Ron Myers is a life-long tow truck operator. He did his first tow at the age of 12 – something you’d never see these days.
“Things were different back in 1972 at my local motor speedway,” Myers recalled with a chuckle. “They even let me drive a tow truck. Hard to believe when you think about that now, but the guys at the track knew me since I started driving midgets when I was nine years old. I grew up on the track; it was my second home. When I got older, they let me do everything from picking up trash; to parking cars; to operating a tow vehicle. When I was 16, they let me operate a Ford 350 with Holmes 440 wrecker body. I was on top of the world.”
Today, Myers is still on top of the world with his own towing company, Pine Tree Towing and Recovery, based in Cambridge, Ohio. With three locations and growing, Pine Tree Towing is the largest towing operation in southeast Ohio, and it has the most capabilities – light and heavy-duty towing. The fleet operates 17 tow vehicles, including six Class 8 heavy-duty units. The newest two trucks in the fleet are Kenworth T880 twin steers – one equipped with a 50-ton rotator, and the second, about to be delivered, has a 75-ton rotator.
Miller Industries installed the truck bodies and rotators, while the twin steer front axles were installed by Simard in Canada. Miller Industries receives the Kenworth chassis from MHC Kenworth – Chattanooga. Local parts and service support is supplied by Kenworth of Canton, a Hissong dealership.
According to Myers, he still tries to get behind the wheel every day, and his favorite truck to pilot? “The T880 twin steer,” he said. “I just love to drive and handle challenges with the biggest equipment we have. Every day is different and every tow or recovery must be figured out before attaching the tow cables. We’re on call 24/7 – we never know what to expect or when it might happen.”
Last year, Myers was the lead on a recovery of a sand tanker that went off a road and down an embankment. His first T880 twin steer and another Kenworth truck, both with 50-ton rotators, were necessary. “The beauty of the twin steer setup is a sharper turning radius, plus it evens out the overall weight and gives us a bigger footprint for winching,” explained Myers. “On this particular recovery, we had our downriggers out and began winching, but the ground pressure got to be so great, the road started to crack and give way. We had to cheat back on the downriggers and use the raptor control (that provides load sensing information) with scales, so we could monitor exactly how much weight was on the line. It was pretty harrowing for awhile, but we were able to recover the tanker.” The recovery was so technical, Pine Tree was featured in Tow Times magazine as its “recovery of the month.”
More typical recoveries and tows are called in by a solid core of customers. “About 80 percent of our business is repeat – we work with fleets who might need a vehicle towed,” said Myers. “We also work in the oil and gas industries, and they sometimes call us to reposition tanks and vessels. That’s one reason we ordered the T880 twin steer with the 75-ton rotator. As you extend out the boom from the rotator, you lose weight lifting capability. The vessels we’re moving can be extremely heavy, so we need the bigger capability that a 75-ton rotator offers.”
That latest Kenworth T880 twin steer also features something new in Myers’ fleet – Kenworth’s 40-inch sleeper. “The sleeper will give our drivers a place to grab a nap, or log some off duty hours,” Myers said. “This truck will get sent on our most difficult jobs, and often we can’t be sure how long the job will take. That’s why we spec it with the sleeper.”
Pine Tree Towing also works with the Ohio DOT, so the company is always on call for removals on local roads and interstates. “That part of our business gets extremely busy when we have a weather event, and we’re exempted from hours of service regulations,” said Myers. “Typically winter is a little slower for us since there are fewer cars on the road (less tourists), but when snow and ice hits it’s another story. When that happens, our mission is to get the roads back open as quickly as possible. If a road is closed due to an accident, the state gives us a $2,500 bonus if we can get it re-opened in 90 minutes. There is a big incentive on both sides.”
Myers said he decided the Kenworth T880 was the truck for him after visiting several tow shows. “You could tell Kenworth put a lot of time and effort into driver comfort with the new model,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of experience with Kenworths over the years. When we added heavy-duty hauling in 2000, our first truck was a Kenworth medium duty, and then a T800 followed. They’re just tough, reliable trucks. And reliability is so key in our business. When someone calls for a tow or a recovery, they don’t want to hear anything else but ‘we’re on our way.’ There are no excuses in our business.”
Over the years, Pine Tree Towing has become a family affair. “Towing gets in your blood,” said Myers. “My three sons are all involved in the business. My middle son, Christopher, works with me full-time, while my two other boys work with Pine Tree part time. My son Jamie is a level 6-7 wrecker master, which is just one level from the very top. Andrew also has his A CDL and operates a wrecker. They both love running jobs and doing recoveries as much as I do.”
Myers said he has no plans to slow down. “I enjoy what I’m doing and its great that my boys are involved in the business,” he said. “We continue to grow and have service agreements in a six-state area. Our service and reputation continues to drive our expansion.”
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