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Monday, November 10, 2008

MT Tower to Receive Top 10 Award in Baltimore

Story from The Montana Standard:
Nov 10, 2008 (The Montana Standard - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- SCL | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating -- Not everyone is cut out for the job Richard "Bummer" Stepan can't get enough of.

"It takes a special breed," he said, of those who chose the tow truck driver career path.

He's on the clock, around-the-clock. At 3 a.m., on weekends or on holidays, call his phone and he will answer.

"You can never expect a phone call," he said. "Or it won't come." He said that the weird hours don't bother him anymore.

"It's just natural now because I've been doing it so long." Stepan has worked as a tow truck driver since 1988 and has spent the last nine years working at Yates Body Shop on Paxson Avenue.

He's been attending sessions with the national training organization WreckMaster Inc. since 2001, polishing up on the tricks of the trade.

For all his dedication, WreckMaster named him one of the top 10 tow truck drivers in the United States for 2008.

He will travel to Baltimore later this month to attend the American Towman Convention and Exposition where he will receive his award and be honored at a special luncheon event.

Lisa Yates, co-owner of the body shop, said Stepan has "proven himself to be a valuable dependable member of the Yates team." Stepan said in 20 years behind the wheel, he's seen just about everything.

"I've pulled cars out of lakes, ponds, creeks, trees," Stepan said. "You name it." One of his most difficult jobs entailed a truck that had flipped over an eight-foot retaining wall and landed square on its wheels, without as much as a dent on the fender.

Stepan and another secured cables to both ends of the truck, lifted it above the wall and set it down on the road without any further damage.

"You have to know what your truck can do and the limits of your equipment," he said. "WreckMaster is great for that." Stepan said his training sessions have taught him discipline, professionalism, customer service and the confidence to react to difficult problems.

"We want to raise the whole industry to some higher standards and be recognized for what we're worth," said Stepan.

He's attended courses in Mountain Home, Idaho, Belgrade and Loveland, Colo., as well as a regional session in Butte.

He's also an Automotive Service Excellence certified technician and qualified to do collision repair.

But his true passion is towing and recovery. He's got a WreckMaster decal on the back window of his truck and a tattoo of the company's logo on his arm.

"A special breed," he laughed. "I wasn't kidding." -- Reporter Tim Trainor may be reached via e-mail at tim.trainor@lee.net.


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