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Robert Oravec

Robert Oravec
Sirl’s Automotive
Parma, Ohio

Give an example of how nominee has shared expertise with fellow tow operators.

Robert has worked in the industry for forty-one years and unlike the newer generation, when he was learning how to be a tow truck operator he didn’t have the privilege of simply being able to Google the answer to his questions. He had to rely on hands on experience from his boss, who taught him how to properly hook up a car and ensure that it was strapped, with chains back in the day, before the vehicle was able to be towed. Due to all of the hands-on experience Robert had early on in his career, he has gained a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the field of towing. Robert’s always had to learn as he went along, however, now that he is a veteran in the field, he is able to pass on his expertise so that the younger generation does not have to do what he did. Robert passes on his expertise by making sure that all of fellow tow truck operators know how to safely strap down vehicles to ensure that they will not come off the tow truck. Additionally, he teaches the younger generation of tow truck operators how to efficiently recover broken down vehicles from a multitude of different situations such as: wench out recoveries, removing cars from car carriers, cars that have been in accidents, and building recoveries. During difficult recoveries, the younger generation of tow truck operators will often call Robert out to the sight to be able to teach them hands on how to deal with situations, that way they are able to learn by experience as well instead of by a computer screen. While Robert had to learn about everything as he went along, the tradition of learning hands on was not lost with the tow truck operators that he is employed with because he believes that learning by seeing and doing is the best way and not by what a computer shows and tells you to do. Much of the knowledge that Robert has accrued over the years is passed down to the fellow tow truck operators that he deals with by verbally telling them what he knows and by showing them everything that he can. From the first day that his fellow tow truck operators step into work, Robert makes sure that all of his tow truck drivers are educated properly and are able to utilize all of the towing equipment safely to ensure that every time they go out to help a disabled driver they have the knowledge that they need to do the job they were called out to do.

Provide details of at least one instance when the nominee has effected positive change in the industry.

The way that Robert has impacted the industry in a positive way comes from how engrained he is with his community and how dedicated he is to spread the word about the Move Over, Slow Down law to protect emergency, tow truck, and maintenance personal from getting killed. In order to get the word out about this law, Robert talks with customers and employees to make sure that they are informed on what this law is about. Robert is heavily involved in his community, especially with the local high school and every year the company he works for, does the Prom Promise program where Robert donates wrecked vehicles to demonstrate what it would look like to teenagers if they got behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Sirl’s Automotive, the company that Robert works for, donates funds to the SWAT yearly outings, which generates money for their equipment. In addition, Sirl’s Automotive also donates money to the Knights of Columbus when they are hosting events for different charitable causes that they are holding. Sirl’s Automotive also donates money to the local Veterans of Foreign War to aid and support the veterans of the community. Within his community, Robert tows cars to the local college or city police station to aid in practice for their safety seminars. All of the outreach that Robert does for his community impacts the towing community because he spreads education about the dangers of driving under the influence, ensures that emergency personal are able to rescue injured persons from a vehicle, continues to show support for the veterans, and lets people know about the lives that are at stake when they don’t move over for emergency vehicles on the side of the road.

How has the nominee served as a role model or mentor to younger tow operators?

Robert has worked in the industry for forty-one years and unlike the newer generation, when he was learning how to be a tow truck operator he didn’t have the privilege of simply being able to Google the answer to his questions. He had to rely on hands on experience from his boss, who taught him how to properly hook up a car and ensure that it was strapped, with chains back in the day, before the vehicle was able to be towed. Due to all of the hands-on experience Robert had early on in his career, he has gained a well of knowledge and expertise in the field of towing. Robert’s always had to learn as he went along, however, now that he is a veteran in the field, he is able to pass on his expertise so that the younger generation does not have to do what he did. Robert passes on his expertise by making sure that all of fellow tow truck operators know how to safely strap down vehicles to ensure that they will not come off the tow truck. Additionally, he teaches the younger generation of tow truck operators how to efficiently recover broken down vehicles from a multitude of different situations such as: wench out recoveries, removing cars from car carriers, cars that have been in accidents, and building recoveries. During difficult recoveries, the younger generation of tow truck operators will often call Robert out to the sight to be able to teach them hands on how to deal with situations, that way they are able to learn by experience as well instead of by a computer screen. While Robert had to learn about everything as he went along, the tradition of learning hands on was not lost with the tow truck operators that he is employed with because he believes that learning by seeing and doing is the best way and not by what a computer shows and tells you to do. Much of the knowledge that Robert has accrued over the years is passed down to the fellow tow truck operators that he deals with by verbally telling them what he knows and by showing them everything that he can. From the first day that his fellow tow truck operators step into work, Robert makes sure that all of his tow truck drivers are educated properly and are able to utilize all of the towing equipment safely to ensure that every time they go out to help a disabled driver they have the knowledge that they need to do the job they were called Many of the young tow truck operators that Robert works with look to him as a role model because of how much knowledge and experience he has in the field. He is the epitome of someone who puts his blood, sweat, and tears into the job of towing and has extreme dedication to the field. The younger generation knows that they are able to call Robert no matter where he is or what time it is, and he’ll answer any question that they have or go to the scene that they’re at if they need help. He mentors them by educating them about the diverse types of equipment that they have to operate and how to assess for any challenges that they may encounter at a scene. Robert also instills confidence within the younger tow truck operators by explaining situations in detail with them and letting them know that he believes in them to be able to get the job done. His personal philosophy is that he’s not going to let them do something that he hasn’t done before. Even though he’s a manager, he’s out there with his crew and doesn’t just sit behind a desk like managers at most other jobs. He also goes through hypothetical scenarios with them to talk through what they think they would do if this hypothetical situation were to arise and lets them talk through their answer before correcting them. He also sets an example for the younger tow truck operators by instilling them with a sense of how a tow truck operator should be, especially when dealing with customers. Robert teaches them how to interact with individuals who are upset or frustrated by the situation that they are in and makes sure that they know to be compassionate and caring, especially because most customers are upset at the situation that they are in. He leads by example and always makes sure that his crew is clean and tidy and that their fleet is as well. He comes into work every day with a fresh uniform and makes sure his truck is washed nightly and expects that his crew does the same.

What leadership roles within the industry has the nominee held?

In Robert’s forty-one years of employment at Sirl’s Automotive, he has been a manager of the towing department for forty years. This role in and of itself is a leadership role because he has to oversee the entire crew that is employed under him and make sure that they are all aware of what their duties and responsible are. Robert also has received the Order of the Towman award twice, once in 2014 and again this past year in 2017. Since Robert was already sworn in once, in 2014, he became a captain of the Order and he helps swear in new honorees who are getting their first award. The Order of the Towman award is one of the highest honors that a towman can achieve in their career. Individuals are awarded this prestigious award because the Police or Fire chief nominated them for these awards. This award is given to the few elite towman who have been recognized by the community for their challenging work. By having this award, he exemplifies what a towman should strive to be and continues to set an example for other tow truck drivers as well. Robert also came in 4th place out of twelve across the country for the Towing Legend competition this past year, making him a Titan of Towing. This competition recognizes the demanding work and long hours that tow truck drivers face to keep drivers save. Titans of Towing are individuals who lay down their lives for those in need and this competition also highlighted the positive impact that towing operators have made in the towing industry and the world. Additionally, Robert and his crew won the ACE award twice as well as other customer service satisfaction awards. The ACE award is given to companies for being a part of the 1% of the towing industries service providers. All of the awards that Robert has received put him in a leadership role and allow him to set an example for the younger generation of towing professionals as well. Robert is also a member of the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum Inc.

 

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