The Week's Features
Seven of the industry’s finest to be inducted to Hall, October 12
Herring Motor Company keeps classic line alive
Recovery management and technology services now one
Delivers Class 6 capability in a Class 5 Super Duty package
Recovery “dance” lifts overturned truck
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJuly 17 - July 23, 2019

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(Pop. 36,828)
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Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.

Getting a Clear Money Picture

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The truth is nobody cares about your station in life as much as you.

Recently I've become excited about what I used to think of as a boring accounting chore: compiling the necessary information needed to fill out a basic financial statement.

Most people look at a financial statement as banking requirement, something you must fill out to get a loan; but it's really all about the health of your business. And, whether it's good news or bad, why wouldn't you want to know?

It's really it's a snapshot of exactly how you're doing. Similar to a checkup from your doctor there's invasive poking and prodding in places you don't really want to go. But filling out a financial statement brings clarity. In as little as 30 minutes you can see exactly how you've done financially over the last 30 days.

All you do to fill out a financial statement is get a piece of paper or use an excel spreadsheet and make two columns. On one side you put the value all of your assets, what you have like trucks, real estate, cash in the bank and accounts receivable. And be reasonable when valuing your trucks; put down what they would actually sell for not what they were worth when you bought them. On the other side put what you owe, like notes payable, mortgages, accounts payable.

Now this is all business stuff so don't include your boat, or any other toys in either column.

After you've compiled everything, you've got to do a little math; and be honest this--if you exclude the turbo that's been replaced in one of your trucks just because you haven't yet received the're only kidding yourself.

After you've got it all listed, subtract what you have from what you owe and hopefully it's a positive number. If not, there's no need to worry: the idea is to know where you are so you can move in the right direction. It's like winching a car out of a ditch--you wouldn't continue pulling in the same direction if you knew you were going to lose it in a culvert. Once you know what's going on you can adjust.

If you have a positive number, that's your businesses net worth. So what do you do with it?

Take a business card and on the back write that number along with the date then put it in your wallet. When the next month rolls around do another financial statement and write the results on you card again. As the months roll by, you'll see that you're either moving forward or backward.

When you have a handy accurate representation of your business, it causes you to think differently. Instead of making decisions based on what others think of you and showing off pictures of your new rotator at the next reunion, you'll make decisions based on what happens to those numbers you've been babying all these months.

Don Archer lives and works in Jefferson City, Mo., where he and his wife, Brenda, own and operate Broadway Wrecker, a 12-truck operation that's been in business since the 1950s. Email him at

Spotters for Rotators, Heavy Wreckers

image7 6a8f2By Randall C. Resch

I taught a California Highway Patrol Operator's safety course recently that included tow operators of all ages and experience levels. At the start of every class, I hold a safety briefing to remind all hands to have their heads on a swivel; especially when tow trucks, carriers and forklifts are on the move during techniques and scenarios.

About mid-way through one class, a young tower wasn't paying attention as a carrier was backing up across the yard. When I saw his actions, I immediately stopped the class. His naïve, but unintentional, movement seemed like the perfect segue to have a discussion regarding the safety and dangers of backing up.

Too Often

Many years ago as a budding tow driver, my dad gave us his version of on-scene, in-the-yard, backing safety. It was simple and to the point, "Don't put your wrecker in any location where you have to back up unnecessarily."

In our line of work, it's not always possible to avoid backing.

At the San Diego Police Department, their own policy says, "If there are two officers in a police vehicle, the passenger officer will exit (the) vehicle and provide a visual, 'second set of eyes' to the backing movement."

If a two-officer police car had an incident while backing, both the vehicle's driver and the second officer would be held accountable. Officers working alone were required to make a full walkaround of their car before travel.

How many of you take a walkaround of your tow trucks and carriers to see if there are any obstacles or other persons before you drive off?

Who's to Help?

Enlisting a spotter is a perfect-world situation if there are others around to become your spotter. Many of the world's tow companies are mom-and-pop operations and spotter availability is not always possible. Still, the truck's operator must be aware of their surroundings at all time.

The same applies when you're on the road. Due to the sheer size, bulk and blind spots, every backing movement can be potentially deadly. A solid set of hand signals is the best way to communicate between the tow truck's driver and the spotter that's behind them.

In this litigious time for accidents and injury, not having written narrative in your company's employee handbook could weigh heavy on the outcome of the lawsuit. When these situations occur, an injured plaintiff or representative of the deceased will assuredly attack your tow operator's driving record, their background and your company's training.

If your company's employee handbook makes no mention of safe-backing protocol, the total price of a lawsuit could be monumentally increased. It may not be not fair, but failing to make any attempt to prevent a backing incident plants the seed of incompetency. It makes perfect sense to include a spotter when big rigs are backing up. Like other dangerous tow-related situations, get people out of harm's way.

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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