling of the first set of names on the memorial was held in September, a year after the Wall itself was dedicated. For more information on the ITRHFM and the Wall, visit or call 423-267-3132.

Monday, August 20, 2007

East Coast Truck & Trailer Sales First Show & Shine

Thanks to salesman Mark Hinchman of East Coast Truck and Trailer Sales of Portsmouth, VA for inviting yours truly to their first Show and Shine Open House on Saturday, August 18! Great fun and congrats to the winners in the show! East Coast will be posting their own pictures at their website - check 'em out! Here are some that I took:

West Service Center's pedal car tow truck got three-year old Sam Copeland's vote!

Below, this 1998 Kenworth T800 was the People's Choice Winner. It's owned by Robert West, president of West Service Center in Chesapeake, VA.

This is Rob's 20th year in business and he took home a total of four trophies for his entries on Saturday. He and his crew also raised a total of $1,135 in a 50/50 raffle. Half of that - $567.50 - will be donated to the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum's Survivor Fund. Way to go, Rob!

Below, this beauty took first place in the Wrecker/Rollback Division and belongs to Kyle's Towing of Staunton, VA. It's a 2004 Duramax C4500 with 175,000 miles and a pearlized paint job. "It actually works every day," said manager Doug Snyder who brought it down for the show. Doug has been in the towing industry for 25 years.
Here's Doug with detailer Corey Wood. They put four to six hours a week into keeping things in tiptop condition.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Lawsuit Filed

The guardian of the 21-year old tow truck driver whose truck was caught in the steam pipe explosion at the end of July in Manhattan has filed a suit against the New York City utility company, Con Edison. Gregory McCullough suffered severe burns to the majority of his body and remains hospitalized. McCullough’s passenger Judith Bailey was also injured, but has since been released from the hospital. Bailey has also filed a suit against Con Edison.

Read the full story from Associated Press story in USA Today here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Say What?

In this story by Bridget DiCosmo in the Southeast Missourian, a Missouri woman uses a shotgun to shoot at a wrecker driver who had inadvertently pulled into her driveway and the two deputies who accompanied him. (They were responding to a report of a stolen ATV to recover.) Thankfully, no one was not hurt and the woman was arrested.

However, I had to do a double-take on the comments by Scott County chief deputy Tom Beardslee at the end of the story. Someone should have prepared his statement, too.

"The driver had never met Davis and could not explain why she would shoot at him, Beardslee said.

'This is just an indication of how a seemingly innocuous incident can escalate into a deadly encounter without warning, and for no apparent reason,' said Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter in a prepared statement.

Police say they believe Davis may have been intoxicated at the time. Police said she refused to take a breathalyzer test.

It's possible she had a car repossessed in the past, Beardslee said.

'People don't usually shoot at wrecker drivers for no reason,' he said."

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Miller Industries Announces 2007 Second Quarter Results

From the report:

"'We are pleased with the results of the 2007 second quarter which saw us maintain historically high production levels, reinvest in our business and improve our overall financial strength," stated Jeffrey I. Badgley, President and Co-CEO of the Company. "During the previous year, we increased production levels to fulfill numerous large orders we received during the past several quarters. During the second quarter, we completed work on the orders for 62 small wreckers for the military and 80 small wreckers for a major municipality, as well as on the orders for the city of New York and DataPath. We also paid down the remainder of the Company's junior debt and in July successfully renewed and amended our senior credit facility, reducing our interest rate on borrowed funds going forward."

Mr. Badgley added, "We continued to work on modernizing our heavy-duty wrecker facility, which remains on schedule for completion this year. Our recently completed small wrecker facility has been performing well, and we look forward to the efficiency, customer service and product quality enhancements that these projects will bring going forward. We were also pleased with our Florida trade show in May, where we demonstrated new products that generated positive feedback from the industry.'"

Read the full story here.

Army Aircraft Recovery

Cool story by Army Captain Jeremy Sauer on the Army's new downed aircraft recovery unit. Read it here.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Scam Alert

A couple in North Carolina has been apprehended after several weeks of ripping off towing companies who buy cars from private parties. The two would find a broken down car on the interstate, call the towing service, give them a key to the car they "owned", take care of the paperwork, take the offered money and promise to bring the title at a later date. Of course, the keys didn't work and the tow companies would be out of their cash.

Here's the full story from WSOC-TV 9.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Another farewell

Thought this was a good story by Bill Kirby of The Fayetteville Observer about Perry Bullock, an old-school North Carolina service station owner/operator, who passed away earlier this week. Read it here.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Ohio Towman to be Remembered on the Wall of the Fallen

Jack Reiman, a tow truck driver for Snyder's Towing in Bay View, OH, was changing a tire on the side of the road last July when he was struck and killed by a car. He will be remembered on the Wall of the Fallen at the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum in Chattanoga, TN.

Read the full story by Chauncey Alcorn of the Sandusky Register here.

Click here to learn more about the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum and the Wall of the Fallen and/or to make a donation.

towPartners Improves

Just In...towPartners has announced improvements to its website

Here's what potential customers can expect when they use towSearch to find towing and other automobile-related services:

  1. Users of the towSearch system can now save 10% on towing and road service with many towSearch service providers.
  2. The towSearch tool is now capable of working with all types of mobile devices including cell phone operating systems and can be accessed and used at no cost by those with wireless internet access.
  3. The towSearch search interface now includes the ability to pinpoint your location on a map when searching for the nearest qualified service provider.
  4. towSearch has expanded its search capabilities to include companies that offer limousine specific towing and heavy duty repair shops.
Here's how towPartners members benefit:

  1. The entire towPartners network is now eligible to be listed on Of the 36,000 towPartners members, approximately 20,000 service providers are currently listed on towSearch.
  2. towPartners members will be listed at no cost through 2008 courtesy of the generous sponsorship of Basic Memberships for the entire towing industry by Jerr-Dan Corporation.
Not a member of towPartners and want to know more? Click here.