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TOWING&RECOVERY May 2010 Reaching thousands of industry professionals monthly Publishing Pioneer Following in the footsteps of Footnotes’ founding father DAYS PAST Looking Back With Bill Jackson & Stormin Norman Page 6 & 10 HAULING HISTORY Vintage Trucks John Gunnell keeps ‘em alive Page 13 EARLY TIMES The Veterans: Memories from years of towing Page 11 Volume 20, Number 13 ❘ $3.95 FOOTNOTES ® Footnotes Founder Jon Lehman with his wife, Joyce By Allan T. Duffin Three things you might not know about Footnotes: 1. It was started in the home office of a towing company owner who would eventually log over 20 years in the industry. © 2010 Dominion Enterprises. All Rights Reserved. 2. It’s always been advertiser-sup- ported so it could be distributed free as a service to members of the towing and recovery industry 3. The title was originally spelled Phootnotes.Why? Read on. For this 20th Anniversary edition, Footnotes reunited with its founder, Jon Lehman, to discuss how the towing and recovery industry’s trade paper came about; its growth during the first decade of publication, after which Lehman sold it to Trader Publications (now Dominion Enterprises); and why Lehman is spending what he playfully calls his “retirement years” as a race car driver. Footnotes readers who’ve been with us from the beginning will recall those early issues published in now-faded See OUR FOUNDER, page 3 DIGITAL! We’ve Gone Towing&Recovery Footnotes® 10 Bokum Rd. Essex, CT 06426 PRST STD MAIL U.S.POSTAGE PAID Peoria,IL PERMIT 1160

Our Founder

Allan T. Duffin

Three things you might not know about Footnotes:<br /> <br /> 1. It was started in the home office of a towing company owner who would eventually log over 20 years in the industry.<br /> <br /> 2. It’s always been advertiser-supported so it could be distributed free as a service to members of the towing and recovery industry<br /> <br /> 3. The title was originally spelled Phootnotes.Why? Read on.<br /> <br /> For this 20th Anniversary edition, Footnotes reunited with its founder, Jon Lehman, to discuss how the towing and recovery industry’s trade paper came about; its growth during the first decade of publication, after which Lehman sold it to Trader Publications (now Dominion Enterprises); and why Lehman is spending what he playfully calls his “retirement years” as a race car driver.<br /> <br /> Footnotes readers who’ve been with us from the beginning will recall those early issues published in now-faded Black and white. It would have been very hard for Lehman to imagine back at the beginning what technology has allowed publishers to do today.<br /> <br /> Now Footnotes uses four-color in print, can be read on its website (www.<br /> <br />, and be seen monthly both in a digital format and through a one-page monthly e-newsletter called TowBriefs. Also, Footnotes is now on Facebook, Twitter, and is the sponsor of the popular towing and recovery online news source, TowBlog (www.the With all that, we continue to work hard to keep Footnotes up-to-date and of service to this industry, ever mindful of the high standards that Jon Lehman established back in 1990, when he produced the first edition in his Peoria, Illinois, home.<br /> <br /> Call Big Tow Native of Rock Island, IL, Lehman attended nearby Bradley University in Peoria, specializing in business management and engine power technology.<br /> <br /> He flirted briefly with the automotive industry, then joined a local towing company.<br /> <br /> But he was an entrepreneur at heart, and soon he was looking for a new challenge. “A lot of people said I could do better on my own,” recalled Lehman.<br /> <br /> “I thought I knew it all, and I could do it better. So I did.” In 1974, Lehman opened the doors at Big Towing Company (“In a jam? Call Big Tow!”). Over the years the firm laid claim to a number of pioneering moves in Peoria:<br /> <br /> • first towing company there to send its drivers to training schools sponsored by towing associations<br /> <br /> • first to emblazon its entire vehicle fleet with a uniform paint scheme<br /> <br /> • first to install wheel-lift units in its trucks, and<br /> <br /> • first to use computers for inventory and tracking.<br /> <br /> Bright Idea <br /> <br /> Lehman was hardly a novice as a publisher when he launched Phootnotes.<br /> <br /> He’d already spent several years working on the PTROI Beacon, the newsletter of the Professional Towing and Recovery Association of Illinois.<br /> <br /> The publisher of the Beacon, Gail Gratzianna, was part of the familyowned company O’Hare Towing Service, which had been a fixture in the Chicago suburbs since 1963. (The Gratzianna family is currently featured on the Speed television network’s reality series “Wrecked: Life in the Crash Lane.”) Gail’s husband Jack Gratzianna originally recruited Lehman, launching the latter’s publishing career. “Jack said,You’re going to help Gail with the Beacon,’” recalled Lehman. “It wasn’t a question, request, or a choice. Those of you who knew Jack understand this. If it weren’t for Jack and Gail, I would never have had the opportunity to retire when I was 53.” He added: “I really miss those two. What nice people.” Gratzianna and Lehman’s efforts on the Beacon got noticed — and not just locally. The subscription base increased as more and more towers realized how helpful the newsletter could be to their businesses. “The Beacon was getting to be pretty popular all over the state,” said Lehman, “plus people outside of the state wanted to get it too.” That’s when Lehman had an idea: If towers in several states were interested in an industry publication from Illinois, why not launch a newspaper for a national audience?<br /> <br /> Why That “Ph”?<br /> <br /> Lehman started his new publication with very limited resources. He had a home office, an understanding and helpful wife in Joyce, and a very clear goal. “At the time, a lot of people in the towing business were just tow truck drivers,” explained Lehman. “I wanted to help them become better business owners so they could make more money.” But first Lehman needed to give his industry paper a name.<br /> <br /> Although it might look a bit strange, the original title of the trade paper — Phootnotes with a “Ph” — was actually a logical outgrowth of Lehman’s business activities. “My towing company was the Big Towing Company,” said Lehman. “So I was known as ‘Big Tow.’” A close friend gave Lehman the nickname “Foot.” Whenever Lehman made restaurant reservations, he refrained from giving his last name because people had difficulty spelling and pronouncing it (it’s “Lay-man”). To keep things simple, Lehman would give his name as “Foot,” not caring how people spelled it. When they did ask for clarification, Lehman would spell it with a “Ph,” as in Phoot — “Just to be ornery,” he said.<br /> <br /> And so, Lehman came up with a unique name: Towing & Recovery Phootnotes.<br /> <br /> Why Phootnotes? The “Ph” was really a typical Lehman joke, but as to the rest, he explained, “It wasn’t supposed to be a know-it-all newspaper. It was supposed to be something to help you as a tower, something to give you a push and help you do your job better.<br /> <br /> It was intended to be a ‘footnote’ to the industry.” Built By Hand Lehman’s goal with Phootnotes was to provide the towing industry with critical information on business management, industry news, tow show notices, and much more, all with a mixture of humor to keep it interesting and, added Lehman, “more fun to edit.” Back in 1990, desktop publishing — designing documents on a computer — was still in its infancy. Lehman built the early issues of Phootnotes by hand, one page at a time, by glueing headlines and text onto a layout board. He and Joyce would complete the pasteup of each issue at home, then take the pages to P&P Press in Peoria, where Phootnotes was printed each month.<br /> <br /> At first Lehman wrote every article that appeared in Phootnotes. But as word about the newspaper grew, so did its subscriber base. Then something interesting happened. “All of a sudden, people decided they wanted to help and they started sending in articles,” said Lehman. “It was the neatest thing I’d ever seen. I didn’t go out and ask. All I had to do was edit what they sent. It was wonderful.” “The people who volunteered to share their knowledge and help their fellow competitors were very special,” he continued. “I’ll be forever grateful to them for their contributions. My biggest fear in starting Phootnotes was what to put in the third issue and beyond. My contributing editors saved me.” A consistent feature of Phootnotes — still true today — was that the publication was advertiser-supported from its inception. Issues were, and still are, mailed and distributed free of charge to members of the towing industry, although many towers today pay a little extra annually to get their issues early by first-class mail.<br /> <br /> From the beginning, Lehman insisted that Phootnotes should be easily available to those who needed it most.<br /> <br /> “If you made people pay for it,” said Lehman, “people who needed it probably couldn’t get it. A lot of other industries have trade publications and they’re always free.” Well Supported Fortunately, advertisers readily supported Phootnotes. Because of his work with state and national towing associations, Lehman already had a Rolodex crammed with useful contact information.<br /> <br /> “It took a lot of phone calls, but it wasn’t hard,” recalled Lehman. “I tried to make an ad size for everybody, down to 1/20th of a page and business cardsized ads,” so even the smallest of advertisers could “get his name out there.” By catering to every possible advertiser — no matter how large or small — Lehman was able to pay his printing and distribution costs.<br /> <br /> To increase the number of subscribers, Lehman acquired mailing lists, membership rosters from towing organizations, and even local phone books. “Every place I’d go, I’d grab a phone book,” said Lehman. “I made sure we had those names in our database.” Joyce handled circulation and assisted with proofreading and advertising.<br /> <br /> Why did Lehman choose to publish a trade paper instead of, say, a glossy magazine? “I wanted it to be different, so it would stand out,” he explained. “If it was lying in a pile on someone’s desk or on the bathroom floor — I’ve heard people read in there — you’d notice it.<br /> <br /> You’d know it was Phootnotes.” In the early 1990s, Lehman sold his towing company after more than 20 years at the helm. He had moved out of the local vicinity — making it difficult if Not impossible for him to respond to calls personally — and Phootnotes was taking up an increasing amount of his time. “I was putting in 14- to 16- hour days,” recalled Lehman. Publishing Phootnotes always had been a two-person operation by Jon and Joyce Lehman.<br /> <br /> Finally Sold By 1999, the Lehmans had invested nearly a decade in Phootnotes. “It was doing very well,” said Lehman. “Sales of newspaper publishing companies were at an all-time high, and the economy was good.” Itching to try something new, Lehman decided to put Phootnotes up for sale. He hoped to find a new home for the newspaper that would maintain the quality and continue helping towers improve the way they did business.<br /> <br /> He needed to find someone who understood what Phootnotes was all about.<br /> <br /> Lehman hired a broker, who contacted a number of publishing companies to see if anyone was interested.<br /> <br /> Rather than putting Phootnotes up for auction, Lehman provided a prospectus to each potential buyer and asked them to place a one-time highestoffer bid if they were interested.<br /> <br /> Among the prospects was a company called Trader Publications, located in Norfolk, VA.<br /> <br /> At the time, Trader Publications was the largest company in the U.S. dedicated to publications supported by photo-classified advertising. Among its publications were Auto Trader, Boat Trader, Truck Trader, Aero Trader, and many others. Lehman liked what he saw of the company and struck a deal.<br /> <br /> A New Home On November 15, 1999, Phootnotes moved to its new home at Trader Publications. Clark Carriker, a freelance contributor to Phootnotes under Lehman, became the editor for a while, working out of his home in the deep South, with his faithful dog Spotless by his side. In October 2002, Bill Candler, already a Trader employee, took the editor’s job in-house, where he still serves as editor today.<br /> <br /> Soon after, the company changed the paper’s name to the more normal Footnotes since Phootnotes was more personal and specific to the prior owner. But the new name spoken was identical to the old one and so still today honors the influence of Lehman.<br /> <br /> In 2006, Trader Publications' assets were split between co-owners Landmark Communications (now Landmark Media Enterprises) and Cox Communications.<br /> <br /> Cox took over Auto Trader, and Landmark, through its subsidiary, Dominion Enterprises, continued as the publisher of Towing & Recovery Footnotes. Dominion is a marketing services company with clients in many and varied industries, including real estate, automotive and specialty vehicles, powerboating and sailing, employment, parenting, and domestic travel.<br /> <br /> On The Move With the sale of Phootnotes, Lehman retired from the towing business and publishing entirely. But true to his nature, he wasn’t planning to sit around the house watching TV. He signed up for scuba diving lessons. “I became a Divemaster,” he said. “That’s one step below Instructor.” He and his wife also have worked as rescue divers, traveling all over the Caribbean.<br /> <br /> Whenever he was home in Illinois, Lehman spent his days maintaining his 75-acre property. “I was cutting wood and mowing grass,” he said.<br /> <br /> However, the adventurer in him grew restless once again. It was time for a new challenge.<br /> <br /> “A friend of mine was into racing go-karts,” said Lehman. “I thought, ‘Well, since I was a little kid I’d always wanted to race stock cars on a dirt oval track.’” At his age, Lehman didn’t want to tackle full-size cars anymore.<br /> <br /> “They were too big,” he chuckled, But go-karts were just the right size.<br /> <br /> All you need is a 7/16-inch wrench to work on them.” For the past five years, Lehman has spent his weekends racing his go-kart on several eighth-mile oval tracks near his home. He loves the sport, and he loves the people. “They’re fierce competitors on the track,” said Lehman, “but they’re the nicest people you’ll ever meet.” Lehman praised the sport for being family-oriented, “where parents and kids are all together. And it keeps the young kids out of trouble.” The go-karts are purchased nearly ready-to-go. “You buy the go-kart from one place, the accessories from another, the engine from an engine builder, and then the tires — I use Hoosiers,” explained Lehman, getting in a plug for his sponsor. “Assemble it all, race it, get it all dirty, take it apart every week, put it back together, and race it again.” Lehman was recently awarded the season championship trophy at his local track. “Not bad for a 63-year-old racing against people 20 to 47 years younger,” he said. In fact, Lehman is the oldest season champion at the track.<br /> <br /> Tow Dreams Although it’s been more than a decade since Lehman last published Phootnotes or hooked a disabled vehicle to a tow truck, towing is — and always will be — in his blood. “I still have dreams about towing,” said Lehman, “probably two or three nights a week. The other night I dreamed that I had to buy a new truck to replace my old one.” Publishing is still in his blood too.<br /> <br /> Once in a while Lehman dreams about his adventures in creating each issue of Towing & Recovery Phootnotes. And we here at Footnotes are grateful that he dreamed up Phootnotes back in 1990, sold it to Trader, and still thinks about it fondly, even today.<br /> <br /> We think the reader will agree that the towing and recovery industry is in debt to Jon and Joyce Lehman for giving birth to their baby, Phootnotes, and for raising it to maturity and further success to become Towing & Recovery Footnotes, still serving the industry today after 20 years.<br /> <br />

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