Isaac Eaton, manager of Eaton Towing and Recovery, LLC – Texas Division, has a Jerr-Dan truck that he’s named “Hercules,” and that’s a name the vehicle lives up to every day.
Isaac said that the 50/60 Rotator can do anything and gets put to the test regularly, as Eaton Towing and Recovery is heavily involved in supporting the oil industry.
“Whatever I ask, it can do,” said Isaac, who is a third-generation tow and recovery owner/operator. “We probably do 50 percent towing and 50 percent recovery. Where we are, the terrain is pretty rough. For example, we might be pulling two trucks out of the sand in two different locations in one day. There aren’t many trucks out there that complete with Hercules as far as towing and recovery.”
What is now Eaton Towing was founded in Shelley, Idaho, in 1947 by Joe Eaton, Isaac’s grandfather, after he returned from serving in the Army at the end of World War II. Joe and his brothers started a small mechanics’ shop and racing business, which evolved into a towing operation. Isaac’s dad, Rich Eaton, took over the business in the 1970s and purchased a few flatbed trucks and a 15 ton wrecker.
In 2007, Rich approached Isaac and Isaac’s siblings – two brothers, C.J. and Shawn, and his sister Jessica – about getting into the heavy business. They purchased their first Jerr-Dan truck, a 25 ton wrecker. Finding a niche in moving heavy equipment for the oil industry, the business expanded and now has locations in Idaho Falls, Idaho; Midland/Odessa, Texas; and Williston, North Dakota.
With a fleet spread over three states, Eaton Towing and Recovery trusts Jerr-Dan for the quality it builds into its vehicles. Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales in Salt Lake City is Eaton Towing and Recovery’s Jerr-Dan dealer. Collectively, Eaton Towing and Recovery owns 27 vehicles, and 20 of them are Jerr-Dans.
“Going with Jerr-Dan is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made,” Isaac said. “Jerr-Dans are very hardy and capable of going day in and day out.”
Anyone who works in the industry knows those days can be long, challenging and unpredictable. Isaac has two recoveries that really stand out as most memorable. In 2020, Eaton Towing and Recovery sent two of its three Jerr-Dan 50/60 Rotators to Oklahoma to recover windmill siloes. The second, in 2013, involved the recovery of a truck that was carrying a heavy heater treater used for fracking.
“It was in North Dakota and the heater spun out on the road and overnight it froze,” Isaac recalled. “That night, it dropped to 20 below zero and the truck froze to the road. When the truck froze to the ground it became dead weight. It was one of the hardest recoveries we’ve ever done. It took all of our equipment together.”
The 2013 recovery also is one of Isaac’s favorite memories because he was on the job with his brothers, C.J. and Shawn Eaton. Shawn passed away after an on-the-job accident in 2016 and is memorialized on the Wall of the Fallen at the International Towing & Recovery Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “I’ve been to a number of tow shows, but the one I attended in Tennessee was the most meaningful to me because I got to see Shawn’s name on that wall,” said Isaac.
Family-owned businesses like the Eaton’s are the heart of the towing and recovery industry, and that hasn’t changed over the decades. Eaton says what has changed is the professionalism that’s expected of the industry’s owner/operators.
“For a long time, we had a stereotype of being pretty rough-and-tumble, but things are changing,” Isaac said. “We’re knowledgeable, clean-cut and doing our best to show the world what we’re capable of doing.”
In the case of Hercules, that’s almost anything, and Isaac appreciates his truck’s durability, as well as the people at Jerr-Dan who build and stand behind their products. Last November, Hercules and his driver were hit by a drunk driver. The driver is thankfully recovering, Isaac said.
After the wreck, one of Issacs’s first calls was to Chris Nielson at Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales.
“Within hours, Chris came back to me with a part plan and he had those parts ordered as soon as possible,” Isaac said. “The plan was smooth and set in motion.
“I’ve never been able to fully tell Jerr-Dan thank you for the work they do to over-engineer their trucks,” he said. “We put our trucks through so much every day, and we have such a fine product to work with that they get us home every day.”