As citizens of Hampton Roads, we fear the radio reports that come bearing the news that a vehicle has stalled or broken down in one of the tunnels that allow us to flow between all the cities in our region. The reason that collective groan never grows louder than a dull roar however, is due to the one company, a locally owned and operated organization known as Tidewater Express. This is because, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they are poised and ready, continuously on stand-by prepared to tow and remove all obstacles clogging up those tunnels. With trucks able to handle a load capacity of up to 50 tons, there is no job too big or too small for this tour de force of an organization.
Started by owner Mike Pelfrey in 1988, Tidewater Express now boasts three locations in Chesapeake and Hampton, and owns and operates two Midas stores on the Peninsula and Auto Craft Collision in Virginia Beach. So, not only are they pulling the big rigs off the road when they break down, but they are also fixing those machines to get them back on the road quickly for their customers, including roadside service for when a shop isn’t needed.
Towing and recovery of these giant vehicles isn’t something someone can just pick up and do their first day on the job, so Tidewater Express started its own training program in order to prepare their wrecker drivers for the rigors of the road and what they can expect. “We need Class A, CDL drivers that have an understanding of weight for heavy hauling,” Pelfrey said. “They are driving a 40,000 pound wrecker and sometimes towing an 80,000 pound tractor trailer. I feel that the drivers that I get from ATI have a good understanding base to work from with the time they get in class. ATI has the best qualified drivers.” Towing is only one part of the equation for Tidewater Express, however, and that is why Pelfrey has begun to expand his relationship with ATI and is now planning to bring on entry level diesel technicians to work in his shops.
“We work on all types of vehicles, brands and models,” Pelfrey said. “That is what I like about ATI. Students are learning on all types of equipment, varieties of trucks and all different types of repairs.”
Article by: Michael O’Brien, Career Services Advisor