First Response Team of America Gets Help from Litchfield, Minnesota Company
Towmaster Offers Trailer for Haiti Cleanup
By Shane Zeppelin
On January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake hit the island of Haiti, mounting severe destruction on a country built on little infrastructure and safety codes. The results have been plastered all over the news so I won’t bore you with details here, but suffice to say that the destruction is overwhelming, especially to those who have gone down there to help.
On January 14, 2010, Towmaster was visited by a person who specializes in responding to disasters. A little over two years ago, this person came to the realization that there weren’t any companies or organizations that could quickly move cleanup equipment to disaster areas within hours of when they happen. Sometimes when a tornado strikes, a flood happens, a fire breaks out, the damage they cause immobilizes the local equipment so it becomes useless. Emergency vehicles can have a hard time getting to where they are needed due to downed trees or debris blocking the roadways. This is where Tad Agoglia and the First Response Team of America come in, a non-profit organization established in May 2007.
Tad was left with an impression soon after Hurricane Isabel struck Virginia in 2003 and residents were left without power for weeks. Two years later he formed a company that would help clean up debris during the recovery phases of a disaster, but while that effort helped the cleanup of a disaster, Tad noticed that most communities were left without help because a lot of their own equipment was among the damage.
He thought to himself that there was a need to get a crew to a disaster to clear roads soon after it happens, not weeks later. That way, emergency vehicles could get to where they needed to go to help the people. That’s when he decided to transform his company into the First Response Team of America; a non-profit organization that responds to disasters as they happen. Tad sold his home, hired a small crew and they live in motels watching the weather to determine the most likely area where the most destruction may occur and head toward that area. If damage is minimal, they hold up in a motel along the way and wait for the next storm. This is their life and this is what they do. In 2008 Tad was selected as a Top Ten Hero in the CNN Heroes contest under the “Community Crusader” category.
How does this relate to Litchfield, Minnesota and Towmaster trailers?
Tad Agoglia was looking for a trailer that could withstand the punishment and endure the mileage that the First Response Team of America requires. Towmaster has relationships with several OEM’s and dealerships across the country with a reputation for durability and Tad knew this, so he contacted Towmaster to see if they could deliver the type of trailer he needed and support the First Response Team of America in some way. Dave Lundin recalls the initial contact phone conversation: “I remember getting this call from one of our affiliates and they told me I was going to receive a call from Tad Agoglia. I hadn’t heard of the First Response Team of America, but after researching about them I knew that it is an organization Towmaster wanted to be a part of.”
“We talked about their needs and how Towmaster could help. Tad was scheduled to arrive on Thursday, January 14th to look at some of the trailers Towmaster builds and discuss our building of a specialized unit for their hovercrafts, but on his way to the factory Tad called and something huge was happening. I told him to come in and use our conference room for whatever he needed. Little did I know or understand at the time the impact Tad has or what was about to transpire.”
Tad’s scheduled meeting with Towmaster was just two days after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti. On his way to Towmaster Tad received a call from one of his partners who offered a ship to bring the First Response Team of America to Haiti to help with the disaster. During the next six hours Tad was in several phone conversations with different companies and organizations to assemble a brand-new fleet to bring to Haiti. This included an excavator, a custom built truck, a Towmaster T-40 trailer, a generator, and several pieces of safety equipment and supplies; over a half million dollars worth donated for the cause.
It took less than a week to custom build the truck and get all the equipment to the boat to ship to Haiti. Tad flew down with a security detail prior to the equipment arriving so he could be there to unload the ship and get to work. His progress can be seen on his flickr.com web page (you can search by typing in Tad Agoglia in the search box).
In the conversations with the players involved, Tad wanted to make sure that it be known that disasters here in the United States are first and foremost on his priority list. You see, his ultimate goal is to set up several FRTA teams so that each one can respond to a certain area even faster; within hours. Yet, the Haiti earthquake is too big to ignore, so the group he works with encouraged him to set up a team in Haiti if he could; he would train local people to respond to future disasters in their own country. In essence, Tad has set up the first extension of the Response Team in Haiti. With that in mind, his “America First” goal is still attainable and soon after he returns from Haiti, Tad will be working on disasters here in the United States and moving toward his goal of setting up other teams.
During Tad’s crisis assembly in Litchfield, the Marketing Team at Towmaster filmed the entire event. CNN has even asked for some of the footage for possible use since this is the first and fastest time Tad has ever assembled such a fleet. In an effort to protect the identities of the other beneficiaries involved, we cannot disclose their names, but Towmaster is proud to be among the companies who participated in this special endeavor.
You can find out more about The First Response Team of America and Tad Agoglia on the web site, www.firstresponseteam.org and Towmaster.com. You can also follow along on Twitter or Facebook by doing a search for Tad Agoglia, First Response Team of America or simply going to our web site, Towmaster.com, and linking from there.