by Marissa Lorenz
“I just like the reaction when I’m helping people out,” says Mike Osorio, who has assisted many, especially in this snowy, icy winter. And if you’re unsure whether or not you’ve met Mike yet, you will likely still recognize him as he drives by in one of his bright orange trucks, marked East & West Towing.
Osorio has been operating his family-run business in Kremmling for about two years now, though he began doing vehicle recovery and towing about eight years ago. At that time, he was working as an auto mechanic in Summit County when his then-employer called on him to help out with a recovery. Though nervous and with only a minimum of experience, he responded to the need and towed a brand new Dodge from Copper to Silverthorne. “I stopped about” “four times to make sure everything was still okay,” he recalls, “but I appreciated helping and eventually started towing full time. You get better and grow year to year. And when you think a situation is impossible, you work to make it possible.”
He recounts how the job is more dangerous than people recognize, with hazards such as fast moving vehicles on highways, cables potentially breaking and injuring someone, and exposure to extreme winter weather. He ultimately decided that, if he were taking the risk, he would like to be the one in control of the business. So when he and his wife Leslie chose to buy a home in Kremmling two years ago, he thought it was a good time to start his own company as well. He contacted the Town and began checking off tasks. Hethen bought a used 2002 Ford F650 and bargained with a friend to put a wrap on it. His fleet has since expanded to two flatbeds, a wrecker, and a service truck, all wrapped by the same friend.
But East & West Towing remains a family business. Leslie is the company’s dispatcher and Mike continues to respond to all of the recovery and service calls himself, often accompanied by one of their sons, Zani and Khallen, or their dog Xena. “I tell people she’s aggressive– aggressive with love.” But he also tells about how his brother was working with him but had a near-miss at a recovery in Walden where another vehicle crashed into the tow truck as he stood beside it. Though uninjured, his brother found another job.
And the challenges of the business are not only those of the roadways. Osorio has stories of people trying to break into his yard to retrieve items from their vehicles and tells how it took nearly a year to get permission from the Town for a dedicated impound lot. “I can’t respond to police calls for impound without a lot. People will come to my home. What if my wife and kids are home alone?”
But just like unexpected challenges, there are surprising benefits as well.
Osorio still likes to work on cars in the garage and hopes to make some extra money by fixing up abandoned vehicles, like the 2018 Dodge Ram 2500 he recently recovered. And when he’s not building his business or working on cars, he is enjoying time with his family and time outdoors. He just bought a snowmobile he’s been riding around behind Kremmling and looks forward to watching his son get back on his PW50 dirt bike this summer.
Until then, Mike cautions everyone to be careful when they’re in the car this winter. He advises being attentive to other vehicles, keeping your distance, being aware of the edge, and putting your hazards on in low visibility. He also says to put your AWD in 4-high if possible on bad roads. “A speeding vehicle on ice may not engage the all-wheel drive and it will slide from the rear. It is a major cause of rollovers.”
Finally, East & West Towing does not only respond to accidents and towing.
Mike is ready to help if you’re locked out of your vehicle or need a jump start. These services are provided at a discount to locals and at no charge for seniors 65 or older. And he hopes to help younger drivers better prepare for vehicle care and safety. He would like to work with the Kremmling Fire Department and West Grand High School to teach students such basics as changing a tire, replacing wiper blades, and what to do in an emergency. “I do more tire changes for kids than older people. It’s important. They should know these things if they’re driving a car.”