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DOWNEY – Prior to co-founding Downey-based Titan Transportation Co. with partner Stephanie Breault in April 2007, Omar Camacho worked for his family’s trucking and construction company for twenty years.
Mechanically inclined early on, only son Omar, a burly, solid-looking, and affable hunk, in those twenty years performed a gamut of duties, including driving a truck, dispatching, and equipment operations, as well as bookkeeping, accounts payable, and accounts receivables collections. He also learned the business’ sales and marketing functions.
He says he likes to look at a mechanical problem, and try to find the solution. A graduate of Downey schools, he has taken criminal law at Fullerton College and criminal justice at the University of Phoenix-subjects which have served him in good stead.
When his mom, Esther, retired, Omar decided to go into the tow truck business, a business practically entirely new to him. Fortunately there was current driver and colleague Gabriel Martinez to show him the ropes. Martinez had had ten-twelve years towing experience prior to working with his mom. Omar says he learned the fundamentals of towing from him.
Titan Tow provides 24-hour towing and roadside assistance to the cities of Downey, Norwalk, and Bellflower, with a 25-mile radius as its normal range of operations. Outbidding six other towing companies, it was one of two companies that won two-year towing and storage contracts with the Downey Police Department and the CHP in May last year.
In DPDs case, the evaluation/ranking criteria used were: completeness and accuracy of the proposal; the proposer’s having a sufficient number of properly licensed, trained and qualified personnel, as well as its possession of an adequate number of specified operating equipment; the ability to operate and maintain a business office as well as a primary storage lot within city limits; the ability to meet specific insurance requirements (including liability and workmen’s comp); together with customer service (references) and demonstrated experience.
Titan Tow hurdled all prerequisites.
Titan Tow’s offices and storage facility are located at the corner of Downey Avenue and Phlox St. Inside the huge compound are found its fleet of diesel-powered tow and forklift trucks and flatbeds (now numbering eight and acquired via lease-purchase agreements). Prominently seen are impounded cars and trucks in various stages of wreckage: a few are crushed, its fenders severed; many, neatly arranged in the yard, sit there silently, victims of highway collisions, others impounded for illegal parking, expired registration (over 6 months), unpaid parking citations (5 or more), and abandoned due to the arrest of erring drivers, etc.
There is a separate “evidence cage” as well where vehicles involved in the commission of a crime or otherwise involving bodily, even fatal, injury, and when evidence such as fingerprints and other evidence are critical, are sequestered.
Federal and state emissions regulatory standards have in the meantime been decreed. In compliance, Titan Tow’s latest monstrous Peterbilt flatbed acquisition that cost $160,000 has been outfitted with a special device which reduces the emission of particulate matter from its engine and meets the EPA requirement of near-zero nitrous oxide emissions. With the injection of a nontoxic diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) into the engine’s hot exhaust, the truck emits no visible smoke, and it doesn’t pollute the air; in brief, he says, his diesel tow truck leaves no carbon footprint.
Omar says another brand-new diesel flatbed tow truck similarly outfitted with a DEF device has just been acquired the other day and is due to arrive “in two weeks.” Two more fleet tow trucks in operation are scheduled for retrofitting by the end of this year. The rest of Titan’s fleet has to comply with EPA/CARB requirements by 2020. Titan’s earlier-and smaller-tow/forklift truck models cost the company considerably less than its latest acquisitions. (Its oldest truck is a 2008 model).
Aside from the high cost of equipment, which has necessitated financing support “from numerous banks,” Titan has to contend with a sizable level of accounts receivable (about $500,000), many of them aged. Otherwise, Omar says the tow truck business is “rough, tough, risky, very competitive, and demands long hours.”
Rough, because people whose cars are impounded are usually “people in trouble and who cannot immediately pay the recovery fees,” if at all. Risky, because the impounded cars are often linked to the random commission of crimes, not to mention the risk one takes when one hoists vehicles in the narrowest of margins on the freeways.
Omar says Titan Tow’s 24-hour operation requires the presence of at least one dispatcher and three drivers at all times. During the day, it has eight drivers on duty.
Omar has made it a point over the years to get heavily involved in the community, particularly the Downey Rose Float Association. He is also an active participant in many events sponsored by the DPD and the city, including its annual Toy Drive for needy kids, even as it assists with Concerts in the Park logistics, Kids Day events, and the like.
He says he works hard now so he can have “an easy time of it tomorrow’-a perfectly acceptable attitude.
It’s arduous work, Omar says, “but it’s been fun.”
Published: March 21, 2013 – Volume 11 – Issue 49