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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sad News From TN

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Frank Thomas, Jr., who was the curator for the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum and a member of the Hall of Fame. He died May 4.
Here's his obituary:

William “Frank” Thomas, Jr., 86, went home to be with the Lord on May 4, 2011.
Mr. Thomas is preceded in death by his wife, Mildred Louise Thomas; parents, William Franklin Thomas, Sr, and Sadie Morgan Thomas: sister, Frances Thomas Sontag (Charles); brothers: Wallace M. Thomas, Eugene Samuel Thomas (Wanda), Charles Scott Thomas, Sr. (Elizabeth).
Mr. Thomas served in the Army during WWII where he was commissioned to maintain aircraft in Mobile, Al. He retired from Dover Corporation in 1989 where he was in sales and traveled the world. Upon his retirement he became curator of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum in Chattanooga, TN. For many years he wrote "Pop's Corner" for the Museum View Newsletter where he kept his friends and members updated with past and present history of the industry. He appeared in national and international television and radio programming promoting the museum and Chattanooga, Tn. He was honored to be a member in the Hall of Fame at the museum. He will be missed by his loving family and his many friends.
Survivors include four children: Richard E. (Angela) Thomas of Moneta, Va., Mary F. Bunch and Lyndia S. Thomas of Red Bank and Nora (Bobby) Faulkenberry of Ringgold, Ga; five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Memorial contributions may be made to the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum, 3315 Broad St., Chattanooga TN 37408.
Funeral services will be held 11:00 a.m. Saturday, May 7th at Lane Funeral Home, Ashland Terrace with Dr. Phil Griffin officiating. Interment will follow in Hamilton Memorial Gardens. Visitation is be 4:00 - 8:00 pm Thursday and Friday, May 5th and May 6th at Lane Funeral Home, 601 Ashland Terrace . Visit www.lanefh.com to view LifeTribute video and share condolences. 

Nelson, Biehl Join Chevron West/West Coast Towing Equipment


Here's the press release:
After 24 years in the Towing/Transport industry, Shawn Nelson, Roseville, California, has joined Chevron West/West Coast Towing Equipment as a sales associate for the Southern San Joaquin Valley. Shawn’s towing career began with his first job as a driver in 1986.  In 1988, he purchased His first truck, towing for local salvage pools and auto auctions, ultimately building his fleet to a 4 truck operation.
After selling his business in 1994, Shawn saw the USA from the seat of a tractor trailer rig, returning to manage a local towing operation after two years. In March of 2000 he opened Nelson Transport, which later became Roseville Towing, a 10-truck operation, including four Chevron 4-car carriers, 5 Chevron two car Carriers, a Chevron 1014, a Holmes light duty wrecker, and several Chevron light duty wreckers, Having sold Roseville Towing in 2009, Shawn now brings his many years’ hands-on towing and recovery experience to his Chevron West customers.

Bringing 30 years of successful sales experience, David Biehl has joined Chevron West’s growing team of energetic sales associates.  A native of San Mateo, California, David majored in business marketing at University of Nevada, Reno, where he attended on a golf scholarship and played for the University Golf team, -  an extra benefit for our golf-loving customers!
David’s sales experience spans a variety of fields, where he has excelled in growing his territories and generating repeated top-earner awards.  David believes his key to success is in building solid relationships with his customers.  His good business sense makes him a valuable asset to his customers, as he can help them make the best equipment choices for their applications and in building a strong, profitable bottom line.
His customers say that David goes above and beyond for his customers, making himself available 24/7, getting back to them promptly and meeting deadlines.  With 24/7 being the rule rather than the exception in the towing industry, David should fit right in!
 

Sad News From KY

Owens Auto Parts founder dies Saturday at 81 » Local News » TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Roy Lewis "R.L." Owens Jr., 81, of Corbin, who passed away Saturday, May 14. He was part of the ITRHF's Class of 1998.

Here's his obituary from the Times-Tribune:
The Corbin businessman who opened Owens Auto Parts and Garage and who was an advocate for vocational education has died.

Roy Lewis “R.L.” Owens Jr., 81, died Saturday, according to information provided by his family.

Owens, a Corbin native, graduated from Corbin High School in 1948. He worked for A&P Tea Company and the L&N Railroad.

While he worked nights for the railroad, Owens and his wife, Hettie Owens, opened Owens Muffler Shop in 1954. The business grew and is known today as Owens Auto Parts and Garage.

Owens began to offer towing services in 1957 using a 1953 Chevy one-ton truck with a homemade crane.

Throughout the years, Owens launched other businesses within the company including Owens Truck Equipment and Owens Tire Company, which sold and serviced tires for earth moving equipment used in mining and construction.

In 1974, Owens began to manufacture lubricating equipment for off-road equipment through Owens Manufacturing Company. He also designed and built a calcium pump and designed and rebuilt hydraulic air compressors for service and lube trucks. In 1987, he designed and built equipment to process used antifreeze and an oil crusher for diesel engines.

Owens also designed and built a 30-unit office building in 1984. The building is known as Falls Road Plaza.

A lifelong advocate for vocational education, Owens was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Vocational Education, Kentucky Tech Statewide Marketing Team and Vision 21 for Kentucky Tech.

In 1998, Owens was inducted into the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame.

After Owens and his wife retired in 2005, their daughter, Betty Sue Surmont and her husband, Steve Surmont, took over the operation of the business.

Pink Tow Truck Honors IL Wife

Chuck Basler (left) walks by the tow truck painted pink in his wife Debbie Basler’s honor at Whitey’s Towing Inc., owned by Patrick Blank, in Cary. Debbie Basler passed away in March after a battle with cancer at age 40. Part of the proceeds from each tow the truck makes go to local cancer clinics. (Amanda Schwengel - aschwengel@nwherald.com)
Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Debbie Basler. Round of applause to family friend, Patrick Blank, the owner of Whitey’s Towing, who painted one of his trucks pink for her.
Here's the story from the Northwest Herald:

CARY – There is a pink tow truck in Cary, and this is its story.
Chuck Basler’s life changed forever the day he saw Debbie Baker.
He had just arrived at a friend’s house in Cary. She was sitting on a couch watching TV and he “just knew,” Basler remembers.
She was 16, and “she was just beautiful,” Basler said.
They talked a few times and soon began to date. At the time, Basler was 19 and working hard as a driver for Whitey’s Towing Inc., and his schedule in the early years often meant date nights in a big truck.
“When Deb and I first started dating, the first thing she got a ride in was a tow truck,” Basler said. “Half of our time together in the beginning was in the truck.”
There were trips to the grocery store and Thanksgivings in the tow. Debbie didn’t mind, though, she had met her very own prince charming.
Four years later, the Cary couple, who had grown quickly to become best friends, joined as husband and wife. Three years later, they became parents first to Brooke, today 18, and then to Bradley, 15.
“People are always talking about being the perfect couple. Not to brag, but we had it,” Basler said.
They were each other’s biggest fans as she earned her degree at McHenry County College and he grew into a career as a crane operator with Whitey’s Crane Rental.
From their first days in the tow truck together through 21 years of marriage, Chuck and Debbie were inseparable. With Debbie, even rainy days were wonderful, Chuck Basler said. There was nothing more the family enjoyed than pulling the blinds, turning off the phones, and holing up in their home to watch movies and soak up the time together.
That time, however, was cut short.
In 2010, Debbie Basler was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a double mastectomy and a brave battle, the Baslers and the doctors declared the cancer beat. But this January, Debbie began experiencing eye problems. The cancer had come back.
About the same time that Debbie Basler became sick again, Patrick Blank, the owner of Whitey’s Towing and a longtime family friend, decided to rebuild one of his small tow trucks. To honor Debbie and raise money for cancer research, Blank decided to have his truck dedicated to the fight against breast cancer.
Everyone associated with Whitey’s chipped in, and the truck was rebuilt and repainted special for the Baslers. It was unveiled in April inside the garage at Whitey’s Crane Rental to a crowd of 300 family and friends.
Phrases such as “Pulling for a cure,” and “one tow at a time” cover the hot pink truck. Written on the hood, next to a graphic of a buxom lady baseball player, were the words “Don’t let breast cancer steal second base.”
The truck had attitude – just like Debbie and it was perfect. Basler was speechless the first time he saw it.
The most special part for Chuck Basler however remains the big ribbon on the side that reads “8-7-70 to 3-15-11” with Debbie’s name on it.
There is a bright pink tow truck in Cary because of Debbie Basler.
It honors the life of a best friend, a lover and a mother. A woman who loved life so much, Chuck Basler said, that she took 2,000 photos of her friends and family each year, and a woman so sweet that she would spend two weeks every December painstakingly choosing the best of those photos to make personalized Christmas cards for everyone.
There is a pink tow truck in Cary to honor Debbie, to remind residents to live each day to the fullest, and to help prevent future loss.
Part of the proceeds from each tow the truck makes – $5 per hook up and 50 cents per mile – will go to local cancer clinics.
This will continue, Blank said, as long as the truck is pink and there is cancer left to beat.

West Cobb Towing Owner Passes Away - Powder Springs-Lithia Springs, GA Patch

West Cobb Towing Owner Passes Away - Powder Springs-Lithia Springs, GA Patch:
Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 50-year-old Butch Davis Jr., owner of West Cobb Towing in GA. He passed away on May 21.
Here's the story:
"John 'Butch' Davis Jr., 50, of Powder Springs died Saturday, according to his obituary from Bellamy Funeral Home.

Davis was the former owner of Powder Springs Amoco and owner of West Cobb Towing.

He is survived by his wife, Becky of Powder Springs; two daughters, Heather Moon and Heidi Houze, both of Dallas; a son, 'Johnny' W. Davis III of Powder Springs; four sisters, Renee Motes of Douglasville, Sherry Stuart of Powder Springs, Cyndi Pappadouplos of Powder Springs, and Beth Buckley of Gainesville; six grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association, the obituary says.

Visitation was Tuesday, and funeral services were Wednesday."

Woman Beats TN Repo Man with Shovel

Woman Beats Repo Man with Shovel | MyFox Memphis | Fox 13 News:
Here's the story:
"MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A Memphis woman did not react well to having her SUV repossessed Thursday.

An employee for Complete Auto Recovery was sent to repossess a 2003 Ford Expedition from a home on the 3500-block of Obion Drive in the Frayser area. As the employee was trying to load the vehicle onto his wrecker, 52-year old Laura Matthews became irate and attacked the employee with a shovel, hitting him on the right side of his head and in the right knee. Matthews also damaged the wrecker's hydraulic lines when she attempted to drive off with the SUV.

An ambulance was called, and the victim was treated and released on the scene.

Matthews was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault and Vandalism $500-$1000. She is currently being held at the Shelby County Jail on $10,000 bond."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Irish tow drivers win battle with 'Beast' - Bizarre - World - Dalje.com

Irish tow drivers win battle with 'Beast' - Bizarre - World - Dalje.com: "DUBLIN, Ireland, May 24 (UPI) -- An Irish tow truck driver says President Obama's custom limo made quite a mess when it bottomed out leaving the U.S. Embassy in Dublin.

Kelly's Towing Services was called in immediately after the armor-plated vehicle got stuck on the parking garage ramp and needed about three hours to free it.

'There was no problem with the weight, but the lifting points on an American car are slightly different than those on a European car,' observed owner Eamonn Kelly. 'The suspensions collapsed with the smack and the wheel had gone right up into the car.'

The U.S. presidential limo is a hefty, bullet-proof Cadillac nicknamed 'The Beast' by Secret Service agents.

Kelly told the Irish Times his son, Keith, was in charge of the operation and decided the best thing to do would be to roll the big Cadillac back into the underground garage and then haul it to the airport for transport back to the United States.

'To bring it forward would have caused too much damage,' Kelly said. 'We brought in another tow truck from Baldoyle, it took three hours in total but we got it moved.'"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CO Woman will stand trial on felony charges in dragging death | death, charges, trial - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO

Woman will stand trial on felony charges in dragging death | death, charges, trial - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO
Here's the story:
A Colorado Springs woman accused in the dragging death of a tow-truck driver was ordered Monday to stand trial on the most serious charge she faces — leaving the scene of an accident involving death.

Detra Dione Farries, 33, also will be tried on 10 lesser counts in the Feb. 23 death of Allen Lew Rose.

Farries could be sentenced to a maximum of 12 years in prison if she's convicted of the hit-and-run charge.

The remaining counts include manslaughter and vehicular homicide, felonies that normally result in a maximum of six years in prison. If a judge were to find aggravating circumstances on any felony conviction, the penalties could be doubled.

Rose, the co-owner of J & J Towing in Colorado Springs, was attempting to tow an illegally parked GMC sport-utility vehicle when someone got inside the SUV and sped away, authorities said. His leg was snagged by a towing cable, and he was dragged more than a mile.

Farries was arrested two days later, on suspicion of recklessly causing his death.

Fourth Judicial District Judge Jann P. DuBois ruled on the hit-and-run charge Monday at the conclusion of a hearing that began May 6.

The preliminary hearing focused exclusively on whether prosecutors have enough evidence to support the hit-and-run charge. Prosecutors did not have to defend the remaining counts because a preliminary hearing was required only for Class 3 felonies and above.

In arguments before DuBois, prosecutor Jeff Lindsey said Farries nearly hit two pedestrians while fleeing the Hill Park Apartments at 360 N. Murray Blvd., and also ignored Rose’s efforts to flag her down.

At that point, Rose's tow truck had already been damaged, and Farries should have stopped, he said.

Instead, Farries drove until she found a suitable hiding place — “an obscure residential area” to which she had no ties, Lindsey said.

“Ms. Farries wasn’t going to stop until she got away,” Lindsey said.

Farries’ attorneys disputed that she was aware of the accident — or even that she was responsible for Rose’s death.

According to public defender Eydie Elkins, Rose disregarded proper tow procedures in his haste to collect a $70 hook-up fee.

“Tragically for Mr. Rose, this decision caused his own death,” she said.

Elkins focused on accounts by two eyewitnesses who told police that when Rose pulled into the Hill Park Apartments, Farries was already in the parking lot with a mechanic who was working on her daughter’s car.

The mechanic, Donald Hearn, saw Rose back up to the GMC and mentioned that it looked like somebody was about to get towed, Colorado Springs police detective Mike Montez testified Monday.

When Farries saw that it was her vehicle, she walked toward it, got inside and started it up, all without addressing Rose.

Montez testified that according to Hearn and his nephew, Christopher Dunlap, Rose then got out of his tow truck, grabbed his cable and either placed or threw tow hooks on Farries’ rear axle.

Dunlap said it looked like Rose tried to jump on the cable as Farries drove away, Montez testified.

“It was completely unforeseeable from her perspective that a tow-truck driver would attach a tow cable to her rear axle after she started it up,” Elkins said.

Lindsey noted that the cable was “dancing and swinging around” and asked if Rose could have been jumping out of the way.

Lindsey also questioned Montez about his suspicions that Hearn and Dunlap seemed to be recycling information they had heard rather than seen.

Defense attorneys emphasized evidence that Farries may not have been able to see Rose being dragged behind her because of the condition of her vehicle.

The GMC was raised up “like a mud truck.” The rear passenger window was covered with opaque plastic. Personal belongings piled up inside obscured or nearly obscured the view in all three rear- and side-view mirrors.

Lindsey previously described the vehicle as a "rolling death trap" and said Farries was responsible for the poor condition.

Farries also faces two misdemeanor reckless endangerment counts and the following traffic offenses: reckless driving, two counts of failing to stop for a stop sign, failing to obey a traffic control device, driving an unsafe or defective vehicle and driving an unregistered vehicle.

She was scheduled to be arraigned June 22.




From TN: Rising Violence In Repo Industry - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Rising Violence In Repo Industry - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports
Here's the story:
By Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

As the economy gets worse, their business gets better.

There were more than 16,000 repossessions in Tennessee last year.

But an exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation reveals the industry is surprisingly unregulated, and some in the repo industry believe the lack of oversight has led to violent, even deadly encounters.

Ray Crocker is a Nashville repo-man who has been in the business more than 25 years.

He hates the way repo-men are portrayed on TV reality shows.

"You can't do anything illegal. You can't manhandle somebody," Crocker said referring to a scene from one of the shows.

Crocker worries about the rising violence in the repo industry.

"We've got guys who think just because they have a tow truck, they're a repossessor," Crocker said.

There's no training required for repo company employees in Tennessee or most states across the country.

Crocker believes that puts the public at risk.

In Overton County earlier this year, two repo drivers chased down a man in a truck they were trying to repossess.

Tennessee Highway Patrol documents indicate they pulled their tow truck in front of the fleeing truck causing a crash that killed the driver.

It is one of at least seven repo-related deaths nationwide in the last five years.

Rosalie Marshall called for help when repo men came to take a van she had just bought.

"I didn't believe it was a repo man at first," Marshall said. "I truly didn't."

Marshall had no reason to think her van was being repossessed because she hadn't missed a payment.

But according to court documents, the dealer told the repo man to take her van by whatever means necessary because of a dispute over the interest rate.

As Marshall was on the phone with police and trying to get out her baby's car seat, she found herself being dragged down her driveway.

"Next thing I know, he's driving out of the driveway and my leg is stuck. This leg is dragging and I'm going all the way over and I just finally fell down," Marshall said.

She was on crutches for weeks.

Police caught the repo man, Charles Bowden, who had a criminal record, and returned her car.

"The idea that these people are getting their jobs without any training and any knowledge of the law is actually a dangerous combination," said Rosalie's husband, Roy Marshall.

Repo companies are not allowed to breach the peace. Ray Crocker says that means if someone orders repo men off their property, they should leave.

No oversight of the repo industry means there's no criminal background check for employees.

In Davidson County, people in the repossession business need only to get a towing permit if they drive a wrecker, but records reveal Metro gives permits to people even with long criminal histories.

Jonathan Fuqua listed 19 arrests, convictions or traffic tickets on his wrecker application including convictions for assault, reckless driving and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Jason Swafford lists 30 arrests including convictions for assault, criminal impersonation and driving on a revoked license.

Despite all that, both were approved by the Transportation Licensing Commission and are working at a Nashville repo company.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked the Director of the Commission, "How did these people get permits?"

Brian McQuistion responded, "There is no law that regulates repossessors in Tennessee."

McQuistion wants to make it tougher for people with certain felonies to get a wrecker permit. He plans to present proposed new rules to his board in the coming weeks.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "Is this number of arrests unusual?"

McQuistion responded, "I wish it was very unusual, but it's not."

For years Ray Crocker has been pushing the legislature to regulate repo companies with no success.

It may not be a pretty business, but Ray Crocker says it should never put people like Rosalie Marshall at risk.

"I thought I was going to die," Marshall said. "I thought my son was going to get run over."

Three states require repo licenses that include a criminal background check. They are Florida, California and Illinois.

Efforts to get a similar law passed in Tennessee have failed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

From TRAA's Legislative & Leadership 2011 Conference

Look for the article about Captain Tom Martin in the July issue of Towing & Recovery Footnotes! Here is the speech he gave during this year's Legislative & Leadership Conference, with an introduction from TRAA's Harriet Cooley:

Cpt. Tom Martin Tells Towers:

“Lead, Follow or Get Out of The Way:
The Future of Private Sector Towing”

          An introduction by TRAA’s Harriet Cooley: “At the second TRAA Legislative and Leadership Conference held 12 years ago, we invited Captain Tom Martin of the Virginia State Police to review for us a video we had received showing tow operators working with law enforcement at the scene. This video had not been seen by our industry nor had Cpt. Martin seen it until I sent it to him for review and asked him to share it with the conference along with his thoughts.
          “He was not shy about speaking his mind about the video. Although it had been created by a well-known research university, he shared his sincere astonishment about its condescending treatment of the towers featured in it! This was the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship between the towing industry and Captain Martin, which was further enhanced several years later by the production of the popular video “The Hats of Incident Management.”
          “Cpt. Martin filmed it in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Association of Towing & Recovery Operators (VATRO). The Hats video was met with such a favorable response that his fame among towers increased even more!
          “We always try to feature Cpt. Martin on the agenda for the L&L Conference, and he has graciously accepted almost all of our invitations. One of the great things about his presentations is that he genuinely cares about towers and the industry, so when he gives the assembled conferees his “straight talk,” they take it just as intended — an opportunity to learn how they can become better at what they do and work with the other responders so that the whole Traffic Incident Management (TIM) team wins!
          “Lead, Follow or Get Out of The Way: The Future of Private Sector Towing is just such “straight talk” and was very much appreciated by all in attendance last March. I have received many requests for copies, and it has been suggested that we find a way to film Cpt. Martin presenting it and get copies out to all the state towing associations and their members. Read on and you will see why this would be a worthwhile project….”
— Harriet Cooley, Executive Director, TRAA
. .
Cpt. Tom Martin’s Speech

          “Good morning; it is a privilege for me to be invited back to the TRAA 2011 Legislative and Leadership Conference. It is so good to see so many old friends.
          “My name is Tom Martin and I am the Operations Program Coordinator for the I-95 Corridor Coalition. The Coalition is a group of 16 states from Maine to Florida. The Coalition does not focus just on highway I-95; it focuses on multimodal transportation of people and goods along the East Coast. The Coalition knows the importance of moving people and goods throughout the corridor and the severe personal and economic impact when we do not.
          “The Coalition began in the early 1990s as an informal group of transportation professionals to manage major highway incidents. The Coalition was formally established in 1993 to enhance regional transportation mobility, safety, and efficiency.
          “The Coalition works with its member states on a consensus basis. In other words, the Coalition has no legislative authority. We do not buy or sell anything. We do not tell anyone what to do or how to do it. We try to get agencies and people to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Sound familiar?
          “The challenges of the Coalition are in many ways the same challenges you as leaders have in the towing and recovery industry. You have no legislative authority; you are selling a service and not a product. You do not tell others in your industry how to run their business. You are trying to get agencies and people to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. You are a consensus-based organization when it comes to directing an industry.
          “I would like to talk to you for the next few minutes about the future of private sector towing.”

Some Issues

          “Maybe you do not see a need for a discussion on the future of private sector towing. Maybe you do not see an issue with governments operating tow services, buying towing equipment, and conducting removal operations. Maybe you like the way governments and localities run their rotation lists, write their contracts for services, structure the pay and bid process.
          “Maybe you think a zero bid for a service contract just to get the towing rights to a certain section of highway is a good business practice. Maybe you truly believe that everyone has your best interest at heart when they are controlling your industry.
“But for the one or two here who think there may be a problem, let’s look at some issues. Please understand that I am not criticizing or in any way suggesting how you should run your business — you are the industry experts, not me, but I truly care about your industry. I have been involved with the towing industry for many years.

                                                The Meeting

          “As a matter of fact, one of my first meetings with towers was when I was a First Sergeant with the Virginia State Police in Northern Virginia and that was in 1989. So I have been in and around your business for over 20 years. I have seen great progress in the development of a professional organization but I also have seen pockets of disappointment and frustration.
          “Would you like to know what that first meeting was about? Well, it was a meeting with Virginia Association of Towing and Recovery Operators (VATRO) after they sent a letter to the State Police complaining about the State Police Rotation list. Can you imagine that? — someone complaining about the rotation list? (Here he reads a portion of the letter). This letter is dated January 3, 1989 but if any of you would like a copy, you can just change the date and send it. I look at this as 22 years of progress.
          “I have another letter about a meeting where, of all things, VATRO was complaining about VDOT purchasing wreckers to station at the bridges. For some silly reason they did not think the government should be doing a private sector job.
          “This letter is dated August 18, 1993, but I bet there are a few here that would just like to change the date and send it to some government agency that is buying towing equipment in your locale.

                                                Three Concepts

          “To start the discussion about the future of private sector towing, I would like for you to think about your top three problems. What are the top three issues you face as an industry? Can you agree on the top three problems? If not, maybe that is problem number one.
          “Now I would like for you to consider three things you need to do to improve the future of your industry. Again, do you think you can all agree on what those may be?
          “Instead of listing three specific tasks you need to achieve or three specific policies or laws you need enact, let’s identify three concepts that may dictate the future of private sector towing.
          “I think the three areas of focus to guide your industry to success are: leadership, followership, and moving obstacles out of the way: lead, follow, or get out of the way!
          “Leadership in any national organization is critical. I see this group as the leadership core. I see this group as critical to the success of your industry. I see this group developing and implementing a strategy for the future.
          “I see the challenges being that, first, you will not agree on a clear direction and we will continue to have 50 leaders going in 50 directions with limited local success and no national success. I also see a challenge in that you will want to deal with the laws and the policies and forget to address a critical issue: Perception!

Perception

          “What is the perception of your industry? It makes no difference what the reality — the public’s perception, the local and state government’s perception — is of the towing industry as a whole. You are part of the industry. Your individual towing company is lumped with all other companies when it comes to an industry perception.
          “Just as law enforcement and firefighters are lumped into one group, so is the towing industry. As an industry you should always consider the perception, not of an individual company but of the industry as a whole.
          “Is the general perception of the towing and recovery industry one of a professional, well-trained, well-equipped industry that is dedicated to prompt efficient service? Is the perception that you care about the motoring public, responder safety, efficient movement of traffic, quick clearance, preventing secondary incidents, or do you think the perception is that you only think about yourself, your next call, your next dollar!
          “So as a leadership challenge, remember: the perception of what you do is sometimes more powerful that what you really do or how you do it.

                                                Followers

          “The next challenge is followership. Everyone cannot be and should not be leaders. Without followers there is no need for leaders.
          “Think of the tremendous number of towing and recovery operators in the United States. Think of what could be accomplished if that group could somehow be mobilized to march in the same direction.
          “What can you do to mobilize this group? I think it may be hard if you are identifying a business practice but what about a safety practice? Everyone should be interested in safety. Whether it is reflectorized vests or emergency lighting practices, surely there has to be some common ground just like in your training video “Roadside Safety: Everyone Goes Home.”            “Even for the real hardcore converts that do not want to change the way they do business, just convince them that safety can save money on insurance and workmen’s compensation.
          “Wherever I go and no matter what group I talk to, I talk about safety for all. I remind the police not to leave the tower alone and exposed to traffic. The practice of driving off when the tow truck arrives needs to stop. I always talk about the Wall of the Fallen and challenge the audience to visit this place just like they visit the Police Officers Memorial or the Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial.

Outta The Way

          “And one thing that I really get upset about is when a state does not include DOTs and towers in the Move Over law. It should cover all responders, all lights, including amber. And for the life of me, I cannot understand why someone would feel the life of a police officer or fire fighter is more important than the life of a tower. Any life is too precious to waste on the side of the road — but wait, I digress….
          “Back to followership: I encourage you to find a way to mobilize the towers on maybe one or two issues and this following will be powerful.
          “The last leadership challenge is that there just may be a few folks who just need to get out of the way. Do you have people in your industry who just complain about everything? I am not against constructive criticism if someone is willing to work toward a solution, but the negative naysayers, the ones who always criticize and are never willing to venture in a new direction, will cripple an entire industry if you let it.
          “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!

Getting Involved

          “As I was looking at the theme for this conference, “Bringing the Towing Industry into Balance,” I thought what a great initiative to unite and support the industry. You have great numbers, and assuring the towers are visible and engaged in every local event will go a long way to building a professional reputation.
          “Getting engaged in a positive way will not only help bridge the understanding of your industries, it will also help dispel some of the myths about your industry. You know better than I that there is a lot of misunderstanding about what you do and why you do it.
          “Getting engaged in the TIM network is a great way to keep up with what’s going on locally and nationally. When there is a training program in the area, show up and participate. Yes, I know there will be somewhere you are not invited but there are others where you are always welcome.
          “The Corridor Coalition and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) partnered last September and hosted a National Unified Goal (NUG) Summit. The NUG Summit had over 150 people in attendance and an additional 150 on the webinar. Harriet Cooley was on the agenda and participated in a panel discussion on identifying gaps in TIM Team development. This was a great opportunity to reach over 300 people at a national audience with the message of including towing and recovery in the process.

In Conclusion

          “On a more local level, the I-95 Corridor Coalition conducts Quick Clearance Workshops throughout the East Coast. Towers are always invited to these multi-discipline workshops. This is so important because issues are addressed and your industry is represented and can address problems and misunderstandings.
          “You know there is very little difference between a conflict and a misunderstanding. And if we clear up the misunderstanding, we avoid the devastating effects of conflict.
          “We have had four or five workshops in and around Virginia and Sue Brassell of VATRO has attended everyone of them. Sue gets our perfect attendance award. For some of them she has had to travel several hours but she is always there representing the interests of towers. This is the type of commitment that will bring your industry into balance.
          “As I conclude, I would like to just encourage you to get and stay involved. What you do is too important not to be recognized, but no one is going to do it for you. You are an industry of hard workers so work hard for your industry.
          “Remember, decisions about the future of private sector towing are being made every day and they will be made with or without you, so I encourage you get involved and get engaged.
          “Lead, follow or get out of the way!”

          Retired Virginia State Police Capt. Tom Martin joined the I-95 Corridor Coalition staff in December 2008 as its Operations Program Coordinator. He has extensive background in incident management and safety, and managing large public agency programs. Cpt. Martin recently retired from the Virginia State Police after 34 years of service, where he was the Commander of both Patrol Divisions and the Criminal Intelligence Division.
          During his time with the State Police, he participated in a number of major law enforcement missions, including the terrorist attack at the Pentagon. Cpt. Martin was also a multi-agency task force leader deployed to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.
          He has been an invited speaker and served on expert panels at numerous state and national transportation and Homeland Security conferences.


 





Progress on the Reno Show Truck

From the initial sketches we made earlier, this is the character / dude we created to go on the back of the SidePuller.

If you look close you will notice small holes that surround the slow down sign and also illustrate the flashlight beam. We decided to put L.E.D. lights in those holes that will flash with the warning lights. You will have to keep following along to see what the outer two squares on the panel are going to be.At this point we have not come with a name to describe the Dude we created.

    This photo shows the design team at Idaho Wrecker Sales
at work talking about the feedback you towers gave us on Facebook. In case you were not aware, we asked the friends
of Idaho Wrecker Sales on Facebook to help us design this year's tow truck.
The 1st thing we asked for help with was designing a theme
for the truck. There were many great ideas submitted, from
The John Wayne themed truck to the Transformer truck. Ultimately the winning theme was
Move Over and Slow Down 



This Photo shows the initial sketches we made
showing different ways we could build a Slow Down
Move Over themed truck. After all the ideas were tossed
back and forth we decided there must be a compelling
statement to be made with this truck. Everyday tow truck operators lay their life on the line and it tends to go unnoticed by most of the public. We all felt we should incorporate that when you drive by this truck and it is working on the side of
the road - someone's life is at stake.
We felt having a tow truck operator on the back of the truck would be the best way to add the human element and let
people know that as a tow truck driver - my life is at stake.
You can see our rough sketches of what the character
could look like.
      
The truck will be unveiled at the Reno Tow Show on June 2nd. For more information, visit
http://www.wreckerbuilder.com/reno_show_truck_2011.html.

International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum - Chattanooga TN |

International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum - Chattanooga TN - Failure magazine |Here's the story:
Most people don’t think for a second about the towing and recovery industry—until they find themselves stranded on the side of the road or involved in a collision. Then they call the American Automobile Association (AAA) or a wrecker arrives on the scene, and they find themselves grateful for the help. But one place the unsung heroes of the industry are recognized is the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a unique institution that highlights the rich heritage of what is now a $15 billion a year industry.
It’s no accident that the museum is located in Chattanooga, a city of 155,000 in southeast Tennessee. After all, Chattanooga is the birthplace of the wrecker industry, and to this day, the city remains the towing and recovery capital of the world. Incidentally, there is a difference between a wrecker and a tow truck (a wrecker is designed to tow and recover, and a tow truck merely tows), though casual observers rarely reflect on this distinction.
The grandfather of towing and recovery
As legend has it, the industry was born one fateful day in 1916 after a driver lost control of his Tin Lizzie—that is, a Ford Model T—and it ended up in Chickamauga Creek, which winds its way through the Chattanooga area. Ernest Holmes Sr. (1883-1945)—who was a member of the local auto club and whose brother Curtis owned a service station—got wind of the mishap and went to help recover the car from the water, a job that took ten men eight hours to complete. Thinking there must be an easier way, Holmes went back to his garage and began formulating a plan to build a wrecker, which he developed with an assist from two friends—L.C. Decker and Elmer Gross.
However, the first time Holmes put his prototype to the test it let him down, and the rescue workers had to fall back on old-fashioned manpower. He quickly came to the realization that his wrecker (bolted to the chassis of a 1913 Cadillac) needed outriggers to stabilize the vehicle when in recovery mode.
Despite the fact that the need for wreckers seemed self-evident, this initial setback no doubt emboldened naysayers, who included his mother and father. According to museum staffer Joyce Shrum, who worked in the parts department of the Ernest Holmes Company in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Holmes’ parents didn’t want him to get involved in the auto service industry because his neighbor—the aforementioned Decker—had put an eye out while on the job.
Undeterred, Holmes made improvements to his design, and by 1919 had secured a patent and was selling branded wreckers, which were mounted on the backs of used cars. His first successful production model was the Holmes 485—one of which is on display at the museum, having been coupled with a 1913 Locomobile, a car that sold new for six-thousand dollars. (The combo on exhibit is worth a quarter-million dollars.)
Less well-known is the fact that Holmes’ first model was the 680, which at $680 proved too expensive for the marketplace, hence the 485, which sold for—you guessed it—$485. Holmes’ business continued to thrive until the United States entered World War II, at which point the raw materials he needed were deemed off-limits or in short supply. “Even during the Great Depression the Holmes Company didn’t lay anyone off. It prospered even as other businesses were failing,” notes Shrum.
Ultimately, Holmes received a government contract to build recovery vehicles and bomb-loaders for the war effort, which sustained the operation until his death (from a heart attack) in 1945. The company remained family-owned until 1973, when it was sold to the Dover Corporation for $64 million, and eventually ended up in the hands of Miller Industries (the world’s largest manufacturing of towing and recovery vehicles), based in nearby Ooltewah, Tennessee. Miller builds between five- and six-thousand vehicles a year, and remains a big reason why Chattanooga is to the wrecker industry what Detroit is to the automobile.
A museum on the move
Fittingly the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum got its start as a traveling museum, its exhibits housed in a tractor-trailer, which was transported from city to city by tow truck. Then in 1995—under the tutelage of curator William “Frank” Thomas Jr. (1924-2011)—the institution found a home in downtown Chattanooga, before settling in at a new location, on Broad Street, in 2003. Not only is the current space significantly larger, countless tourists now stumble across the museum on their way to Lookout Mountain, an area attraction that features a funicular (incline) railway, which has been, quite literally, towing passengers to the summit since 1895.
According to executive director Cheryl H. Mish, the museum—which is funded by memberships, donations and admission fees—receives upwards of ten-thousand visitors a year. Approximately one-quarter of those are somehow connected to the industry—the kind of individuals who read Tow Times, American Towman or On Call 24/7, business-to-business magazines that serve the industry. Certainly it’s insiders that are most appreciative of the vehicles on display, including the olive drab Diamond T wrecker that was used by the U.S. military during World War II, not to mention the largest mechanical wrecker ever built, a 70-ton prototype that was never put into production.
Devoted professionals are also drawn to the Hall of Fame gallery, a long hallway featuring photographs of everyone who has been enshrined in the industry’s hall of fame, which will count 275 members this coming September with the addition of five new inductees. And virtually everyone appreciates the huge collection of towing-related toys, as well as the model tow trucks and service station memorabilia.
The men and women of towing
What does it take to be honored by the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame? “You have to be in the industry for at least twenty years,” attests Shrum, but beyond that the requirements seem nebulous. “You also have to be an outstanding person,” she continues, noting that potential inductees must be nominated by a member of the museum, at which point the Board of Directors considers the candidate’s résumé and determines whether or not they will be inducted.
While the hall of fame effectively highlights the achievements of the titans of the industry, the most important aspect of the museum’s mission is educating the public about the importance of and challenges of the work being done by the thousands of men and women who, day in and day out, get the job done without much fanfare. In this regard, most visitors find the museum an eye-opening experience, says Mish. “A lot of visitors come to the understanding that it’s a much larger industry than they realized,” she begins. “They also don’t recognize that towing and recovery is a very hazardous occupation,” at least not until they come face-to-face with the Wall of the Fallen memorial (located just outside the museum’s front entrance), which honors those killed in the line of duty.
As for the dangers involved, it’s more than just the fact that upwards of fifty individuals are struck and killed every year by oncoming traffic—mostly by drunk drivers. Repossessors, for instance, are frequently assaulted (or even shot) by aggrieved vehicle owners, which perhaps explains why Tow Times recently published a “Repossessor Special” that featured tips on confrontation avoidance techniques.
In an effort to assist those that have lost a loved one on the side of the road, the museum has established a survivor fund, which provides monies (up to $1,500) for funeral expenses or other emergency needs. For better or worse, though, it seems unlikely that the public will ever fully appreciate the individuals who provide roadside service. “People just don’t think about the towing industry at all,” laments Mish. “Until they need a tow.”
See photos of vehicles on display at the museum
The International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum Web site


Read more: http://failuremag.com/index.php/feature/article/the_museum_of_towing_and_recovery/#ixzz1NAmrAHY2

Nice Press In NV

Las Vegas Business Press :: Business Life : They've Got Pull
Here's the story:
Peter Catron is not a cop or a paramedic, but he was on the front lines of the emergency-response effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Catron oversees operations for Las Vegas-based Quality Towing, and was sent to the Gulf Coast in October 2005 with a crew of 25 tow-truck drivers to clear cars from debris-filled streets.

Catron's team roamed from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, La., to Gulfport, Miss., parking their travel trailers in community center and church parking lots with access to electricity and running water. Catron would scout nearby neighborhoods for grocery stores and laundry services so the drivers would have food to eat and clean clothes to wear after long days of unearthing cars buried in trees and sand. Bologna sandwiches and potato chips were often on the menu.

Despite the widespread looting and frequent gun battles between roving criminals and police, Canon and his treaters were treated with kindness by Louisiana residents after the hurricane. One family offered Catron use of their bathroom, which turned out to be a lone toilet in the back of the large, flooded-out room that was once their home.

"We're a lot like a mortician," Catron said. "People don't really plan on using you or save for the day when they need a tow, but we're there when it's at its worst. People were really helpful."

The National Guard imposed strict curfews on the drivers, warning them of looters and packs of wild dogs, and designated ZIP codes from which Quality's drivers could collect cars. Catron's team would find and pick up vehicles while the sun was out, then pile them in a "safe zone" to be retrieved at night. When a new neighborhood opened up, the drivers would move on.

Almost six years later, Catron can still picture the devastation.

"You see the pictures and it doesn't compare," he said. "When they opened up the new ZIP code area, whether it be animal or human remains, you could smell the rotting carcasses."

Hurricane Katrina was the first major disaster Quality Towing responded to, but it wasn't the last. The company's tow-truck drivers traveled to Houston after Hurricane Ike; Nashville, Tenn., after last year's floods; and most recently Chicago and Boston after a series of snowstorms blanketed both cities.

Quality's parent company, United Road Towing, coordinates nationwide catastrophe response efforts, and Quality general manager Jason Kent said his drivers are more than willing to take their equipment across the country if necessary. When a request for relief comes from United Road, Kent alerts his drivers, who then choose whether to volunteer.

In some cases, like New Orleans, the need for outside help is apparent. In others, like Chicago and Boston, which have their own towing companies, Quality contributes manpower and additional trucks as support for its affiliates.

"(The towing companies) have what they need under normal circumstances, but when things like (the recent snowstorms) happen, the local resources get overwhelmed," Kent said. "Our drivers and personnel out there were working really long hours in harsh conditions. They can handle it for the most part, but if they need the resources, why not get some relief if they can?"

Quality sent drivers to Chicago and Boston to remove cars from the streets so plows could clear the snow. Rather than camp out in parking lots like their colleagues did after Hurricane Katrina, the three drivers sent to Chicago and three sent to Boston were housed in hotels for the duration of their work.

The company also contributes to emergency response efforts in their own community, donating vehicles and support to the local fire and police departments so first-responders can practice dealing with large-vehicle accidents.

The catastrophe response efforts are philanthropic, but also inspire goodwill in consumers, who aren't big fans of towing companies.

"Let's face it: if we're involved, someone's having a bad day," Kent said.

But when catastrophe strikes, Quality Towing might just save the day.

Contact reporter Caitlin McGarry at cmcgarry@lvbusinesspress.com or 702-387-5273
.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

UTSA student pleads guilty to killing tow truck driver - San Antonio Express-News

UTSA student pleads guilty to killing tow truck driver - San Antonio Express-News: "A former University of Texas at San Antonio graduate student whose sanity came into question after a deadly crime spree in which he claimed to be a movie villain has pleaded no contest to murder.

Jason Miears, 23, was set to go to trial this week for the slaying of tow truck driver Jose Fernandez, 29, who was shot multiple times in March 2009 while patrolling the parking lot outside the Outpost, a UTSA Boulevard apartment complex where Miears lived.

Miears was also accused of robbing IBC Bank and neighbors during the spree, as well as shooting at a neighbor. During an anonymous 911 call after the Fernandez shooting, police said Miears claimed to be Ben Wade, a villain in the western “3:10 to Yuma.”

In exchange for his plea on Thursday, prosecutors agreed to ask state District Judge Ron Rangel for no more than 50 years in prison during Miears' sentencing hearing in July."

AUTO-MOBI.info - United Road Towing, Inc. Acquires Rapid Recovery, Inc.

AUTO-MOBI.info - United Road Towing, Inc. Acquires Rapid Recovery, Inc.
Here's the story:
United Road Towing, Inc. (URT), the leader in towing, recovery, impound management, vehicle disposal, and motorist assistance solutions for both the public and private sectors, acquired Rapid Recovery, Inc. (Rapid Recovery) of Minnesota on April 21st, 2011.
Rapid Recovery provides towing and impound services to municipalities, commercial customers as well as private property impound customers. Operating out of three facilities in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Rapid Recovery's presence blankets the Twin Cities. Rapid Recovery's management possesses over twenty five years of towing experience with a commitment to service excellence. Jared Gruett, a prior owner and current manager for Rapid Recovery, stated, "We are excited to partner with URT. Their national resources and technology allow us to improve our service offering and capitalize on new opportunities." Pete Olson, another prior owner and current manager, added, "We are excited about the growth opportunities this transaction presents to all our employees." Rapid Recovery has also established a robust abandoned vehicle auction in the last year.
Ryan Davids, Vice President of Business Development, commented, "Rapid Recovery expands URT's reach to another top 20 Metropolitan Statistical Area. Our proprietary resources combined with Rapid's strong management will allow us to capitalize on the many growth opportunities with the Twin Cities."
Jerry Corcoran, Chief Executive Officer and President of United Road Towing, added, "We are extremely impressed with Rapid Recovery's passionate, service-minded professionals and management team. They have grown the business significantly despite trying economic conditions. With them committed to URT, we are excited about the future possibilities in the market."
About United Road Towing
United Road Towing, Inc. is the leader in towing, recovery, and vehicle management solutions serving both the public and private sectors throughout the United States from Los Angeles to Boston. On an annual basis, URT dispatches approximately 500,000 tows as well as manages over 300,000 impounds and sells over 60,000 abandoned vehicles.

Wrecker Driver Shot During Car Repossession Attempt

Wrecker Driver Shot During Car Repossession Attempt: "HOUSTON - A grand jury will need to determine whether or not charges will be filed against a man who police say shot a tow truck driver who was repossessing his vehicle.

The shooting took place around 1:30 a.m. Friday at the SunBlossom at Woodlake apartment complex on South Gessner Road.

The tow truck driver had already hooked the reposessed vehicle onto the wrecker truck when police say he was shot once by the owner of the repossessed vehicle.

After the tow truck driver was shot, he drove away from the apartment complex to a nearby Exxon fuel station on South Gessner Road near Westheimer Road. He sought help once he arrived at the Exxon station.

When Houston police arrived to the Exxon station, the tow truck driver was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

The shooting suspect fled from the apartment complex but Houston police have identified him and knows where he lives, so homicide investigators say the case will be referred to a grand jury."

Seattle Woman Sentenced For Tow Truck Driver's Death

Here's the story from The Seattle Times:

A Seattle woman who struck and killed a tow-truck driver on Interstate 5 in September was sentenced Friday to three years and five months in prison.
Shavelle Lewis, 21, had pleaded guilty in April to vehicular homicide and hit-and-run driving.
Lewis was driving with a suspended license when she struck William Padilla, 51, of Burien, at 1:26 a.m. on Sept. 24 as he was kneeling next to a disabled vehicle on the entrance ramp from Spokane Street to southbound I-5. After hitting Padilla, Lewis did a U-turn and drove away, charging papers said.
Troopers found Lewis and her 31-year-old passenger nearby.
Troopers said that Lewis smelled of alcohol and had watery, bloodshot eyes. Lewis told investigators that she had a glass of wine that night.
Lewis has previous convictions for prostitution, hit-and-run driving and drug crimes, and has been sought on 14 arrest warrants since 2008. Two days before the collision she was arrested on warrants, and was released from custody the day before the crash.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Updated Tow Shows & Demos


Shows & Demos
PUBLICIZE YOUR TOW SHOWS,
TRAINING CLASSES, OR RECOVERY DEMOS

Send your information to bcandler@dominionenterprises.com or to Editor, Towing & Recovery Footnotes, Dominion Enterprises, 150 Granby St., Norfolk VA 23510.

June 2-4
Western States Tow Show
Reno Events Center
Reno, Nevada
www.ctta.com
760-325-5840, ext 115

Jun 3-5
ESTRA Tow Show
Lake George, NY
518-543-6630
www.estranys.com

Jun 10-11
Iowa Tow Show
Iowa Speedway
Newton, Iowa
515-244-5193

Jun 13-18
Colorado Tow Show
Jefferson Cnty Fairgrounds
Golden, CO
303-777-4208
www.coloradotowshow.com
connie@coloradotowshow.com

Jun 17-19
Wisconsin Towing Assoc.
Convention & Truck Show
Chula Vista Resort
Wisconsin Dells, WI
800-338-4782; 608-254-8366
ctuhus@witruk.org

Jul 15-17
Indiana Trade Show
Indiana Towing
& Wrecker Association
Holiday Inn North
Indianapolis, IN
765-288-6041
Sallie235@aol.com

Jun 25
Hookin' Up
& Hangin' Out
PA Towing Assoc.
Null's Towing
1003 Gap Newport Road
Conchranville, PA
ctennisblue@aol.com
814-234-9700

Aug 5-6
PTROI Trade Show
Wyndham Chicago
Lisle, IL
800-286-0519
www.towingillinois.com
www.ptrointslink.net

Aug 19-20
The NW Tow Expo
T&R Assoc. of Washington
Silver Reef Casino
Ferndale, WA
877-600-8729
www.towingandrecovery.org

Sept 10
North Carolina
Tow Truck & Trade Show
Big Boys Truck Stop
Kenly, NC
www.nctowing.org
919-876-0687

Sept 16-18
Tennessee Tow Show
Chattanooga Choo Choo
Convention Center
Chattanooga, TN
423-920-1219
Jerry.riggs@comcast.net

Sept 22-25
Midwest Regional Tow Show
Great Wolf Lodge
Mason, OH
877-341-3400; 513-791-3555
www.trao.org; dbrock@trao.org

Nov 18-20
ATowman Expo
Convention Center
Baltimore, MD
800-732-3869


Repo Man's Humor, Heart Drive New Reality TV Show

Here's the story from www.azcentral.com:

Tom DeTone has lost count of the cars he's absconded with over the years. Hundreds. And the list grows every day.
In most cases, the Phoenix repo man's biggest advantage has been the element of surprise. The best repo is quick and quiet, where, if the owner appears at all, it's in the tow truck's rearview mirror.
So forgive DeTone for being suspicious last summer when he received a call suggesting that he forgo such stealthy repos and, instead, knock on the front door and ask the car's owner to come outside and watch.
That did not seem like a good idea to a guy who's had many things thrown at him - punches, rolls of quarters, a 44-ounce soda - while repossessing cars.
"The drink really stung," DeTone, 41, recalled. "The cup clipped my head, soda was stinging my eyes. You'd be surprised how much a soft drink can hurt."
But as a result of that phone call, DeTone may be the happiest repo man in the country. As host of "Repo Games," a reality series debuting tonight on Spike, DeTone is a muscular, blue-collar Alex Trebek, giving owners a chance to win back the cars on which they've defaulted. Answer a few trivia questions correctly, and owners get their cars back, paid in full.
When contestants win, which DeTone said they do about half the time, he is seen as a combination of Santa Claus and Mother Teresa. And should owners lose - well, DeTone still is seen in a kinder light because they at least had the opportunity to get their cars back.
"For years, I've been seen as the bad guy, even though I was just doing a job," DeTone said. "Now it's completely different.
"I've gotten really good hugs from girlfriends, but when I get a hug from a woman who just got their car back, it's off the charts."
DeTone started a repo business in 2009 for a Phoenix towing company and built the business through a strong Internet presence. "Repo Games" producers discovered him on the Web and contacted the repo man last year to see if he might like to do a TV show.
Thinking the call a prank, DeTone's instincts kicked in and he ran a background check - while still on the phone. Not only were the producers legit, but they were the same folks behind MTV's popular "Jersey Shore."
After a face-to-face meeting a month later, DeTone was on board, joined by Josh Lewis, 30, an LA-based repo man who had responded to a casting call.
The game is simple: Once DeTone and Lewis spot the car that's to be repossessed - which may be on another block or in a neighbor's driveway as financially troubled owners try to hide their rides - it is loaded onto their tow truck. Once it is secured, DeTone knocks on the front door if the owner has yet to notice the 35-person, camera-laden crew around the vehicle.
DeTone escorts the owner outside and asks five trivia questions. Some are easy, taking advantage of the pressure of the situation.
"I can ask, 'What color is the sky?' and they will have no idea," he said. "All these cameras focused on them, people everywhere. They get tunnel vision."
If the "contestant" answers three questions correctly, the car is his or hers free and clear (the show pays off the balance). If not, DeTone and Lewis ride off into the repo sunset, returning the car to whoever holds the note.
Episodes thus far have been shot in Phoenix, Dallas and Las Vegas. Among cars repossessed: BMWs, Mercedes and a Lexus or two. Even the seemingly well-off can fall behind on car payments.
"I'm waiting for that day when we roll up to a famous person's house," DeTone said. "It can happen. And I will root for them, too, just like I root for everyone. I have a lot more fun when I can give a car back."

Towing Museum Fulfills Make-A-Wish Dream For Little Boy

Here's the story from WDEF News 12:

A child with a brain tumor comes to Chattanooga to fulfill a dream. The Make a Wish Foundation made it possible for Dylan Wallick to ride in a tow truck.
The 5-year-old checked out the Towing Museum today. His dad Cameron says this has been a great trip.
Cameron Wallick\Father, "He loves trucks and cars, and it was one of his things to see like a monster truck, and we got to do that. Got to come to this great museum and see all the trucks, and everybody down here in this area been so great, so nice to him."
Dylan has been battling his brain tumor since he was 19-months-old.
Here's the link to the video: http://wdef.com/video/towing_museum_fulfills_make_a_wish_dream_for_little_boy/04/2011

A Double Dose of Sad News From TX

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Martha "Marti" Farrington, wife of Dewey Farrington, who was a longtime member of the Oklahoma Towing Association, a dedicated member and officer of TRAA, and a museum and Hall of Fame member and inductee. Marti passed away on April 23, 2011.

Our condolences also go out to the family and acquaintances of Casey Denman, 32, who worked for AA Wrecker Service in Haltom City (a member of the Texas Towing & Storage Association). He passed away in an automobile accident on April 21, 2011 in Weatherford, TX.

T&R Footnotes' May Digital Edition Now Available Online!


Your May 2011 digital edition of Towing and Recovery Footnotes is now available. Simply click here to instantly begin reading the issue, or click on the features below to read specific articles.
  • Tracking Trucks. The very latest advanced technology for keeping track of your tow trucks and the jobs they are on is captured in this article. These amazing new dispatch and accounting tools will save money on fuel and other equipment, save drive time, and make calls more efficient, as well as provide effective online fiscal accounting and equipment monitoring. This will help you keep up with these fast-moving developments.Page 1
  • Steering Clear. Want to do everything possible to avoid going to court and the wasted time and expense to defend your interests, either as plaintiff or defendant? Here are some tips from the experts on how to avoid costly litigation. Read and heed! Page 11
  • Smart Start-Ups. As the economy gradually improves, towing company owners will want to consider ways to obtain financing for new trucks and other equipment as the banks begin to loosen up on lending. Here are some tips to help you get that loan you need to keep your business thriving and your equipment up to date. Page 17
  • The Advisor. The towPartners Advisor appears monthly in Footnotes. Advisor features advice in all areas of towing, from technical details to business operations. towPartners also offers towers the opportunity for great discounts from many equipment and service vendors. Page 13
Also in this issue: Dennis Wencel's column The Black Book offers important business advice for tow company owners; Short Hauls offers the latest nationwide news about towing and recovery every month; see our schedule of upcoming tow shows and education, such asWes Wilburn's training schedule; and much more. Also, we offer great combo print/online advertising deals that will increase product visibility at a savings over the usual ad rates.
If you cannot click on any of the links above, please copy and paste this URL into your web browser:
May 2011 Issue: http://www.myonlinepubs.com/publication?i=67114
Towing and Recovery Footnotes .
Sincerely,Bill Candler 
Editor