The Week's Features
United Coalition for Motor Club Safety changes name
Unit is dedicated to fallen police officer
Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union in violation of SCRA
New heavy-duty wrench features three fixed sockets
Carrier, light-duty clear crash and debris on Pike
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingNovember 14 - November 20, 2018

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Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.

Hiring Drivers Can Be a Crapshoot

dreamstimemedium 12740982-300x260 ae117By Don Archer

Forgoing team sports and nights out on the town, a successful guitarist sacrifices as he practices day and night with a goal. Maybe it's to be on stage in front of thousands as the next Joe Satriani, or simply to play death metal with his buddies in the basement. He may have gravitated to the guitar because he's the shy, introverted sort, or it may be because he loves not being dependent on anyone else for his success.

Many who've landed in the towing business can relate to that last bit. Boot-strapped and self-reliant, towers must count on themselves to get things done. Alone on the roads they're completely responsible for their own success. Some days they make a good living and others they're happy to walk away with money for fuel.

Towers and guitarists both work alone—and all eyes are on them if they make a mistake.

But the reality is no one does it alone. The guitar player couldn't be successful without fans and some sort of support from friends and family (even if it is just room and board). If he's in a band he's going to need a venue, as well as lights and other band members.

Likewise, a tower can hardly get by without a dispatcher and a mechanic. He needs referrals, customers and friends at repair shops ... not to mention the sporadic schedule his family must endure.

A business has two options: grow or stagnate. Of course you're not going to do anything to harm what you've worked so hard to establish, so you take the plunge and decide to hire help.

The fear is getting the right help.

Every business owner has these fears, even your competition. More difficult than obtaining financing for trucks and facilities, hiring and retaining good employees is the biggest obstacle to growing a business.

It's a balancing act. You want employees who'll think on their feet and have the ability to rely on themselves. At the same time, you want someone who'll always do what you ask—someone who listens, trains themselves during lull periods, and cares about your business when you're not standing over them. Once in a blue moon, you'll stumble across a person who embodies all of these qualities. Unfortunately, many times this is the one who jumps ship.

When I interview for drivers I'm looking for someone with confidence. My applicants aren't required to have a background in the towing business (sometimes it's best if they don't), but they should be confident enough to tell me what they've done well in the past.

But know this: you can't judge a book by its cover, and the interview is where they shine. They're going to tell you what you want to hear—in order to GET THE JOB. Your job is to choose someone based on your needs.

Choosing the right person can be hard, but if it's any consolation there are no magic bullets. Hiring employees is akin to what Tom Hanks' character, Forest Gump, said in the movie of the same name: "You never know what you're going to get."

I've hired drivers who had experience, had a great personality (during the interview) and seemed to work out well. That is, until they believed their value to the company to be much greater than the reality. When an employee believes the business needs him more than he needs the job it's time for him to go.

While it may seem that sometimes the hiring process is a crap-shoot, it doesn't free you from the responsibility of conducting proper interviews, running background checks and calling references. Your job is to provide quality service to your customers, so you'll want to do the best that you can to hire and retain good people.

Once you're finished hiring, you have the job of determining who's going to work out and who's not. I've made mistakes here as well. I once trained a new-hire for more than a month. Keeping him on when it was obvious he wasn't getting it. I encouraged the other drivers to help him, asking that they provide continuous support, stuff that was outside the norm. In doing so I thought I would come out ahead. I thought, "With all the time and effort we've put in, we're bound to have a great guy on our team."

But the person did not step up, he came to expect the help in most every situation, and eventually I had to let him go.

It's hard to say exactly at what point you should stop training and cut your losses. And I wish I could tell you that you need to steer clear of certain personality types—but it's not that easy. Just know that if you want to grow you're going to have to hire employees. This requires change on your part. Your ego must take a back seat and you'll be required to compromise in areas you never thought you would.

(This article originally appeared in the April 8, 2015 edition of Tow Industry Week.)

American Towman Field Editor-Midwest Don G. Archer is also a multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. E-mail him direct at

Preventing Violence Against Towers

gun1 36f23By Randall C. Resch

In a a year-long compilation of tow operator fatalities I conducted, my research confirmed more than 100 tow operators were killed nationwide while in the process of towing, impounding or repossessing cars. These fatalities include violent acts against towers: struck by 2x4s, stabbings, shootings and more resulting in death.

If you didn't know it, the violence against tow operators reports as far back as Oct. 6, 1934, when garage mechanic/towman Kenneth Ray Davis, 26, and CHP Officer William McDaniel, 36, were literally assassinated as they were about to remove a DUI (wrecked) vehicle.

Colorado even has a "preventing violence" law on the books that was written to reduce unnecessary violence towards towers doing their jobs. Under Colorado's law, vehicle owners and other persons cannot cause interruptive actions attempting to stop towmen from towing vehicles once the vehicle has been identified and marked as a vehicle to be towed.

Action Against Violence

In June 2011, towman Allen Rose, 35, was working to tow an illegally parked vehicle at an apartment complex. The vehicle's owner, Detra Ferries, 32, allegedly jumped into her SUV and raced away from the scene. A cable or chain somehow wrapped around tower Rose's legs resulting in Rose being dragged at least one mile. Rose was transported to an area hospital where he died of his injuries.

In the months following Rose's death, Colorado enacted the "Allen Rose Tow Truck Safety Act" (SB 11-260). The law makes it a crime to interfere with a towing operator and the process of lawful towing.

In accordance to Colorado's law, a tower is now required to post an 8"x8" sign on the vehicle stating, "Warning: This vehicle is in tow. Attempting to operate or operating this vehicle may result in criminal prosecution and may lead to injury or death to you or another person." Although this sign-posting does not prevent a vehicle owner from going high-order, it does prequalify that a person may be arrested if they accost a tow operator as they are in-process of towing a vehicle.

Why don't all states have some version of the same law to make it known to motorists?

The towing and repossession industries have been plagued with on-scene violence as the result of active private-property impounds or repossessions. Vehicle owners oftentimes "claim" they didn't know that they were illegally parked or that their vehicle was being repossessed.
The processes of providing impound services to private-property owners and lending institutions is a lawful business: They need protection under law. Colorado's SB 11-260 is a move in the right direction.

At the end of Colorado's legislation there's a safety clause that states, "The general assembly hereby finds ... and declares that this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety." Since the bill was initiated into law in 2011, I haven't seen any additional tow operator deaths that occurred as the result of a towing action.

Though my research doesn't include incidents that have resulted in assault or injury, it might suggest that more states should have similar laws to provide a level of protection for tow operators. Wouldn't you agree?

No matter what tow or repo action you're involved in, keep your wits about you—don't provoke, initiate or escalate any interaction with a vehicle's owner or their entourage. If it means backing down, there's nothing wrong with living for tomorrow.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.
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