We believe that towing operators are heroes, but unfortunately, much of the world doesn’t see them that way. Towing Operators are among the most underappreciated service workers in the world. Every day they face new challenges and put their lives on the line. It’s very dangerous work, and on average one, Tow Truck Operator dies every six days on the job nationwide.
After hearing so many amazing stories from Towing Operators around the world, we realized that we needed to help share the stories of these towing legends. Last year we held a contest to find and showcase the legends of the towing industry. The Towing Legend Competition recognized the positive impact that towing operators have made in the towing industry and their communities. The winner of our contest was Jim Stepp, founder of Stepp’s Towing Services in Florida.
Jim passed away in April 2017 after over a half of a century of service in the industry. Jim was well-known in the towing industry and the Tampa Bay community. He started his business in 1960 with one truck at an American gas station in Temple Terrace, Florida. He was the first person to purchase a rotator in the country and he advanced his growing business over the years into what is now known as Stepp’s Towing Service. Family owned and one of the largest towing operations in the country. Stepp’s Towing Service has been serving west central Florida for over 50 years. They currently operate over 150 towing and vehicle transport units in west central Florida.
Jim was well-known by many, he was well-respected as a business owner and a community leader. He was a founding member of PWOF, TRAA, and Tow Times Magazine. He proudly served his country in the U.S. Army. He was a 32nd degree Mason Lodge #292, Shriner, and a Jester Court #89. “Jim had many interesting stories of peril, amazing recoveries, lives saved and some pretty odd situations at that. Jim was an incredibly humble man who would say they were all in the line of duty. He never thought anything was above and beyond the call. That is just who he was,” said Christy Vannette, Community Relations Director Stepps Towing. “When law enforcement or fire departments call for an extraction, we do not charge them. Jim (and the family) always felt that you cannot put a price on these situations. I don’t know of any other towing company that does this. He was a hero to many, just in the way he stayed true to the early culture regarding the brotherhood of towing even when the culture was changing around him. He is going to be greatly missed in the industry.”
Jim was motivated by helping others and providing the best service possible. His desire to help others went above and beyond towing. He and his company donated to many charitable causes. A few of these charitable causes included Shriners Children’s Hospital, Police, Fire, Sheriff’s department’s charities. The Jackson in Action Foundation – supporting Military families, Hillsborough County School District – Best Turnaround School, as well as Pediatric Cancer.
Jim Stepp was everything a Tow Truck Operator & Owner should be and a true towing legend. We think that Jim’s nominee Christy Vannette said it best “Jim Stepp is/was Towing. He lived and breathed and loved Towing. He truly is a legend in the Towing World as well as in our community for being a stand-up, honest and honorable man. He was a true family man and didn’t neglect either of his loves. He was the one our competitors wanted to keep up with, beat as well as duplicate. This was never just a job to him; it was in his blood.”