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Being a tow truck driver a 'lifestyle

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Down to Business: Being a tow truck driver a 'lifestyle,' not a career — 'this place is in my blood'

 

Phone/website: 630-978-7100; www.nartowing.com

Owner: Josh Wisch, of Aurora.

 

Years in business? “My father, Don Wisch, started the business 35 years ago. I’ve been the owner since 2011,” Josh Wisch, 34, said.

 

What does your business do? “We tow for seven police departments: Naperville, Warrenville, Lisle, West Chicago, DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, DuPage County Forest Preserve (District) and Winfield. We also do emergency tows, roadside assistance, flat tires and jump starts.”

 

How busy was the polar vortex? “We did 227 calls in three days. I’ve got six guys working. It was insane.”

 

What’s the best part of doing business in Naperville? “It’s heavily populated, so there’s more business coming your way. Towing for the police is steady income. I like the accounts I have, body shops, mechanics.”

 

What challenges do you face? “It’s a dangerous job. Every tow is different. Some are harder than others. You have to pull up the vehicle without damaging it further. We have five trucks and they seem to go down in multiples. It never fails.”

 

Do you have a busy time of year? “We’re pretty consistent all year round. When you get bad weather, light rain or a dusting of snow, that’s when the roads are slick and we are busy. When we get more snow, we’re not that busy because people are more cautious.”

 

What’s the best part of this business? “Every person you meet is different. I like communicating with my customers. My employees make it easy for me. They’ve all been here six-plus years, trustworthy people.”

 

What’s the worst part? “My wife, Jackie, does a lot of my billing. That helps a lot. But I still manage all the phones, manage a lot of my paperwork. I’m doing that and driving a truck all day long.

 

Is towing a tough job? “This isn’t a career. It’s a lifestyle. My dad saw two of my high school basketball games. It’s a hard job to adapt to. You always work beyond the time you want to get off. When the weather is bad, you’re called in. I’ll go months without putting my four daughters to sleep. There aren’t too many women who’d put up with this. Jackie is a trooper.”

 

What do you like about owning a business? “This place is in my blood. It’s aggravating sometimes, but I like being in control of something, to be a leader to others. Coming from sports, I always wanted to be a leader.”

 

What’s your sports connection? “I played varsity basketball at Naperville Central. I was a starter, small forward. I started playing basketball at Ripon College in Wisconsin, but gave up on that. I coached the basketball team at Marmion Academy for five, six seasons.”

 

What’s the biggest misconception people have about your business? “They don’t understand these tow trucks cost $110,000, $120,000. Then they argue about a $75 tow for a $50,000 vehicle. And they don’t understand the danger we put ourselves in. Drivers don’t move over for construction workers or police officers. Why are they going to move over for a tow truck driver?”

 

What’s the story about the dog? “Daisy is a 3-year-old German Shepherd. She does not like anybody she does not know. She stays here overnight. She has in-out access. A few weeks ago, there was a guy carrying around bolt cutters. He ended up getting arrested for criminal trespassing. We think his intent was to cut the chain on my fence and drive his car out. He was standing on top of the back fence, and she came flying out. He about (needed a new pair of pants). He threw some McDonald’s (food) over the fence, maybe to calm her down, but she was not having any of that. She did her job.”

 

Do you have any favorite stories? “One woman was about to rear-end a tow truck on Route 59. She somehow moved at the last second to the passenger side. The corner of the bed went through the windshield to the rear window. It would’ve taken her head off.”

 

What do you have planned for the future? “In the next month or so, a mechanic shop will be in the garage here. And I’d like to get into heavy-duty towing, bigger trucks. I’ll need bigger tow trucks for those. They cost $300,000 to $700,000 each.”

 

Any tips for people waiting for a tow? “I don’t care how the weather is, get out of the car. Wait in the grass because you can’t trust drivers.”

 

What advice would you give someone starting a business? “Be ready to put the time and effort in. Nothing happens overnight. It’s a grind. If you have a family, don’t expect to see them.”

 

Steve Metsch is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

 

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