Developing the Industry Means Developing Education

Originally published in Tow Canada, July-August 2018

The towing industry is always evolving with new techniques, protocols, and equipment so operators and dispatchers should evolve with it.

by Sarah Bruce
Photos courtesy Clover Towing

For Cari Robertson, general manager of Clover Towing in Surrey, B.C. with over 15 years in the industry, this means helping employees further their careers through training. And for this, she turns to WreckMaster.

“It is important to me, as the general manager, that our staff receive the best training and be recognized for it,” Robertson said. “It is also important to me that not only operators have training, but also that dispatchers and management be educated and trained so that they have a better understanding of what happens on tow and recovery scenes.” So in 2017, she and 11 other staff attended WreckMaster training in Merritt B.C.

Over the course of the week, tow operators were shown how to recover everything from school buses to semi-trucks.

“There are always many critics that say ‘No one needs it, it’s a piece of paper,’” Robertson said. However, to her, WreckMaster is not a training course that tells you everything you are doing wrong, instead, it teaches you the tools to tow and recover vehicles safely and recognize and correct your faults. Despite some critics, after the first hour of day one, every staff member admitted they had learned something new.

“After the course, I realized that there is so much more to learn and that with the help of other companies working together, we can raise the awareness in our industry and educate many more about becoming WreckMaster certified.” So in early June 2018, she brought WreckMaster to Clover Towing.

“Moving into our new facility in November 2017 meant we now had the perfect training grounds to host WreckMaster,” she said. “Clover Towing has 43 operators in our fleet and only 10 who were WreckMaster Certified. I wanted to give our team and others the best training opportunity to improve their daily operations as a tow truck operator.”

“WreckMaster not only educates you, it changes you. Those who have taken the training will know exactly what I mean when I say that. WreckMaster is the largest group of certified operators in the towing and recovery industry and I wanted to be able to share this with as many operators, owners, and companies as I could.”

With help from Bruce Campbell, senior lead instructor, Dan Beaumont, of Bayview Towing, Larry Styba, from Maple Ridge Towing, and Chris Logan, Roadway Towing, Clover Towing filled registration for the weeklong training event in all three levels, with registrants coming from all over Western Canada and the United States.

WreckMaster demonstrates the best way to upright a flipped car.

“It was important to me that we lead by example and by offering WreckMaster training, it not only gives operators the proper tools to use every day but it also allows others to see that we are raising the bar for our industry.”

Robertson is passionate about uniting the towing community and feels WreckMaster brings towers together as a team. “So many people in the industry fight for territory and customer accounts that they forget we are all a team in the grand scheme of things. WreckMaster teaches you to be the best you can be with the tools you have and it gives you a better understanding of what your truck and equipment is capable of without exceeding the limits. Knowledge is powerful and with the education and hands-on experience that WreckMaster provides, operators now have the right tools to do the job.”

For Robertson, the best part of hosting the course was seeing the tow operators build working relationships with each other as they develop their skills. “To see each individual change their mindset, build confidence, and grow was remarkable. Quite honestly, it was rewarding to know that I made this possible by hosting the courses for the week. Many friendships were built and since then, different companies are already working together side by side. You can definitely tell which operators take away the most value from WreckMaster and it is those operators who will raise the bar for our industry.”

With physics and the correct equipment, a tow operator can use manpower to move a cement truck.

The event was such a success that Clover Towing definitely plans to host WreckMaster again. “I hope that more companies and operators can have the chance to partake in WreckMaster training and being that we are in a central area, the possibilities are endless. Our goal is to provide training for all levels of WreckMaster including the 8/9 R class in the future. Many towing companies hope that operator certification will eventually be mandatory in B.C. WreckMaster certification is one step closer to that goal.

“A very wise man once said, ‘They are only doing the best they can with the knowledge and equipment that they have,’” said Robertson, referring to operators who have not had certified training, learning instead from someone who has just learned on the job themselves.

“The challenge in the towing industry is that so many people view towing companies as a junkyard dog operations and that we are just a bunch of greasy people who tow peoples’ cars away. What they don’t understand is the dedication and the risks that operators take every time they lace up their boots and put their uniform on to come out and help people who have broken down or been in an accident.

“People respect police and fire vehicles that are parked along a roadside, however, they see a tow truck and have no care in the world to slow down and move over to give them space to work safely. Even with the new Slow Down and Move Over law, I can’t tell you how many close calls we have on a daily basis,” Robertson said. “I truly hope that B.C. passes the bill to have blue and white lights to keep our operators safe while they are on duty.

Cari Robertson, general manager at Clover Towing in Surrey B.C.

“The other challenge is the lack of people who are interested in towing industry careers because we are not recognized by the general public as an ideal profession,” Robertson said, hoping that WreckMaster certification will change this opinion. “I am proud to say that I am a WreckMaster.”

Cari Robertson would like to extend a huge thank you to Commercial Truck Equipment, BCAA, Bayview, Roadway, Maple Ridge, Aggressive, Specialized and Dakota Towing for their support in making WreckMaster 2018 at Clover Towing a success.