ESTRA History and Background
The Empire State Towing & Recovery Association (ESTRA) was first established in June of 1980. At that time, the "Founding Fathers" — including Olin Bleau, Dick Frasier, Tom Luciano, Bob Montenaro, Warren Roosevelt, and Frank Yarasezski — identified three main objectives for establishing a statewide towing association. These objectives remain at the core of ESTRA's mission today:
Development of a network of support among colleagues in the industry
Frank Yarasezski was ESTRA's first president. For the first three years, association dues were $240 annually. In 1983, a decrease in dues was proposed and adopted. The annual membership fee was reduced to $150 in the hopes of attracting new members to the organization.
In December of 1983, the inaugural issue of ESTRA's newsletter, "The Hook,"was published. The first issue was a four-page document that included advertising. "The Hook" is now a 12- to 24-page newsletter that, for two years in a row, garnered the coveted "Tow Times" "People's Choice Award" for Most Innovative in 2001 and Most Informative Association Newsletter in 2002.
By June of 1984, the association was ready to launch its first annual Tow Show, in part to provide a forum for bringing together towers in the industry. This ground-breaking show was held June 1-3 in Lake George, NY which has now been established as the perennial weekend and location for ESTRA's annual gathering. To this day, the Tow Show is an important social, political, and educational venue for towers to address concerns and share information.
In the mid-1990s, ESTRA established a political action fund, dubbed "TOW-PAC," in order to increase the association's political clout and its ability to impact state laws affecting the towing industry. Recognizing the power of networking and the bargaining force of sheer numbers, the association also became one of the charter members of the Conference of Northeastern Towing Associations (CNTA), a consortium of 10 statewide towing associations representing the shared interests of approximately 3000 towers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.