It’s been a good year for Greg Smithey and Smithey’s Wrecker Service, so much so he couldn’t wait to express his thanks to his customers.
“We want to tell people ‘thank you,’” he said. “It’s the best year we’ve had since 1987. We’ve just been blessed. With the economy the way it is, other than God’s grace, that’s the only thing it can be.”
The reason for the success, Smithey said, is the customers. And he said he takes pride in how he and his family treat their customers.
“We’re going to treat everybody, regardless of their situation, like we would want to be treated,” he said. “Everybody has bad days. It’s the understanding that we all have been there at one time or another.
“We’ve been there. We’ve had wreckers break down on the side of the road. We know what it’s like — the best way is to treat them with respect. Even in a bad situation, we can make them smile. God has just blessed us that way to handle that.”
The wrecker service is a family business — his wife Beverly has a hand in the operations and daughters Rebecca and Alicia also have taken part.
“It’s very unusual,” he said of his daughters becoming tow truck operators. “But they are very good. Alicia has had numerous opportunities to go elsewhere. They want to do it. It’s a natural thing to them. Both of them were raised up in it. My wife has been a part of it, a vital part of it.”
The Smitheys have been married for 37 years, and next August will mark their 25th year in business.
“She has seen a lot of ups and downs,” Greg said. “She has been right there by my side. She worries about Alicia. She knows Rebecca and Alicia are very capable of the wrecker business.”
The Smitheys have been busy this year, and they have exclusive contracts with Guyton and Rincon. They also are back on the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office rotation for wreckers.
“The sheriff’s office has been great to us,” Smithey said. “Randy Alexander and Guyton have been great to us. Chief Mike Bohannon and Rincon have been great to us. They have bent over backwards to help us any way they can.”
They also tow vehicles for the Georgia State Patrol and do a great deal of business with insurance companies, especially State Farm.
“We’ve got the county’s only accident recovery service, to my knowledge, with a generator, an air compressor and jacks and chains,” he said. “We do a tremendous amount of work for State Farm Insurance. We tow for all the major repair shops and all the major body shops.”
They also work well with other towing companies, Smith’s and Bashlor in particular, when they get into a jam.
Smithey also said his company offers more than just towing wrecked or broken-down vehicles.
“We do a lot of unlock services and jumpstarts,” he said. “To my knowledge, we have never, ever charged for a jumpstart. We’ve got a transport service where we can transport a single car over a long distance.”
And Smithey is planning on the business growing as it nears its silver anniversary. He expects to add another rollback trailer and perhaps a medium-duty wrecker and a heavy-duty wrecker.
“The problem is finding proper personnel,” he said. “We’ve always been a family business and a family-run business.”
By his estimation, 90 percent of their customers have called upon Smithey’s before. And right now, being a wrecker service is all they do.
“We’re nothing but a wrecker service in Effingham County. When I closed up the car business and the rental business, people thought I had lost my mind,” he said. “We’re not in the repair business. We’re not in the dirt hauling business. We’re in the recovery and wrecker service, and the key word is service.”