Ben’s Towing: Under New Ownership But Maintaining Small Town FeelNov 2nd, 2011 | By Staff | Category: Community News, Sports
By Kristin Finney
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Ben’s Towing has been a staple in Madison County since it began 17 years ago. Under the ownership of Ben and Tracy Bowen, Ben’s Towing grew into a thriving and successful diesel shop that skillfully served the citizens of Madison. Now, Ben Bowen is retiring and Ben’s Towing has taken on new management and ownership. While many Madison residents might fear that this means a lot of changes will be made, that is not the case.
Ben Bowen, his wife Tracy and their daughter Heather spent a large portion of their lives working with automobiles. Ben’s background in the mechanic and automotive business can be traced back to his childhood, when his dad was a mechanic. “I have always wanted to be a mechanic. My dad was one and he inspired me to become one,” said Ben.
Ben worked for Buddy White at Valdosta Diesel, and for Jack Seago at Madison Diesel prior to owning his own business. It was while he was at Madison Diesel, that Tracy decided to open a BP Station beside Wachovia. “I wanted to do something different. So I opened up the BP Station,” Tracy explained. Ben left Madison Diesel and went to work at the BP. Five years after opening the BP Station, Jack Seago passed away, and Ben and Tracy decided to buy the Madison Diesel building. That was 17 years ago.
The two decided to name their new business Ben’s Towing, and worked largely on diesel automobiles. Through many years of hard work, Ben’s Towing became one of the most respected and successful mechanic shops in Madison.
“We all did whatever needed to be done. Mainly I was responsible for the books, but I would also take the night calls for wreckers that were needed and make sure that they were sent out, that way Ben could sleep at night. Even when she was little, Heather would be there pumping gas. That’s how she learned to change oil and check tires. We just did what needed to be done,” explained Tracy. “I have been really lucky to be able to work all these years with Ben. Most couples wouldn’t want to work together 24/7 but we have really enjoyed it.”
In 2008 Ben suffered two heart attacks and was put into Shands in Gainesville for two weeks.
Then, in April 2011, tragedy struck the Bowen family, when their dear friend Marcus Jones passed away. “He was standing beside me, and next thing I know I look over and he was on the ground. He had had a massive heart attack and passed away,” recalls Ben. “It was after that that I knew it was time to retire.”
“I’m really thankful, I had a lot of wonderful customers and worked with a lot of wonderful people over the years,” said Ben. There have been several employees who’ve worked at Ben’s Towing, but two that the Bowens would like to say a special thanks to are Richard Anderson and Doug Vickers. “They have been with us for a long time. Richard worked for us even before we opened the shop and has been through everything with us and is still here. And Doug has been with us for many, many years also,” said Tracy.
Ben and Tracy both have big plans for their retirement. Ben plans to spend his time working on his farm and with his cows. He hopes to spend a lot of time fishing and getting back into racing now that he has time. “I’ll be racing oval asphalt, which is something I have never done before,” said Ben, “I used to drag race but had to stop because I didn’t have the time.”
However, just because Ben Bowen is retiring does not mean that things at Ben’s Towing will change. Actually, quite the opposite is true. Now running the shop will be B.J. Bass with the help on Ben Taylor and the rest of the team at Ben’s Towing. B.J. Bass has lived in Madison all of his life. Ben Bowen was the one who recommended B.J. for the job after he retired. “What we want people to know is that we didn’t just bring someone in randomly, this is someone that Ben (Bowen) picked himself,” explain Ben Taylor. B.J. has over 12 years experience working on diesels. He has working for Davis Transfer, Rider Truck Rental and Scruggs Asphalt. He has also owned his own business for several years.
Ben’s Towing was bought by A Tow & Stow out of Jacksonville following Ben Bowen’s retirement, and that is what brought Ben Taylor to Ben’s Towing. Taylor had worked for A Tow & Stow as a Client Relations Manager in Jacksonville for a few years. Then the offer came to move to Madison to work at Ben’s Towing, so he did. “I love this area and the people here,” explained Ben Taylor, “What we don’t want is everyone to be afraid that just because a big city company came in and bought the place, that things are going to change a lot. We want to keep the same small town feel that Ben (Bowen) brought here.”
A Tow & Stow began almost five years ago in Jacksonville. Their main business goal was to offer professional towing and good service, and to eventually become a national brand. They are a different style towing company and are looking into expanding their business further west.
The main thing that the new team hopes to change is to do more automotive work. Instead of focusing on diesels, they would like to work on everything. They also would like to do a lot with the four wreckers that they have. Their main goal is to make sure that their customers are 100% satisfied and to serve them well, just like Ben Bowen did.
Ben Taylor told this reporter, “My goal for this company is to see itgrow and to be known in the truckling logistics world as the place to go when you need help with anything. We want people to be life, ‘go to Ben’s in Madison.’Ben (Bowen) did an amazing job creating this place and we know that people have a lot of fear of big companies coming in and taking over. But that isn’t what we want to do.”
Ben Taylor has one son, who is six years old, named Isaac Oros Taylor. He also has two step-daughters: Naomi Klingler, who is 13, and Tovah Klingler, who is 15. All three of the children live in Jacksonville, but Isaac comes to Madison a lot and loves it here.
B.J. Bass has one son who is four and a half years old, named Wyatt Omar Bass.