Third-generation Parker Towing & Recovery owner Dan Parker treats his employees like family, going without a paycheck himself for a year in the late '90s so that he didn't have to lay off anyone. He said he made it through the 2007 recession without layoffs as well.
"I thought, 'This has to get better,'" he said March 15 during a visit from U.S. Sen. Todd Young to the business's 7544 St. Joe Road lot.
It has, with the business growing from 1990 when it had five trucks and three employees to now 65 trucks and 75 employees. He's absorbed seven Fort Wayne companies over the years.
Most people may think of the tow truck with a hook but Parker has a variety of vehicles, some of which might be needed to righting overturned semis.
"One of reason why we're where we're at in the business," Parker told Young, "is because we go out and buy the modern equipment. We see the need that's in the community and we try to fulfill that.
Last year, the business bought several trucks, each costing $65,000-$600,000.
"Did the tax law trigger some of these (purchases)?" Young asked.
"It helped," Parker said. "We have to stay up with the demand. Our business is kind of like the grocery store. People have to eat. Are business, people break down, they get in accidents, unfortunately. Things just happen, and we're there for them."
Young visited the small business to credit tax reform for Parker's recent expansion to a 3,000-square-foot office space on Challenger Parkway where he'll move his dispatchers and another 10,000 square feet there for truck repairs.
In October, Parker gave his staff raises of $1 per hour and another $1-$2 per hour in February. He also provides health insurance for employees.
"We have less turnover now," Parker said.
Parker has contracts for towing with the City of Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana State Police and Purdue Fort Wayne. He'll keep all his locations – he has another at Cass Street – open after the expansion to Congressional Parkway, he said.
The company, founded in 1934 by his grandfather, still gets help from Parker's father, Larry, 80, each day.
Dan Parker used the chance to bend the senator's ear about driver logs, which limit them to 10 hours. They must be off for 8 consecutive hours before they can drive a commercial vehicle again.
However, when an emergency arises, they may not be able to respond if they've already worked their limit, with Parker giving his scenario:
"Our driver has worked today and he's had his 10 hours in for driving. So he's logged off on his log. So a snowstorm comes and we have to call him back in. As long as it's a police call, we're exempt from that law. But if you're driving down the road and your wife and you go in the ditch and you need pulled out that driver can't help you because we're not exempt."
Dump truck and concrete truck drivers exempt, and he would like tow truck drivers, if they're local, to also be.
A large wreck may take 6 hours to clear, Parker said.
"My drivers need more time to do the job they do," he told Young, who said he'd take the information to research.
He also would like to see small businesses pay a progressive schedule in federal excise tax. On one of his truck purchases, he paid $75,000 in excise tax. It would stimulate the economy if a business that buys 10 trucks gets one without the 12 percent tax, he said.
"People would go out and buy equipment," Parker said.
"That appeals to me," said Young, who's on the Senate Committee on Finance, which includes taxation matters.
Parker said he appreciated Young's time at his small business because so often politicians visit larger manufacturing companies.