Spent some time on the phone recently with my good friend Kim who owns a tow company on Oahu.  We were talking about how we both "backed into" this business, almost against our will.  It reminded me of my humble beginnings in the industry, over 30 YEARS AGO, which is amazing because I'm only 38.

Okay, maybe not 38.

My older brother and my brother-in-law got jobs driving tow truck for Marty Oppenlander at Hillsboro Towing in Hillsboro, Oregon, in the mid-70s (wow, Marty, how old are YOU?). This gave my dad the CRAZY idea that he should buy a tow truck company to take advantage of their “expertise.”  Regardless of how strenuously people tried to stop him, he did it anyway.

My first "job" in the industry was to answer phones and run the storage yard through the summer when I was 15.  8 am-6 pm, Monday-Friday.  I got to live with my older brother, so that was fun.  Often I was out running calls with him all night and all weekend as well.  My
"salary?"  $200 per month.  Plus room and board, of course.

Some fun things I remember:
1. Helping to recover a Combine that rolled down a steep hill and crashed through some trees and had to be pulled up through the stumps about 300 yards.  When we got it out and hooked up to it, the heavy-duty wrecker we had kept slipping on the grassy field as we tried to drive up the steep incline.  It was another 1000 yards up to the road, so we didn't want to have to move-and-winch our way up.  My brother drove his short-box Chevy 4x4 down and we chained it to the front of the wrecker, and just that little bit of extra power got us up the hill.  Would have made a great video for GM.

2. Helping my brother-in-law paint an old convertible MG for a local police officer, and the spray gun wasn't working too well, so we were about halfway into the job when the runs in the paint were looking real bad.  My brother-in-law poked a hole in the paper covering the vehicle interior and drove off to a REAL body shop to sub-contract the work, with his head stuck out of the hole so that was all you could see of him as he drove down the road with the car still taped and papered (and half-painted).  He kind of looked like Mr. Bean.

The business didn't work out so well for my dad, so I SWORE that I would never work in towing.  Then, of course, in my early twenties,
my brother-in-law called me because he was managing a company and needed a driver.  The rest is history.  That was 1986.  Sometimes
I'm asked if I ever think about leaving the industry.  My pat answer: "Daily."  But here I am.  The industry seems to have its hooks in me, so to speak.  I imagine there are many of you out there who share that feeling.

Have a
safe and profitable week.

Nick Kemper


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