Hall of Fame Member

Joseph G. Kolodziej, Sr.

Joseph G. Kolodziej Sr. was born in Long Branch, New Jersey on September 17, 1939.  He went to school from kindergarten to the eighth grade and then attended a trade school to be a mechanic.  He met the love of his life, Priscilla Rohde in 1957 and they were married in 1958.  Both worked very hard towards Joe’s dream of owning his own business. Joe built his first tow truck in 1957, and they gave birth to their first child in 1961, Joseph, Jr. who currently works in the family business.  In 1962 they drove the tow truck from New Jersey to Seminole Florida and purchased their first home.  Joe quickly became involved with the local law enforcements and fire departments.  He worked at a car agency then a gas station until he was able to purchase a 1962 Chevy with a Holmes 525 wrecker unit which he would use to run calls for the gas station and the local police departments.

In 1962 Joe and Priscilla gave birth to their second child, Jackie Lynn who also currently works in the family business.  In 1967 a Navy recruiter offered Joe an E-5 rating with the Navy Seabees; he passed the testing and was inducted.  Joe spent three tours in Vietnam (1967-1970) and he remained in the Seabee Reserves for the next thirty-two years.  When he returned home Joe leased a bankrupt American Oil gas station and named the station Joe’s American, turning the gas station into a successful business selling gas, repairing cars, and towing.  The towing grew so large that by 1973 they decided to purchase a piece of property large enough to accommodate the growing wrecker business and auto repair business; they incorporated the name Joe’s Towing & Recovery, Inc.

In 1992 Joe’s Towing & Recovery moved to its current location in Largo Florida where they operate this successful business today.  Joe’s fleet of trucks includes Heavy and light duty tow trucks, Landoll trailers, detach trailers and flatbed tow trucks.

Joe has been a member of the Professional Wrecker Operators of Florida since it existence and was instrumental in starting the TRAA in 1980 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Joe has been honored as the “Citizen of the Year” and “Distinguished Citizen” from the Elks Club, and “Citizen of the Year” from the City of Pinellas Park.  He has received the “Key to the City” from the city of Seminole and many other awards too many to mention.  He is currently a member of the Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Rotary Club.  He has always been and continues to be involved in all children’s fundraisers and various charities, including the homeless.

Joe is featured in many news articles and videos as the “go to guy” for towing, extrication and recovery of anything that moves.  Before the fire departments had the “jaws of life”, Joe was the guy they called to lift, winch and help extricate people trapped in cars and trucks.  He has saved many lives, with his quick thinking and his master extrication skills.  He currently teaches and works hand in hand with all of the fire departments in Pinellas County, Florida.  His latest accomplishment is the World Extrication Challenge being held in Florida on Oct 28th to hone the skills of fire departments from all over the world including Africa and Europe.

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