Industry News & New Products

  • Employee Profile: Sammi Geerts

    by Cameron Hanson | Apr 28, 2020

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    Sammi Geerts, our employee profile for May, keeps it simple when describing her job duties at Zip’s AW Direct. “When the phone rings, I answer,” she said with a smile.

    Sammi has served as a Product Sales Representative since joining Zip’s nearly two years ago. She works out of our Call Center, and besides taking orders over the phone, she also processes online orders and collects imprint information from customers for their roadside service forms.

    “I help our customers place an order or search for an answer if they don’t have the item number they need,” she explained. “While waiting for my next call to come in, I also work on a number of other projects I’m assigned.”

    Sammi said it’s essential to our success as a company to establish a rapport with her customers, and over the course of her two years here, she said she has received plenty of repeat calls from regular customers. It’s a sign we are doing things right here.

    “It’s important to let them them know that we are here for them, and we will help them in any way possible,” she said. “We build these relationships so our customers will know we will get them the answers to their questions. They trust us to get them the right items.”

    Sammi said she also notices sales trends with our most popular items, including 4-in-1 and 5-in-1 jackets during the cold months and rain gear during the spring. Jumppacks and winch cables are “always big sellers," she noted. "It really just depends on the season."

    Besides the relationships with her customers, Sammi said she also appreciates the friendships she has built at work. “I enjoy being around people and helping people,” she said. “I enjoy seeing my co-workers every day, and I also like helping out our customers when they call.”

    When not at work, Sammi said she likes to spend time with her kids and go fishing and camping when the weather gets nicer.

  • Employee Profile: Brice Schissel

    by Cameron Hanson | Apr 01, 2020

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    If you’ve ever received an order from Zip’s AW Direct, chances are Brice Schissel played a role in getting it to your door. Schissel serves as the Distribution Center Manager here and oversees the processes which fulfill nearly 400 customer orders every day.

    Schissel, our employee profile for the month of April, doesn’t do it alone. He said he is a proud member of a 30-person team which works hard every day to make it all happen. He credits everyone involved in the supply chain for the warehouse’s success and level of customer care.

    “I love the people I work with,” Schissel said. “The people I deal with on a daily basis are all good people and very easy to work with. Even the ones I don’t see every day, or talk to every day, are always very nice and friendly when I do see them or have a problem to work out and I need their assistance.”

    In role since late 2018, Schissel manages inventory levels, fills in for absent employees, helps fulfill walk-in orders in the parts department and, lately, makes sure the truck shop has the parts needed to complete their tasks. He and warehouse manager, Abe Karels, also check in with their staff regularly.

    “Sometimes during the day, Abe or myself will do walk-throughs just to make sure things are going smoothly and people aren’t having problems in shipping and receiving or in the warehouse,” Schissel said. “We work together every day to help each other out and make both of our jobs a little easier.”

    Schissel said he also dedicates a portion of his shift to either building kits or making sure kits are assembled to keep up with demand. Everything from axle chain kits and tie-down kits to fork kits and strap assemblies are created from their individual parts bins in the warehouse.

    “Normally, I start my day by printing reports to tell me where the inventory levels for the kits are,” he explained. “We have a huge number of kits that we manufacture ourselves here, so we try to keep the levels high enough to suffice the traffic of certain items.”

    In fact, ratchets, straps, chains, slings and tow dollies are some of the most popular items sold by Zip’s AW Direct, which Schissel attributes to tow companies remaining very busy this year. Other top-sellers include hi-vis apparel, lockout tools and truck lighting.

    “The list could go on forever,” Schissel said of the shipping trends here. “I would say the season definitely has a lot to do with what we sell and how many sales we do. During the colder season, we sell a lot more winter jackets, pants and coveralls. We’ve also been selling a lot more insulated gloves.”

    In his spare time, Schissel and his wife, Debbie, are busy with a six-month-old daughter, Harper Lee. “I spend as much time as I can with them,” he says. He’s also active in bowling in the New Hampton and surrounding area and recently rolled his first 300 game, “which was a major accomplishment for me.”

    He said he also enjoys hunting and fishing and “just about anything that has to do with the outdoors.” He also likes to cook on the grill and with his smoker. But when the weekend’s over and his batteries are recharged, he’s ready to get back to work and do his part to fulfill customer orders.

    “It makes it a lot easier to get up in the morning and come here every day knowing that I work with such awesome people,” he said. “I’m very lucky and very fortunate to be a part of the Zips AW Direct family.”

  • Zip's rolls out new car carrier options page

    by Cameron Hanson | Apr 01, 2020

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    Zip’s AW Direct has launched an exciting new online resource to simplify the buying process for anyone who is looking to buy a car carrier. Take me there now.

    Zip’s invites visitors to use this new web page to explore Zip’s five categories of car carrier models: 10 Series, 12 Series LCG, 16 Series LCG, Conventional 4-Car and, as the newest member of our all-star lineup, the Multi-Deck LCG 4-Car.

    As an exclusive Miller Industries distributor, Zip’s offers Century, Vulcan and Chevron brands of carriers and can pair your preferred rollback model to any number of chassis, including Peterbilt, Kenworth, Freightliner, International, Hino, Ford, Ram and Chevrolet.

    “With decades of truck experience, Zip’s has the knowhow to match the proper truck specifications for each respective towing application,” said David Rottinghaus, executive vice president of Zip’s, in announcing the new web page.

    For the 10, 12 and 16 series, customers can click on the drop-down menus to learn more about chassis recommendations, bed capacities, steel vs. aluminum construction and so much more. Additional information will follow for the 4-car models.

    “Enjoy this custom Zip’s experience and educate yourself on the benefits of buying a car carrier from Zip’s along with learning the endless options available to build just the right car carrier rollback for you,” Rottinghaus said.

    View our carrier options for a user-friendly shopping experience or browse our carriers for sale today. As always, you can reach out to one of our personal truck sales consultants by calling 800-222-6047.


  • SBA loans available during COVID-19 pandemic

    by Cameron Hanson | Mar 24, 2020

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    The federal government has declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national disaster and is making funds available for small businesses to apply for low-interest, long-term loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

    New details are emerging daily, but we wanted to pass this information along to you--our loyal customers and trusted business partners--as we, together, navigate this unprecedented national emergency.

    According to the SBA, potential borrowers can apply for loans up to $2 million for physical damage, economic injury or general assistance. Applicants need to follow a three-step process and can determine eligibility by clicking here.

    Download the Three_Step_Process_SBA_Disaster_Loans.pdf for more information. You can apply for a loan online at the SBA’s secure website at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

    “We are determined to weather this storm, and like our customers, we will emerge stronger than ever,” Zip’s AW Direct President Paul Rottinghaus said. “That's why we are passing this information along to you. We’re in this together.”

  • Zip’s is now an authorized Landoll dealer

    by Cameron Hanson | Mar 17, 2020

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    Zip’s AW Direct became a fully authorized Landoll dealer in February of 2020. This latest addition of heavy-duty industrial trailers complements Zip’s already impressive inventory of tow trucks, industrial carriers, rollbacks and service vehicles.

    “We are excited about this new opportunity for our company and look forward to sharing Landoll’s extensive lineup of heavy-duty trailers with our existing and future customer base,” Zip’s President Paul Rottinghaus said.

    Based in Marysville, KS, Landoll has been producing trailers and farm equipment for more than 55 years. In addition to traveling axle trailers, the company also builds detachable trailers, traveling tail trailers, bottom dump trailers, industrial tag trailers and more.

    Zip’s is authorized to sell all types of Landoll trailers and replacement parts. Tow operators will find these trailers useful for large-scale recovery operations, and construction, rental and agricultural companies will appreciate how easy it is to transport their equipment with them.

    Complete details are available in our Landoll Brochures and Landoll Parts Manuals. You can also visit our Industrial Trailers page at Zips.com to view our current inventory.

    To purchase, contact one of our personal truck sales consultants at 800-222-6047 today. We look forward to working with you. 

  • Go beyond smart charging. Do more with Genius.

    by Cameron Hanson | Mar 11, 2020

     

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    Genius battery chargers are not only the lightest and most compact battery chargers ever, they’re also the most powerful. These new power packs charge up to three times faster than ordinary chargers, and they’re extremely safe with reverse polarity protection and spark-proof technology.

    Zip's AW Direct has teamed up with NOCO to offer three sizes of Genius jump starters. These handheld units can power up gas and diesel engines in cars, trucks, boats, commercial vehicles and equipment. The rugged and portable boosters can also provide remote power to tire pumps, inverters and chargers.

    The NOCO Genius boosters offer three ways to recharge their powerful lithium batteries: 1.) Clamp 2.) 12V plug 3.) USB port. The USB port can also charge personal electronic devices. The battery life for each charger depends upon size, ranging from 30 uses to 80 uses.

    Zip’s AW Directs sells the Boost XL, Boost HD and Boost Pro models of NOCO Genius power packs. Each comes with a different price point based on capacity and features.

    Learn more at our exclusive NOCO page at Zips.com/noco.

  • Employee Profile: Tiffany Fisher

    by Cameron Hanson | Feb 25, 2020

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    More than 30 employees team up to fulfill close to 400 orders each day in the Distribution Center at Zip’s AW Direct in New Hampton. This includes small parcel packages as well as large freight shipments.

    One of our dedicated shipping agents is Tiffany Fisher, a New Hampton native and our employee profile for the month of March. Tiffany has worked in the shipping department here for four years and takes pride in ensuring customer orders are accurate before shipping them out.

    Her husband, Brian, also works at Zip’s as a lead heavy-duty body installer, and the family-friendly environment here is what Tiffany said she values most about coming to work every day. “I really enjoy the friendly atmosphere and the friendships I’ve made from working here,” she said.

    In her spare time, Tiffany said she enjoys camping, hanging out with friends and “being out on the water.” Most importantly, though, she appreciates the time she can spend with her family. It’s what motivates her both personally and professionally.

    “My kids and my husband are my motivation,” Tiffany said. “I always try to do what’s best for them and our family.”

  • Add winch line power wrapping to your weekly maintenance routine

    by Cameron Hanson | Feb 05, 2020

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    Keep the cable on your winch drum neat and tight through a weekly maintenance procedure known as power wrapping. This exercise will prolong the life of your winch line by preventing weak points caused by unnecessary kinks and flat spots.

    “You should power wrap your winch at least once a week,” recommends Rene Jimenez, a technical advisor at Zip’s AW Direct. “You want to keep your wire rope tight on the spool so it doesn’t dive or kink and start what I call the paper clip effect, where the more it bends, the weaker it gets before eventually failing.”

    Power wrapping works in tandem with the cable tensioner. As illustrated in this video from Miller Industries, the procedure is performed by free-spooling the winch line out and then winding it back up under a load by attaching the hook to another vehicle or deadman.

    “As you pull the wire rope out, you want to keep at least seven wraps on that last layer so you don’t pull all of the wire rope out of the drum. That would create quite a mess,” explains Miller’s Billy Drane in the video.

    Experts say power wrapping should be done regardless of the size of the winch: from car carriers to heavy-duty recovery vehicles. The procedure is effective for both wire and synthetic rope. In fact, according to Jimenez, power wrapping helps “set the braid” on a new synthetic line.

    Power wrapping is “something that is very important to do,” Drane said. “What can tend to happen (when you don’t) is the loose wire rope going around the drum will cause the top layers to bury down (or dive) into the inner layers.”

    “Once you get in the habit of doing this regularly, it really doesn’t take very long to do,” Jimenez said. “Take a few minutes each week to prevent a headache down the road.”

  • Batteries don’t like the cold weather either

    by Cameron Hanson | Feb 05, 2020

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    Be prepared the next time your car won’t start with a jump pack from Zip’s AW Direct. We stock handheld chargers for the consumer, and powerful jump packs for the professional. In today’s blog, we are going to review a few of the models we currently have in stock.

    The first item to consider when purchasing a new jump pack is safety. Look for models with reverse polarity protection. This safeguard prevents usage when the cables are not connected correctly. You should also keep an eye out for battery packs that won’t function when the voltage setting is wrong.

    Another factor to look at is cable length, especially with a larger jump pack. Be sure to account for adequate clamp reach so the jump pack can rest safely on the ground. This prevents the pack from teetering on engine components or fenders when the hood is open on the disabled vehicle. 

    Cable length is also important when connecting to terminals located inside of a vehicle. This keeps the power pack away from interior upholstery and prevents an unnecessary mess. Let’s face it. Jump packs only look new and clean once.

    Cranking amps and battery ratings are also important items to research when purchasing a jump pack. Handheld models typically have lithium ion batteries. Their ratings are based on engine size. Larger jump packs with internal lead-acid batteries normally list cranking amps for capacity. 

    Based on size, here are some of the jump packs Zip’s AW Direct has to offer. Be sure to click on each name to link back to its respective product page for complete details. 

    • On the smaller scale is one of our newest models, the NOCO GB150 Boost Pro. This 4000-amp unit weighs just 7.5 pounds and can handle up to 80 starts per charge. The USB port can also charge personal electronic devices. 

    • Next up is the Weego Crankenstein. The lithium-ion battery here can last up to 30 hours and can recharge in just six hours. The Crankenstein includes an LED flashlight and can hold a charge for one year. The built-in voltmeter also comes in handy.

    • Perhaps one of our more popular models is the Jump-N-Carry JNC660 jump starter. This low-cost model features 425 cranking amps and 1700 peak amps. The unit weighs 18 pounds and features a DC outlet to power 12V accessories.

    • A close cousin to the JNC660 is the JNCAIR, which offers the same capacity as the JNC660 but includes an internal air compressor. You can fill one flat tire under eight minutes and up to four tires on a single charge. The coiled air hose stretches to 12 feet and delivers on-demand air. 

    • Two 12V heavy-duty sealed AGM batteries provide "Best in Class" performance for Associated Equipment's 6296 jump starter. This unit features 720 CCA of power and has a three-position "On/Off" switch with Easy-to-read LED battery status indicators.

    • The last battery pack we’re going to look at is the Rescue 2100 from Quick Cable. This commercial-grade model offers 900 12V cranking amps and includes a 15-amp circuit breaker, worklight, and warning flasher. The Rescue 2100 does weigh a little bit more but delivers enough charging power for most applications. 

    We hope you find this quick overview of jump packs at Zip’s AW Direct useful. To view our entire lineup, click on ‘Jump Start Equipment’ under ‘Roadside Assistance’ under our ‘Products’ section at zips.com.


  • Choose PRIME, our exclusive work truck car carrier package

    by Cameron Hanson | Feb 05, 2020

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    Tow companies enter the car carrier market for a variety of reasons. They may need a backup for the winter, their business volume has dictated a fleet expansion or they simply want to upgrade or replace a tired piece of equipment.

    Zip’s AW Direct has rollbacks to fit any price point. We can build a custom car carrier to your exact specifications, or we can put you in a quality trade-in from our dealer lot. Another worthwhile option to consider is a PRIME car carrier, our exclusive work truck package that is reliable and economical.

    We arrived at the word PRIME because this base model has the primary features that will satisfy your essential flatbed needs. Here, you won’t find an elaborate lighting system, aluminum beds, a lot of chrome or optional accessories like a side puller.

    Don’t let the modest exterior fool you, though. A PRIME car carrier is a solid work truck. They offer steel decks with standard equipment, including wheel lifts, to get the job done. Select from five chassis manufacturers and from three package options. Enjoy the peace of mind of a factory warranty as well.

    PRIME trucks do not compromise on safety or quality. They won’t break the bank either. They are budget-friendly and can save you thousands of dollars. Whether you lease or finance through us, we offer the options to keep your cash flowing and your expenses in check.

    We have brand new PRIME carriers at our Michigan location ready for you to own today. You can fly in and drive out. We’ll pick you up at the airport in Detroit and can get you back out on the road in no time. If you can’t make it to our facility, we can have one delivered to you. Either way, we make it easy.

    When you choose PRIME, you get a new car carrier for the price of a used truck. Take in-stock delivery today and put it to work tomorrow. For more information on a PRIME car carrier, contact one of our personal truck sales consultants today at 800-222-6047. 

  • Employee Profile: Randy Wickman

    by Cameron Hanson | Jan 28, 2020

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    Randy Wickman joined Zip’s AW Direct five years ago as a service writer and warranty rep. He was named service manager for our used truck division about a year ago. He now oversees repairs and reconditioning of used truck trade-ins and helps determine what repairs need to be made before resale.

    Given his “intimate knowledge” of each used truck, Randy said he can offer support to the sales staff here and can also be a resource for the customer after the purchase. “I am always available to assist with each potential sale and provide advice on the unit’s representation,” he said.

    In addition to sales and shop personnel, Randy said he works with several other departments at Zip's AW Direct, including the body shop, car carrier plant, finance, marketing and shipping and receiving. He described his co-workers as an “amazing team of people.”

    “I work with each department to make sure our jobs get completed and out to our customers,” he said. “I enjoy my position in the service department because I get to interact with almost every department here.”

    Randy said he is proud of the trucks Zip’s produces and enjoys seeing all of the Zip’s-built trucks on the road, making recoveries and taking care of customers. That pride motivates him to make sure every job he takes on is “done right” and to the best of his ability.

    “At the end of the day, I drive home knowing that I did the best job possible with each project I take on,” he explained.

    Home is now an acreage he and his wife recently purchased. When he is not busy settling in and making improvements, Randy said he enjoys racing motocross in his free time and rebuilding dirt bikes in his shop at home.

  • Make an informed decision on your next tow dolly purchase with Zip's AW Direct

    by Cameron Hanson | Jan 16, 2020

     

    You have a lot to consider when purchasing a new tow dolly. Zip’s AW Direct offers sets from two manufacturers: Collins and In The Ditch. We carry nine different models with capacities listed at either 3,040 pounds or 4,280 pounds, depending on tire size.

    In today’s blog as well as in the video above, we are going to break down the various components of a tow dolly and how they relate to durability and maintenance. Each featured part offers benefits and limitations, both of which can affect the price range of $1,485 to more than $2,000 per set.

    Due to their 8” utility tires, tow dollies typically have a maximum road speed of 60 mph, although most operators won’t push them past 50 mph for safety reasons. Choose from 5.70 or 4.80 tire sizes with steel or aluminum wheels. Besides speed, tire sizes also affect load capacity: the larger the tire, the greater the load it can handle. Be sure to check tire pressures regularly.

    Dolly assemblies are made from steel and are available with aluminum or steel axles. Aluminum axles offer a weight savings that your operators will appreciate. Steel components can be zinc-plated or powder-coated with each offering its own level of durability.

    Another item to consider is maintenance, especially this time of year. Tow dollies can often be neglected, and replacing a set may be the reason you’ve landed here. Zip’s AW Direct offers dollies with easy-to-lube grease zerks or with maintenance-free hubs. Featuring automotive sealed hubs and bearings, the latter can save you time and money and extend the life of your dolly. Choose what best fits your operation.

    You can compare options and learn more by visiting our tow dolly section online at www.zips.com/towing-accessories. Here you will find detailed product descriptions as well as tables identifying which features accompany each model.

    Also, don’t forget to check out our replacement dolly parts as well as our deck mounts and storage racks for your dollies when they are not in use.

  • Employee Spotlight: Nancy Caspersen

    by Cameron Hanson | Jan 02, 2020

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    Nancy joined Zip’s AW Direct one year ago as a Customer Service Representative. She was recently promoted as one of three new Key Accounts Representatives here. In her new role, she is looking to maintain “high levels” of customer service in ‘Rigging and Recovery’ parts and accessories.

    “My motivation comes from addressing problems and obstacles and helping customers overcome them,” she said. “I want to empower my clients with the knowledge of parts and accessories in the industry. I look forward to becoming a leader within the rigging and recovery business and finding what motivates others.”

    Nancy said she plans to cultivate relationships with current and prospective customers and will be relying on social media to achieve that goal. Her hard work and dedication have already garnered the attention of several of her customers, including Brandon Davis, owner of ABBA Towing & Recovery, Pawlsey Island, S.C.

    “I started in the towing industry about the same time as Nancy did at Zip's AW Direct,” Brandon said in a review. “The first time I called looking for products for the tow company that I was working for, I was connected with Nancy.  I was unsure of exactly what I needed, but I had a customer service rep who was extremely knowledgeable on the phone to guide me.

    “Her first priority has always been finding the best solution for my needs rather than being an ‘order- taker’ that just cares about making a sale,” Brandon added. “She, alone, has made me a Zip’s customer for life. She is second to none and goes out of her way to make me feel the same way.”

    In between her phone calls, Nancy took some time recently to respond to a few questions for today’s employee profile. Her responses now follow:

    Q. What do you enjoy most about working here?

    A. The family environment. We all work together to ensure each and every truck and parts order is done to the highest standard.

    Q. Is the glass half full or half empty?

    A. I've always been an opportunist. Instead of the normal half full, half empty look, I like to think there's an opportunity to keep the glass full at all times.

    Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?

    A. As a mom of three boys, my spare time involves going to football games. I also enjoy rebuilding and racing muscle cars. My current project is a ‘78 Camaro. I also love cross-country traveling and camping.

    If you have any ‘Rigging and Recovery’ needs or questions, Nancy is eager to help. You can reach her at 800-222-6047x142.

  • Kentucky Brothers Complete First Custom Build with Zip's AW Direct

    by Cameron Hanson | Oct 09, 2019

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    Brothers Steve (left) and Sam McGuire drove 12 hours straight through from eastern Kentucky to New Hampton, IA, last month to pick up their new LCG 21-foot steel car carrier from Zip’s AW Direct. The Century 12 Series rollback was the family’s first purchase from us.

    The brothers said they spared no expense on the exterior of the red 2020 Peterbilt and were planning to dress up the interior as well. The polished aluminum bed rails, stainless steel toolbox doors, shiny wide bumper, chrome bug shield and chrome visor were just a start, they said.

    “We’re shooting to make it back home in one day, but we have to stop by the chrome shop first,” explained Sam, who described himself as the “older and prettier” of the two siblings.

    “The interior is just too plain for us,” Steve joked, confirming their first stop of the return trip will be the famous Iowa 80 Truckstop two and a half hours away.

    The brothers hail from McGuires Towing, a 32-year-old towing and recovery company that is now well into its second generation. They operate out of Ashland, KY, and serve the tri-state area of Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.

    “Dad started out with just one truck in 1987 with a homebuilt bed, and we’ve kind of grown from there,” Steve said. “We’re just the next generation to keep it going.”

    “It has definitely evolved over years,” Sam added. “Dad has stepped back and given us the reins.”

    Their latest truck purchase joins a fleet that includes a Miller 1150 rotator, a heavy-duty straight stick, three car carriers, two tractor-trailers and other light-duty wreckers.

    Besides all of the exterior jewelry on this newest addition, the lighting package--highlighted by an LED message board--is sure to grab your attention as well. There’s also an SP9000 Sidepuller, GoJaks, storage trays and synthetic winch line.

    “We went a little overboard with this one,” Sam admitted. “We figured it’s just easier to do it now when it’s being built.”

    The brothers said they put together their shopping list for their custom car carrier by attending various tow shows and by researching Zip’s options online. “We’ve been following your trucks on social media and on your website for a long time now,” Sam said.

    Both Sam and Steve said their first time working with the staff at Zip’s AW Direct has exceeded their expectations. They were able to stay at the company’s complimentary on-site hotel suite and were very appreciative of the red-carpet treatment they received during their overnight stay here.

    “This has been a great experience for us,” Steve said. “You come to a place, and you usually don’t know where to stay, where to eat or anything like that. It’s nice to come here and meet all these nice people. They treat you like family here.”

    “We want to thank you guys for the hospitality,” Sam said. “We’re very grateful, and we’re definitely looking forward to doing business with you guys again.”

    To see the custom truck in person, visit our booth at the Tennessee Tow Show in Chattanooga Oct. 10-12.

  • Employee Spotlight: Carrick Johnson

    by Cameron Hanson | Sep 23, 2019
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    Carrick Johnson serves as our equipment sales order entry manager at Zip’s AW Direct in New Hampton, IA. He has served in his role at Zip’s for the past three years. His primary responsibility is to take equipment sales quotes and then transfer them to a production order to initiate the build process. He orders all of our chassis and truck bodies and ensures the compatibility of the parts sold.

    When not at work, Carrick describes himself as an avid hunter, fisher and trapper. He said he also likes to “tinker” in his shop with metal and woodworking. Let’s see what else makes Carrick tick:

    Q. What do you enjoy most about working at Zip’s AW Direct?

    A. The people and work environment make Zip’s a great place to work.

    Q. What motivates you professionally and personally?

    A. I always try to improve upon a process using the skills I’ve acquired in my career. It motivates me to also help others with their professional roadblocks. I tend to see if there is a “simple” answer to a complex problem.

    Q. Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

    A. Half full, if you made me choose. But I feel I am more of an optimistic realist. I see the best in people but have realistic expectations of situations based on my experience.

  • Employee Spotlight: Shelli Hawkins

    by Cameron Hanson | Sep 13, 2019

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    Today we visit with Shelli Hawkins, a strategic sales consultant here at Zip’s AW Direct. She is the towing industry’s biggest fan and shares that passion through her many active social media posts. Her smartphone is never far away as she frequently communicates with customers through calls, texts, Facebook, Whatsapp, SnapChat and Instagram.

    “I work in an industry that is on call 24/7 so I need to be available all the time as well,” Shelli said. “I get questions and requests through any and all media platforms imaginable. My goal every day is simply to help people who in turn help other people.”

    Shelli spent seven years in national sales with the original AW Direct before joining Zip’s three years ago. She said she prides herself on providing excellent customer service and achieves that level of care by partnering with the Product, Sales and Marketing teams here.

    “I work with customers to solve complex rigging and recovery problems, answer product questions and place orders as needed,” she explained. “I collaborate with product managers to ensure we have all the latest and greatest tools and apparel for our customers to be safe and efficient every day. I also work with the truck sales team to build new trucks or find used trucks to best fit our customers’ needs.”

    Shelli’s enthusiasm is contagious. She feeds off her “customer-focused” co-workers at Zip’s AW Direct and leaves no doubt about how she feels about the hard-working men and women we serve.

    “I love this towing industry and the people I work with,” she said. “I feel privileged to work here every day and never want to take it for granted. I have found my calling. This is an industry you take personally. I love the people and give them everything I have.”

  • New CARB Rules Lead to Fleet Upgrades

    by Cameron Hanson | Aug 26, 2019

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    Sacramento tow operator Ted Chima is bringing his fleet into compliance with new air-quality rules planned for 2020 from the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

    Starting next year, carriers domiciled in California with trucks older than 2011--or using diesel engines manufactured before 2010--will need to meet the state's new Truck and Bus Regulation. Non-compliant vehicles will be blocked from registering with the DMV starting Jan. 1.

    Founded in 1987, family-owned Chima's Towing currently operates 15 tow trucks, including light-, medium- and heavy-duty wreckers, carriers and rotators. Over the last 18 months, Chima has worked with the sales staff here at Zip’s AW Direct to update five pieces of equipment.

    His company’s latest purchases replace their 1998 and 2007 medium-duty car carriers. Chima’s son, Iran, currently operates a new Century flatbed with a sidepuller, and his father was in New Hampton, IA, last week to pick up a 2020 International 21-1/2 foot medium-duty car carrier.

    “We really weren’t looking to replace either one of them. There was nothing wrong with them, but the requirements in California are making me,” Chima said as he inspected his new red-and-white rollback waiting for him on the lot.

    Chima said he began working with Zip’s a year and a half ago as a result of the company’s quick turnaround time on truck orders.

    “That’s how our relationship started,” Chima explained. “We told them what we wanted, and they had it ready in a month. That was it. We needed a truck quickly, and they were able to do it.”

    Chima said he plans to be back at Zip’s at least two more times, and he said he appreciates the personal service he receives when he’s on site. It’s the main reason he said he chooses to pick up his new trucks instead of having them delivered.

    “When something is wrong, they deal with it right away,” Chima said.

  • Colorado Tow Company Gives Back

    by Cameron Hanson | Aug 20, 2019
    Cozy Corners Towing

     
    Jeremy and Alicia Ray of Cozy Corner Towing drove 12 hours from Colorado to New Hampton, IA, last week to pick up a light-duty wrecker from Zip’s AW Direct. The new Chevrolet was the couple’s fourth purchase from Zip’s in the last year and a half.

    The timing of the Aug. 16 delivery was especially fitting for Alicia, coming the day after her late grandfather’s birthday. Bob Swaney founded the Lafayette, CO-based company more than 30 years ago, and Alicia is now a third-generation owner of the business.

    Inducted in October of 2003, Swaney is a member of the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame in Chattanooga, TN. He was instrumental in organizing the Widows and Orphans Relief Fund in their state, and with their latest purchase, the Rays are planning to pay homage to the company founder.

    “Everybody has their own story to tell, but this is a pretty big deal to us,” Jeremy said. “I was never able to meet my wife’s grandfather, but our newest truck will be an ode to the person who started all of this…who started our company.”

    Swaney passed away 10 years ago. He was an active member and past president of the Towing and Recovery Professionals of Colorado. The Rays said they plan to keep the truck primarily white in honor of Swaney’s original company colors and will name it ‘Bobbie Joe’.

    The decision to minimize the decals on this latest truck purchase is in stark contrast to the rest of their fleet. Their other three trucks feature full decal wraps, displaying their support for various causes which are “personal to us and our families.”

    One truck features ‘Slow Down. Move Over’ decals and is dedicated to the Widows and Orphans Fund and the Wall of the Fallen tow truck operators' memorial. Another is decaled in support of breast cancer research, and a third calls attention to autism awareness.

    In addition to their moving billboards, they also donate a percentage of the revenue from each truck to its respective charity. They said it’s a way to promote the organizations they care about and to help improve the image of tow truck operators to the motoring public.

    “We just want to give back,” Jeremy said. “We don’t come from rich families. What we got is what we got. But being able to do something like this is one small thing we can do for others.”

  • Employee Spotlight: Kevin Einck

    by Brittany Stange | Aug 13, 2019

    kevin-e-for-blog-2019

    Kevin E. knows a thing or two about car carriers. He’s been installing them at Zip’s AW Direct in New Hampton, IA, for 15 years now and currently oversees production at the company’s “West Campus” facility.

    “I can usually walk by a truck and tell immediately if something’s not right,” he said. “I can point it out and let everyone know it’s not leaving the plant until it’s fixed. We don’t do sub-par work around here. We take pride in our quality.”

    With seven two-person crews on one shift, Zip’s produces as many as five new car carrier builds each week. Production ranges from the light-duty 19-foot rollbacks to the tandem-axle industrial carriers to the 30-foot four-car haulers.

    “We want to make sure we complete our trucks in a timely manner,” Kevin said. “Depending on the size, each build normally takes two and a half days. Some take longer with customization with lights and such. Our customers like a lot of bling and want to be noticed over their competitors.”

    Kevin works closely with the sales and parts departments at Zip’s to ensure each car carrier is built to exact customer specifications. He said he also assists the service department as needed and can walk a customer through an issue after the delivery.

    “Within two minutes, I can usually get the problem fixed over the phone and get them going again. I know this stuff over here like the back of my hand,” he said. “We want to take care of our customers and keep them coming back.”

    In his spare time, Kevin enjoys bowling, and during the summer, he’ll take an occasional Friday off to get a head start on the weekend to go camping. To learn more about car carriers at Zip’s, visit www.zips.com/trucks-and-equipment.

  • Lightbar Cleaning Methods

    by Austin Richards | Apr 05, 2019
    Lightbar Cleaning Tips


    Keeping wreckers clean and professional looking is part of maintaining a good business reputation. However, the cleaning methods used will vary depending on the components used on our wreckers. For instance, lightbar lenses have specific cleaning requirements depending on the manufacturer. The general steps for cleaning your lightbar are as follows:

    1. Wet lightbar with gently running water

    2. Use a mild, soapy detergent with a soft cloth to wipe lightbar clean

    3. Rinse lightbar with running water and use your soft cloth to remove water spots

    Below are excerpts from the owner’s manuals of several of our lightbar manufacturers.

    Whelen: “Use only soap and water to clean the outer lenses. Use of other chemicals could result in premature lens cracking (crazing) and discoloration. Lenses in this condition have significantly reduced effectiveness and should be replaced immediately. Inspect and operate this product regularly to confirm its proper operation and mounting. Do not use a pressure washer to clean this product.”

    PSE Amber: “Use either plain water and a soft cloth or Code 3® lens polish and a very soft paper towels or facial tissue. Because plastic scratches easily, cleaning is recommended only when necessary (about every six months). Do not subject the lenses to car washes that use brushes as these will scratch the lenses.”

    Federal Signal: “Crazing (cracking) of the lenses will cause reduced effectiveness of the light. Do not use cleaning agents (which will cause crazing) such as strong detergents, solvents or petroleum products. If crazing of lenses does occur, reliability of the light for emergency signaling purposes may be reduced until the lenses are replaced. Ordinary cleaning of the plastic lenses can be accomplished by using mild soap and a soft rag. Should fine scratches or haze appear on the lens, they can ordinarily be removed with a non-abrasive, high-quality, one-step automotive paste cleaner/wax and a soft cloth.”

    ECCO: “Occasional cleaning of the lenses will ensure optimum light output. Take care when cleaning lenses – although tough, polycarbonate scratches easily. Clean the lens and base with soap and water or a lens polish using a soft cloth. Do not use solvents as they may damage the polycarbonate. Do not subject the lightbar to high-pressure washers or automatic car washers.”