PATERSON – After 36 years hauling and impounding illegally parked vehicles in Paterson, Classic Towing – the company local drivers loved to hate – has quit working for the town.
Classic owner John Kruse said the ending was bittersweet. His company has towed thousands of vehicles a year for decades.
“Believe it or not, you make a lot of friends in this business, even if you piss off a lot of people,” he said.
Kruse said “an accumulation of challenges” had prompted him to shut down his company’s impoundment operations as of May 31. He said managing the impound storage area had become a financial drain on his business, in part because so many people whose cars were towed to Paterson simply gave up. rather than paying the fees.
“I have a lot of abandoned cars that have been abandoned by people,” Kruse said.
Classic informed Paterson of his plans more than six months ago, but city officials had not put in place any other towing arrangements until last week.
Paterson awarded a six-month emergency contract to City Wide Towing in Hawthorne. This means that people whose vehicles are towed to Paterson will have to travel to a nearby town to pick them up. City administration officials said they didn’t think operating a towing business in Hawthorne would be of great difficulty for residents of Paterson, as City Wide’s premises are right across the street from the Passaic River in relation to the current Classic pound yard.
City council chairman Flavio Rivera said Paterson shouldn’t have waited until the last minute to find a replacement for Classic. Rivera said the city could have analyzed whether Paterson could have handled the towing and impounding work himself.
But officials in Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration said part of the reason they took so long to find a temporary replacement for Classic was that they had researched the possibility of doing the tow in-house. Officials said such a move would not have paid off.
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City Wide will charge a towing fee of $ 150 to those whose vehicles are transported at the request of Paterson Police. On top of that, there will be a cost of $ 6 per mile and a storage charge of $ 45 per day.
Classic’s tow rate was $ 190, with no mileage, Kruse said.
For most of his time as the city’s towing contractor, Classic operated in the shadow of Route 80, near 21st Avenue. But several years ago, the city began enforcing long-neglected regulations – regulations that required towing companies to operate in a paved courtyard area.
Facing large fines, Kruse decided to move his business to a cobbled property in the industrial section of Bunker Hill in Paterson. He cited this decision as one of the factors that undermined the profitability of his business. He also noted that the reduction in parking enforcement during the COVID-19 crisis, litigation costs and escalating insurance costs all hurt his results.
Classic will continue to do commercial towing for private entities, but will no longer operate for the city or operate its impound storage area, Kruse said. On average, Classic towed about 20 vehicles a day for Paterson and has about 350 parked on its 4-acre lot, according to its owner.
In recent years, about 45% of Classic vehicles towed for the city have never been claimed by their owners, Kruse said. After 90 days, the city takes possession of the vehicles and sells them at auction. The proceeds from these sales are divided between Classic and Paterson. But Kruse said abandoned car auctions never produce the kind of money it would get if owners claimed their cars and paid the fees.
Joe Malinconico is editor of Paterson Press.