Industry News & New Products

  • Zip's Customer Spotlight: Tow King, Waco, TX

    by Cameron Hanson | Jun 06, 2024


    Gary Hoffman didn't need to see a guidance counselor in high school. He knew what he wanted to do as soon as he graduated: to join the family towing business. Problem is his parents had other ideas. They wanted a future for their son that lacked the physical demands of the labor-intensive towing profession.

    “At first, I didn’t want Gary to be in this line of work,” admitted father James Lindgren, now 69, who spent most of his life in the towing industry. “It’s a tough business, as you know.”

    “James has worked so hard over the years and has the calloused hands to show for it,” his wife, Linda, added. “He kept telling Gary, ‘Look at these hands. You’re going to college. You’re going to do something with your life.’ But Gary fell in love with towing and was very active in the business from a very young age.”

    As the latest Zip’s Customer Spotlight profile, the Lindgrens started Tow King in September of 1992 in Waco, TX. When the time came, they eventually reached a compromise with their son. Gary would attend local Baylor University and pursue a degree in business management. At nights and on the weekends, he would answer phones, dispatch drivers and operate tow trucks when needed.


    “I knew this is what I wanted to do; however, my dad still put me through college,” Gary said. “I really didn’t want to go to school. I figured I’m just going to do this anyway, so he might as well give me the money instead of paying for college. But attending Baylor taught me alot about the ins and outs of looking at numbers, and I’ve developed a lot of good relationships with the school over the years.”


    Growing up in the business

    The towing seed was planted early on for Gary. He started riding with his dad in a tow truck before he was old enough to drive. His summer job was to take care of the paperwork while his dad completed the hookup. This teamwork kept the father-son pair efficient. Gary’s penmanship didn’t hurt either.

    “I’d tell him to write up the invoices because he could write better than me,” James joked while looking back at those early years. “I’d jump out and take care of the car or wreck, while he’d be writing up the invoice. I’d finish, and we’d be ready to go on the next call. We’d sometimes do 20 calls a day, just him and me.”

    When not on a call, Gary kept busy by sweeping the shop floors, cleaning the trucks and helping with the billing and monthly statements. “Whatever it took,” he recalled. After college, he became a partner in the family business and fulfilled his ambition of owning a business. He eventually took over most of the daily operations from his parents, and they continue to serve as his inspiration.


    Motivated by family

    A presence in central Texas for the past 32 years, Tow King primarily serves the Waco community, including McLennan County plus several neighboring rural areas. As needed, they’ll also cover most of the state and make regular runs to Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The company partners with multiple law enforcement agencies, has secured several commercial accounts and also performs a variety of services for Baylor University.

    “We have a lot of good commercial contracts and are currently six years into a 10-year contract with local police,” Gary noted. “That’s been huge for us. We’ve also eliminated slow-paying accounts and focused on better paying work, making the company more profitable. We’ve really expanded into more heavy-duty work, and a lot of diversification has helped us grow over the years.”

    Originally starting out with four trucks, Tow King currently operates a fleet of 23 trucks and employs a staff of 35 drivers, mechanics and dispatchers. At the beginning, James and Linda admitted there were some “lean years,” but they are proud of the company’s success and growth to this point.

    “We have grown far more than we ever anticipated we would,” Linda said.

    “My parents started this business, and it’s just kept growing and growing,” Gary acknowledged. “This continues with my own personal drive to be the best at what we do. I want our company to be the best and the one that people look to and say they had a good experience working with those guys.”


    Besides his parents, Gary said he is also motivated by his own family. Wife, Aimee, is the Account Receivable Manager and handles all of the billing for the company, as well as being a "very attentive wife," he said. Oldest son, Tyler, is an operator for the company, and the two youngest children--Olivia, 11, and Lane, 9--are a constant presence at the Waco facility.

    “I married into all of this,” Aimee joked. “I started out in medical sales and never thought I’d end up in the wrecker business. I just started helping Gary one day, answering the phone at home. A year later, I told him he had to put me on payroll because it turned into a lot more work. I had my own job at the time to do as well. I kind of fell into it.”

    “I got lucky she married me,” Gary confessed.


    Long-time Zip’s customer

    Tow King has been a customer of Zip’s for the past 13 years, and over that time, they have purchased 25 trucks from us. Their favorite is a 2022 Kenworth Vulcan V103 50-ton heavy. They call it their “prettiest truck,” and they should, as it won what Gary calls the “beauty contest” at a recent Texas tow show. Working closely with sales rep Trent Russler, they remain loyal to Zip’s and appreciate the personal attention they receive from the staff here.

    “We work with Zip’s because of the customer service, professionalism and the relationships we’ve built over the years,” Gary explained. “They continually check in with me to see what’s needed. I’ve never had the follow-up like that from other companies. I know loyalty is not as common as it used to be, but when someone treats me right, I believe in staying with them.”

    Besides heavies, the current fleet at Tow King includes a mix of medium- and light-duty wreckers plus car carriers. Gary said he tends to order and build trucks with the same setup and equipment, so their drivers are familiar with each truck. Keeping equipment up-to-date and clean helps with driver retention and promotes a professional image as well, he said.

    “Nobody wants to climb up in a dirty truck that smells like smoke with trash everywhere,” Gary said. “We want drivers to keep their trucks clean and to keep their appearance clean. There is a lot of stereotyping in the towing industry, so we do try to be more presentable.”

    Treating employees like family

    Besides outfitting their crew with late model equipment, the owners at Tow King believe in treating their employees with respect and want to take care of them “the best we possibly can.” They realize their drivers and operations team are the face of the company,


    "Our dispatchers and customer service representatives are a vital key to our success," Aimee acknowledged.

    "We do pay our employees very well because ultimately without them, we wouldn’t have the business we have,” Linda added. “You gotta have the customers. You gotta have the employees. I hate to say it, but I feel like now it is more challenging than it was for us at the beginning.”

    Gary and James agreed.

    “Some of the younger generations these days don’t seem to have the same work ethic that some of the older generations have,” Gary said. “One of the biggest challenges we have is getting people to buy into what we’re trying to do and to perform the way we want them to perform.”

    “You’ll always have your problems with staff,” James said. “People don’t show up for work now like they used to. Before, you’d hire them and they’d be at work the next day. Nowadays, they might not even show up or they can’t pass their drug test or their criminal history. It creates a lot of challenges.”

    Customer service is paramount

    To keep everyone employed, officials at Tow King believe in the Golden Rule when it comes to customer service as well. They want to treat everyone how they would want to be treated. They also give back to the community through volunteer service at the local hospital and other charitable events.

    “We believe customer service is king. Dad taught me that a long time ago,” Gary said. “We are in this for the repeat customers, while others in this industry seem to be in for the one time hit. Act like every call you’re going on is for your mother, grandmother or anyone else you love and how you would want to be presented to them.”

    “Ultimately, all we can provide is great customer service,” Linda said. “James has always liked helping people. We’ve met a lot of nice people who were just desperate to get a boost or a tire change. He’s a compassionate person, and he likes to help people and make sure the customer is satisfied. He felt like he got that more through towing than anything he’s probably ever done.”

    “When a customer calls or comes in, you know they’re in a bad situation,” Gary said. “You need to help them out. It’s getting out and doing the jobs that others don’t want to do. When you get a call for a tire change at 3 a.m., we’re going to get up and go. Doing everything we can has really helped us grow the business.”


  • How to Maintain Your Winch

    by Tyler Nestvedt | Jun 06, 2024


    Proper care can save your equipment and save you money. With the right maintenance, you can ensure your gear lasts longer, reducing your need to purchase new equipment. We’re here to help teach you how to do exactly that. In today’s blog, we’re looking at how to take care of your winches. We’ll start with a step-by-step guide on what to look at and what you should do before moving on to how often you should go about performing this routine maintenance.

    What you need to check:

    The first step in maintaining your winch is simple: know how to use it. By reading your owner’s manual, you can learn the ins and outs of your specific winch. This understanding lets you use it the way it was intended to be used. Winches differ from brand to brand and model to model, so knowing what it’s capable of, the proper procedure to use it and the care your specific winch needs will extend its lifespan.

    Next, you need to check the fasteners to make sure they are tight and have the proper torque. By ensuring they are tight and ready to use, you can significantly lower the chances of a failure while it’s in use. While you’re at it, be sure to check your mounting bolts to ensure they stay secure. Making sure the winch base is secured is just as important. Of course, if there are any damaged fasteners or mounting bolts, replace them before using the winch.

    Third, check the wiring. Be sure to verify that all wiring is correct and that the connections are tight. Check for exposed or bare wires or terminals while also checking for cable insulation damage. If you find any, make sure to cover exposures with terminal boots and repair or replace all damaged electrical cables. This helps prevent electrical issues from faulty wiring. If the winch is hydraulic, check the hoses and connections for cracks and leaks. Ensure that both your hydraulic and electrical connections are secure.

    Fourth, be sure to check the winch line for damage. We go into more detail in this blog, but to summarize: be sure that your winch ropes are not creased, worn down or damaged in any way. Replace them if they are. Additionally, you'll want to lubricate your wire ropes with winch lubricant to help prevent wear and corrosion. Be sure to store them in the proper conditions and use a tensioner guide to avoid line damage from birdnesting. See photos at right.

    Finally, you want to ensure that the gears fully re-engage when taking the winch out of free spool. It is best once the free spool locks in to run it out and then back in to ensure proper engagement. If they don’t fully re-engage, there is a risk that they could let go, causing whatever load you have on the wire rope to be released. This leads to more damage and danger that can easily be avoided.

    How often:

    Ideally, you should be inspecting your winch before and after each use. However, if you are not using your winch every day, it is a good idea to go through the list above every 90 days. This helps keep the winch in top condition, even when you don’t need it.



    In conclusion:

    Performing basic maintenance is an easy way to keep your equipment in top shape. This helps it stay working for as long as possible while also preventing unnecessary damage and costs. Hopefully, this guide helps keep your winch in great condition.

  • Meet an Expert: Mike Bucknell

    by Cameron Hanson | May 14, 2024

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    Mike Bucknell knows a thing or two about wreckers. A 30-year Zip’s employee, he started working on them in 1994, and since 2001, he has served as a technical assistant in the parts department here, fielding calls from customers, diagnosing problems and recommending the right fix and part.

    A mechanic by trade, Mike is this month’s Meet an Expert profile at Zip’s. During his time here, he’s seen a lot of changes in the towing industry. Offering a wealth of knowledge, he said he likes to solve problems and finds great satisfaction in helping others, whether it’s customers outside of work or fellow employees in the shop.

    “I enjoy being a problem solver,” Mike said. “I like helping customers and fellow employees with what might seem to be a difficult task or complicated problem. I like trying to figure out parts or problems with limited information provided by the customers”

    Mike describes his role at Zip’s as “fast paced.” His phone never stops ringing, and to be good at his job, he said he needs to be able to multi-task, juggling issues and finding solutions that may not always be obvious or readily available in a handbook or owner’s manual.

    “I get calls one right after another,” he said, describing a typical day from his office on Zip’s main campus in New Hampton, IA. “You must be able to work on multiple projects at once. You need to figure out multiple options for the same thing that aren’t always listed on the parts breakdown.”

    Besides the changes and improvements in towing equipment and accessories, Mike said he is amazed by the growth of Zip’s during his three decades with the company. When he started, he was one of 30. Now the number has grown to more than 200.

    “We offer so many different product lines now,” he noted. “Everything used to be in one building. Now there are several buildings in multiple cities for warehousing, production and assembly. We’re so much busier now, but even on the most hectic days, there’s still time to laugh.”

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  • Which Shackle Is Right For You?

    by Tyler Nestvedt | May 09, 2024


    There are so many shackles out there that it can be hard to figure out the right one for you. Luckily, we know a lot about what goes into picking the right shackle for the job. In today’s blog, we’ll be discussing the different types of shackles, their advantages and what you should consider when looking into them.


    Types of Pins

    Before we can fully discuss types of shackles, you should know there are different types of bolts and pins that can be used with different shackles. They offer different strengths, and some slings can only use specific types.


    Screw Pin

    Inserted through the ears, screw pins are tightened down by screwing them into place. They are quick and easy to both connect and disconnect. However, they are not recommended for permanent applications as they can become loose if something like a sling used in a choker hitch is used as it can cause the screw pin to rotate or twist.

    Shop all Screw Pin Shackles


    Round Pin

    Much like the screw pin, a round pin is inserted through the ears. However, it does not have any threads. Instead, it’s held in place by a cotter pin. While the operator doesn't need to worry about becoming loose for the reasons a screw pin would, it should not be used for overhead lifting, side loading, or loading multiple slings. Rather, it is very common in tie-downs, suspension and towing.

    Shop all Round Pin Shackles


    Bolt Type Pin

    For long-term applications, the bolt-type pin can be used when either a screw pin or round pin could be used. This secure pin works by combining a bolt, nut and a cotter pin. Because of this, they do not risk rotating like a screw pin while still being able to perform overhead lifting, side loading and loading multiple slings.

    Shop all Bolt Type Pin Shackles


    Types of Shackles

    When you go about getting the right shackle, the first step is making sure you know the best type of shackle for the job. Shackles are categorized by their shapes, and that helps determine what kinds of jobs they perform well in as well as how you use them.


    Anchor Shackle

    An anchor shackle is identified thanks to its larger “O” shape which makes it good for sideloading or using multiple sling leg connections. If you do this, it should be noted that this does reduce the working load limit. It can be placed through a chain or an anchor point on equipment in order to attach it for lifting. Anchor shackles have the ability to also join two pieces of chain or rigging. A variant of the anchor shackle is the bow shackle. It typically has an even larger bow area than most anchor shackles; however, they are used interchangeably.

    Shop all Anchor Shackles


    D-Ring Shackle

    Also known as chain shackles, D-ring shackles get their name from the D-shaped bow that it has. These shackles are only rated for inline lifting. It cannot be sideloaded or loaded with multiple slings. However, it is great at ensuring that the lift is vertical.

    Shop all D-Ring Shackles


    Web Shackle

    Web shackles are used to attach to the end of a web sling. It has a wider base that prevents the sling’s eye holes from bunching. On top of that, it distributes the weight more than the anchor shackle does. Finally, it eliminates the need for a thimble eye.

    Shop all Web Shackles


    Soft Shackle

    Made of synthetic materials, soft shackles are great for a variety of applications. Thanks to their pliable structure, they can easily be set up and are very tight. They do not require additional tools to use. And, because of how they are made, they float.

    Shop all Soft/Synthetic Shackles


    Sling Shackle

    A sling shackle has a flat area where the bow of an anchor shackle would be rounded. This spreads out the load on the eye of the sling, allowing it to use its full working load limit. On top of that, it prevents slings from bunching or pinching, expanding their lifespans.

    Shop all Sling Shackles



    Of course, you also need to know what they’re made of as that adds another layer of advantages. Different environments and different jobs have different elements that you need to consider when choosing your shackle.


    Made of synthetic plasma rope, synthetic shackles are strong yet also lightweight. Because of their make up, they don’t corrode, rust or damage paint. This lends them very well to more fragile lifts or lifts in environments where mud and snow can be a problem.

    Carbon Steel

    With a design factor of 6:1, carbon steel is a reliable and common material for shackles to be made of. They also tend to be more ductile than alloy steel shackles.

    Alloy Steel

    Stronger than carbon steel, alloy steel has a design factor of 5:1. They’re also capable of handling the same working load limits that a carbon steel shackle can while also being smaller.

    Stainless Steel

    Stainless steel has the greatest resistance to corrosion. This makes it great for wet environments and marine applications. If you need a shackle that can resist corrosion and rust, but you don't need as much protection as stainless steel provides, you can pick up one made from galvanized steel. Coated in zinc oxide, galvanized steel works great in snow, mud, rain and other corrosion-causing conditions.

    Other considerations

    There is more than just the type of shackle or what it’s made of that you need to think about. Safety considerations need to be taken seriously. For example, every shackle body should have the name or trademark of its manufacturer, rated load and size. This ensures you know exactly what it is capable of. You should know the same information when it comes to pins. Regardless of what you’re doing, be sure to never exceed the working load limit.


    Shackles are an important part of a variety of tasks. Knowing which shackle will work for you is an important step. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of them. With that understanding, we have plenty of shackles for you to purchase at Zips.com. Or, you could take some time to read our other blogs on rigging.

    Shop all shackles

  • Zip's Spotlight: Grand Valley Towing

    by Cameron Hanson | Apr 26, 2024




    Steve Vroma never planned on growing his tow company to the level it’s at now. He was content responding to roadside assistance calls and doing what he could with a small fleet in southwest Michigan. Problem is the phone never stopped ringing, and then his oldest son, Seth, got involved in the family business.

    “I didn’t want to have a big operation,” Steve admitted. “I just wanted it to be a small father-son shop, but Seth continually went out and got more work. That’s not really what I wanted. I wanted less work. We were staying busy and doing just fine the way it was. But Seth said no. He knew so many more people and kept getting more work. He’s why we are where we are today.”

    Selected for our latest Zip’s Spotlight, the Vromas opened Grand Valley Towing near Grand Rapids, MI, 12 years ago. They started out focusing on roadside assistance, taking care of tire changes, jump starts and lockouts in a green Honda Civic. They eventually upgraded to a Chevy S-10 and later expanded into towing. The need for more help was obvious.

    “In the beginning, it was just me, and there were so many calls coming in,” Steve said. “We were always hours and hours behind, and in the winter, there were times we were days behind because little ol’ me couldn’t keep up. It was too much work for one person and the main reason we moved forward with hiring more drivers.”


    Credit goes around

    From those humble beginnings, the Vromas now employ 16 drivers and dispatchers and operate a fleet of 18 trucks in Kent and Ottawa counties. They still offer roadside help, but towing has grown to include light-, medium- and heavy-duty work. Starting out in Allendale, MI, the company is currently based in Grandville with additional satellite locations throughout the area.


    Despite their growth, both father and son stay involved in the day-to-day operations of the business and help out when and where they are needed. Those duties can include dispatching, responding to calls and performing maintenance. Leading by example, they are not above cleaning the shop and detailing the trucks either, especially when it comes time to enter their equipment in local parades.

    Working side by side, the Vromas can see and appreciate the contributions of their dedicated employees on a daily basis. “We have a great staff here,” Steve acknowledged. “Our employees are amazing. We couldn’t do our business without them. It’s hard to find people who actually want to work, who want to physically put the labor in.”

    A long-time wrecker driver, Steve brings more than 32 years of tow industry experience to the business, and you could say Seth, now 31, has just as much, having “grown up in a tow truck.” When he was younger, his father, who was a single dad at the time, regularly took him on calls, placing him in a car seat on the passenger side. Little did they know, their father-son bonding time was laying the groundwork for a future partnership.

    “Seth growing up in the business has been great for us,” Steve said. “He’s one of the best operators I’ve ever met. With him riding in the truck as a kid, he’s pretty much seen everything. There are always obstacles when you have a father-son business relationship, but bringing him on was the right decision from day one. It was at the right time.”

    Like most kids do, Seth wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, and after a few dead-end jobs after graduation, he was ready to join the family business.

    “I had finished high school and tried a few different jobs, but it just wasn’t working out,” Seth recalled. “I found I really didn’t like working for other people. Then one day, my dad came and asked me if I wanted him to buy me a tow truck, and I said, ‘Of course. Let’s do it.’ All I ever wanted to do was operate a tow truck.”


    Persistence pays off

    While admitting they sometimes disagree over the direction and decisions for the business, the pair acknowledged that at the end of the day they are each other’s biggest cheerleader. The elder Vroma credits his son for the expansion and growth of the business, while the junior Vroma appreciates the lessons and experience he’s gleaned from his father.

    “I’m very proud of Seth,” Steve said. “As a young man starting out in this business, he had a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. Kind of a know-it-all in the beginning, but now he really does know it all. He knows a lot. He’s still learning every day, but I could not have done this without him.”

    “Growing up in the business was fun,” Seth said. “I’ve been riding with my dad since I was two years old. I’ve seen and done a lot with him. He’s taught me literally everything I know. My favorite part of this business is the freedom my dad has given me, and that allowed us to grow from nothing to something.”


    The Vromas admit at the beginning, business was “a little slow at first with random calls,” but persistence paid off, as they drummed up new customers by word-of-mouth advertising and sending emails to prospective clients. Thanks to Seth’s efforts, they eventually landed on the police rotation for both Kent and Ottawa counties among other contracts.

    “Seth knows a lot of people and was able to bring on new accounts,” Steve said. “A lot of people switched over to using us for towing because of him.”

    “Good things come to those who wait,” Seth said. “We learned to be patient. Nothing happens overnight.”


    Customer service is paramount

    Grand Valley has been a long-time customer of Zip’s, and the Vromas work closely with sales rep Aaron Lippert out of Zip’s Detroit location. Needless to say, the company has come a long way from the days of operating out of the trunk of a used car. The Vromas quickly identify and recognize the advancements in the manufacturing and technology of wreckers which have made their lives easier.

    “The equipment is so much nicer and modern now. Very high tech equipment. We’re not rolling around in junk any more,” Steve said, adding how improved towing rates have helped with equipment updates. “A lot of people don’t understand what it costs to run a towing company. You have to charge good rates to pay for your overhead.”

    To keep the phones ringing and the bills paid, the Vromas believe in providing excellent customer service. Keeping people happy and making sure the roads are cleared in a timely manner are what they feel separates them from the competition.

    “Our main purpose in business is to make sure our customers are 100 percent satisfied,” Steve said. “We want to get to them quickly and provide good friendly service. Our business revolves 100 percent around that. Worry about the money and the revenue last. Focus on taking care of your customer first and the money will come with that.”

    Maintaining their customer base is the key to the future. Whether the company continues to grow or simply maintains what they currently have remains to be seen. For now, Steve’s motivation is building a future for his son. When asked where the company will be in 10 years, Steve offered a measured response.

    “Hopefully, we’re not much larger. I don’t want to buy more trucks. I don’t want to buy more equipment,” he admitted. “I want to maintain what we have and replace as needed. My long-term goal is to focus on the heavy end of the business and the equipment transport while still doing the towing side of things.”


    “I continue to push forward with this business, number one, for Seth. This is his company,” Steve continued. “Sure, working with him every day has its challenges. We still make each other mad, but at the end of the day, we come together and make good decisions and do what’s right for our company. I couldn’t do this without his help.”

  • Chain Binders

    by Tyler Nestvedt | Apr 17, 2024


    Chain Binders

    Chains are great for cargo securement, but you need to be sure it stays tight while on the move. The best way to do that is simple: Use a binder. Tighten the transport chain to the point that there’s no way it could budge, even if you tried to move it. What’s less simple is choosing the right binder for you. That’s what we’re here for. We’re more than happy to discuss the differences between lever binders, ratchet binders and torque binders.


    Lever Binders

    Lever binders use leverage to tighten the chain, and they all have two tension hooks. Typically, it requires more strength to use as you lock it into place by pulling down on the bar to hold it in place. Because it’s just one motion, lever binders tend to be a lot faster than either ratchet or torque binders. It’s also easier because once you’ve pulled it tight, you can get on your way. Lastly, they’re easy to store as they fold flat. This isn’t the case with torque binders or ratchet binders as they have a handle that sticks out at a 90-degree angle.



    Ratchet Binders

    Ratchet binders use a ratchet system to tighten the chain. This makes it significantly safer to use than lever binders as there isn’t a risk of the lever kicking back and hitting the user. As a result, you can get them as tight as you need, without fear. And as tight as you need should be stressed as the ratcheting mechanism allows you to do just that. You can fine-tune how tight the chains are, even without a cheater bar. Finally, ratchet binders have a 50:1 mechanical advantage compared to lever binders, which only have a 25:1 mechanical advantage.



    Torque Binders

    Torque binders use a cordless drill to apply tension to a chain. Not only are they capable of handling chains between 5/16” and 5/8” and a working load limit of up to 13,000 pounds, they are also extremely quick compared to the ratchet binder because you don’t have to manually use the bar. It also comes with the safety of ratchet binders because there are no risks of the bar kicking back. Plus, you have full control over how tight you get the chain. It’s the best of both worlds.


    Hopefully, this dive into the types of binders has helped you understand them a bit more. Our goal is to help you make informed decisions about what kind of products you put your money towards. One last note, before getting yourself a chain binder, make sure it has a high enough working load limit for what you’re securing. With that in mind, feel free to learn more about rigging from our other blog posts, or take a look at our Chain Binder department to shop for the binder of your towing, automotive and over the road uses.

  • How to Fix or Change a Tire

    by Tyler Nestvedt | Apr 12, 2024



    When on the road, anything is possible. One of the most common issues is when you’re driving down the road, and you find out you consistently have low tire pressure. It might be even worse. You might have a flat tire. If your phone is dead, or it would just be too long of a wait for help, you may have to fix the problem yourself.


    How to fix a flat tire:

    Luckily, you don’t need to be an expert in tire repair. You’ll just need a few things before you can start.

    • Vehicle jack
    • Bottle of soapy water
    • Tire plugging kit
    • Air compressor
    • Hand drill

    Now, here's how you fix a tire:



    1. Get the tire off the ground. Some people say you’ll need to take the tire off, but as long as you have access to the entirety of your tire, you really don’t. However, it might be helpful in the long run. Make sure you get the car off the ground though, so you can freely rotate the tire. It is important to remember that the plugs should only be used in the tread section of the tire. Due to the thinness of the sidewall, it is not recommended to place a plug there and the tire should be replaced.
    2. Once you’ve done that, fill a bottle with soapy water and spray it over the tire. Eventually, you’ll notice bubbles beginning to form. This is where the tire puncture is.


    3. Once you’ve located the leak, take your reaming tool and expand the hole. This will make what was probably an uneven hole good enough to actually plug. If you can’t fit the reaming tool into the tire, take a small drill and expand the hole so it's just smaller than the reaming tool.
    4. Put the plug about halfway through the plug insertion tool. With the plug insertion tool, insert the tire plug. Be quick. Then trim the plug so it’s flush with the tire.


    5. Refill the tire to the vehicle’s specifications. The proper PSI can be found on a sticker in the driver's door jam. Do not go off of what the tire says on the sidewall.

    How to change a tire:

    Of course, fixing a tire only works if you actually have the tools and supplies necessary, or the tire punctures are small enough that you can actually plug them. If either of these are a problem, then you may have to change the tire. All you’ll need for that is:

    • Vehicle jack
    • Lug wrench
    • Spare tire

    Changing a tire is fairly simple, here’s how you do it:

    1. Set the parking brake.
    2. Check the air pressure of the spare tire to be sure it is properly inflated.
    3. Break the lug nuts loose before lifting the vehicle. If the tire is not a drive wheel, the wheel will just spin when you try to break the nuts loose.
    4. Get the tire off the ground. Use your vehicle jack to lift the vehicle up so you can actually remove the tire.
    5. Finish removing the lug nuts with your lug wrench. Set them aside, but keep them close.
    6. Take the flat tire off, and replace it with the spare.
    7. Tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern. Do not tighten them all the way.



    8. Put the car back on the ground.
    9. Finish tightening the lug nuts. This will ensure they are as tight as they need to be. Reference your owner's manual for proper torque specifications.

    Other options

    While the options above are the better options, there are a few others to consider. One is tire sealant. This is a great option for quick tire repair. However, it can be messy and harder to fix. It can also freeze.

    In conclusion

    Now, in both cases, be sure you see a professional mechanic as soon as possible. Both of these solutions to a flat tire are incredibly temporary. However, being prepared for when things go wrong is important. With this knowledge, you can feel safe and confident when out on the road. If you need jacks, lug wrenches, tire repair kits or air compressors, you can find them at zips.com.

  • Meet an Expert: Brittany Rymas

    by Tyler Stelson | Apr 11, 2024

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    This month's 'Meet an Expert' highlights Brittany Rymas. Brittany began working at Zip's AW Direct in April 2021 as a Retail Store Clerk at our Detroit location. With the pandemic raging and supply line issues being a huge problem, she didn’t get started at the easiest time. Over time though, she has gained confidence and a lot of knowledge on how to get the job done. 

    Born and raised 45 minutes north of the Detroit location, Brittany has worked in customer service and retail her whole life. She has always enjoyed interacting and working with customers. Brittany says, “Being able to focus on customer relationships even more, like I have at Zip’s is wonderful! I have the chance to know customers, their families and lives all while helping them figure out what tools they need to get their job done efficiently.”

    This willingness and excitement to get to know the people she’s helping has been a great help to her. While her official title is Retail Store Clerk, Brittany spends her days on a variety of tasks. Whether it’s receiving or merchandising a product to answering phones and tracking down obscure parts a customer needs, she goes about it with a smile on her face. No day is ever the same. 

    With all of this going on, she’s found it easier to multitask while taking on different tasks. She might begin a project early in the day only to stop 25 times to help with in-person customers, deliveries or phone calls. To her, it’s all about working efficiently and cleanly. Of course, learning how to multitask isn’t the only way she’s grown at Zip's AW Direct.

    To Brittany, the growth she experiences with her team is important. “Learning new tips and solving problems all day long keeps me and the company growing," said Brittany. "It’s part of what makes me love and enjoy my job as much as I do."

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  • Meet an Expert: Brian Fisher

    by Cameron Hanson | Mar 20, 2024

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    Brian Fisher has a knack for solving problems.

    Often from memory, he can walk a customer through a wiring diagram over the phone, or he can figure out a new way to work around existing issues. Many customers here know him on a first-name basis, so it’s no surprise why we chose him for this month’s ‘Meet an Expert’ employee profile at Zip’s AW Direct.

    Blessed with a mechanical mind, Brian joined Zip’s nearly 20 years ago. A welder by trade, he spent 16 years on the shop floor at the main production facility in New Hampton, IA, before moving into the office three and a half years ago to assume such roles as technical support, product management and, most recently, new product development.

    As a certified lead mechanic, Brian said he was able to learn on the job at Zip’s and understood very quickly the nuances of wiring for lighting, plumbing for hydraulics and all things related to wrecker assembly. That expert knowledge now translates to customer support externally and to his fellow co-workers in various departments internally.

    “I enjoy all aspects of assisting both our outside customers and my fellow employees here,” said Brian, who now works closely with the Marketing Department at Zip’s. “I like finding or being informed of an issue or need for a new design or update to assist with performing a job or making that job easier.”

    During his time in the shop, Brian said he built and worked on “all the makes and models of tow trucks and industrial trailers.” He said he was able to get to know Zip’s customers during the build process, and they know they can continue to count on him for his expertise and problem-solving skills.

    Brian lives with his wife, Tiffany, at nearby Nashua. They have three daughters: Elizabeth, Bailey and Josslynn. Tiffany also works at Zip’s in the Distribution Center, and during their time away from work, they enjoy SXS riding, boating, camping, hunting and fishing as a family.

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  • Zip's Spotlight: SAS Towing & Recovery

    by Cameron Hanson | Mar 15, 2024

    Already life partners, James and Amy Peterson became business partners three years ago when they decided to purchase SAS Towing & Recovery in central Texas.

    They believe the decision to go into business for themselves has brought them closer together, both as a couple and as a family.

    “Just being able to work side by side with him every day has been awesome,” Amy said of her husband of 19 years. “Then bringing in our family, including his brothers and our five kids, it keeps us all together on a daily basis. The most rewarding thing about working together is that it has made us stronger.”

    Based in Jarrell, TX, the Petersons purchased SAS in July of 2021. They were both working for another Texas tow company, Cedar Park Wreckers, at the time when the opportunity to purchase SAS presented itself. Shortly after buying SAS, they also bought Cedar Park and continue to identify opportunities for growth and expansion.

    Amy, who spent most of her career in the dental industry, admitted there were “challenges” when they decided to take the leap from employee to owner, but the fact they’ve already spent nearly two decades together gave them the conviction and confidence they could succeed in their new business venture.

    James said the fear of failing is a great motivator, and his long-term goal with the company is to build a foundation for his family’s future.



    “My biggest fear in purchasing the company was failing and wondering if I could do this and having the confidence in myself to be able to do it,” James confessed. “That’s why I get up every morning to keep everything going, to see our business continue to grow and to succeed and not to settle. I want to keep this thing going for my kids, so I have something to hand down to them.”

    “One of the things James talked to me about before we bought SAS was how he worries about failing because he does carry all of our employees and their families on his shoulders, and they all rely on him to succeed,” Amy added. “He understands by showing up every day and making it all work means all of them and their families are succeeding as well.”


    Leading by example


    SAS currently employs 25 team members, including tow truck operators, driver managers, dispatchers and shop technicians. Amy describes herself as a “driver problem solver,” and James likes to consider himself a hands-on boss, willing to fill in for other drivers as needed and still responding to calls. That direct involvement isn’t lost on rotator operator Stan Collins.

    “James is a fantastic leader and has a ferocious work ethic,” Stan said. “Of all the bosses I’ve had in my career, he’s the one who’s been the most willing to get in there and get dirty with the guys. There’s only been one or two heavy calls that I’ve been on that James hasn’t been a part of in some way. He’ll walk the walk and talk the talk. He’s right there with us every step of the way. I’m willing to push myself harder because I see him in there.”

    James said leading by example helps with employee retention and morale. Keeping good drivers is key to their current and future success. He said all drivers are “part of the family” at SAS, and many employees know the names of their co-workers’ spouses and children. They encourage each other to get to know each other on a personal level and to become a valued member of the team.

    “Some of the challenges we face in this towing business is making sure we have enough drivers who want to succeed and grow with us,” James said. “Trying to find people who fit in and want to go with that is kind of difficult sometimes. This is a very demanding job. It can be very dangerous. Any time you have to stop on the side of the road to pick someone up, there’s a high chance to get injured. So finding someone who wants to do that is a whole other challenge.”

    Going the extra mile

    To make them feel wanted and appreciated, the Petersons go out of their way to accommodate their employees. Stan said he witnessed that firsthand when he was out on a call 90 minutes from home when a tree fell on his house. He said the Petersons immediately stepped forward and took care of everything, arranging for a crew to remove the tree and to clean up the mess. He said he greatly appreciated the gesture and generosity.

    “They called the tree service right away and paid for it on the spot. I didn’t even have to pay them back for it,” Stan said. “They’re always willing to help with family issues.”


    “James is a good boss and owner,” heavy operator Lee Giampietro added. “He takes care of the employees. He takes care of the equipment. He makes sure we’re taken care of.”

    Lee was already an SAS employee when the Petersons took the company over. During the transition period, James asked Lee for input and what direction he would like to see the company go. He responded by telling his new boss he wanted to spread the word about breast cancer awareness in honor of his sister, who recently survived two bouts with the disease.


    What resulted from that goal-setting session was a brand new 2023 Peterbilt Century 9055 last year. The custom heavy was trimmed in pink graphics and featured plenty of dual-color accent lighting: amber on the road and pink when parked. The unit was built by Zip’s, and they worked closely with sales rep Trent Russler to make Lee’s dream a reality. The truck won two ZIPSYS awards last year and continues to turn heads in the Lone Star State.

    “I’ve received a lot of compliments on it, and I’m able to share the back story behind it,” Lee said. “It allows me to spread the word about breast cancer awareness and means a lot to me because of my sister.”

    Future growth

    The Petersons have been a customer of Zip’s since they took over SAS three years ago. Trent said they first met each at a formal dinner four years ago, and what began as a business relationship has evolved into a “personal friendship.” “I look forward to working with them going forward as well,” Trent added.

    Their first truck with Zip’s was an 1150 rotator with a kneeboom. In addition to the 9055, they also purchased two light-duty wreckers and a handful of car carriers from Zip’s. Besides the rotator and a pair of 50-ton wreckers, the company also owns a 5130 and several flatbeds. They also keep skidloaders and dumpsters on hand for accident cleanup and spill response services.

    The company currently operates out of six locations in Texas but is always looking to grow, thanks to the dedication of their employees and their loyal customers.

    “We are a small family business that’s about to get very big,” Stan predicted.

    “We are going to continue to add more light duty wreckers, thanks to a customer base that’s allowed us to grow and open up everything we’re able to do,” James said. “I purchased this company so I could have something to pass down to my kids and keep everybody together.”

    “James has worked so hard for us and our kids and to see what he has now and for what he has provided for us and our family is amazing. I’m so proud of him,” Amy said. “He has taken this company to a whole new level.”





  • Meet an Expert: Pat "Ferchee" Ferch

    by Cameron Hanson | Feb 09, 2024


    Pat Ferch knows the wrecker body business inside and out.

    As a 32-year employee at Zip’s, he spent more than half of his career here in paint and prep. During that time, he was no stranger to climbing inside a side bay compartment or crouching under a chassis, shot-blasting the steel back in the day or laying down a final coat of paint.

    Even though he transitioned to the assembly floor 10 years ago, he’s still glad he no longer has to deal with the weight and rust of steel. “Now, everything’s made out of aluminum,” he said from Zip’s main production facility in New Hampton, IA. “It’s so much lighter and easier to work with.”

    Better known to his peers and friends as “Ferchee,” Pat is this month’s ‘Meet an Expert’ at Zip’s. The Nashua native now leads a crew in the service body department, where he specializes in building the Road Service Body (RSB), the Tow Service Vehicle (TSV) and the Light Service Vehicle (LSV).

    Depending on the level of customization, he said it can take him and his partner close to 100 shop hours to complete a TSV, whereas a standard RSB takes closer to three weeks to finish . “That’s about what it works out to,” he calculated. “Some builds take less time, while others will take more, especially if it’s loaded up with lights.”

    “Some of the wiring involved any more with these trucks is just crazy,” Ferchee continued. “You used to be able to wire a few lights and be done, but some of the stuff going on now with lights will just blow your mind. Some of these service bodies require a lot of work and warning lighting.”

    Seeing the finished product makes it all worthwhile, he said. The 57-year-old works closely with the sales staff here and is also in regular communication with the customer to make sure they get everything in the right place. He said he takes a lot of pride in delivering what the end user wants.



    “The biggest variance really with these builds is what the customers want on them,” Ferchee explained. “Some are just ‘Plain Jane’ builds, and some can get pretty crazy. But you get a lot of satisfaction when they are all done. When they’re done and all lit up, it’s a pretty good feeling. I like the challenge of the custom ones.”

    Ferchee commutes about 20 miles to work every day. He’s a married father of three and has three grandchildren. When asked what has kept him working at Zip’s for more than three decades, he said he appreciates how he’s treated by the Rottinghaus family.

    “I’ve never had to ask for a raise here yet,” he said.

  • Zip’s Spotlight: Lil Pete’s Automotive

    by Cameron Hanson | Feb 01, 2024

    Veteran tow operator Peter DiNome is committed to building a future for his family in towing. Every business decision he makes takes into consideration the impact it will have on the next generation. He’s so committed to them he even named their New York company after his son, with whom he shares the same name.

    “The most rewarding thing in this world is having your family know that you have set them up for the rest of their lives,” the married father of three explained. “I am setting the foundation for them and their future.”

    Working around cars since he was 15, the senior DiNome started Lil Pete’s Automotive in the Bronx in 2015. Two years later, he moved out of the city and relocated to Mahopac, about 90 minutes north of downtown Manhattan. He now operates in four locations in Putnam County with a fleet of 50 trucks and a team of 30 employees.

    His family has grown with him along the way. Younger brother, Michael, manages the day-to-day operations, and nine-year-old son, Peter, has been in a tow truck since the day he was born…literally. His father said they brought him home from the hospital in a wrecker, and he’s been riding along with his dad ever since.

    “It makes you feel good that he shows an interest at such a young age,” Lil Pete’s father quipped. “He’s very interested in the growth of our business and seeing what’s next for us. He’s 9 going on 90. He’s my little old man. He even knows how to work the remote for the autoloader on my wrecker.”



    Daughters Nikki and Toni don’t get to ride along too often and are still too young to get too involved, but like the rest of the family, they are always top-of-mind for their family-oriented dad, whether he’s home, in the shop or out on a call. They all know which one is “daddy’s truck,” their proud father said.

    “I always tell them this is yours,” he said. “I built this business for them. I’m not worried about being rich. I’m worried about making sure that one day when it’s time to hand the business over, they are set for the rest of their lives.”

    Creating his own destiny

    Peter said he started his business nearly 10 years ago as a way to create his own destiny. Like other entrepreneurs, he didn’t want to work for anyone else any more and wanted to grab hold of the American dream. He admits it hasn’t been easy along the way, but he’s motivated by his family to keep moving forward.

    “When I opened up my shop in 2015, I said I didn’t want to live paycheck to paycheck anymore,” Peter said. “I didn’t want to worry if my boss is going to fire me today. I never want my kids to have that fear. I want my kids to have stability. There are days when I want to give up–I’ll be honest with you–but I know I have employees who depend on me as well as my family.”


    What’s kept him in focus is a philosophy he adopted from a previous employer. He said the key to success in this business is to follow the Golden Rule and to treat others how he would like to be treated. Employee retention and contentment benefits from this mindset, he said.

    “My old boss was very family-oriented,” Peter recalled. “He said you treat your guys like family, and they will always have your back. I based my business on treating my employees like family. The reason I do that is because they feel more at home. They don’t feel like I’m going to be one of those bosses who’s going to be hard on them every single day of their life.

    “I’m a boss who goes out and works with them out on the road,” he continued. “I don’t sit in the office all the time. I’m a boss where if they have a problem, then that becomes my problem. I always make sure that everyone inside my circle is good. I always put everyone before me because that’s just how I was raised.”

    His brother said he appreciates the family atmosphere at Lil Pete’s.

    “It doesn’t feel like a job to me,” Michael said. “I love what I do. I feel like we’re growing this for our family. My brother is good at leading. I see him taking this business to the next level by building new trucks and opening new locations. I’m very proud of where he started to where he’s at now. It’s been inspirational.”

    “I have a great support team,” Peter said. “My employees are amazing, and my brother and brother-in-law work hand-in-hand with me. Teamwork makes the dream work. If you build a team that’s behind you and supports you 100 percent, you can succeed in anything you want in this world.”

    Loyal Zip’s customer

    Starting out with a used 1997 International, Lil Pete’s has been a customer of Zip’s since 2017. According to the owner, their fleet has since grown to feature a mix of wreckers, carriers and service vehicles. Nearly all of their equipment is now sourced through Zip’s, including the latest addition: a new SpaceKap model designed to service the burgeoning EV market.


    Peter said he appreciates Zip’s for their attention to detail and for the vast opportunities for customization, including lighting, painting and wraps. Beside those perks, he said remains loyal to Zip’s because, as he puts it, owners Paul and David Rottinghaus along with sales rep Eric Albertson had faith in him when he first got started.

    “When nobody believed in me, they did,” he said. “My credit was bad at one point and money was scarce. They helped me through all that and believed in my business and the future I had planned.”

    Landing firmly on his feet, Peter said he now purchases and finances all of his company’s new trucks through Zip’s. He said he likes the “quality” of the workmanship and the level of “service” he receives when he’s first spec’ing the trucks and when he takes delivery of a finished truck. He said “these trucks are literally ready to go straight to work” when we get them.


    Fleet expansion will continue, Peter acknowledged. He said he believes in the risk-reward business model, and while he admits there are plenty of challenges in the towing industry, he said he has to be proactive to overcome any “obstacles.” With his family’s future in mind, he said company growth will continue to be part of the plan at Lil Pete’s Automotive.

    “The biggest thing I learned over the years is you have to take chances,” Peter said. “You never know what the reward is if you don’t take that chance. You have to push yourself every day to make yourself better than you were yesterday. As long as you take the chances, you will succeed in this business."



  • Zip's Spotlight: Val-U Auto & Towing

    by Cameron Hanson | Jan 03, 2024

    Joe Karpel started his family about the same time he opened his auto and towing business in his hometown of Owego, NY. He is proud of both, and as he battles Parkinson’s Disease, he is grateful his youngest son, Matt, has stepped up to take over day-to-day operations. Not every business owner is that fortunate.

    “One of the biggest blessings someone can have is if they can pass their business onto their children,” Joe said, fighting back his emotions. “I’ve had friends who had nobody and end up selling after 30 years for not very much money. If your kid wants to follow in your footsteps, what could be a better thing? You work seven days a week, 15 hours a day to put it all together, and you hope to keep everything intact.”

    Joe said it was son’s “vision” to take over the business, even from an early age. Matt said he was pretty much raised in the shop, and like other family-owned towing companies, he was very hands-on, answering the phones, working on the trucks and eventually operating the equipment. With his father’s blessing, he is now poised to take the family business to the next level.

    “Matt’s pretty much been an adult since he was two years old. He used to go with me on calls and got used to making money at an early age,” Joe said. “I’m just glad he picked up the ball and has really accelerated our business. For a 26-year-old to take on 80-90 employees, it’s really amazing to see.”

    “I grew up in the family business, riding in the tow trucks day and night,” Matt recalled. “I love being around tow trucks. It was always my dream to be in towing. I just didn’t think it would be this many trucks."

    27 years and counting

    Joe started Val-U Auto and Towing as a used car lot in 1996. He purchased his first tow truck—an International car carrier—in 2000 and has strategically expanded the operation to 12 locations along the New York - Pennsylvania border. With a concentration in upstate New York, the company basically serves customers from Pittsburgh to Connecticut.

    “I did a lot of retail repair work when I first got started, and it seemed as though every time I turned around, I was handing a tow truck guy $50 or $100, so I decided as part of what we were doing, towing would fit right in at that point in time,” Joe recalled.

    Val-U Auto and Towing still sells cars, but their “primary focus” is towing. As a dedicated customer of Zip’s, their fleet now stands at 80 trucks and includes light-duty wreckers, car carriers, heavy-duty equipment and service vehicles. They even have road tractors and industrial trailers for custom hauling, but the bread-and-butter of the operation remains towing.

    Interstate 86 runs right behind the main shop at Owego in southern New York and generates plenty of business for the company. Joe said they also partner with AAA and other local roadside service clubs for additional revenue. Getting on the police rotation for jobs also helped to get their business off the ground.





    “There’s a saying that some people work to live and others live to work,” Joe said. “I believe we built what we have today because we answered the phone on nights and weekends. A lot of people aren’t just willing to work like that these days. I tell our guys this is not a job. It’s a lifestyle because you have to be willing to go the extra mile for your customer.”

    Inspired by his father’s work ethic, Matt said he also likes to lead by example and hopes to pass his enthusiasm for the towing business onto their employees. “Something I learned from my dad is to always answer the phone,” Matt said. “I also feel it’s important to show up ready to work every day.

    Future growth

    The Karpels said technology has really aided their company’s growth. Their trucks are now equipped with dash cams, GPS units and other advanced equipment, which really makes the life of a tow truck driver much easier than even five years ago, much less two decades earlier

    “I don’t know how anyone would start out today in towing, quite frankly, with the insurance situation, the cost of equipment and everything else,” Joe said. “The technology we take for granted today was very expensive back in the day. Now, we can look at a screen and see where every truck is, how fast it is going and its fuel economy. It’s just unbelievable. A lot of what we can do today we couldn’t do five or six years ago.”


    Joe credits his son’s influence and drive for pushing their operation into the information age. Matt has been in charge for the past five years and is committed to future growth. He said he will continue to serve customers when and where they need it.

    “Some of the insurance companies we work with have the demand,” Matt said. “They reach out to us and say we need help in a region, and we go there to help them. In the future, I’d like to open some more locations, adding more trucks and equipment. I think we’re just going to keep growing, and we will continue to work with Zip’s because we have a good relationship with our salesman.”


  • Meet an Expert: John Kuhn

    by Tyler Nestvedt | Dec 07, 2023

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    After over forty years of putting in work, you notice the changes and similarities in a place. That’s what John Kuhn, this month’s ‘Meet An Expert’, feels. Having been working at Zip's AW Direct for over forty years, Kuhn now works as General Manager.

    Kuhn grew up on a dairy and row crop farm outside of New Hampton, Iowa. While growing up, he helped out on the family farm with anything that needed to be done - from chores to running equipment. “I feel like my farm background helped stage my interest in machinery and general operations,” said Kuhn.

    In 1982 Kuhn started working at Zip's in sales where most of his time was spent sending out photos, writing specs on different trucks, writing quotes and following up with customers on the phone. Some would reference to him as the general jack of all trades.

    By the mid 90’s, Kuhn transitioned more into managing inventory control. Nowadays, he works closely with our sales staff to layout the specs of a truck to ensure the customer's vision is met. He will then order the chassis and wrecker bodies for the truck build.

    Of course, that’s not all he does. "Everyday is a learning day," said Kuhn. A good chunk of his job is answering the phone to solve a problem. 

    Kuhn's favorite part of the job is giving company tours to community schools and organizations while bring awareness to the blue-collar skills to the next generation. "Zip's has some of the best installers, body technicians, and painters in the industry. Be able to showcase their craftsmanship and employment opportunities to the youth is pretty rewarding." 

  • Zip's Spotlight: Chima's Tow

    by Cameron Hanson | Dec 01, 2023

    Pretty safe to say Iran Chima grew up in the family business. He was born a month after his parents started their Sacramento towing company, and as a kid, he insisted his bedroom was located on the side of the house facing the shop. That way he could hear the wreckers start up any time there was a call.

    “I was constantly badgering my dad to go with,” Iran said, looking back. “I was my dad’s minion. I was always following him around. No matter what he did, I would always try to do the same thing. I’m sure he hated it at times, but I’m here today because of it. I love tow trucks. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

    Iran’s parents, Ted and Monica Chima, formed Chima’s Tow in 1987. They started small and raised their kids in a home on the same property as their business. Mom took care of the dispatching, invoicing and paperwork, and dad responded to the calls, often with Iran in the jump seat. You could say it was their form of babysitting.

    “Iran was basically born into towing. He was always there,” Monica said. “We didn’t have any daycare back then. Anything that Ted did, Iran was always there.”

    “I would go on the calls, and Iran would be standing there in the truck, ready to go,” Ted recalled. “I thought everybody should take their children with them.”



    Humble beginnings

    As immigrants, the elder Chimas intentionally kept things simple early on and concentrated on their “local” service area. They were fiscally responsible and performed as much of the work as they could themselves. Company growth was very measured, and capital improvements were not made without careful consideration.

    “We kept a pretty low profile back then,” Ted said. “If we had the money, we did it. If we didn’t have the money, we didn’t do it. We were a very hands-on operation. It was very simple and tight-knit.”

    “We had to make sure we could afford things back then,” Monica added. “We were old fashioned. That’s how we worked in those days. We learned everything as we went. We didn’t take any classes. It was that way for many years.”

    Their conservative business model began to change after Iran became more involved in the operation and assumed more of a leadership role within the company. He built an online presence and worked to increase their market share in northern California, especially over the past 10 years. His dad said he moved the company “forward.”

    “When Iran came on board, that’s when everything got out of the box,” he said, later joking they once advertised their company by placing stickers on pay phones. “Iran is more open minded. What we did back then, we couldn’t do now. We couldn’t have grown like we did. The internet has made a big difference in the towing industry. Anyone can find you now.”


    “Iran really put us on the map,” Monica added. “Before, we were just doing local tows in small towns. He took us to a different level, and we can basically handle anything now.”

    Solid work ethic

    With an inherited passion for the business, Iran said he pretty much “expected” to join the family company full time once he finished schooling. He described the transition as a “natural progression,” and while his parents credit his vision for their growth and expansion, Iran said he appreciates the work ethic they passed down to him.

    “The most important skill I’ve learned from my parents is if you want something done properly, do it yourself,” Iran said. “That’s the work ethic that they’ve had. That’s really translated to me and the amount of effort they put in. I have to mimic that effort as well. That’s really shown as we’ve grown as a family and the company itself in its second generation.”

    “The towing business has been very good to us,” Ted acknowledged. “We like it, and we’ve been at it for more than 30 years now. We probably could have been better at taking some breaks along the way, but we just kept working at it.”


    Chima’s Tow now operates from two locations in the greater Sacramento area. Supported by a team of dedicated employees, the company offers towing, recovery and transport services, and their signature red-and-white fleet features car carriers, light and medium duty wreckers as well as heavies and rotators.

    Zip’s customer since 2018

    A customer for five years now, Iran said “99 percent” of their current trucks has been purchased through Zip’s. Working closely with sales rep Eric Albertson, the Chimas have developed “a build platform” with Zip’s so each truck is built to their unique specifications, no matter what type or size of the equipment they order.


    “What keeps us coming back to Zip’s is the level of customer service we get,” Iran said. “They listen to what we need and how we want it done. Zip’s can take our vision and make it a reality. Our equipment is very important to me. It’s all spec’d a certain way. We can make a phone call, and Zip’s can put it together fairly easily for us.”

    While he said he loves all of the company’s trucks, Iran said his primary truck is the Kenworth 880 Century 1150 Rotator. It’s his personal ride, and he worked closely with Eric and the team at Zip’s so it met the requirements of his home state.

    “All of them are really my favorite because they all have our name on them and they’re painted red and white, but this rotator was a special project that took two years to complete,” Iran said. “It was built specifically for California. California has a lot of challenges when it comes to weight laws and axle spacing. That was a real challenge getting that right.”


    Training and networking

    The Chimas do not believe in taking shortcuts. They make sure their trucks meet or exceed professional equipment standards, and they belong to several towing organizations, including the California Tow Truck Association (CTTA). Iran also works closely with the Emergency Roadside Service Coalition of America (ERSCA).

    “Being an instructor for ERSCA has helped me be in the forefront of what comes out as far as industry training,” he said. “We get the information first and then pass that information onto other towers in the region. We are always updating our guys on the technology that comes along.”

    Iran said employee training is very important for their company. It keeps everyone safe and helps with employee retention.

    “My first goal is to make sure new employees understand the equipment they have and how to apply it to the job that they’re doing,” Iran said. “That could range from towing an electric vehicle all the way up to a rollover recovery. At the end of the day, they need to know the equipment that they have, and knowing how to utilize it is important.”

    Iran said the recent growth in EVs is becoming the industry’s primary challenge at the moment.

    “That’s what we’re dealing with right now nationwide,” he said. “It presents a shift in learning and dealing with that stuff. We have to start from scratch on how to tow them and how to deal with them. That translates to the office and staff as well as to what questions they need to ask when a call comes in and to the drivers and training them. It’s all fresh and new to us.”

    Like they’ve done for the past 36 years, the Chimas will continue to adapt.

    “In the towing industry itself, it’s really hard to predict much,” Iran said. “It’s a constantly changing industry. There are things that my parents did back in the day that probably wouldn’t work today and vice versa. The biggest thing we need to understand and keep in mind is that change is constant. You have to be willing to adapt to conditions.”


  • Zip’s Spotlight: Wes’s Service

    by Cameron Hanson | Oct 13, 2023




    Brian Booker lives by the Golden Rule. He treats others the way he wants to be treated. He credits that philosophy for the growth of his towing company, Wes’s Towing Service, in the Chicagoland area. It’s also the reason he’s been buying trucks, parts, and apparel from Zip’s AW Direct over the last 10 years.

    “If I had to describe Zip’s in one word, it would be ‘excellent’,” said Booker, owner and director of operations at Wes’s. “My salesman is great and communicates with me on everything. Zip’s really provides a great all-around experience. Customer service is how businesses grow. Even with my business, it’s all about customer service.”

    Wes’s Service is this month’s Zip’s Spotlight tow company profile. The business was founded in Calumet City, IL, on the southern edge of Chicago, in 1963 by Wesley Gass. The company originally started as a gas station and naturally grew into the towing business. A former employee, Booker bought the company from its namesake in 2008.


    Prior to purchasing the business, Booker had actually left Wes’s to form his own tow company back in the early to mid 2000s. He said he left on good terms, and he and Gass remained in regular contact. In fact, Gass twice tried to recruit Booker back to his company. The first time was in 2006 after Gass served as a pallbearer for Booker’s father. The second time came two years later with an ownership offer.

    “I worked for Wes for several years and learned a lot from him by watching him run his business,” Booker said, retaining the company name to honor his mentor who passed away in 2019. “After I left the first time, there was never any bad blood between us. I just kind of liked doing my own thing. Then two years later, the whole process to purchase the business began, and by July 1, 2008, I was on the hot seat.”


    Wes’s Service remains located on the original property, which still includes the original building. In 2020, the company expanded with a brand new facility. Including Booker, the company currently employs 31 operators, dispatchers and technicians, and their service territory covers all of Chicago and parts of Wisconsin and Indiana.

    The company’s fleet includes heavy-duty wreckers and rotators, car carriers, light-duty wreckers, service vehicles and transport trucks. Booker bought his first truck, a 50-ton rotator, from Zip’s in 2014 and has worked with sales rep Lon Schlader on a number of other purchases, including a Century 3212, Century 5130, a 75-ton rotator and an RSB service truck.

    “I’ve ordered every variety of truck from Zip’s. They get me the equipment I need right away,” Booker said of his relationship with Zip’s. “If I order a truck and they promise me a date, that’s the date the truck comes.”

    Besides delivering on what they promise, Booker said he appreciates the level of customization he gets with each build at Zip’s. From the lights on the rotators to the storage options on the service trucks, he said he gets to add his personal touch, so the equipment fits his needs and his employee’s needs. He said it just makes good business sense and helps retain good employees.


    “My guys all love the new trucks,” he said. ”You want to keep your equipment up to date, so your drivers have the best equipment available to do their job and it isn’t breaking down all the time. You give them good tools so they can perform their duty. That goes a long way with all my guys.”

    Besides providing them with the tools they need to succeed, Booker also considers himself a resource for his employees to reach out to if they encounter a situation they may not know how to address or resolve. His own background includes more than 20 years of experience in towing, which helps his credibility as an operational leader.


    Each tow you go on can be a challenge, and no tow is actually the same. Every tow you go on, you gain some type of knowledge.
    —Brian Booker


    “Each tow you go on can be a challenge, and no tow is actually the same,” Booker acknowledged, specifically recalling a time he had to recover a fire truck which had fallen into a sinkhole and was teetering over a gas main. “Every tow you go on, you gain some type of knowledge.”.

    Booker regularly reminds his employees to provide good customer service when they head out. He realizes his operators may be going into a situation where a customer may be upset they were involved in an accident or that law enforcement is having their vehicle towed. He said it’s important to remain professional on the scene.

    “We want to keep the customer happy, so they don’t slander your company’s name, even though the situation they are in is not our fault,” he said. “They don’t understand that sometimes. We’re not the reason your car is here. We always strive to provide good service, and we try to do the best and make everyone happy.”

    Most of the time, the good calls outweigh the bad, and Booker is often reminded of why he is in this business.


    “The most rewarding aspect of this job is when you go out and rescue that family or change that flat tire so they can finish their trip. Those are the good ones,” he said.

    Booker said he also builds goodwill for his company by remaining active in his community. His equipment is regularly entered into parades, and his staff often passes out t-shirts and toy diecast wreckers at community events, such as National Night Out with the local police department. They also work closely with emergency personnel on training exercises, like vehicle extrication.

    “Whenever any of the towns around us has an event, we try to take a truck there and give out stuff. The kids and the adults both love seeing our trucks,” Booker said. “You want to be surrounded by good people. I’m part of the community and the community is part of us. We’re all one family.”


  • Zip’s Spotlight: Floyd and Sons Towing

    by Cameron Hanson | Sep 12, 2023



    Chase Leonard remembers going to the Wisconsin Tow Show as a kid with his dad. The flashing lights, the colorful paint schemes and the big iron were always a sight to see. Now, as a third-generation tow operator, Chase is returning the favor, showing off his company’s equipment and inspiring the next wave of towers.

    His latest entry is a two-tone Vulcan V70 straight stick mated to a 389 extended hood Pete. Besides its custom paint job, the Zip’s-built heavy features underglow lighting, plenty of work lights and other personal touches. His family’s towing company, Floyd and Sons, has been a customer at Zip’s for nearly 40 years, and Chase said he appreciates the effort put into his dream truck by sales rep Danny Mathews and the entire team at Zip’s.

    “They pretty much gave me anything I asked for,” he said. “This truck is me. Everything on it was built to my spec, down to where the screwdrivers go to where the chains hang. It is my first new truck all to myself, and I am very proud of it. That’s why I asked Zip’s to build it. They have superior builds with superior paint quality, and we have a pretty great salesman.”

    A big fan of the V70 engineering and design, Chase said he built the Vulcan to work but also appreciates the attention it’s getting on its days off. At the Wisconsin Tow Show this past June, the truck earned the Best in Show distinction in the Heavy-Duty Wrecker division, and during the inaugural ZIPSYS Truck Contest last fall, the fan favorite won the Zip’s Choice Award and finished second in the People’s Choice category.



    “I was very humbled to win the ZIPSYS because this truck is really not a show truck,” he said. “It works every day. But it’s fun to see your truck out there scattered all over the internet so your friends and family can see it along with other towers across the country. It gives you bragging rights with your friends and other towing companies. I think my dad would be pretty proud we won.”


    Along with his mother and brothers, Chase manages Floyd and Sons Towing in Racine, WI. The company was founded in 1959 by his grandfather and company namesake, Floyd Leonard. After an initial stint as a Texaco service station, the company entered the full-time towing business in 1981, eventually expanding with a satellite location south in Kenosha in the mid-1990s.

    Growing up in the family business, Chase said he and his brothers learned everything they could about the business from their father, Rick, and uncle, Skip. As kids, they helped out when and where they could, either grabbing a broom, cutting the grass and washing the trucks before eventually wrenching on the fleet and working the winches themselves.

    “My brothers and I have done every job in this place to help the business grow,” Chase said. “My father was here most of his entire life. He passed away six years ago. He was pretty much our fearless leader and handled everything, helping to get us to where we are now.”


    My father was here most of his entire life... He was pretty much our fearless leader...
    —Chase Leonard


    Taking over in his father’s absence, Chase currently serves as the terminal manager for the company, and when he’s not on a call himself, he oversees the day-to-day operations of the family business. He said it was an adjustment to step into a management role following the death of his father.

    “We learned a lot very quickly,” he acknowledged of the transition. “You’re the guy now. You’re the first call people make when they’re in trouble. If dad saw the business today, I think he would enjoy certain parts of it and shake his head at others. We are two different kinds of people.”

    Sandwiched between Milwaukee and Chicago, the company currently employs 16 people across both locations. Delivered last fall, their latest heavy-duty wrecker joins a fleet of 17 trucks, which includes a mixture of light and heavy wreckers as well as a few car carriers. Chase estimates three quarters of the business is focused on heavy work.


    “We continue to grow day-by-day, but predominantly, we are into heavy-duty towing,” he said. “I enjoy the rush and the steady work. You never know what you are going to get into. That keeps me going in the family business. It’s important for me to keep our legacy going because we are three generations deep. I enjoy everything that comes with it.”

    An inherited passion, Chase admits towing has always been in his blood, and the early memories of attending tow shows still motivate him. Their towing company belongs to the Wisconsin Towing Association, and its annual show around Father’s Day weekend is a great way to honor his dad and bring back memories of attending shows together back in the day.

    “My favorite memory growing up in this business was going to all the tow shows, especially the Wisconsin Tow Show,” Chase said. “To me, they were the best shows ever. As a kid, it was just amazing to look up at all the beautiful equipment there.”

    At the state level, Chase said it’s important to support the towing association because “we’re stronger together.” On the local level, Floyd and Sons also believe in community outreach, supporting local police efforts, attending car shows and participating in youth events, such as Touch-a-Truck and Back-to-School events.


    “We’ve been part of this community for nearly 65 years, and we still consider ourselves a local company, so we like to give back when we can,” he explained. “We want to be remembered as a company that does what they say they’re going to do when you make the call.”


  • Zip’s Top 10 List - Heavy Duty

    by Tyler Nestvedt | Sep 01, 2023

    Accessories to Add to Your Heavy-Duty Wrecker or Rotator


    When operating a heavy-duty wrecker, you never know what you’ll run into. Being prepared is just part of your job every day. Lucky for you, we have some fantastic products that can make being prepared a breeze.

    We’ve come up with a list of 10 items that’ll work to keep you ahead of the game. They’ll make a great addition to your wrecker supplies while also being a huge help in your daily operations.



    AW Direct Quick Connect Air Coupler Kit | Item #: ZAW-ACK


    Essential to heavy-duty tow operations, these fittings allow tow operators to tie into the existing air systems on Class 8 commercial trucks to supply air to the brake system when the power unit is disabled and can no longer perform this function. Using air supplied by the rear of the tow truck, this application allows the tow operator to release the truck’s brakes and prepare it for towing. The kit includes a variety of couplers, making it a great addition to your truck’s supplies.

    • 8-piece kit w/ hard-sided carrying case
    • Fits Mack, Volvo, Peterbilt, Freightliner, Prostar, International & more
    • Can supply air to airbags




    SafeAll Remote Brake Assist | Item #: BB100


    The SafeAll Remote Brake Assist makes for a great addition to any heavy-duty wrecker’s kit. The brake actuator is connected to the brake pedal and is secured in place by claws to the steering wheel. Air is supplied to the actuator by a line attached to the back of the heavy-duty wrecker. Therefore, when you press your brake pedal, the vehicle you’re towing engages its brake. Your brakes will thank you for not overworking them by distributing some of the pressure to the casualty's brakes. Not to mention, a remote brake assist is required to remain in compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The law states that when towing vehicles or motor vehicle combinations, you must be able to decelerate at a rate of 14 feet per second and from a speed of 20 miles per hour and be able to stop within 35 feet or less. We know you tow extremely heavy truck combinations all day long, so stay safe and in compliance and equip all your heavy-duty wreckers with the SafeAll Remote Brake Assist!

    • Works with air brakes
    • Decreases stopping distance
    • Improves FMCSA compliance




    Zip’s HD Underreach Towing System | Item #: ZP-2211


    Variety is the name of the game when it comes to towing. When you roll up to the scene, you may need to pull a camper, horse trailer, converter dolly or even a gooseneck flatbed. With this seven-piece kit, you can easily tow a trailer without any issues. The included gooseneck trailer adapter, pintle hook, fifth wheel attachment, and king pin attachment can be stored in a side storage compartment while not in use, meaning you can take it to every job.

    • Welded construction
    • Powder-coated safety yellow
    • 3/4" plate steel




    Reelcraft DP5000 Series Air/Water Dual Pedestal Hose Reel | Item #: DP5000 SERIES



    When you’re dealing with heavy-duty tows, you never know if and when you’ll need some air. Whether it’s filling up a tire or operating a wide variety of pneumatic tools, air can be essential while towing. Luckily, this heavy-duty hose reel can help get you that air while holding up to the hardships of the road.

    • Corrosion-resistant powder coating
    • Compact design
    • Dual pedestal design to provide vibration resistance




    SafeAll Driveline Pro | Item #: DLP100


    Why ruin your back and shoulders when removing the driveshaft of a commercial truck? When it’s time to tow, simply pull out your SafeAll Driveline Pro from your toolbox and ensure the driveshaft stays safely in place. The hanger bar is adjustable both horizontally and vertically by using its basket rope. The width allows it to fit any frame for a variety of truck makes and models. While the rope will allow operators to position the height on the driveshaft to make towing easier. With the easy-to-use and very lightweight SafeAll Driveline Pro, you can save yourself from unnecessary injury and wasted time.

    • Easily adjustable hanger bar - No tools necessary
    • Snap clips and cinch ratchets for quick installation
    • Lightweight and user-friendly




    B/A Product Axle Chain Kits w/ Omega Links Grade 100 | Item #: CHAIN KIT G100 FAKIT



    Sometimes, products are common, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, chains are great at quickly tying down axles and securing vehicles. Using the ratchet from this axle chain kit, you can quickly and easily secure a vehicle. Plus, it has a 25% higher working load limit than a grade 80 chain would have.

    • Chain sizes: 3/8" - 1/2"
    • Chain length: 6'
    • WLLs: 8,800 lbs. - 15,000 lbs.




    In The Ditch 5-Ton Aluminum Tire Stand | Item #: ITD-1132


    Being underneath a massive vehicle can be terrifying and dangerous. If anything goes wrong, that vehicle could easily crush you. That’s what this wheel stand is for. Able to handle up to 10,000 pounds per wheel lift, you can count on it to hold the vehicle up for you as you secure the vehicle from below.

    • Each stand has a rating of 10,000 lbs.
    • Met the ASME PALD-2009 testing standards
    • Weight: 17 lbs




    TowMate TBOX Wireless Trailer Light-Powered Controller | Item #: TBOX


    Communication is important when you’re driving. Letting people know when you want to turn or stop can save their lives and yours, and when you’re towing, a trailer that can be even more important. Ensuring you can get that signal is easy with the American-made TowMate TBOX Wireless Trailer Light-Powered Controller. This battery-powered adapter allows you to use the trailer’s factory lights. As a result, you can skip hanging a tow light.

    • Weather-resistant housing
    • Utilizes TowMate's 'red antenna' receiver
    • Exclusively powered by Milwaukee 8-amp M18 battery




    RimSling Spliced Eye Synthetic Recovery Slings | Item #: RIMSLING-ROPE


    Rust and corrosion can be common problems for a lot of different lifting hardware. Luckily, RimSling offers a solution. By making their slings out of synthetic rope, you don’t have to worry about rust and most corrosion. Plus, they’re tough enough to handle whatever heavy-duty task you have in front of you, so why go with metal when you can get better?

    • Special braid guard at the center of sling for extended life
    • 5:1 Safety Factor
    • Rated for overhead lifting




    Spill Tackle Fluid Absorbent | Item #: ST20B1-KIT


    You never know what you’ll find when you come across a wreck. Sometimes, you’ll encounter a chemical spill that you weren’t expecting. Luckily, using the Spill Tackle fluid absorbent, you can pour it out and clean that spill up quickly and easily. This will make the environment safer and easier for you to tow the casualty you came for.

    • USDA bio preferred (sustainable)
    • Absorbs petroleum fluids off the top of water
    • 4 - 6 times more absorbent than clay



    No two jobs are ever the same, so having a wide variety of tools for every job matters. It lets you be prepared for whatever comes your way. With the constantly shifting field of towing, you’ll always need to be on your toes.

    Hopefully, with this list, you can expand your toolkit and stay on your toes. At Zip’s AW Direct, we carry plenty of helpful, durable tools that can expand your tow truck supplies exponentially. Feel free to explore Zips.com, or check out our other blog on 10 items for your light-duty tow truck.

  • Zip’s Top 10 List - Light Duty

    by Tyler Nestvedt | Sep 01, 2023

    Accessories to Add to Your Car Carrier/Light Duty


    When you’re out on the road, you never know what you’ll run into. Being prepared for any situation is essential for every operator. This means you should always hold onto a few items to make every job easier.

    Today, we’ll introduce you to a few of our phenomenal products. Together, they make for great additions to any existing truck’s toolbox. They all provide some utility that you may not have thought of.



    Zip’s Side Puller Recovery Tool | Item #: ZP-SPZ


    Speed and safety are essential on every call. Being able to adapt to whatever comes your way is a lot easier with the Zip’s Side Puller Recovery Tool. This towing accessory gives you 180 degrees of cable angle side-to-side and 90 degrees downward, allowing you the ability to tow from almost any angle, regardless of the situation. It’s also easy to install. All you need is to drill a 2" hole for an aluminum bed. On a steel deck, you don’t even need to drill a hole. Add this essential tool to your flatbed supplies today.

    • 9,000-lb. capacity
    • Compatible with a majority of manufacturers
    • Removable when not in use




    ITI Rollback Master kit | Item #: ITI-MK


    Whether you come across a disabled vehicle or a locked vehicle that needs to be moved, you need to have a solution. The best way to do that is with the ITI Rollback Master Kit. This kit comes with a variety of skates — all of which are made from extruded plastic — that help you get locked and disabled vehicles onto the back of a flatbed. Not only are they stronger than wood, but these skates are also rot, wear, oil and grease resistant. Make this kit part of your truck’s supplies.

    • (4) ITI Automotive Skate Ki
    • (2) ITI Big & Tall Automotive Skate Pair
    • (2) ITI XL Big & Tall Automotive Skate Pair
    • ITI Control Arm Skate
    • ITI Height Extender for the Control Arm Skate
    • ITI Axle Tube Height Extender for the Control Arm Skate
    • ITI Lockout Wedge
    • ITI Trailer Jack Skate




    Zip’s Receiver Hitch for Chevron 408 Light Duty Wrecker | Item #: ZP-408RHZ-PTB


    Sometimes you show up at a scene and realize you need to tow more than just a car. Lucky for you, Zip’s Receiver Hitch for Chevron 408 Light Duty Wrecker can easily be put directly onto your Autogrip autoloader on your Chevron 408 light-duty wrecker. This works with bumper hitch campers and toy haulers, and it comes with an optional pintle hitch and tri-ball attachment.

    • 8,000-lb. tow capacity
    • Solid welded construction
    • Easy bolt-on application




    Guardian AngelMicro Series Safety Light | Item #: GUARDIAN-ANGEL-MICRO


    Taking care of safety should be a top priority. Being seen is a big part of that, which is why this bright light can be placed right on your shoulder for maximum visibility. Thanks to its multiple modes, you quickly stand out. With its ability to flash in different patterns, it’s hard to be ignored. This magnetic light can also be placed on whatever metallic surface is available in order to light up whatever you need it to. Be seen for miles with the Guardian Angel Micro Series Safety Light.

    • Four different light controls provide maximum lighting versatility
    • Four different brightness settings-low, medium, high & MAX
    • Rated up to 3+ miles of visibility using high-powered LEDs




    Access Tools Contractor’s Lockout Kit | Item #: ACTACS


    When somebody locks their keys in their car, they’re having a rough day. The kind of day that needs a quick, easy fix. Luckily with this toolset, you can easily find the right tools to make their day better. Each vehicle is a little different, so knowing you have different tools to handle different situations is great. With its variety of tools to help you recover your customer’s keys, the Access Tools Contractor’s Lockout Kit is a great addition to your tow truck supplies.

    • Includes a handy carrying case
    • Three tools have a scratch-proof coating
    • Fits conveniently under or behind a seat




    TowMate 22” Wireless Tow Light, Lime | Item #: TM22G TOW LIGHT


    Whether you need to turn or stop, letting other drivers on the road know what you’re up to is important for your safety and theirs. This wireless tow light allows you to send those signals from the car you’re towing simply by setting it on a magnetic surface. With rubber boots to protect your customer's vehicle from scratches and bright LEDs to signal your intentions to other drivers, this tow mate proves why it is a top-selling wireless lightbar.

    • Four choices of transmitters
    • Durable PVC housing
    • Up to 10 hours of use between charges




    SafeAll Car Carrier Proportional Remote Control System | Item #: SA-RCS


    Winch lines can be dangerous if they snap, yet they’re essential to every tow driver out there. Being able to pull a car up shouldn't have to include the risk of getting struck by a different vehicle or the winch line, if it snaps. With the SafeAll Car Carrier Proportional Remote Control System, you can control it remotely, while having precise control over the vehicle with the use of your wrist. Unlike other remote control systems, it doesn’t interfere with tow lights. Easily control your winch lines while staying a safe distance away.

    • Rugged and weatherproof actuator design
    • Bluetooth technology aids in actuator synchronization/calibration




    JNC660 Portable Jump Pack | Item #: JNC660


    Let’s face it, there are times when all you need to fix a car problem is to give it a quick start. That’s made easy with the JNC660 portable jump pack. Regardless of where you’re at, this dependable jump pack will get that car started and running. Plus, it’s easy to use and has 1700 peak amps and 425 cranking amps to make the process as fast as possible!

    • 46" heavy-duty #4 cables
    • Built-in charger
    • Battery status indicator gauge




    Safe All Roll King | Item #: SA-RK


    When a car has flipped onto its roof, it’s already had a bad day. Having to flip it back over shouldn’t make the day worse. With the Roll King, you can easily flip the car right back over. This adjustable pole is able to fit multiple vehicle sizes, and with its grab hooks, fixed eye and clawfoot grips, you can easily flip over the vehicle with just one operator.

    • 29" steel tube with pair of welded grab hooks and fixed eye
    • Extends to 3 lengths with removable safety pin
    • Clawfoot grips pinch welds better than wood 4x4s or PVC pipe




    Torin Big Red Hydraulic Trolley Jack | Item #: 144865



    Despite only weighing 22 pounds, this hydraulic jack can lift up to 4,000 pounds. That’s right. This small jack can easily get a car up off the ground. This makes it easier to find a place to attach your line or to change a tire. Plus, it’s small enough to fit in the trunk of a car, so it will definitely fit in your truck’s toolbox.

    • 100% factory vertical load tested for reliability and safety
    • 360° rotating saddle
    • Corrosion-resistant



    Knowing what to bring when you’re out on a job is essential. Towing is one of those fields that is constantly shifting; no two jobs will ever be the same. Having the towing accessories and wrecker supplies you need to handle what comes your way is essential to every tow truck operator.

    Hopefully, this list has helped you expand your toolkit to handle any job you get. At Zip’s AW Direct, we carry plenty of helpful, durable tools that can expand your tow truck supplies exponentially. After you’ve picked up everything on this list, feel free to browse our site to find even more to help you out.

  • Ratchet Strap Guide: Set Up, Use and Release

    by Cameron Hanson | Aug 21, 2023


    Once you have selected the right strap for the load, you need to prepare the strap for transport, and that starts with daily inspection. Here are some helpful hints on what to look for:

    Prepare Strap for Transport

    • Inspect for signs of damage, including cuts, abrasions and uneven wear.
    • Remove any knots to not compromise the strap’s strength.
    • Inspect the ratchet mechanism to ensure it is working properly.
    • Make sure the strap is clean and free of debris.


    Zip's Tips

    To clean your straps, soak them in warm water with a mild detergent. Avoid bleach and scrub to loosen any dirt and debris. Rinse and let air dry. Lubricating the ratcheting mechanism will also prolong the life of your straps.


    Next, make sure the WLL (Working Load Limit) of the strap exceeds the weight of the load. Additional straps may be needed to adequately and safely secure the cargo or equipment. Follow these simple steps to secure the strap to the load:

    • Position the ratchet strap in the desired location.
    • With the handle open, thread the tail end of the ratchet strap under the mandrel and back through the slot.
    • Make sure the strap does not interfere with the handle operation.
    • Pull the ratchet strap tight and take up the slack.
    • Begin ratcheting with the handle to tighten the strap.
    • Contain excess loose webbing with a bungee or zip-tie to keep it from flying in the wind as you head down the road.

    Once you have reached your destination, you can now loosen the strap for unloading. On the handle, locate the release mechanism and simultaneously pull up on the release and push down on the handle to get the strap to unspool from the mandrel. This may take some effort, depending on how new or how well lubricated the ratchet is.

    Once loosened, remove the strap from the load and remove the hooks. Be sure to take the time to neatly wind the strap for storage. Not only will it take up less room, this housekeeping measure will prevent damage from other objects while in storage. Smaller straps can be hand wound, but for larger straps, strap winders are available to simplify the process.

    Following these steps will help you to use a ratchet strap correctly and safely. It is important to remember to choose the right ratchet strap for your load and to inspect the ratchet strap before each use. Make sure you double check the ratchet strap after you have secured the load to make sure it is secure and safe for transport. And lastly, always follow safety instructions when using ratchet straps.