By Mike Pickford
Markham, Ontario -- August 29, 2016 -- Over a hundred professionals involved with the towing industry took over the Markham fairgrounds this past weekend (August 26 and 27) as the Provincial Towing Association of Ontario (PTAO) hosted its 18th-annual Tow Show.
Welcoming guests from all across the province, the PTAO provided the perfect mix of business and entertainment for those in attendance, with several “fun” competitions taking centre stage alongside the organization’s AGM, the announcement of a new provincial initiative and an extremely popular business management training program. Speaking to Canadian Towing and Recovery magazine following the annual event, PTAO President Joey Gagne noted this latest Tow Show was right up there alongside the best the provincial association had ever put together.
“The show this year was just awesome. We had people coming out from all across Ontario to join us for what was a great, great weekend,” Gagne said. “The turnout was right up there with the best we’ve ever seen. We really buckled down and came up with a great schedule for this year’s show and our members really responded to that.”
The association kicked off the event a little differently than it has done in the past with a special press conference highlighting a new initiative developed by the PTAO, CAA South Central Ontario and the provincial government.
As part of its ongoing effort to improve road safety across the province and on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the changes made to Ontario’s Slow Down, Move Over Law, the trio came together on Friday (August 26) to announce the launch of Tow Safety Week.
“Essentially, Tow Safety Week is exactly what is sounds like it would be – a brand new initiative designed to create a little bit of public awareness around the Slow Down, Move Over laws, as well as promoting safety as it relates to Bill 15 and just really making sure everyone is doing what they can to help keep drivers and tow truck operators safe,” Gagne said.
Pressing forward, the association launched right into its AGM, where discussions surrounding Bill 15 – also knows as the ‘Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, - upcoming association legislations and the PTAO’s annual elections taking centre stage. Gagne was re-elected for a 12th straight year as president, while newcomers Bryce Weber, of Aces Heavy Towing, and Andrew Vink of Herb’s Towing replaced the outgoing Gadi Cohen, of Co-up Towing Services and Duncan Cooper, of Cornwall Towing, on the association’s 9-person board.
“I’m really pleased with the addition of Bryce and Andrew to the board this year. Alongside some of the other new additions over the past couple of years, this makes up one of the youngest boards we’ve ever had,” Gagne said. “They’re all bringing some great new thoughts and ideas forward and it’s looking like we’re going to have a very bright future here at the PTAO.”
Daniel Dion, Shawn Baker, Mark Graves, Derek Didone, Barry Money and Salvatore Fedele make up the rest of the PTAO board for the coming year.
While he was clearly pleased with the new additions to the board, Gagne reserved special praise for the outgoing members who he believes “gave everything they had” to the association for the duration of their stay.
“Gadi and Duncan are two great guys that have done an enormous amount of work for our association and the industry as a whole. They each put a lot of time and effort into getting us where we are today,” Gagne said. “But such is life, people are busy. I think they knew it was perhaps time to let some new blood come on board and they really passed the torch to these new guys, which we’re all very excited about. Their presence and contributions to the board will be missed.”
Running alongside the AGM was the bread and butter of the annual event – its main trade show. With over 20 vendors on hand from all across Ontario, Gagne said there was a fantastic mix of industry professionals on hand to promote their product and offer their expertize to the members in attendance.
“We’re extremely fortunate as an association to have such a loyal group of vendors that consistently come back year after year after year,” Gagne said. “The trade show was once again a huge success. Canadian Towing Equipment has always been one of our biggest supporters and they returned once again, we had several GPS companies in attendance, Drive Wise had a booth… It was just a fantastic event.”
Friday also saw the unveiling of the ‘mystery tow truck’ the PTAO had been advertising leading up to the event. It was revealed to be Canadian Towing Equipment’s newest tow truck, which was well received by those in attendance.
Rounding out the educational aspect of the show, members were invited to an evening of entertainment, provided by Yuk Yuks comedians Sam Easton and Rob Bebenek – something that was “very well received” according to Gagne. There was a special pig roast banquet provided on Saturday (August 27), along with a sprinkling of competitions over the course of weekend.
The show came to a fitting end on Saturday with the presentation of this year’s Towman of the Year award. Andy Gobbo of the Sudbury-based Gobbo Towing was recognized for all his years of hard work in the industry.
“Andy is one of the most genuinely kind, honest and dignified people that I know. He’s a very professional man and a great leader in the towing industry and a fine member of our association,” Gagne said. “He’s very well deserving of the Towman of the Year title.”
With yet another hugely successful Tow Show in the bag, Gagne said the organization wouldn’t be resting on its laurels, declaring instead that the board was already focusing on the year ahead. Following a successful inaugural session this past weekend, Gagne said the PTAO would be bringing its “incredibly popular” business management program back once again in the fall.
“The business manager training seminar we hosted on Saturday was probably the hottest event we had at the show this year – it sold out and was very, very well attended. It was so well attended and there was such a demand for it that we’ve already decided we’re going to be hosting another one this October at our head office in Bracebridge,” Gagne said. “It’s very exciting. It’s a great way for us to carry the momentum of this year’s Tow Show forward and into the future.”
For more information on the PTAO and its business manager training seminar, visit ptao.org.