Ernie's Wrecker Service has earned itself an outstanding reputation in the Midwest. The full-service towing and vehicle recovery provider is well renowned for its expert disposition of truck and car wrecks, not to mention its ability to handle just about any other situation that might arise, be it a plane crash or a sunken ship that needs salvaging. Ernie's does it all.
Company owner Ernie Vole says he believes in doing things right the first time around, which is why people choose to use his services even when there are other towing providers within closer proximity to them.
“Everyone knows we have the proper equipment and know-how to get the job done right. Some of our competitors may claim they are capable of full vehicle recovery service, but we truly are,” Vole states.
Based in Vernon Hills, IL, the company's service extends throughout the state, as well as into southern Wisconsin. Ernie's specializes in the recovery of oversized tractors, trailers, cement mixers, cranes and other large equipment.
The company was founded as Ernie's 24-Hour Towing Service in 1956 by Ernie's father, Ernie Vole, Sr. In the 1970s, however, the name was changed to Ernie's Wrecker Service to better reflect the extensive services it offers beyond simply towing vehicles.
“My dad started the business with just one homemade wrecker,” Vole notes. “Today we operate 20 pieces of equipment and have a staff of 33, including 15 drivers who run on three shifts to provide around-the-clock service.”
Ernie's wrecker equipment includes a Peterbilt 70-ton rotator with 360-degree rotating boom, and Mack 50-ton stationary and Peterbilt 30-ton stationary units with integrated boom and underlift. All towing equipment is from Miller Industries of Chattanooga, TN. Vole also has three Peterbilt semi-tractors and lighter trucks as well from Ford, Freightliner, and GMC.
To handle a variety of vehicle and load recovery scenarios, there are several different types of trailers in the fleet, including two lowboys, nine flatbeds for hauling cars and vans, and a 48-ft. refrigerated trailer for transporting a customer's temperature-sensitive cargo like produce. Recovered cargo is brought back to Ernie's yard and held until the customer sends another trailer into which the load can be transferred.
Ernie's Wrecker Service has a two-bay repair facility, five full time mechanics and two service writers on staff. Vole says sometimes his shop performs repairs for customers, but the majority of repair work is on passenger cars. The mechanics also perform all maintenance and repairs on Vole's fleet equipment except newer units that are under warranty, which are taken to nearby dealerships.
Vole's equipment also includes dump trailers and special dollies that are used to save a trailer that's broken in half. “In addition we have front end loaders and bobcats for cleaning up really big disasters on the Interstates like overturned tankers.”
A 1988 GMC box truck that Vole calls his “airbag truck” is used to bring emergency equipment to the scene of an accident. It carries not only airbags, but torches, hazardous materials suits, safety cones, cutting tools and other needed supplies.
According to Vole, the biggest challenge as a business owner is keeping a full staff of qualified and dependable people onboard. “Competition in the towing business is tough,” he notes. “We need to consistently provide good, reliable service to our customers in order to keep their loyalty.”