by Jody Kerzman
There’s nothing “girly” about a tow truck. They are big – some weigh as much as 50,000 pounds – and most of the time, men drive them. And most of the time, men own the tow truck businesses. But not Berg’s 24 Hour Towing. It is one of only a handful of towing businesses in the entire country that’s owned by a woman.
Jessica Kuntz purchased the business in 2008. To her, taking over a towing business wasn’t a big deal. It was something she wanted to do, so she did it. The fact that a woman owned Berg’s 24 Hour Towing was a well-kept secret for years.
“Berg’s has been around since 1962, so I didn’t market it as a woman owned business right away,” explained Kuntz. “Once word got out that I’d taken over the business, it spread quickly. People were shocked that a woman had taken over a towing company.”
But Jessica knows what she’s doing. The proof is in the certification: Berg’s 24 Hour Towing is now certified as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE), a process that wasn’t easy. Kuntz had to submit an application, prove she has majority control (that she owns at least 51 percent of the business), hold the highest position at the company and be active in daily management and the strategic direction of the company. In a nutshell, Kuntz had to prove she really is the boss of her towing business.
“I don’t drive the trucks very often, but I do drive them. I believe if you’re going to run a business, you have to know all aspects of it. For me, that includes knowing how to drive a tow truck,” Kuntz said. “My biggest thing now is safety. I do traffic control when we’re out on a job. I make sure traffic slows down so my guys can work safely and go home at night.”
For Jessica, the towing business is more than just a job – it’s her life. You see, her husband, George, also owns a towing company.
“We help each other out in our companies. For the most part, he handles the employees and I handle the bookwork,” said Kuntz. “My husband is the reason I got interested in the towing business in the first place. While we were dating, I learned a lot about the business. Once we got married and had our first child, Berg’s Towing came up for sale and I was ready to give it a shot.”
The couple now owns 43 tow trucks. They primarily serve the Bismarck and Mandan area, but while they don’t do long hauls, they do serve parts of Montana, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Kuntz has made it a point to get involved in every aspect of the industry.
“I’m a member of the Women Towing and Recovery Association of America,” she said. “That group has helped me connect with other women like me. We get together at different meetings and stay in contact through social media and email. We learn from each other and offer advice. It’s just a really helpful group of women that I’m really thankful to be a part of.”
Once the word got out that she was the owner of the company, Kuntz quickly found a way to put a woman’s touch on her tow trucks. “It started as a joke,” she explained. “One of my drivers wanted a pink truck. I was against it. I told him our colors are orange and I’m going to stay with it. And then my sister in law got breast cancer and lung cancer. She lost her battle and I realized this was my chance to raise awareness about cancer. So we went pink.”
Berg’s now has three pink tow trucks. They are raising awareness one tow at a time.
“Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way. The pink trucks are just one way I can pay tribute to my sister in law. She was a wonderful person, and she continues to touch people even though she’s no longer here. People are so grateful for the little things we do to raise awareness about cancer. They’re excited about our pink trucks.”
Jessica gives throughout the year, but October is a big month. Jessica’s pink trucks make an appearance at the annual Ladies Night Out event at Runnings every October. She is also a part of the Balkowitsch Open charity golf event and the BCA Golf Classic, both of which raise money for women fighting breast cancer. She’s also a big supporter of the Bismarck Cancer Center.
“I love what they do there. They not only treat people for cancer, but they help them in all parts of their lives. I just felt like that was where my business needed to give back.”
And so it comes as no surprise that Jessica has plans to add even more pink tow trucks to the fleet at Berg’s 24 Hour Towing. Because, for Jessica, it’s one small way she can give back and honor her sister in law, and all of those battling cancer, one tow at a time.
Jody Kerzman is co-editor of Inspired Woman. She lives in Bismarck with her husband, Brad and their four kids.