By John L. Braese
VALE – Bixby & Sons Towing in Vale is a business not keeping with the usual 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. office hours. Receiving calls in the middle of the night and frequently on weekends, the small Vale business was recently honored as the Vale Business of the Year by the Vale Chamber of Commerce.
The family business started in July 2010 with the current facility acquired in October 2010. While the father, Al, has taken a back seat lately, his two sons, Monty and Paul, continue to attend to stranded motorists.
“Towing wise, we started with two trucks,” said co-owner Monty Bixby. “We now have four trucks working around the clock.”
Prior to starting the business, Al Bixby worked at Les Schwab Tires for 13 years and owned B and R Electric. The Bixby family moved to Vale in 1976. As the sons came of age, the business became a family affair.
Called out at all hours means some wrecks are more difficult than others. Looking back over the history of the business, a few stand out.
“The toughest ones are the ones we go to where people we know personally have died,” said Monty Bixby. “It is tough driving up to a wreck and seeing a familiar face.”
Looking back at the history of towing, the family recalls one night in which the business received 36 calls in a 12-hour period.
In addition to the towing side, the business spends down time “wrenching” on vehicles dropped off for repair.
Sometimes, down time doesn’t exist.
One tow, occurring at the rock quarry located outside of Vale started at 11 a.m. At approximately midnight, the tow truck finally rolled back into town with a pickup loaded up.
“The truck was hanging by just one rock over the side of a cliff,” said Paul Bixby.
Bixby & Sons has also been known to help those traveling through town, down on their luck.
“We towed a vehicle that had ran out of gas towards Harper,” said Monty. “The people were living in their car. They had nothing. We gave them $5 to fill up a gas can, got the gas in for them and sent them on their way. You can’t charge people that have nothing.”
A frequent visitor of the business is Bob Bement.
“The biggest thing about them is they treat people right,” Bement said.
In addition to his business duties, Monty Bixby currently sits on the Vale City Council.