Tow the Rescue

Creating templates makes for the heaviest lift.
Tow-truck wrap by Longwood Signworks (Rocky Mount, VA)

Everyone appreciates a shortcut in any job process. Think “cut and paste” in word processing; instead of deleting and retyping, a couple of keystrokes allow a time- and accuracy-saving method to move text. The same is true for wrap designs. Templates for common vehicles allow for shorter design commitments, sparing a shop from having to reinvent the wheel every time, so to speak. Following are two brief “hookups” with two companies that recently wrapped large tow trucks and both, independently, cited the lack of available design templates as the major speedbump of the process.


Longwood Signworks’ (Rocky Mount, VA) owners JP and Jennifer Arrington have wrapped many a rig for longtime tow-truck selling client Robert Young. Not long ago, he brought an all-black wrecker into Longwood for a wrap to make it stand out among similar trucks. “The customer gave us full reins on designing this full wrap for his company with one request: a memorial for his son who had passed away,” JP said. In addition, after reviewing the customer’s existing logo, JP recalled, “He allowed us to update that as well.”

Using FlexiSIGN-PRO, Jennifer took advantage of the design freedom allowed to create a blue-striped pattern, over which additional flourishes were added, including the memorial presented as a tasteful scroll. Longwood printed the design on 3M IJ180mC vinyl utilizing their HP Latex 360 printer. They applied 3M Scotchcal 8518 Overlaminate via their Royal Sovereign RSC-1651LS laminator. JP and Jennifer also spec’d 3M IJ680CR (reflective) film for the copy.

Calvin Meadows joined JP for the installation. Both come from automotive backgrounds, “So we are fluent in removing door handles, latches and hardware, etc.,” JP said. They used WetEdge squeegees and Olfa blades among other tools during the install. “We completed the design, print and install in under 50 hours,” JP said. The most challenging aspect was – as mentioned before – the lack of design templates. “You have to take lots of pictures and measurements to create your template to begin,” he said. Then again, JP and Jennifer should be all set if they get another tow truck just like that one.


Chad Ragan of Pro Graphix (Eagle Lake, MN) wrapped this tow truck himself.
Chad Ragan of Pro Graphix (Eagle Lake, MN) wrapped this tow truck himself.

Chad Ragan, owner of Pro Graphix (Eagle Lake, MN) heads another company that hitched itself to a tow-truck client some time ago. Affordable Towing has been a customer of Pro Graphix for around 15 years. “About six years ago, they experienced the impact of vehicle wraps and never looked back,” Chad said. He’s wrapped their whole fleet – from service trucks and enclosed trailers, to light-duty and heavy-duty wreckers. “They love the advertising and look of wraps!” Chad said. Taking the logo he designed for Affordable Towing 15 years before, Chad worked up the concept, showed it to them “and it was love at first sight.”

A one-man operation, Chad employed SignLab and Photoshop to develop and finalize the design – a bright, lightning-bolt-inspired pattern complementing the company name in bold lettering. He printed the design on Avery MPI 1105 vinyl using the shop’s HP Latex 360, then protected the film with a Ledco laminator. To maintain portions of the original white color in places, Chad chose Avery MPI 1060 (transparent) vinyl.

Despite working alone, Chad wrapped the previously all-white truck in about 16 hours, including removing and replacing everything such as door handles to allow for a flawless install. Chad used Geek Wraps’ squeegees and a heat gun among an arsenal of other tools to make sure nothing would be left on the side of the road. “I have wrapped some pretty large things in my career and everyone always asks, ‘How do you do it by yourself?’” Chad said. “I say, ‘It’s easy!’” The only drag – once again – is developing a template for every different type of truck.

Hey, if wrapping a wrecker were as easy as “cut and paste,” then everyone would do it.


Signs of the Times July 2018

Digital Edition

Enhance your Signs of the Times reading experience by exploring our interactive digital edition. Receive it in your inbox by subscribing online.