Elected: April 13, 1996
Inducted: August 16, 1996
Born: Joe was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 19, 1947
Family: Joe married Rosalyn Zqutowicz on June 8, 1968. They have 3 children; Joalyn, Jason and Jeremy
History: Joe’s interest in tow trucks started when he was very young. From the age of eight and up he could be found working at his father’s gas station. Throughout his youth his love for tow trucks was always apparent. While in high school (actually at age 15) Joe went on his first tow. He knew then that towing was his career choice. Joe attended Dunwoody Industrial Institute after high school and graduated as an auto electrician. Joe entered the Naval Air Reserves in 1967 where he trained as an aviation reciprocating engines mechanic.
Business: In November he was released from active duty and he returned to his father’s business where he managed the business from 1968 to 1973. He obtained his first police contract in September 1968. The gas station was purchased from his father in January 1973. The format of the business changed dramatically. Quickly the business expanded into vehicle repairs and more towing with the acquisition of two more police towing contracts. In 1984 the gas portion of the business was eliminated and a second repair facility was purchased. Sroga’s Automotive Services, Inc. was no longer a gas station, but one of the larger towing companies in Minnesota with more than 12 tow trucks from light to heavy duty.
Early on, Joe recognized that the business of towing was more than simply securing a chain to a disabled vehicle and hoping it would make it back to the shop. In 1974, Joe presented his first organized training seminar for members of the Minnesota Service Station Association. In 1981, Joe was a chapter member of the Minnesota Professional Towing Association. He served as the organization’s Vice President from 1981-1983 and President from 1984-1986. Joe prepared one of his first training courses for light duty towing for the MPTA. It was his desire to improve the towing industry, through his teaching and explaining the complex facets of towing he forged ahead into many other areas of the industry.
Joe joined TRAA and served as the Chairman of the Education Committee. Over the years, he authored several of the course training manuals for TRAA. He was instrumental in the development of the driver certification program. Joe has served on a committee of the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Transportation Research Board and the University of Georgia. While working with SAE, Joe was instrumental in re-establishing the Towability Committee which had been inactive for 15 years. This committee was successful in establishing specifications for automobile designs including guidelines for recovery attachment points and towing and recovery procedures. Since 1989, in conjunction with the Minnesota DOT, Joe has assisted in the development and implementation of various incident management procedures to better facilitate the removal of disabled vehicles from highways while minimizing secondary incidents. Joe has provided training courses to new state patrol officers on accident management.
Probably one of Joe’s greatest contributions to the towing industry has been numerous classes and seminars he has presented over the past 10 years throughout the United States. His main emphasis has included light and medium duty towing and recovery techniques, professionalism at the accident scene, safety and customer relations. His students have included novices to veterans and he has even lectured to various branches of the military. His towing related articles have appeared in many of the well-known towing publications.
In addition to being active in the towing industry, Joe has also been active in his community of St. Anthony. His ties to the community are great as he has lived in only three homes all of his life, all of which have been within 3 blocks of each other. He was a captain on the local volunteer fire department, vice president of the Jaycees and vice president of the Chamber of Commerce. He has been and usher and an extraordinary minister at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, as well as a school board member there. He has been active in the locate DARE/SADD programs, donating his time, talent and funds. He has donated vehicles and time to training local police/fire personnel in automotive extrication and recovery.
The family has grown. Through the years, all the children have taken an active role in Sroga’s Automotive Services, Inc. All three children have graduated from college. Joalyn has married Patrick Lyp and they have given Joe and Rosalyn their first grandchild, Andrew Michael, who was born March 1, 1995. Joe is looking forward to the day when Jason may finally take the reins of the company. This will allow Joe to relax and enjoy his new role as grandfather, his woodworking hobby, golfing, fishing and hunting.