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.
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,
“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.