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Zip's Acquires AW Direct - Creating a Single-Source Supplier for Towing & Recovery
Acquisition creates a single-source supplier capable of providing towing and recovery professionals with everything they need to put a fully equipped tow truck on the road.
By: Zip's AW Direct
Both Zip's and AW Direct have been fixtures of the towing industry for decades. Founded in the 1950s as an auto body shop, Zip's began serving the towing industry in 1968. AW Direct was founded in 1979.
"With our two companies coming together, towing professionals now have one simple shopping experience for virtually everything they need to safely and efficiently operate a tow truck," says Paul Rottinghaus, Zip's president. "We've been working hard over the past several months to ensure that this transition is as seamless as possible for our customers. Our new motto is 'stronger together' because that's exactly what we are—and our customers are going to benefit from that."
With locations in New Hampton, Iowa, and Taylor, Mich., Zip's specializes in the sale and financing of new and used tow trucks, wreckers, carriers, and trailers, as well as automotive and towing equipment. Zip's also carries the largest selection of tow truck replacement parts in the industry. The company continues to be owned by the Rottinghaus family who bought the business in 1986. Paul's son, David, now serves as executive vice president.
As a national distributor of towing accessories, AW Direct has long represented leading brand names in a variety of product categories including truck lighting, safety, transport supplies, winches, tool storage, roadside assistance and more. AW Direct also offers its own branded products including the patented AW Direct Magnetic Axle Strap.
The same AW Direct, only better
AW Direct will continue to serve its broad spectrum of customers who operate a variety of tow truck brands. All AW Direct inventory, which comprises more than 10,000 unique items, has already been transferred to the Zip's warehouse in Iowa.
Zip's has been making investments to ensure that there is no lapse in service for AW Direct customers as the transition takes place. "In bringing on AW Direct, we understood that we needed to ramp up for the increase in volume," Rottinghaus says. "We've hired 12 additional customer service representatives, as well as eight additional people in our distribution center. There is much to be done during the transition, but we are confident the final result will be a success."
Several prominent AW Direct employees have joined the Zip's team including Michele Smedberg and Tony Hagen. As key account managers, both Smedberg and Hagen have worked closely with tow companies across the country to learn about their operations and how to best serve their needs. Additionally, AW Direct personnel will continue to operate the call center with the same phone number and some familiar voices, including Amanda Below, customer care manager. The new director of digital marketing for Zip's, Lindsey Boschert, is another AW Direct recruit.
"Everything AW Direct customers have come to love about AW Direct will continue," Rottinghaus emphasizes. "Furthermore, AW Direct customers will also benefit from everything Zip's has to offer."
For example, Zip's has seven experienced technical advisors on staff to help towing professionals troubleshoot issues and make better buying decisions. Additionally, Zip's employs 12 personal sales consultants with expert knowledge of trucks. AW Direct customers now have the opportunity to purchase custom-built tow trucks from Zip's.
The vast AW Direct product offering is now available exclusively at Zips.com and through the Zip's AW Direct catalog and customer call center. Anyone visiting awdirect.com will be automatically redirected to the Zip's website in an effort to streamline the shopping experience for busy towing professionals.
"We've invested significantly in our website over the past several years," Rottinghaus points out. "We've made it more mobile-friendly with a responsive design, resulting in a much better experience for our customers who are constantly on the go and often shop on their mobile devices."
Both Zip's and AW Direct have had a shared philosophy for many years: No two businesses are the same, and every customer deserves the same five-star treatment. "Our primary motivation has been to help raise the quality of life for people in the towing and transport industries,"