You started in towing long before ever attending a WreckMaster class. How did you get your start in the industry?
I was born into the industry. My family’s business has evolved over the course of its 103 year history. Beginning as a blacksmith shop in 1917, the generations of Burrows Heavy Wrecker men have adapted to the changing needs of transportation. I began watching my father and grandfather work their Holmes 750’s and W-45’s at a very early age. When I was seven years old, my father allowed me to run the controls of a wrecker to upright an upset tractor and trailer. That event cemented my desire to join my father and grandfather, wherever and whenever they’d take me along to watch, help and learn the trade. Officially speaking, I began full-time employment with the family’s business in 1997; operating a heavy-duty wrecker.
What was it like attending your first WreckMaster class?
In 2007 I attended my first WreckMaster course in Louisville, KY. David Bouvia presented the Level 2/3 to a group of operators that I had known and worked with for years. I was 29 years old when I attended this course and had been a professional operator for 10 years. I had convinced myself that nothing useful would be gained by taking a “Light-Duty” class. David laid out the 2/3 curriculum, as he so masterfully does, and showed this egotistical operator that when the foundation hasn’t been properly built, failures and weaknesses will become evident the higher you build. As I reflect upon my learnings from the Level 8/9, the core disciplines taught in the Level 2/3 are essential for preparing an experienced operator for life and work in the ditch.
How did you become more involved with WreckMaster?
I have been blessed with mentors and leaders that have instilled in me the calling to return to others that which has been given to me. Many great operators and industry professionals have taught me and shared their wisdom with me. My company chose to begin hosting WreckMaster classes to allow a channel for that valuable knowledge and wisdom to reach further into our industry. A dear friend and colleague, Nick Schade of Tony’s Wrecker Service and I worked together to sponsor and produce many classes at our respective companies. In addition to team hosting, Nick has challenged me with applying the WreckMaster Discipline to my daily life and career. Nick and I share photos of jobs, each printing the other’s photos and drawing angles and calculating line loads. I owe a great deal of where I am today to my wonderful friend Nick.
In 2015 I was recognized as a WreckMaster Top 10. Then, in 2018 I was surprised with the highest honor bestowed by WreckMaster, the WreckMaster of the year award. I was humbled and filled with immense pride all at the same time. I shared the moment with my family and vowed to be a voice to the industry, taking the elements of professionalism, community, confidence, safety, knowledge and integrity to every operator that will listen.
I began traveling with Lead Instructor Scott Aey to learn the ropes of instructing the WreckMaster curriculum. Scott shared his experience and knowledge with me to help prepare me for the opportunity to advance to the position of instructor. I also traveled with Randy Biichle and Kurt Wilson. I learned quickly that each instructor has their own style. But, the strength of the core content is evident and consistent across the entire instructor team. This feature of the WreckMaster brand is what makes it the most sought after and valuable training and certification program in our industry today. I’m proud to represent this company and all that it stands for.
What was it like teaching your first WreckMaster class?
From 2002 until 2010, I worked as a professional firefighter in addition to my career as a towing operator. I was a fire instructor during my Fire and Rescue career. I developed and presented training to firefighters at my department and others. My area of focus was training recruit firefighters and new pump operators. Teaching groups of people was not new to me by the time I taught my first WreckMaster class. However, teaching in front of groups of towing operators, some of which had been in the industry for many years was very different. The first priority for me was presenting the information in a way that would challenge a person’s thinking without having them reject the concepts based on the “That’s how I’ve always done it” mentality. I believe that a leader or instructor that can inspire genuine curiosity within their students will be highly successful. A person has to desire to ask themselves the challenging questions and I want to be there to offer the best answer possible.
What do you think that WreckMaster offers that the industry is currently missing?
To be an industry that offers careers, not just jobs, towing and recovery needs to embrace strategies that empower operators to earn a wage that is consistent with the risk and sacrifices made to deliver the service. To provide that wage, towing companies also need to earn more for their services as well. However, the consumer will not be willing to pay more for the service if it is delivered on par with the way that the general public currently perceives wrecker drivers. Our companies and operators need to enhance their image by increasing their knowledge, conducting themselves in a more professional manner, and working together to make Towing and Recovery a top tier industry; one that is respected as much as Law Enforcement, Fire/Rescue and EMS. Wreckmaster offers the tools to support this change. The model of professionalism, gaining knowledge through training and teamwork are integral to our company. A company or an operator that partners with WreckMaster has and edge over the competition in becoming a more professional and higher compensated representative of the Towing and Recovery Industry.