Monday, November 29, 2010

Confused About CSA 2010?

Here's some help (key points: it does not give the FMCSA authority to remove drivers from their jobs or revoke their CDLs):

FMCSA is clearing up driver misunderstandings about CSA  2010 
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently posted outreach information “separating fact from fiction” so that commercial drivers and their employers have a better understanding about how the Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010 enforcement program affects drivers.
The following are common misunderstandings about CSA that the FMCSA has encountered.
What is the DSMS?
The Safety Measurement System (SMS) assesses a carrier’s safety performance based on its roadside violations and crashes. The DSMS is a tool within the SMS used by enforcement staff only. Its primary purpose is to help enforcement staff assess driver safety as part of motor carrier investigations. The DSMS does this by identifying which of a motor carrier’s drivers to examine during that carrier’s compliance review. This enforcement tool uses a subset of violations to evaluate an individual driver’s safety performance across employers. Appendix A in the SMS Methodology Report shows the violations used in the DSMS.
Who can see the DSMS?
Only enforcement staff will have access to the DSMS for use during motor carrier safety investigations. Neither drivers nor employing motor carriers will have access to the DSMS. While some third-party vendors are developing and marketing CSA 2010 driver scorecards, these companies do not have access to full driver violation histories in FMCSA databases. FMCSA has not and will not validate any vendors’ scorecards or data.
What is the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) and how does it impact CSA 2010?
PSP is a new, voluntary FMCSA program mandated by Congress that is designed to assist the motor carrier industry in assessing individual drivers’ safety performance as part of the hiring process. PSP is a completely separate program from CSA 2010. Additionally, PSP does not provide a rating, score or formal assessment of any kind Drivers are encouraged to obtain and review their PSP report before applying for new jobs, and request a review of any potentially inaccurate data through FMCSA’s DataQs program. While the PSP is not part of CSA 2010, the safety data accessible through PSP is the same data that the DSMS and enforcement staff use during motor carrier investigations. For more information about PSP, visit FMCSA’s PSP Website at For more information about DataQs, visit
Will FMCSA use CSA 2010 to remove CMV drivers from their jobs?
NO. CSA 2010 does not give FMCSA new authority to remove drivers from their jobs and cannot be used to publicly rate or assess drivers’ safety performance in the way carriers are rated or assessed today. Other important facts related to driver employment are outlined below.
·         Carriers will not inherit any of a newly hired driver’s past violations. Only those inspections and crashes that a driver is involved in while operating under a carrier’s authority can be applied to a carrier’s SMS.
·         Similar to today’s SafeStat, tickets or warnings that drivers receive while operating their personal vehicles do not count in the new SMS.
·         Neither FMCSA nor CSA 2010 restricts drivers based on body mass BMI, weight or neck size.
·         Drivers should ask current and potential motor carrier employers about their safety performance as measured under CSA 2010. Drivers and carriers with strong safety performance histories stand to benefit from the new compliance and enforcement program.
Can FMCSA use CSA 2010 to revoke a driver’s CDL?
NO. CSA 2010 does not give FMCSA the authority to revoke a CDL. Only state agencies responsible for issuing CDL’s, have the authority to suspend or revoke them.
·         The CDL Program is completely separate from CSA 2010. FMCSA has developed and issued standards for the testing and licensing of CDL holders. These standards require states to issue CDL’s only after the driver has passed knowledge and skills tests related to the type of vehicle the driver expects to operate.
·         The data kept by a state (i.e. tickets, citations, written warnings, convictions) and the data that are kept by the Federal government and used in the DSMS (i.e. violations from roadside inspections and crash reports) are separate. Drivers may review the data kept by the Federal Government through the PSP program referenced above and may request a review of the Federal data through FMCSA’s DataQs system (
How does CSA 2010 affect a motor carriers’ employment of CMV drivers?
Under CSA 2010, FMCSA continues to hold motor carriers responsible for the safety performance of the drivers they employ. This is a longstanding FMCSA position and is not unique to CSA 2010. All inspections and crashes that a driver receives while under the authority of a carrier will remain part of the carrier’s SMS data for two years unless overturned through the DataQs system, even if the carrier terminates the driver.
FMCSA’s CSA 2010 website is the official resource for information about this new safety program.

We encourage drivers and all stakeholders to visit the CSA 2010 website at and sign up to receive regular updates by email at 

Sad News From NJ

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Kevin Meisnest, a 25-year-old Edison, NJ, tow truck driver for Car Guy’s Auto Repair & Towing. He was found fatally shot in his apartment on Nov. 23. Here's the story from

EDISON — Al Barbarite and his employees called Kevin Meisnest about four times Tuesday morning when he didn't show up for work at Car Guy's Auto Repair & Towing.
When they failed to reach him, they went to his apartment next door to the Casey Avenue business.
"We knocked on his door, and no response," said Barbarite, the business owner. "I just knew it. I started getting that gut feeling that something was wrong."
His fears were realized when, authorities say, police responded and found Meisnest, a 25-year-old tow truck driver, fatally shot in the apartment.
Another township man, Luis Padilla, 27, was charged Thursday with Meisnest's murder and was being held in New York City, pending extradition to Middlesex County. He also was charged with possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose.
Barbarite said Friday that he and his workers are all searching for answers to help explain why their colleague was murdered.
"Everybody I know is the same way," he said. "The question is why? What was the motive? And I just can't see what the motive would be, knowing Kevin."
The motive was still under investigation Friday, authorities said, but officials on Thursday described Meisnest and Padilla as acquaintances.
Barbarite said Meisnest worked for the Edison business on and off for three years, describing him as a dedicated and trustworthy employee who loved his job as a tow truck driver. The business owner said he sometimes treated Meisnest like a son, whether by loaning him money or helping him pay for an apartment right next door to the business.
"Overall he was a really good kid, without a doubt," Barbarite said. "Definitely not a trouble maker or anything like that."
Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan said Thursday that Meisnest's employer called police around 10:35 a.m. Tuesday. After officers met him at Meisnest's apartment, they went inside and found that he had been shot to death.
The results of an autopsy performed Thursday were not immediately available, but Kaplan said it appeared Meisnest had been shot multiple times.
Investigators found that Padilla went to a relative's home in Brooklyn, N.Y., after he allegedly shot and killed Meisnest, Kaplan said. He was brought to a precinct station in Brooklyn late Wednesday before he was charged around 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
Bail for Padilla was set at $1 million by Superior Court Judge Dennis Nieves, sitting in New Brunswick.
The investigation was conducted by Edison police Detective Frank Varga and Sgt. Eleazar Ricardo and Investigator Michael Daniewicz, both of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. Kaplan asked anyone with information to call Varga 732-248-7400 or Daniewicz 732-745-4018.
Joshua Burd:732-565-7228;

B/A Products To The Rescue!

Kudos to B/A Products of MD for raising $11,540 for the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum during their 4th Annual Open House on Nov. 19! The money was raised during an auction of items donated by B/A Products and will be split equally between the Museum and the Survivor Fund. Check them out at! 

STA of MA Discontinues Annual Trade Show

Here's the info from the press release:

In 1972 STA lead the way with one of the first trade shows in the nation, in 2010 we feel we are leading the way again with our decision to discontinue our two-day trade show event. We will host several smaller charity events in the future to foster networking and positive public relations. There will be sponsorship opportunities available for exhibitors, providing exposure to the industry as well as the goodwill of supporting a charity. The 2nd Annual Golf Outing is scheduled for July 26, 2011 at Blackstone National Golf Club in Sutton MA. We hope you will consider joining us!
Statewide Towing Association leading the way for the towing industry.
For more information about our association, visit

Monday, November 22, 2010

Allstate/Sterling AutoBody Donate 30 Vehicles

Here's the press release:

On November 22, Allstate Insurance and Sterling Autobody hope to brighten the holidays for families and charities across the country with the donation of 30 newly refurbished automobiles. The vehicles, which will either be used by the receiving organization or given to an individual or family in need, will be provided in partnership with the National Auto Body Council's (NABC) Recycled Rides Program.
"Our participation in the Recycled Rides Program is an extension of Allstate's commitment to our local communities. These cars represent more than a way to get around, but a way to empower families and charities to accomplish simple tasks impossible without reliable transportation," said Bill Daly, Allstate assistant vice president for auto claims.
Each vehicle was painstakingly refurbished by technicians at Sterling Autobody Centers, who spent significant time and effort to transform each car inside and out.
"Sterling is extremely proud to be part of the Recycled Rides program," said Bob Benjamin, Sterling Autobody Centers vice president of operations. "We believe it's important to give back to our local communities and Recycled Rides allows employees to use their time and talents to make a significant difference in the lives of many."
The Recycled Rides program got its start five years ago following Hurricane Katrina. The collision repair industry as a whole responded to the needs of the many displaced individuals by offering employment, tools, equipment and in some cases, housing. The collision repair industry has since collaborated on a program to provide refurbished vehicles to people and organizations in need. Although the concept was initiated to help victims of Katrina, it has continued as a national program.  
Last year NABC members came together to give away approximately 80 vehicles just before the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, the organization hopes to nearly double that, with a goal of gifting 150 vehicles to families and non profit organizations.
The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer. Widely known through the "You're In Good Hands With Allstate®" slogan, Allstate is reinventing protection and retirement to help more than 17 million households insure what they have today and better prepare for tomorrow. Consumers access Allstate insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives in the U.S. and Canada, as well as via and 1-800 Allstate®.
Sterling Autobody was founded in 1997 with a mission to redefine the collision repair experience. With a commitment to providing safe, high-quality repairs, while returning the car to the customer as quickly as possible, we developed a unique repair process and began building our own state-of-the art facilities. In 2001, Allstate Non-Insurance Holdings purchased Sterling Autobody Centers to offer consumers the option of a superior automotive claims experience with guaranteed high-quality repairs. Sterling Autobody Centers now operates 63 vehicle repair facilities in 16 states, with a Store Support Center in Natick, Massachusetts.


Here's the story from the Sioux City Journal:

SOUTH SIOUX CITY – George Quint could be the Rodney Dangerfield of Siouxland highways and byways.
He's the guy who tows the drug runner's car to impoundment after state troopers load its driver into the back seat of a squad car. He's the guy who clears vehicles from the highway after a bad crash. He even tows repossessed cars and construction equipment back to the finance company. And, when you go to reclaim your vehicle, he's the guy who charges you for the tow. And the storage.
Okay, he's also the guy who shows up at 3 a.m. in a blizzard to pull you and your car out of a deep ditch. You're glad to see him, but even then you're wishing you didn't need him.
Rare air
Quint is the owner of South Sioux Towing and its Iowa counterpart, Siouxland Towing. He has 34 years in the business.
On Nov. 20, he was inducted into the Order of Towman. It's the most prestigious award given by American Towman, a national trade association for the towing and recovery industry. The award is intended to foster recognition for the job towing pros do.
Quint and just five of his peers from across the country were inducted this year during American Towman's annual exposition in Baltimore.
It's satisfying to see somebody appreciates what you do and you're recognized for it,” Quint said. “It's that simple.”
Quint was nominated by Sergeant Bluff Police Chief David McFarland.
“George does just an awesome job for us,” McFarland said. “If I call him at 3 in the morning, he's right there. We're usually tying up a couple of officers on the street waiting for the tow to show up. It's a very big deal for us, so we can get back on the street.”
“He understands the importance of public safety,” McFarland said.
The nasty, the nice,
the famous
“Without a gun in my hand, I'm dealing with every rapist, murderer, any kind of lawbreakers. And I'm the first person they look for when they get out of jail because they're looking for their car,” Quint said. “And it's my fault they got put in jail.”
“We deal with a lot of nice people, too,” he conceded. And famous people. When Vice President Al Gore's armored SUV broke down after being unloaded from Air Force II (the SUV came from Florida and didn't have the necessary cold weather additive in its fuel), Gore sat in Quint's tow truck to keep warm until a back-up van showed up. Then Quint towed the extra-heavy SUV.
And when then-presidential candidate Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's motor home broke down here while he and his son were driving it to Washington, D.C., Quint said he towed it, got it fixed and then delivered it to Washington.
When United Flight 232 crashed at Sioux Gateway Airport in 1989, Quint said, he got an anxious call from the Dakota County sheriff. “You gotta go right down there,” he told Quint. “They've got dead people all over the place and the South Sioux ambulance has broken down right in the gate.”
Chance career choice
It was 1976 when Quint's brother-in-law bought a body shop that came with a towing business he didn't want to run. Quint left a job in a packing plant to take over the towing, building it into the tri-state business it is today.
Quint has an impoundment facility in Sioux City and a two-story, sparkling clean garage and office on West 13th Street in South Sioux City, and he works in South Dakota, too. He'll even go across the state or country to pick up a vehicle and tow it back to Siouxland.
He's also a member of the Abu Bekr Shrine Temple's Rat Patrol, the crazy little cars driven at high speeds by big men (Shriners) in parades. Between the Rat Patrol, the characters he meets on the job and the cops and troopers he works alongside, Quint is also a well-stocked storyteller.
But he's no Rodney Dangerfield. Next Saturday, at least, he'll get more than a little respect.

Everyday Seattle Tow Hero Is Recognized

Kudos to Ron "Bubba" Peters! Here's the story from

SEATTLE -- A Seattle tow-truck driver who simultaneously froze and worked off his butt for 20 hours in a snowstorm to save two buses from crashing over the side of a ramp and onto cars below finally got the recognition he deserves.
Ron "Bubba" Peters, 45, who has been driving tow truck for a dozen years, was called to the scene of a bus crash in December 2008, in downtown Seattle.
Sure, it's not real trucking, but his in-cab actions are as heroic as any highway hero you've ever heard about.
The city was experiencing an unusually wicked snowstorm and three highway buses full of students had all lost control on a hill. They slid down the hill and two of them wound up hanging over the lip of an onramp, a busy interstate below.
While the students scrambled out the emergency exits and windows, recovery teams went into action.
Peters, a former high-school football coach now with Ken’s Towing, says the front of one of the buses dangled above Interstate 5 "for hours" before he was able to tow it to safety.  
"It was the most intense thing I ever experienced," he told
The reason Bubba’s story came to our attention is that his efforts have won him a terrific prize in a "How tough is your job contest?" sponsored by the Cintas the uniform people, Carhartt Jeans, and Ducks Unlimited.
Here’s part of Bubba’s recollection of the event with which he won over the contest judges:
"I have never worked so hard in all my 30 years of working. My Carhartt 'Duck' bibs kept me warm the 20 hours I worked on this recovery in below-freezing conditions.
"I have worn them out and can't afford a new pair."
He can now. As he gets $500 in Carhartt merchandise.
And there’s still time to enter the contest, if you think you’re up to it, click here. 
As for Bubba, he says the real hero of the story is the missus.
"Tow-truck wives are the best in the world because they can put up with everything," he told us. "They’re incredible."
We think our readers here at can somehow relate.

Allstate Launches Roadside Assistance With A Twist

Here's the story from the Wall Street Journal:

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Allstate Corp. unveiled a new roadside assistance program Thursday that will allow any U.S. driver--not just its own customers--to call the company for help when they're stuck on the side of the road.
The program won't require an annual fee, unlike other popular roadside assistance programs, and drivers don't have to sign up in advance--though Allstate is hoping some do. And it is hoping the people who call for help later think of the company, the second-largest home and auto insurer in the U.S. behind State Farm, when their insurance policies come up for renewal.
Stranded motorists will pay a flat rate of $75 for a tow or $50 if they lock their keys in their car or need other help. Allstate says the average person calls on their motor club for help once every three years, and could end up saving money by using Allstate's service instead of paying annual dues to a competitor.
But the company's primary targets are the 35 million U.S. households that it says don't have a roadside assistance provider. Allstate's research shows they're typically younger drivers. And if they get stranded and call for help, Allstate will take their name, dispatch a tow-truck, and hope their new customers remember which company helped them out of a jam.
"It's a great way to get more people associated with Allstate," said Mark LaNeve, Allstate's chief marketing officer. While the new plan has tested well with a broad age range, LaNeve said Allstate's research shows it is particularly appealing to customers under 40, who tend to own their vehicles longer and may be more likely to break down.
advertising campaign, featuring a character called Mayhem, has tested well with a younger audience as well, LaNeve said.
While its closest auto-insurance competitors, Progressive Corp. and Berkshire Hathaway's Geico Corp., have traditionally attracted younger drivers, Allstate has skewed older. The company has long said its policyholders buy more protection, have more to insure, and are less likely to defect to a rival. But for the last two years, it has been losing existing customers faster than it can sign up new ones.
Allstate has run a motor club offering assistance similar to AAA since 1961. Like AAA and the roadside assistance plans offered by other organizations, it charges an annual fee. In 2008, Allstate acquired a unit from General Electric Co. that acts as a back office--answering phones and dispatching tow-trucks--for other roadside assistance programs run by companies including AARP and BMW.
Between its own roadside assistance customers and the ones serviced by the newly acquired unit, Allstate answered 3 million calls last year. So the company has much of the infrastructure already in place for the new program, which it is calling Good Hands Roadside Assistance. LaNeve said the flat fees it will charge the new customers cover the company's costs and, "over a couple-year period, this becomes a profitable business in and of itself."
Drivers who anticipate they will call on Allstate when they're stranded can sign up in advance on the company's website. Allstate says this will "improve response time," but it also means the company can learn more about its potential future customers. And a motorist who cold-calls the company from the side of the road will have to provide the same information the company is collecting on the web.
-By Erik Holm, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2892;

TomTom & Tracker Management Announce Partnership

Here's the press release:

TomTom and Tracker Management Systems are partnering to help towing fleet operators improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase control of drivers and equipment.  The integration of TomTom WORKsmart™ fleet management solutions and Tracker Management Systems’ dispatch software enables live driver location updates and more accurate arrival time estimates for the towing industry.
 TomTom WORKsmart fleet management solutions integrate navigation, dispatch and tracking through a combination of industry-leading hardware, software and maps.  Tracker Management Systems provides leading edge software, computer and wireless communication systems technology to fleet industry business owners, primarily engaged in towing and recovery.
 “TomTom and Tracker Management are solving the perennial problem for towing companies of matching customers to the closest drivers and getting those trucks routed quickly to the right locations,” said Michael Geffroy , vice president, TomTom Business Solutions. 
 “Tracker not only provides the customer with an accurate arrival time, but we can also provide an update if anything changes while the driver is en route,” said Jim Weaver, president, Tracker Management Systems.  "Tracker picks that up from the TomTom navigation data and automatically sends a recorded phone message to the customer if the driver is going to miss the promised arrival time.” 
 “Before we bought our TomTom/Tracker system, we had to call our drivers to find out where they were,” said Joey Ross, owner, Joey Ross Towing.  “Now when a customer calls, their information is plugged into the Tracker system, which shows us where the closest driver is.  Tracker then sends the location to that driver’s TomTom device, so it can navigate him right to the customer.  TomTom and Tracker have improved our response times and cut our fuel costs by 15%.”
About TomTom N.V.
TomTom N.V. (aex:TOM2) is the world's leading provider of location and navigation solutions. Headquartered in The Netherlands, it employs over 3,000 employees worldwide. Over 45 million people daily use its solutions, be it in the form of dedicated portable navigation devices (PNDs), in-dash car systems or tracking and tracing solutions for fleet management. In addition, hundreds of millions of people use TomTom's digital maps on the internet or mobile phone.
 In 2009, TomTom reported EUR1.5 billion in revenues and a EUR340 million net cash flow from operating activities. More information about TomTom can be found on
 For the world's most up-to-date route planner, including LIVE traffic information visit:
 TomTom Business Solutions is a leading provider of fleet management solutions and recognised as the fastest growing Telematics Service Provider (TSP) for commercial fleets in Europe . TomTom Business Solutions is fully dedicated to commercial vehicle fleets and has been operating under the TomTom WORK brand for the past 5 years. TomTom Business Solutions’ WORKsmart fleet management solutions integrate navigation, dispatch and tracking through a combination of industry-leading hardware, software and maps.
 About Tracker Management Systems, Inc. 
Based in Cleveland , Ohio , Tracker is a privately held company that provides software solutions, hardware, training, consulting and helpdesk as well as GPS and location-enhanced wireless Internet solutions for mobile resource management. Its industry-leading Tracker 2000 Version 9.5 solution combines office automation, wireless, positioning and industry knowledge in an enterprise-based solution that is Internet-enabled into a fully-integrated network solution that can be owned or leased. For more information, please visit the company Web site at or call 1-800-445-2438. 

Sad News From MI

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of John Howell, longtime towing business owner and member of the Michigan Towing Association. Howell, 79, died Oct. 6. Here's his obituary:

John Robert Howell, age 79, lifelong Howell resident, died at his home Wednesday, October 6, 2010. He was born on September 14, 1931 in Oceola Township, Howell, Michigan, the son of Leo and J. Mae (Botsford) Howell. John attended Rumsey Country School, graduated from Howell Public Schools in 1949 and attended Adrian College; he was an alumnus of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Howell.
John married Clarice Crippen in 1952. They were married for thirty-six years when she passed away on July 14, 1988. Dear father of Valerie Komlos, Laurie Reardon of Howell and the late John Robert “Bob” Howell II (1/4/2010). Grandfather to Corey Komlos, Piper Jackson, Zachary Komlos, Chelsea, Madison, Miki Reardon and Taylor Komlos. Also survived by four great-grandchildren. Dear brother of Duane (Dianna) Howell of Florida and Marilyn (Dick) Rider of Houghton Lake, MI and loving companion of MaryLou Hilton.
At the age of nineteen, John started his first business venture and he has been going strong ever since. This year marks his 60th year in business. He has been a long standing member of the Michigan Towing Association, serving as secretary for two years and president for seven years. He was also a founding member of the Interstate Towing Association, serving as president for three years. He was a member of the Michigan Trucking Association, serving on the Board of Governors for over twenty-five years, and a member of the Fifth Wheel Club of Detroit. John was inducted into the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame in 1996.
He has been an active member of his community over the years, serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals, City of Howell, as a member and chairman for 32 years; former member of the planning commission, member of the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Chamber of Commerce; Michigan Retailers Association and Livingston County Tax Allocation Board. He was named Citizen of the Year in 2005.
John was also an active member of the Masonic fraternity with memberships as follows: Howell Lodge No. 38 F & AM – life member; Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite – Valley of Detroit, Moslem Temple Shrine – Detroit; Huron Valley Shrine Club, past president; Livingston Chapter No. 30 R.A.M.; Livingston Council No. 73 R&SM, Past Super Excellent Master; Howell Commandery No. 28, Past Commander; Past Grand Commander of Michigan, elected to the Board of Trustee; Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests; York Rite College No 1; Royal Order of Scotland; Howell Masonic Temple Board President for sixteen years.
Other organizations of which John was a member were the Michigan Farm Bureau; Corporation, Board of Directors; Livingston 1st Club; Howell Elks Lodge No. 2168, Charter and Life Member and Governors Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Funeral services will be Monday, October 11 at 12:00 noon at the First United Methodist Church, 1230 Bower Street, Howell. Burial in Lakeview Cemetery. Visitation will be Saturday 6 – 8 p.m. and Sunday 1 – 4 and 6 – 8 p.m. at MacDonald’s Funeral Home, Howell (517-546-2800). Memorial contributions may be made to the First United Methodist Church.

Sad News From Australia

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 60-year-old Queensland tow truck driver Malcolm Brian “Mac” Tong who died Nov. 12. Here's the story of his tribute from The Queensland Times:

A CONVOY of dozens of tow trucks eased its way from Tarampa to the Laidley crematorium at the weekend in honour of a popular figure.
Malcolm Brian “Mac” Tong was sitting listening to the police radio scanner when he died suddenly in his home on November 12, aged 60.
Mac’s devotion and professionalism earned him the respect not only of his fellow towies but also of emergency services workers he spent years working alongside. About 80 friends and family united to say their last goodbyes to Mac at the Laidley Crematorium on Saturday.
Son Scott Tong, 32, said even he was surprised by the level of respect his father had built.
“I knew dad well but I didn’t realise he had this much support in the community,” he said.
“It serves as testament to the man he was; you always knew where you stood with him. A lot of people didn’t agree with him but they always respected him.”
Born in Bedford, England on August 23, 1950, Mac was a keen footballer and played for the local representative teams.
He got out of school by taking up a mechanic’s apprenticeship with Ford where his passion for motor vehicles began.
Mac moved to Australia with his family aged 17, later enlisting with the army and serving overseas.
He eventually left the army and became a truck driver so he could pay off his new home in Brisbane.
Sons Troy, now 34 and Scott were born shortly after.
Mac moved to the Brisbane Valley town of Brightview more than 10 years ago and started working as a tow truck driver for Lehmann Motors.
Mac’s long-time boss, Lehmann Motors owner, Somerset Region mayor Graeme Lehmann was grieving his sudden death.
Cr Lehmann said Saturday’s procession was a fitting tribute and he thanked everybody involved in the memorial service.
“He always spoke his mind but he wasn’t the type of bloke to hold a grudge; people knew where he was coming from,” he said.
Ipswich police officer Sergeant John Holdcroft said he often worked with Mac at car crashes.
“He was very good at his job, very professional and by the book,” Sgt Holdcroft said.
“I got to know him as a loyal friend and a really good bloke.
“You knew you could call him at any hour and he would come out.”
In his later years, Mac started a new life with partner Dina.
In his eulogy, he was described as a devoted and adored grandfather, fondly known as “Grumpy”.
“His cheeky antics, quick-witted sense of humour and pull-no- punches view on life made him one of a kind,” the eulogy read.
“His passing has left a hole in the hearts of many and he will be missed each and every day.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Everyday Tow Hero In TN

Tow boss Donny Burgess of Donny's Towing in Silver Point, TN, takes down a criminal. Here's the story from News Channel 5:
by Marcus Washington
SILVER POINT, Tenn. - A mid-state business owner caught a thief in the act and held him down until sheriff's deputies arrived.
To some folks, Donny Burgess is a hero as he comes to the rescue of stranded drivers, but he never thought he would be his own hero.
"A lot of stealing been going on around here," said Burgess.
His towing company, Donny's Towing, has been burglarized three times this year, so he decided to start stopping by to keep an eye on things and one day, he found the crooks in action.
"When I pulled up I (saw) a truck sitting right by the fence," Burgess said.
Burgess says he saw 27- year-old Ryan Flatt climbing the barbed wire fence and that's when he called 911.
"I went up here and looked in the back of his truck and I found some of my stuff and I (knew) something was going on then," said Burgess.
Moments later Burgess said Flatt peeped around the opposite side of the building saying he "ran out of gas."
"I told him to stay right here until I checked this out a bit further. There is something going on here and I don't' like it," Burgess shared.
When he did that, Flatt made a run for the allegedly "out of gas" truck and tried to pull off.
Burgess said he ran after Flatt and the man reached in the moving truck.
"I just shoved it right up in park and jerked his keys out the truck and I pulled him out the truck," Burgess said."held him (Flatt) by his shirt collier up against the truck until the police officer got here."
Two others, brothers Daniel and Shone Frazier, were also arrested in connection with the burglary. They may have gotten away from Donny, but not the law.
"If they decided not to run and fight, I would have had to take on three of them. I never thought about that. I was a little nervous, but this is mine. It ain't much, but it's mine," Burgess added.
Donny said he has no regrets and if he had to do it again he would do the same thing.
Donny's Towing was not the only place the three men stole from that night.
According to police reports, they stole parts from another company worth and estimated $10,000.
Donny sids what the hardest part of this is that the young man he caught is his friend's son.
All three men are facing criminal theft charges and will appear in court before the end of the year.

"Cars 2"

Race car Lightning McQueen and our favorite animated tow truck, Tow Mater,  returns this summer!

What A Deal!

Buy a used truck, get a free assault rifle! Here's the story from CBS:
Nations Trucks proudly advertises on its website, "We sell trucks, NOT GIMMICKS!" But the central Florida dealership has found a unique way to drive up business.

It is now offering a perk for potential used-truck buyers: A free AK-47 assault rifle.

General sales manager Nick Ginetta said that since the promotion was announced on Veterans Day, business has more than doubled.

Customers would have to pass a background check before using the $400 gun shop voucher, which they can also apply toward the purchase of other firearms.

Ginetta, whose showroom sports mounted deer heads, said he believes it's a perfect Veterans Day promotion.

"We started on Veterans Day, saying, 'Hey, so many have given so much for this right,'" Ginetta said.

In lieu of a firearm voucher, buyers could also request a check instead. But, as Ginetta told CBS Affiliate WKMG, "Our clientele is not gonna complain about a gun."

But why an AK-47 assault rifle? "Well, to be specific, an AK-47 was gonna be controversial," Ginetta said.

The dealership has fielded some complaints about the promotion, which runs through the end of November.

Phillip Adams, a veteran, told WKMG he thought the promotion is a bad idea. "An AK-47 is a very dangerous weapon," he said.

He said he'd prefer the dealer gave customers a free flag and a pole to put up in their yard. "That would be a lot more supportive for our country and our veterans," he said.

? MMX, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sad News From TX

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 38-year-old George Soriano who died yesterday in a tragic accident. Here's the story from the Houston Chronicle:
Federal officials are investigating the death of a tow truck driver at a FedEx distribution center in south Houston.
The wrecker driver, 38, was killed shortly after 2 p.m. at the building in the 2700 block of Holly Hall, Houston police said.
The driver, identified by a family member at the scene as George Soriano, was towing a disabled FedEx delivery truck to the center when he was killed.
"It appears to be a tragic accident," FedEx spokesman Jim McCluskey said from the company’s Memphis headquarters.
FedEx officials offered condolences to the family and said they were cooperating with officials.
Soriano had four children by his first wife and three more with his second wife - of which two were his stepchildren, said his father-in-law Gilbert Lopez.
Soriano had been working with his father-in-law at another company with a Houston Safe Clear towing contract but recently joined another company because he was concerned about towing cars on busy highways.
"He called and said, ‘I don’t think I can handle it over there,’" Lopez said.
An investigator with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration was at the scene. OSHA officials later Tuesday could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 52-year-old Todd Bowers, owner of Bowers Towing of Godfrey, IL. He died unexpectedly on Oct. 21. Here's the story from The Telegraph:

GODFREY - Todd Bowers went to his final resting place with dozens of his friends in tow.
Tow truck drivers from across the region rallied Tuesday for the final farewell to one of their own.
Bowers, the longtime operator of Bowers Towing, was remembered as a "family man" and "successful businessman" by those who knew him. The 52-year-old Godfrey man died Thursday of an apparent heart attack.
Starting about 10 a.m., the first tow truck, a heavy-duty boom truck, pulled into the yard of Bowers Towing, 6204 Godfrey Road. A few minutes later, another truck, a "roll-back," pulled in.
A few minutes later came another and then another. Within 30 minutes, the yard was full of tow trucks from across the region.
The drivers got out of their rigs and gathered in clusters, waiting for the funeral procession of one of their own.
Family and friends filed into the sanctuary of St. Ambrose Church to pay their final respects. The pews were filled with those saying goodbye.
"Todd was an outstanding person," the Rev. Steve Pohlman said. "As good as you get."
Pohlman, who officiated at the service, said everyone had to trust that God took Bowers into safekeeping.
"We'll see him again one day," he said. "Our separation is not a permanent one, but a temporary one."
He said even though Bowers was taken too early in life, it was part of God's plan.
"There is no detour in dying and the expiration date only God can see," Pohlman said.
Ruth Guntren, Todd's mother, said her son both arrived and left this world early. She said her son was born two months premature and died too young.
Bowers took over the towing business in 1985 after his father, Nelson Bowers, died, also at a young age, 49. The Bowers Towing operation has offices in Godfrey and Wood River and operates around the clock.
Todd Bowers was a dedicated son, husband, father and grandfather. He earned his wings as an Eagle Scout, enjoyed cooking for others and had an affinity for BMX racing.
Bowers believed in giving back to his community. He served as a volunteer firefighter for more than 15 years with the Godfrey Fire Protection District and served as president of its board.
While hymns were sung and scriptures were read inside the church, diesel engines hummed as the drivers waited for the procession to pass by the towing company. Nearly three dozen tow trucks created an "honor guard" as the drivers headed south on Godfrey Road to St. Patrick's Cemetery, where Bowers was laid to rest.
"It's a sad day for the towing world," said Steve Kainz, owner of Trickey's Service Inc. in Wood River.
Kainz was asked to put together the tribute honoring a man "way too young to die."
"Todd and I had known each other for a long time, and we kind of had this love/hate relationship," he said. "I was floored and honored when I was asked to put together the procession."
Kainz contacted towing companies within a 100-mile radius in both Illinois and Missouri to take part in the event.
"It was really impressive," Kainz said. "So many people gave up their time. They really went above and beyond."

GSTA Towman of the Year!

Congratulations to Donald Rzepka, owner of Al's Towing Service of South Amboy, NJ! Rzepka was named the Garden State Towing Association's 2010 Towman of the Year! Here's the press release:

Donald Rzepka owner of Al’s Towing Service of South Amboy, NJ has been named the Garden State Towing Association’s 2010 Towmen of the Year. 
Towmen of the year, given annually, is awarded to a GSTA member or employee of a GSTA Member Company based on heroism, community service, extreme recovery, or industry accomplishments that benefit the towing industry.      
This year marks Don’s 40th anniversary not only as an owner but tow operator as well.  Don has committed himself 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to his business and the industry.  This is his passion, his life; it is what makes him who he is.   
Over his forty years Don has always given back to the community.  He has hosted many First Aid and Fire Department extrication trainings, providing vehicles as well as location.  These valuable trainings allow rescue workers to practice and use new tools to save lives at vehicle collision scenes.  He donates his flatbed truck to local youth sports and church groups to be used as floats in parades and supplies the local high school with a wrecked vehicle to display during prom season to deter drinking and driving in addition to supporting numerous community events and fundraisers throughout the years.  When a local First Aid Department had a fire at their building, Don willingly assisted them by storing their Ambulances while repairs were made to the building. 
Don is a Silver Life Member of the Sayreville Policemen’s Benevolent Association, a member of the GSTA, president of the Sayreville Wrecker Association, and a member of the Order of the Towman, from American Towman.  He is also a member of the Towman 500, being recognized as one of the oldest tow companies in the United States. He is a well known and respected member of the community.
Don resides in South Amboy with his wife Gladys and has two daughters, Jill who works in the business with him, and Janet.  
The Garden State Towing Association is the recognized towing association in New Jersey and the only state towing association that is affiliated with the national Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA). GSTA represents the interests of over two hundred companies in New Jersey.

Good Profile On VA Tower

Here's the story:

The clock starts ticking as soon as Melissa Mullen's phone rings, and it rings pretty much all the time.In the heat of the summer. During rainstorms and snowstorms. On weekends.

When she's on vacation. In the wee hours of the night.

She's got 30 minutes to drop what she's doing--or drag herself out of bed--and get her tow truck to the scene, which could be anywhere within a 230-square-mile area of Spotsylvania County.

"I've been out there in my jammies," said Mullen, who tows for Lew's Auto Service and Salvage. "You don't have time to get dressed up."

No matter. She can hook up a vehicle and pull it out of a ditch just as skillfully in a pair of flannel pajamas as she can in a pair of blue jeans.

One of only a handful of female tow truck operators in the region, Mullen was designated TowGirl of the Month in September by TowGirl, a nonprofit organization that represents women in the towing industry.

Fifteen other women from around the country were nominated for the honor, but visitors to voted for Mullen, said the group's founder, Christy Perez.

"She won by over a 200-point spread," said Perez, a tow truck operator in northern California. "She's quite popular."

Mullen said she appreciates the honor, but the job is joy enough.

"It's adrenaline when you get a call. I can't even explain it," she said. "It's like when you're on a roller coaster and you're going up a hill and you're excited. I love my job. It's a lot of fun."

It's hard to know just how many Mullens are out there. The Women of the Towing and Recovery Association of America has 136 members, but that includes dispatchers, office workers, towing company owners and spouses of owners in addition to actual tow-truck operators.

TowGirl, a relatively new organization, has 364 members, said Perez. But not all are women or even drivers.


Mullen, a Stafford County native who now lives in Spotsylvania, said it never occurred to her that she couldn't operate a wrecker.

"We've got women doctors and men doctors. We've got women teachers and men teachers, women mechanics and men mechanics. This doesn't seem any different," said Mullen, who has an 11-year-old son. "I can do the same things guys can do and not break a nail."

At 32--or "$29.95 plus tax," as she says--she's been in the towing industry for about 12 years. She started when a friend who owned a salvage yard and a tiny wrecker asked her for some help moving a few cars.

She was hooked from the start, and later graduated to clearing accidents for the Virginia State Police and Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office, a duty she shares with several other local towers.

Lew Elliott, her employer for the past two years, said folks used to be surprised when a woman pulled up in a wrecker.

"I'd tell people, 'I've got a girl coming out to tow your car,' and they'd say, 'A girl?'" said Elliott. "But she knows what she's doing."

Sometimes people need to be convinced of that, said Mullen, who's certified by the Towing and Recovery Association of America. At an accident scene on U.S. 1, a Spotsylvania deputy gave her a hard time.

"He said: 'You've got to be joking. You look like Malibu Barbie,'" Mullen recalled. "I said, 'You need to get back in your little car and write your tickets.'"

He later called and apologized, she said. The two are now dating.


For the most part, she said, the sheriff's deputies, state police officers and firefighters she works alongside are supportive.

They've even helped her sweep up broken glass.

The owners of the cars she's towing off the highway can be a little less receptive.

"DUIs yell about the cost. I say, 'This is going to be the cheapest part of your DUI experience,'" said Mullen, who also tows abandoned and wrecked cars and occasionally changes flats.

"I'll have guys, 200-plus pounds, stand on the interstate with their hands in their pockets and I'm changing their tire," she said.

Women, on the other hand, seem relieved to see her step from the cab of her "baby girl," a Chevy C5500 with a 21-foot-long bed. Sometimes they offer to help, Mullen said.

"You're picking someone up at one of their lowest moments. Their car is broken down and they don't have a choice," she said. "I get to be the savior--and at times I get to be the bitch that takes their car. Never a dull moment."


Mullen never quite knows what she's in for until she arrives at a scene.

If a car is still on its tires and she has a little room to work, it might take three minutes to load it up, she said.

If the car's rolled over, wedged between some trees or lying halfway down an embankment, clearing the scene can take a little longer. There's also the occasional snake or thicket of thorn bushes to contend with, not to mention the constant rush of traffic just inches from her work space.

Sometimes she'll call on her colleagues at other local towing companies for help righting a vehicle or wrenching it loose.

"It's like a big family," she said of all the companies that contract with law enforcement to work accidents on a rotation.

She remembers just about every accident she has worked for the last two years.

There was her first rollover, a wreck on Interstate 95 at the 120-mile marker, where a truck pulling a U-Haul trailer flipped down an embankment. Mullen skidded down that same embankment to hook up the truck, ruining a new pair of Timberlands in the process.

She was attending to another accident in the left lane of the interstate, up against the guardrail--her least favorite spot--when she heard a car's brakes lock up behind her. Instinctively she leapt over the guardrail, tearing the back of her pants.

The hardest scenes, she said, are the fatal accidents, like the one she worked on Block House Road this September on her birthday. A motorcyclist was killed after being struck by a car whose driver was later charged with aggravated involuntary manslaughter and DUI, second offense.

Mullen said the dangers associated with her job have given her own mother gray hairs. But Mullen enjoys it too much to give up.

People like to complain when their cars are towed against their will, said Mullen. But most tow truck operators are just trying to clean up other people's mistakes and stay safe while doing it, she said.

"We're real people. We have families and kids," said Mullen. "I want to come home at night."

Edie Gross: 540/374-5428

Sad News From GA

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 67-year-old Julian Baugh who died on Oct. 29 from injuries sustained when his driverless truck ran over him. Here's the story from The Gwinnett Daily Post:

BUFORD — A tow truck driver was killed Friday afternoon when he was run over by his vehicle, Gwinnett County police said.
The incident happened about 12:40 p.m. on the 2000 block of Amber Creek Drive in Buford, according to a news release.
A preliminary investigation revealed Lula resident Julian Baugh, 67, failed to activate the emergency brake before he got out of the tow truck, the news release stated. After the vehicle rolled forward, Baugh fell and was struck by the truck while he tried to press the brake pedal with his hand.
Baugh died at the scene as the result of his injuries, police said.
Police are continuing their investigation.

Sad, Sad News From Baltimore

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 23-year-old Andrew Joyce. He was found shot to death in his truck on Nov. 1. Here's the story from

A tow truck driver was found murdered in the cab of his truck early Monday morning.
Officers found 23-year-old Andrew Joyce in the 500 Block of Mosher Street. He had been shot once in the chest and died at the scene.
Detectives have learned Joyce was called to Moser Street to tow a car to a garage in North Baltimore.
Anyone with any information is asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.