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TowTimes.com - Audio Article: Woman of Towing


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Woman of Towing: Julie Pawlak

from the December 2022 Issue of Tow Times Magazine

WOT-Proof-565.jpgJulie Pawlak is a second-generation member of a French towing family who has begun to make changes at the company founded by her parents, Philippe and Nathalie Pawlak. In the next year, she and her 23-year-old brother plan to take over the company while their parents, both aged 58, enjoy some retirement. That’s not all. Pawlak plans to digitize the company’s operations further and recently she launched a training program for towing operators.

“We’re working on it,” says Pawlak, 31, of Ile de France Dépannage, which started in 1993 with one truck, and is located outside of Paris, France. She’s not kidding. The towing company has 25 trucks, 19 workers and contracts with auto repair, motor and instrument companies. Ile de France Dépannage conducts about 18,000 tows a year – her dad still drives a tow truck, her brother is in charge of the fleet, she is in charge of operations, and her mom likes to work the night hours. “She doesn’t want somebody else to do it.” Pawlak credits their great location – between Paris and Disneyland Paris – for the company’s good business. “There are tourists and a lot of people,” she says, all of which drives up towing. “The number of interventions [tows] is up every year. The more people come the more activity,” she says. Pawlak began working at Ile de France Dépannage during summers starting at age 15. After high school she replaced an administrative employee. When the summer was over, she left to study real estate but found it “a bit boring.” “After a few weeks I realized that I preferred the job in my parent’s company.” She returned but her parents also insisted she finish her schooling in small business management, which she did in three years.

WOT-Proof-565-1.jpgPawlak is drawn to the logistics of towing. “I like the multitasking,” she explains. “One day it’s administrative, after it’s marketing and management. It’s not boring.” It’s about to get more interesting. Pawlak indicates there is no towing operator certification in France, which contributes to a shortage of drivers. But with plans to grow the company, she’s taken matters into her own hands. “If we want to grow we will need more guys,” Pawlak comments. “We would like to create the training.” Pawlak launched a training class this month. “We decided to start a training organization.”

Pawlak attributes her creativity and onslaught of ideas to her work as a digital project manager with a software startup company in 2017. She alternated three days at the family business with three days at the startup to develop the repair application PowerPanne. “My career took a U-turn in 2017 while seeking to digitize our process. It was an incredible experience to work on this.” The project proved to be a game changer. “I met managers of towing companies all over France,” she explains. “In 5 years PowerPanne has become the market leader.” Pawlak considers paper to be stagnant. “We do things faster. We need mobility.

With a good software company we can do it. With paper it’s inflexible.” When Pawlak is not thinking of ways to transform Ile de France Dépannage, she’s focusing on her 7-year-old son. She’s grateful that her parents lend a helping hand so she can concentrate on Ile de France Dépannage. “I trust them and it’s free,” she laughs. It’s been 13 years since that summer in 2009 when Pawlak first began to work in the towing and recovery business. Looking back, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s not easy all the time,” she says. “But we’re working on it.”


View the full article and more on TowTimes.com

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