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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Anatomy of a Portland patrol towing empire

A Blogolitical Sean reader provided the following information in a comment on an earlier post, “Portland tow truck set on fire!”:


towmater said...

Let me give you a couple more things to think about.

These are all the companies owned by a Mr. Gary Coe:

(1) Private Parking Auditors: Patrols parking lots and writes tickets, calls for Retriever for the tows.

(2) Retriever Towing: tows cars for parking infractions, patrols parking lots and handles district 3 police calls. Has two impound lots and shares three of Speeds Supertow's four lots.

(3) Oregon Lien: Puts liens on the impounded cars so that they can be auctioned. They do this for both Speeds and Retriever within about a week of being impounded.

(4) Speeds Auction Yard: Sells the cars not picked up from auction. For both Speeds and Retriever. They also auction cars for just about every charity you could imagine, not for free though.

(5) Speeds Supertow: Normal Towing. You call they come get you. They also handle police calls for district 5 and 8. They charge more than any other tow in town and they give a 20% discount to dealerships and shops. The dealerships and shops in turn charge full price to the cars owner for the tow and make a nice profit for picking speeds.

(6) Fleet Sales West: Custom makes tow trucks and towing equipment. They're the only one in town, so everyone goes to them or has it brought from out of state. They're also called Golden West Towing in California.

(7) Speeds Auto Service: Does all the fleet maintenance for not only the tow trucks but all Gary's other companies and they'll turn a wrench for people off the street. They're also a car dealership for the nicer cars.

(8) Speeds Auto Body: Does all the body work for the fleet of tow trucks and anyone they bump into.

(9) Auto Adventure: Chops cars up for parts and sells those parts nation wide.

(10) Coe Consulting: Sells the secrets to Gary Coe's success in twelve easy steps.

(11) Cascade Coach Town Cars: Drives people around like a taxi but for a lot more.

(12) Pacific Executive Service town cars: Also does the expensive taxi service but mostly to the airport.

Gary has the American dream, a monopoly. He has his fingers in three police districts. No other tow company can claim that inside Portland. He has over fifty trucks (all new) and six impound yards total. Bigger than anyone else in the State of Oregon. Gary controls a lions share of the contracts with dealerships and shops through 20% discount/kick backs. Gary also has his own lobbyist in the Oregon Legislature and has been President of several towing organizations.

The Tow Truck Drivers are poor and manipulated. They make commission off the tow. So its in there best interest to tow a lot and bend the rules, speed, cut corners.

They have no Union, no medical benefits. Most will be hurt several times on the job and will only last a couple of years.

None of these drivers have certification or CDLs. Their training is in-house or if they're lucky a traveling trainer (NATA) will come through town and give them some wall paper. Nobody ever fails those schools and they’re hosted on company property.

All these driver's sign a non-disclosure when hired so they can never speak about the truth.

They Drive 12 to 14 hours a day and have 24 hour on call shifts which means they are on the road more than a driver with a CDL legally could be. Big Rigs are only allowed to drive for eleven hours and they have to keep a log. Many of these Tow trucks are as big as a semi truck too.

Yes, many of these driver's are rude. But under these conditions who wouldnt be. Everybody hates them including their boss, they get little sleep, sacrifice there families, make $30,000 a year for it and are constantly exposed to stress and confrontations.

I hope you'll take all this to heart. I know it might not be printed do to libel concerns, but if you investigate it at all you'll see it's all fact. Thank You.


Thanks to Towmater for providing this information.


Johnny T. Utopia said...

Great info as always, Sean, and I linked to it from my blog,

ThomasTheTaxi said...

Gary Coe avoids city fee's by using the phrase town car/limo service in place of taxi cab company.

Neither Cascade Coach Town Cars or Pacific Executive Service Town Cars has city of Portland issued medallions, plates or permits displayed on their fleet of over priced taxis. Every Taxi in the city has to have these plates but some how neither of the above companies do, yet they compete with Portlands taxi's for work. This means either Gary Coe is negligent in displaying the plates or is fraudulently disquising a taxi service as a limo company (He has no limo's in his fleet of twenty lincoln town cars by the way) By pretending to be a limo company they are avoiding inspections and not paying fee's to the city that would other wise be collected for the proper plates.

More scrutiny should be placed on Gary Coe's many companies and assets as he has a penchant to bend the rules and laws to suit his own need's and greed at the expense our community and his own employees well being and safety.

towmater said...

How about all the sign's that are being put up inside restaurants telling patrons where not to park? Clearly the pirate towing is hurting our economy and forcing small business's to look out for there valued customers. (I tried to add pictures of the sign's but couldnt figure out how, sorry)

sean cruz said...

Patrol towing drivers are paid on a commission basis AND are delegated on-the-spot decision-making authority. This system ensures that all judgement calls are decided in favor of towing the vehicle.

Drivers are rarely held accountable for either their mistakes or their deliberate wrongful acts.

You can be certain that the economy and rising operating costs will result in more aggressive towing and higher ransom demands from predatory patrol towers.

The outrageous fees they demand from their victims too often result in confiscation of the vehicle, a penalty far in excess of what is appropriate for the "crime" of inappropriate parking.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for making this info available. Gary Coe's Retriever towing is in the news again. This time for extorting money out of a domestic violence victim who was being helped by police.

I posted the list of companies at oregonlive. I hope you don't mind getting the word out on what companies are associated with Coe's Retriever Towing so we can avoid them all.

Wilsonville assault victim made to pay tow truck 'drop fee'

Take care, and thanks again.

Patty in Portland said...

Thanks so much for the list of Gary's companies and everything else you do for us Sean. I tried to call and complain to Retriever about that poor young woman who suffered from the double whammy of domestic violence and getting her car towed. The guy I talked to from Retriever didnt seem to care at all about anything I had to say and was rather rude (a real jerk). So I'm going to boycott Gary Coe and all his other companies. Hit them where it hurts, in the wallet. If I could find out who all is doing business with him I would boycott them too.

Anonymous said...

Speed's Supertow and Retriever Towing also handle police call's for all the following jurisdictions besides Portlands D3, D5, and D8. Gresham, Troutdale, Clackamas, Happy Valley, Lake Oswego, Beaverton, Washington County, Gladstone, Oregon City, Port of Portland (this includes the airport), Oregon State Troopers.

Michael Duhrkoop said...

Actually the speeds drivers are paid on commission, with a driver guarantee, also all this talk about Mr. Coe is kinda stupid unless you have actually met the man which I have, this also goes for Dave Reichert who is President of Speeds Towing and is a wonderful person, the confidentiality agreement that you speak of is a requirement of the City of Portland and Washington County, because of the access that towers have at certain police calls, and not all of the drivers are rude, I used to work there and they are some of the nicest people you could ever meet. Also ODOT, Port of PDX and various other agencies in the city of Portland are parties to a single tow contract that is administered by the City of Portland, towing companies are on a rotation which means that the dispatcher basicly just draws a name from the district assignment list of who to call for the impound.

sean cruz said...

Mr. Duhrkoop:

Hahaha haha.....

JC said...

Duhrkoop, you didn't even last a month after your training was complete. Don't talk like your a expert on towing or a friend of Gary Coe, he doesn't even know your name.

JC said...

Here another video this time of SET Towing here in Oregon. These are made by someone else. Great evidence of predatory towing. The SET driver in one video doesn't even use tow straps or chains or tow lights which is required by law. Oregon is filled with these scumbag companies.

Anonymous said...


You missed a couple of businesses:

West Coast Towing Equipment

Tow Parts Now
Run out of FSW Sherwood Ore. location and Sac/Anaheim...

Golden West Towing (Equipment)
4920 E La Palma Ave.
Anaheim Ca. 92807

There was one more in LA but it may have gone under.

L Shoemaker said...

I was towed July 4th of this year from an overflow permit parking space at out complex even after the managers called them to make sure they would suspend all towing for the week end. When i contacted them the dispatcher informed me that yes they got the notice but for some reason the driver must have been missed. they brought it back and did not even appologize for taking my truck. They did not even notify Washington Count Sheriff dept that they had the truck Seems like they are still very much predators

sean cruz said...

The fundamental problem continues: predatory towing companies like Retriever and Sergeant's pay their drivers and other employees on a commission basis, and the companies that hire them to patrol their properties allow towing decisions to be made by--the drivers, who are working on commission.