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Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales was started in 1968 by Robert D McCullough in Salt Lake City, UT after he had owned a vehicle parts store. He was introduced to the Holmes Wrecker product line, and that’s where it all started.

A quick history note on Holmes Wreckers shows that the original conventional wrecker was invented by Ernest Holmes when he needed to recover a Ford Model T that was driven into a creek on accident by a former professor of his. After many hours and the help of 6 men Ernest was able to recover the vehicle.Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales was started in 1968 by Robert D McCullough in Salt Lake City, UT after he had owned a vehicle parts store. He was introduced to the Holmes Wrecker product line, and that’s where it all started.
A quick history note on Holmes Wreckers shows that the original conventional wrecker was invented by Ernest Holmes when he needed to recover a Ford Model T that was driven into a creek on accident by a former professor of his. After many hours and the help of 6 men Ernest was able to recover the vehicle. He decided to built a contraption to make the next recovery easier and by 1919 he had a working product that he patented and then began selling commercially. His first model was named the Holmes 485 and with that had established of the Tow Truck Industry.
Of course, by 1968 the Holmes product had come a long way and Bob found that Utah needed a wrecker supplier and that the Holmes line would be a good fit.
As the years went by, Bob was approached by Challenger Wrecker, a competitor brand, and decided to take on their line of wreckers. Many manufacturers were starting to produce wreckers as they all had their own ideas of how to improve the Holmes unit.
At one point a couple of shop employees decided to branch off and form their own wrecker building company located just 10 miles away from Bob’s shop. That was a big challenge he had to face and he was determined to not let that stop him from growing.
In 1980, Bob purchased an acre of property in South Salt Lake and built a three-bay shop including office space. This location is where Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales is still located today. Bob’s daughter Linda was working for him as a secretary to help run the office and process paperwork. It was about this time that Bob hired Claudette Labonte to keep the books, invoice customers and handle the phone calls.
In 1983 Rick Crane, Linda’s husband, came to work at Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales as a mechanic. Rick had previously worked at the Salt Lake International airport in the shop and decided to change jobs to work for his father-in-law instead.
As time went on Rocky Mountain Wrecker jumped product lines again to Jerr-Dan tow trucks. A new style of tow truck had been introduced to the market in the form of a car carrier and this changed the towing industry dramatically. The Jerr-Dan product offered a 17’ Aluminum carrier that could be installed on a Ford Super Duty.
The old conventional wreckers, required a tow operator to hook a chain onto the axle or steel bumper and then lift the vehicle to tow it. Later the wheel lift was introduced which allowed for less damage, especially as vehicles started moving away from steel bumpers. The car carrier, however, allowed an operator to pull a vehicle onto a hydraulically powered flatbed with a winch and not have any part of the towed vehicle touching the ground.
This new product was going to be the new thing moving forward. Operators have several names for the product including car carrier, flatbed, tilt deck, 2-car hauler, ramp truck and rollback.
As cars got bigger, so did the tow trucks. The Ford Super Duty became undersized for the demands of the industry. Bigger chassis were required for the bigger tow units. Dodge, Ford and Chevy all started building 16,000 GVW and 19,500 GVW trucks to manage the capacity of the new tow units.
After 10 years at Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales, Rick decided to purchase the business from Bob. As part of the change, Rick moved product lines over to Vulcan tow units. Steel 19’ carriers were now becoming prevalent and Vulcan was an independent company at the time that made a great product.
Rick hired a salesman to market the new product line and continued to help build the trucks himself. As an owner he was involved in all aspects of the business.
In 2003, Rick once again made the move to be a distributor for the Jerr-Dan tow truck product. It was a bold move as he had trusted the Vulcan product for many years, but Vulcan had sold out to the Miller Industries conglomerate and the product was changing while Jerr-Dan was still an independently owned product line.
Again, tow trucks had a demand from consumers that they be bigger. So Rick started to install car carriers on 26,000 GVW chassis from many different truck manufacturers. Ford had stepped up to the F650, International had their 4300, Kenworth built the T270 and Peterbilt with the 337.
With the chassis sizes increasing the carriers were starting to be built with 21’ and 22’ lengths available in both aluminum and steel. Jerr-Dan released their XLP product line for the carriers that allowed for a lower deck height, 12,000 lb capacity and 102” wide deck option among other upgrades.
By 2007 Rick had built the business and had his best year since Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales’ inception. However, 2008 came along with the Great Recession. Business had slowed substantially and staff had to be slimmed down to just the bare necessities of only 4 employees including Rick, Claudette, Mark Birch, and one other employee.
Through the years, Rick’s boys Tyler and Jake, helped in the shop and learned a lot about tow trucks. Both boys had taken employment opportunities elsewhere while Rick kept things going.
Rick decided he needed to grow the business and sell for retirement or close shop. By 2011 things had picked up again and Rick hired Chris Nielsen and Justin Westwood as employees with the expectation that the two would like the work and buy him out. It was a risky move coming out of the Great Recession, but proved to be a good one.
It was at this time, after over 30 years of working for Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales, that Claudette Labonte decided to retire. This was part of the reason Rick made the two new hires, which was to replace Claudette and kickstart outbound sales again after the recession.
Chris and Justin got right to work by first changing part of the office to show more accessories that were available on-hand. Rick introduced all the current processes of how he had grown the business and solicited new ways to improve them from the new hires. Some simple changes were easy to accept and other bigger suggestions took some time to allow.
A Facebook page was started and Chris began what is known today as “Lunch Time Videos” where he talks about trucks for sale, new innovations, products that make towing easier, and sometimes he addresses things that bug him about the tow world (like the need to consistently wash your truck, ESPECIALLY if you bring it in for service). If you haven’t checked them out, you need to. They videos are fun, informative and cutting edge.
It took only a few years and Rocky Mountain had bested its previous best year in 2007. We expanded our sales area to include adjacent states and through Facebook were able to grow beyond that. Customer relations started to be passed off from Rick to Chris and Justin and strong accounts were being established.
The Heavy Duty units that Jerr-Dan produced were a stellar product and Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales started pushing that product line. We started expanding our presence at tow shows, with particular emphasis on the Las Vegas Tow Show, as that was the closest trade show to our location. Other tow shows were added to our yearly calendar too.
Customers were sending us really cool pictures of the trucks we had sold them and the work they were doing with them so we decided to print a calendar with their photos. This tradition continues today and is a big draw every October.
We determined that our core values were Trust, Innovation, and Dependability. We wanted to make our mark on the industry and prove to be one of the premier dealers in the country.
As part of that effort, we started hosting WreckMaster classes at our location as a way to educate our customers to a higher and more professional way of working. Knowledge is power.
We started taking on more difficult and custom builds. Customers wanted more lights, better boxes, and weather tight wiring. They needed trucks that could last not only in the Rocky Mountains, but in North Dakota, Montana and Alaska. This increased installation costs, but produced a superior product.
We started an online store to sell accessories and list the trucks for sale. More employees were hired in the shop. The business was growing to where job functions had to be departmentalized. An official parts department was established and outside sales routes expanded. The Facebook following exploded to have more followers than even the main pages of all the tow truck manufacturers.
It wasn’t long before demand was high enough that we needed more shop space. In 2016 we added three more bays to the shop and doubled our office space. It was difficult to continue functioning through all the construction but the customers kept coming.
Rick decided it was time to pass the business on to the next generation. Chris and Justin brought Rick’s son Jake back and included him in the purchasing of the business. In 2020 the transaction was completed and Rick officially retired having successfully passed on the responsibilities to the third generation of Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales.
Today, we have sold tow trucks into nearly all 50 states and continue to have demand for a quality product. We are grateful to have many repeat customers that come back again and again because of the service provided after the sale. We continue to hold tight our values of Trust, Innovation, and Dependability. Every time we think we have built the best truck we can a customer demands more and our guys step up and make it happen.
If you have read this far, Thank You. You, the customer, are what drives our business to be better. We could not do it without you. We invite you to help us write the next great chapter in the history of Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales. Call us today and be a part of it.

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