Heavy towing requires much more than big strong vehicles
Heavy transport with tight deadlines places great demands on the roadside assistance network if a downtime or accident occurs. SOS International has Sweden's largest network for heavy towing. Meet Linus Söderberg from Linus Bilbärning:
In Jönköping, an important hub for heavy transport, SOS International collaborates with the local operator Linus Bilbärgning. The station owner is Linus Söderberg, a likeable young man of about 30 who has been moulded into the profession since his teens.
"I was already bored of school in my early teens, so they put me on an internship a couple of days a week. Right from the start, I was allowed to ride with a tow-truck driver and when I turned 18 and got my driving licence, I could start driving myself," says Linus.
We have booked a meeting and sit in the coffee room, drinking coffee and sharing a "vetelängd" [sweet piece of bread]. Stefan Lindquist, one of Linus' employees, is also with us. They are a dynamic duo and you can tell that they enjoy their work. We talk about how they, as a towing company, can stand out among their competitors.
Customers need to get back on the road
It quickly becomes clear, Linus Bilbärgning is run with two things in mind: exceeding service expectations and being at the forefront of the industry. We talk for a while about the meaning of "exceeding expectations":
"The transport industry cares about one thing and one thing only: getting back on the road. Every vehicle we can get out on the road without visiting the workshop makes for a satisfied customer. Sometimes it's a tyre change and sometimes we need to do a mechanic's job in a poorly lit car park, but it's worth it," says Linus.
For Linus, this means that he constantly leans forward and creates a picture of what is expected, in this particular situation. Sometimes, the first obvious thing may not be the best solution, it may even be the worst one:
"We received an alert about a trailer that overturned with a bull in it, and the bull alone weighed over a ton. Before we got there, there was talk of shooting the bull and then doing the recovery work. But how could we get the dead body out the trailer? We ended up taking the trailer apart piece by piece, and the bull could go out by itself," Linus says.
Every vehicle we can get out on the road without visiting the workshop makes for a satisfied customer. Sometimes it's a tyre change and sometimes we need to do a mechanic's job in a poorly lit car park, but it's worth it.
Creative problem solving motivates
It is clear that creativity is a driving factor for Linus, problem solving keeps the interest and fire going. And to handle a wide variety of tools and equipment to ensure a fast response. Linus has chosen to invest in a service bus and a service trailer, an all-terrain tow truck and timber mats.
"We handle most things, from initial assistance at the Torsvik industrial area to timber trucks that get stuck in the forest. I want us to be prepared," says Linus. "In our industry, we are alerted reactively so we must always be on call and ready to go".
"Sometimes, customers call proactively because they don't want to wait for a workshop," he adds with a laugh,"but that doesn't happen very often."
Many factors come into play when making decisions: safety, efficiency and environmental friendliness. It becomes clear in our conversation that heavy-duty recovery and towing is a complex business. And it takes more than a "strong vehicle" to deliver a good service.
"The hard part is not connecting a lorry to a trailer; the hard part is avoiding it and solving the problem instead."
After the visit to Linus Bilbärgning, it is clear that the close collegiality shown by Linus and Stefan is important in this industry. We've talked about risky situations with lorries catching fire during recovery and we've talked about fatal accidents. There must be a way to vent steam when things get tough and someone to discuss and solve problems with.