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This week on ATRI On The Go Podcast. Wes Wilburn talks with Dennis Richards about his long and varied career in the Towing Industry. Dennis is also an instructor and talks about the European Model of Towing This is a 2 part interview so catch the rest on Episode 10 next week.
In episode 9, Wes talks about the great light and medium duty continuing education class that was hosted by 2 wonderful hosts, Cody & Heather Post of CP Wrecker in Opelkia, AL.
Bob Cradit and Dennis Richards (also our guest today on the podcast) were the associate trainers in Opelika whom always are a fantastic asset to ATRI continuing education program.
Upcoming training events are 2 Day Heavy Duty in Washington, NC. Mike & Janet Woolard of Woolards Auto are hosts of this class March 27-28th.
The next event is the long awaited Florida Tow Show – Free Light & Medium Duty with Intro to Heavy Duty Continuing Education Class April 9, 2021. Registration has been cut off however the morning of the class they are going to allow as many that can be in the room to keep safely & socially distanced.
Ok, on to our guest: Dennis Richards, VP Operations at Incidenclear in Michigan. And for those that are unaware, also an associate training for ATRI. He is an asset to the continuing education program as he has an expertise with automobile towing and is helping move our training program in a positive and progressive direction.
Dennis talks about his background in towing from high school to present. Dennis' wife Stephanie also works in the towing industry with Beacon Funding, a financing & towing equipment purchasing company that focuses mainly on start up towing companies. Dennis and Stephanie have 3 boys that they are very proud of.
Dennis and Wes discuss a very imporant safety issue that Dennis first seen as an issue in 2004. Wes has also made many social posts about this and both Dennis and Wes speak about this in the light duty continuing education classes.
Issuess related to tow eyes. This subject was brought up in Podcast Episode 5, where Wes mentioned the use of BA Product's Tesla Strap and If you use a tow pin, we highly suggest using a catch strap or some use a round sling, You would typically use the catch strap or round sling in case the tow eye fails.
If you are using a tow eye, you should consider coming down to the tow eye with a snatch block, take the cable to the back & far corner of the same side which is the passenger side of the vehicle. Normally, what this does by using the snatch block, it creates a 2 part line, which reduces the tension line. But we arent using it for that reason, we are using it to center the pull.
I suggest being very careful with these because they have failed the operator many time at no fault of his/her own.
Part 2 of a 2 part series, Wes Wilburn talks with Dennis Richards discussing everything from TIMS (Traffic Incident Management) training to the latest industry news.
In episode 10,
Part 2 of a 2 part series, Wes Wilburn talks with Dennis Richards discussing everything from TIMS (Traffic Incident Management) training to the latest industry news. And also different designs brought on by engineering by automobile manufacturers and how towers have used equipment when towing these vehicles.
Dennis is VP of Operations at IncidentClear, the company who runs the freeway courtesy patrol vans on the Metro Detroit Freeways. As well as Anchor Bay School Board in Fair Haven, MI where he resides and all 3 of his sons have graduated from and continue to attend until they complete high school. He is working with the board and the teachers on many projects as they also lost one of their own on a failure to move over slow down.
The most interesting thing Wes seen on the news today. He also described it as most exciting thing he seen on the internet this week… the interest of tow trucks and equipment Wes used in the 1970s… Ernest Holmes 440, 480 & 750. There has been a huge interest in facebook participation in many of the different facebook groups such as Old Iron Tow Truck that Mike B out CT, Bill Ludewig with EHC 850, Chris Iodice has multiple different groups and contributes to others, Bubba Glaze with Past & Present, all these groups are very active as members are talking about projects they are working on. Wes stated he really enjoys looking through the old photos.
While we talked about Dennis and his involvement in his sons’ school system, I also did something with my son, Wesley when he was in elementary school, his grandmother worked as teacher assistant as a rural area with limited amount of resources. So one day we brought a tow truck and a car, put the car on its top, talk to the students and how they should be quiet and not interrupt their parents about 12-14 years ago. The interaction that Wesley’s teacher made conversation with Wes asking him questions about what you needed to be a tow truck driver, etc and made it a lesson for the students. We made a packet once and handed them out to schools and just explained being quiet in the car to help prevent accidents. The year after that Wes worked with Phillips Towing in Fayetteville, NC to make it a community event. We had packets at that point that guided other towing companies to get involved with their communities. This was a very positive experience.
This is a part 1 of 2 episode so make sure to tune in for a fascinating interview with Cathy Brumgard, General Manager of the International Towing Museum located in Chattanooga, TN. Learn something about the towing industry you might not know.
Before Wes spoke to Cathy, he mentioned he just left Washington, NC where he had the largest attendance in a heavy duty class in his training history. Mike & Janet Woolard of Woolards Auto in Washingon, NC were super hosts – we never had a need for anything while there. They accommodated us and a class of 67 from many states represented as far as Washington State. We uprighted a cement mixer, tractor trailer and many other staged incidents during the hands on.
That’s not the only thing that was very positive at the class. My associate and main heavy duty trainer, Pete Ashenden, Jr. whom we had a few weeks back on the podcast had just taken a trip to Chattanooga. He took his sons Peter whom is also a heavy duty tow truck driver for Puryear and his youngest son, Thomas while on business they also visited the International Towing & Recovery Museum. Peter Ashenden Jr explained that it had been a tough year for the towing museum and he saw it firsthand on a while visiting..... so he took the lead on "the $$$ game" (which is a game we will play at a class to raise money for museum and survivor fund) there was a 2000.00 pot to be split and Scott Tomlin (J & J Towing) donated half of his winnings for a total of $1500, Mike Woolard (Woolards Towing) $500, Andrew H Pittman (Pittman Towing) $1000, American Towing & Recovery Institute donated $1000. On the way home, I talked to my good friend Fred Scheler (Henrys Wrecker Service) and he donated so we ended up at the class donating $5000 to the museum.
Now for our special guest this week for the podcast, Cathy Brumgard, general manager of the International Towing Museum, originally from NJ moved to Chattanooga to be near family. She has been employed by the museum for 5 years now in August. She came from a retail background so when she applied for the parttime position at the museum she had no experience in towing. After 2 years, she was promoted to general manager where she has made positive changes to the gift shop as she refers to herself as a “gift shop junkie”. She has added many gift shop items that are not towing related because she tells us that the visitors are 95% tourists and 5% industry.
During Covid, the gift shop was closed for 2 month. Cathy and her assistant made many cosmetic changes while closed to the public to include moving trucks around, display cases and painting walls, etc. They also have utilized the downstairs area that used to used for education purposes, so with expansion there are other trucks, etc on display as well as additional Chattanooga history items, Ernest Holmes and Bill Jackson history.
Wes asked Cathy to tell listeners that may not be tied to the towing industry what the Wall of the Fallen and Survivor Fund is as we have had many emails and requests for more info on what these projects are.
Wall of the Fallen: Is a special memorial wall & monument to honor towing operators killed in the line of service.
Survivor Fund: financial assistance in place for next of kin of towing operators that are killed in the line of service. In the beginning there was a $500 payout, now there is a $7500 payout per individual and if they are a member of the museum there is an additional $2000 for a total of $9500.
For more information on these programs at the International Towing Museum visit their website at www.towingmuseum.com or call Cathy and staff at (423) 267-3132. Their hours are Monday – Saturday 9 am – 5 pm EST & Sunday 11 am – 5 pm EST.
To join the museum you can download an application at https://internationaltowingmuseum.org/membership-application/
The museum will have events going on downtown Chattanooga during the the Tennessee Tow Show October 7-9, 2021. The Wall of the Fallen ceremony is open to the public and will be held on Oct 9th. Other events include auctions and dinner for the Hall of Fame Inductees. For more info check their website or call the museum.
Cathy will be at the Florida Tow Show at booth #303 and will be demonstrating for the 1st time a virtual tour of the museum and will also have tshirt, toys, and other items for sale.
This is a part 2 of 2 episode so make sure to tune in for episode 11 before you catch this episode. As the interview continues with Cathy Brumgard, General Manager of the International Towing Museum located in Chattanooga, TN.
Cathy discussed how the museum is a place for our next generation, so they love to see families come in and play. There are so many opportunities for kids to play and interact in the museum. One of the highlights of adults and kids is “TATER TOT”, the museum mascot (photo to the left). It is a really big photo opportunity as well as interactive place for kids.
Wes asked Cathy about how the museum was effected with Covid. She stated that Covid effected the museum financially as did everyone however they were very thankful that membership were still renewed so that was a bonus. Numbers were down during the break of 2.5 months but have really picked up this year.
The museum is a very unique location. If you are not a member, we encourage you to become a member and if you are already a member, please consider upgrading your membership. Membership levels are:
Individual Membership Packages
Friend of the Museum $50 (per person)
Regular Member $150
Corporate Membership Packages
New Member Welcome Package includes the following:
Knights in Shining Tow Trucks—Book
Museum Tape Measure
Member Level Decal
2 Museum Bracelets—Yellow
2 Wall of the Fallen Bracelets—Blue
Museum Member Commemorative Coin
Museum Lapel Pin
2006 Wall of the Fallen Dedication—DVD
Survivor Fund Brochure
Look on their website under membership for what each level includes.
The gift shop is a very big part of the museum. Both financially and to bring in visitors. Wes asked Cathy what the most popular and new item in the gift shop. She had a hard time pin pointing just one most popular item. She did mention that t shirts are always a big seller as well as tow truck ranging from toddler to adult collectibles. Apparently there is a line of hot sauces made in Chattanooga that is a big hit for visitors as she stated “Everyone takes a bottle home”. Some of the items are available for purchase on the website, but to see everything you must visit in person. If you want to shop online go to https://internationaltowingmuseum.org/gift-shop/.
The future of the Museum: Cathy believes that the future is big and special. It is moving in the right direction and with updates there has been great feedback.
This week's most interesting thing that Wes seen on the internet is actually different than normal. This week Wes was overwhelmed with how many people reached out to him on facebook and texts to wish him a happy birthday. He expressed how he thanks God everyday with the amazing friendships he has made in this industry. And if he couldnt get to you to thank you personally he wants you to know he appreciates you very much.
But before we kick that off, DJ is back as co-host in the studio as he is doing fine after his back surgery.
Last week, Wes talked about the great heavy duty class that Mike & Janet Woolard hosted class of 67 attendees & how Pete Ashenden, Jr his lead heavy duty associate trainer lead ATRI to raise $5,000 to split between the Towing Museum & their survivor fund from Scott Tomlin (J & J Towing) donated $1500, Mike Woolard (Woolards Towing) $500, Andrew H Pittman (Pittman Towing) $1000, American Towing & Recovery Institute donated $1000.
Since then, we have spoken to many other friends in the industry and in particularly Texas Towing & Storage Assoc to bring in several donators for a total of $3525 from donators Todd Johnston (Apple Towing), Danny Potts (Chubs Towing & Recovery), Andy Chesney (B & B Wrecker), Mike Poole (Neal Poole Reckers), Don Ward (Wards Towing), Albert Delgado (Delgados Wrecker Service) & Ford Wagner (Texas Auto Carriers). Matthew Porter of 14 Hour Towing & recovery from Washington State made a personal donation and also from his state association Towing & Recovery Association of WA donated $1000, Andy Malpocker (Purpose Wrecker) $1000 and Puryear Towing donated $3000. With all that hard work and support from our friends we want to thank Pete once again for allowing us at ATRI to present a check for $14,000 to the Museum at the Florida Tow Show after the year they have had like many others, it is a blessing to give to them.
Amy Gresham, GT Towing of Smithfield MO. 1st time I met Amy was at the TN Tow Show during the Wall of Fallen ceremony when her and her husband were there because their son Blake, 18 had been struck and killed along the roadside. They had a booth across from ours, and before I knew what was going on, my entire crew purchased their memory of Blake tshirts.
A crew of mine at the show that year was my son, Wesley’s grandmother, Sandra Holcomb. She has now passed however she wore the memory of Blake shirt when she got back home to her hometime of Raeford, NC just 30 miles from Fort Bragg, NC. Many people asked her whom Blake was and she told them about how he was hit along the side of the road and that every 6 days a tow truck driver is killed. This is what we need everyone to do not just towers but people in our community. If we simply spread the word of move over slow down to motorists it will spread and people will become more conscious. If we need to show videos of innocent worker helping motorists that are stranded or casualties it would help lower the number of 6 every 6 days.
Okay, on to Amy and how she is promoting the Move Over Slow Down Law. Amy is co-owner with her husband of GT Tow. Her husband had been hit and at the time quit her job to help with the business. She mentions how motorists do not move over and slow down when they are approaching a service worker on the side of the road in an emergency vehicle.
Her and her family try to go out into the community into Kansas City, they do volleyball tournaments and other actitivies, motorcycle ride all to help raise awareness by doing tshirt, bracelets, etc. These sales have helped them put up billboards for Move Over Slow Down signs. She is shocked in how many people call them and state to them they never knew there was a law for that. They want to know why do they need to move over, Amy and her family tells them the story and in turn they are blown away by it. It has become her job to push the move over slow down to make people aware so more people can come home after they do their job.
Amy wants to reach out to the tow show committees and supply the lanyards for the badges that advertise move over slow down. She wants to bring as much awareness as possible to those out of the towing industry. Wes will be contacting the tow show committess on her behalf to get the ball rolling for her idea.
In order to get in touch with Amy, she wants to offer help to get the awareness out. You can contact her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/amy.gresham.3 and also call her at her office (816) 532-8096.
We like to make this segment a positive topic but sometimes it comes to our attention that we also need to bring awareness to the negative topics and just let people know that as an industry we need to clap for our fellow towers instead of making what they have worked hard for a time to trash talk. We have an industry that has different brands like anything else in this world that we use daily. If you don't like a certain brand, by all means you do not have to spend your hard earned money on it but when it becomes someone else's dream, they work hard for it and are able to make it theirs, can we seek out a clap or congratulations? Can I just say as the editor of this page - how boring would it be if we all used the same equipment to recover vehicles, ate the same lunch as everyone else, lived in the same home as everyone else? Let us be happy for one another instead of trying to make others feel like they always have to watch their back about what is being said or posted about them. ~Kim H.
DJ, our awesome co-host was able to bring out the most interesting thing he experienced this week!
DJ received a text from one of the industry's leading companies, Rapid Recovery, Scott Perlow of Hampton Bays, NY. Scott is a great friend of Wes' and also a founding member of the institute and a great customer. Okay on to the text DJ received. He stated he wanted to order one of DJs books. DJ looked on his website and was just amazed at how terrific the layout was but also noticed that he had a link at the bottom of the homepage that he was a founding member of the American Towing & Recovery Institute which had a hyperlink that went straight to our website. So he thanked him for bringing that awareness to his website and also told him he was sending him a 2nd book for free.
Become a member and enjoy tons of benefits for $225/year. Here is a link for more info on becoming a member. You can download application and email or fax in or call the office (910) 747-9000. https://americantowingandrecoveryinstitute.org/atri-membership
DJ started our episode 14 out by asking listeners to share the podcasts. Our podcasts couldn’t be made each week without the famous creative director, Chuck Camp of Grey Door Productions. He does an amazing job each week. If you want to start your own podcasts, we highly recommend contacting Chuck. He can be reached at (608) 698-6052 and email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have a new program started that I am (Kim Holcomb) starting with our American Towing & Recovery Institute members. We are still in the planning stages of it but we are planning on sending members quarterly a gift of some sort that will enhance their business or just a token of our appreciation. These products/services will be exclusive to members, so if you are not a member you can join today. If you have not renewed your membership, wait for your renewal invoice. Being a ATRI member will be the best it has been as this is only one new benefit.
The 1st incentive that will be given is actually a video series that DJ Harrington, the Tow Doctor has created so with this it has real value for you and your business. It will have info on dispatch, team morale, and much, much more. This will either be on a memory stick or an exclusive download just for the members, we have not worked out the final details but look forward to hearing from us soon.
To become a member, follow this link so that you can join today and be part of the great things happening at ATRI
In addition, Wes stated that the supply industry for chain and towing equipment has been on short supply. We have increased our supply by broadening our suppliers/dealers so that we can have product on hand for our customers to minimize back orders.
We have a special stock for our members that always save more than our non member. But our non member pricing is very competitive with the towing industry so give us a call when you are looking to buy new products to equip your trucks, shop, etc.
Regular $1952.34 (Plus Shipping)
Sale $1360.00 ($165.75 Shipping*)
To Order Call 910 747 9000
This week on the podcast, we have a very special guest from Poughkeepsie, NY, 3rd generation owner of Gorman Garage and also the current president of ESTRA (Empire State Towing & Recovery Association).
Bob tells us that ESTRA is going to post the link to the podcasts on their website and their quarterly publication to their members, THE HOOK in which has been in production for 40 years.
Bob talks about the importance of state associations and behind the scene legislative movements and the hard, long hours it takes to face the various issues statewide for towers. So please support your state association. You would be surprised how much they actually do for you.
This year the ESTRA Tow Show will be holding their 38th year. Last year obviously as like every other tow show was cancelled so this year will be a big year for them and all attendees. ESTRA has a dedicated website for their tow show and if you are attending please make sure you pre-register, it is free and required. You will receive a name badge and lanyard when you arrive.
Lake George Tow Show is October 4-6, 2021
Charles R Wood Park
17 W Brook Rd
Lake George, NY
Tow Show Website: www.estratowshow.com
ESTRA Website: www.estrany.org
ESTRA Phone Number: 888-853-7872
If you want to obtain a vendor packet, you can go through the link on the website or call ESTRA (number above) or contact Bob on his shop number 845-452-4925
It was fantastic talking to Bob today and just before the podcast interview Wes found out that Bob does a very good thing for his community and that is a program called Angels of Light. They have a mission to provide assistance for children and families living in the Hudson Valley with life threatening illnesses. Our referrals are obtained from, but not limited to, schools, social workers, foundations related to illnesses for children and caregivers, medical facilities and medical professionals.
We will assist in providing for the basic needs of a family including financial assistance such as, food, travel, utilities, and housing expenses. In addition, we provide gifts for children, caregivers, and their families during the holiday season.
If you would like to help or donate for this program, there are many ways.
Our fabulous Mrs. April Wilburn as some know is a coupon queen… we are going to box up necessities to assist in this program and encourage anyone else to that sees fit. Here is a link to their website for additional details.