We have mixed feelings about towing companies. They’re a scourge when they “relocate” our car from a private lot or illegal spot. They’re a pain when they tow our vehicle from a snow route. They can also be saviors, rescuing our vehicle when we need it most.
Like when our car wouldn’t start.
I called Scott Posson at Forest Automotive who said Nobs Towing would pick up my car and bring it to his garage. This was my first encounter with Nobs Towing but I had heard good things about the company and its owner, Robert Nabicht.
Nabicht is universally addressed as “Nobs.” He was given the nickname by his freshman football coach at York High School. “I can’t pronounce your name,” the coach complained, “Your name is Nobs.” Nobs had grown up in Elmhurst, where he lost his dad at a young age. His mom became a dishwasher for the Berkeley School District and rose to become the Food Service Director. Her determination set a good example for Nobs and his younger brother.
After taking courses at COD and UIC, Nobs met a commodities trader and became a runner at the Mercantile Exchange. He worked his way up to broker and landed a seat at the Board of Trade. He enjoyed a successful run but retired in 2001.
Bored at home, Nobs answered an ad from H&R Towing for a tow truck driver. It would be the first truck he had ever driven. He stayed at H&R for five years, learning the business. In 2010, he launched Nobs Towing, with two brand-new trucks and one employee.
Nobs made connections with local body and repair shops to tow their vehicles. Being on-call 24/7, Nobs got very little sleep. He met former Mayor Calderone and landed a village business. When Calderone bought the building at 1510 Hannah, he invited Nobs to share it with Illinois Alarm Co.
Nobs got his big break when his client, Caliber Collision, was acquired by Abra Collision, a company with shops in 48 states. Nobs now tows for 40 Abra shops in the Chicago area. He also tows for five local police departments and is a strong supporter of the officers in blue.
He currently has 18 drivers and four dispatchers, many of them Forest Park residents, and values having loyal, long-term employees in a business with high turnover. With business booming, Nobs is considering opening a second location in the suburbs.
The pandemic brought him a huge increase in business, as drivers became more reckless and law enforcement more lax. His yard normally houses about 40 accident vehicles but that number has doubled. Besides towing vehicles from accident scenes, he does police tows for arrests. He also tows breakdowns like mine and cars parked on snow routes.
Nobs hates the snow route tows because most involve Forest Park residents. He doesn’t want any bad blood with Forest Parkers because the town has been an ideal location for his business. He still works 12 hour days but is no longer on call at night, so his sleep is undisturbed.
Nobs knows that towing companies have a poor image. They are accused of unauthorized tows, overcharging for tows and holding cars hostage. Nobs doesn’t operate that way. In fact, his license only allows him to make safety tows for the police, or with the consent of his clients.
Nobs may belong to an industry that has a questionable reputation, but he is not a pirate. On the contrary, I was very grateful to see one of his trucks when I needed it most.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries. Jrice1038@aol.com