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Tow truck driver is off and running this winter, No. 16

Bob Gartner has driven a tow truck, or wrecker, as he calls it, for 15 years for Nick’s Service in Park Rapids. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

By Sarah Smith

Winter started for Bob Gartner last week.

The veteran tow truck driver for Nick’s Service started towing before the snow fell. It was that kind of fall.

He did take off the weekend to deer hunt with son Mike, who also works at Nick’s as a mechanic and part-time wrecker driver.

Bob Gartner spent his pre-Nick’s life farming and doing construction. He likes the variety of his current job.

But it’s not like he sees new faces all the time.

“You’re bound to meet the same person twice over that time,” he chuckled.

He likes newer foreign cars. They’re much easier to winch up and tow.

He’s worked 15-hour days, but keeping overtime down is a solid business model.

“My worst winters?” he asked. “They pretty much blend into each other.”

The father of three, two daughters and Mike, said there have been times he wondered what he was doing out on a terrible day, and days wreckers just can’t go out. He’s driven through lots of snow and ice, but not to the point of contemplating a change in career.

“When the roads aren’t plowed it doesn’t matter,” he said. “They can’t drive anyway.”

Gartner is a lifelong resident of Hubbard County who occasionally gets called out at night.

He likes to putz with gas engines and old tractors.

He belongs to the Itasca Pioneer Farmers and the Park Rapids vintage farm club.

“I haven’t fished for years,” he said. “I still have my boat – just haven’t been out. I guess I can do it anytime.”

When he learned his picture would be in the newspaper, he joked, “Geez, I probably should have shaved.”

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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