Mike Welsh’s Retirement Means End of Ceres Pro Era


Mike Welsh, who has spent most of his life building one of Central California’s most successful towing companies, now sells the Ceres Proto.

Wales, now 71, has retired and sold the business to employee Chris Huff. Chris Huff has worked at Ceres Pro Tow for 11 years and has been coached by Wales for the last few years.

“There were a lot of people who wanted to buy my business. My business has grown a lot, especially in the last 10-15 years. ‘ said Mr Wales. “We’ve been around for a long time and are pretty well known.”

Ceres Pro Tow has expanded into a more regional AAA tow operator, extending service beyond Ceres to Modesto and further west to the San Joaquin River. The company has doubled its traffic in the last 12 to 15 years, and Wales says Ceres Pro Tow has grown to become AAA’s No. 1 or No. 2 suburban towing company in Northern California with revenues of nearly $3 million. I think I am.

“This is not a bad thing for a small towing company.”

Eventually Ceres Pro Tow stopped driving other car clubs like All State and focused on AAA. In recognition of his dedication and exemplary service at Ceres Pro Tow, AAA has designated the company as a “Preferred Service Provider.”

Welsh noted that tow truck operators must be happy to be available 24 hours a day whenever they need them, so having a reliable and competent crew is key to building a business. Ceres Pro Tow is also required to tow the Ceres Police Department during a traffic stop where the vehicle has been seized or wrecked and must be removed from the roadway.

The sale to Huff was approved by the AAA.

“He’s going to do a great job,” Wales said of Huff. “I feel that everything is going well. I feel very good. I gave him a deal I can’t refuse.”

Huff feels that taking over the business presents the perfect opportunity to “step up and keep it in the same direction, but breathe new life into it.”

“I was supposed to be here for a year and go back to being an electrician, but it didn’t happen,” Hough said.

Welsh got into the tow truck business through the influence of his father, the late Jean Welsh, who founded the Ceres Body Shop in 1967. Mike graduated from Ceres High School in 1969 and was a sophomore at Modesto Junior College in 1971 when his father became ill. He became involved in the family business.

“I thought he had leukemia, but he reacted to paint or something, so I dropped out of college to start a business and have been there ever since,” Wales said. rice field. “I’m happy. I’ve been enjoying my time, but I should have retired a few years ago, but I didn’t.”

In 1981, the shop signed a towing contract with the AAA Automobile Club. Welsh withdrew from the body shop business in 1995 to concentrate on the towing business, renaming it Ceres Pro Tow.

Initially, Mike was a tow truck driver, but quit in the 1990s. Some of those calls included towing wrecked vehicles that killed or seriously injured occupants. One of the most memorable accidents for him involved the son of a Turlock towing company owner.

“His son was coming up the gear load-by-hatch…he was like the ‘Dukes of Hazard’ on the canal. He was heading south at perhaps 160 miles per hour, flew over the canal, hit a tree and died. I’ve seen a lot over the years. The saddest part is when you go out and someone loses their life. “

The pandemic has presented some challenges for the company, with sales volume dropping by 25% overnight. He realized he needed to extend the service to areas that were previously denied service.

“We used to forward two percent of our calls. tow company outruns them.I decided there was an answer and started doing 99.9 percent of the calls.I made that dollar blank by doing a few high priced calls. We filled it in. It wasn’t cost effective because of the high fuel prices, but we were able to keep our employees.”

He also took advantage of the CARES Act’s proposal to provide each employee with $26,000 through the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) program.

Wales was impressed by how Hough led much of the state in promoting AAA batteries, selling about 200 a month during roadside assistance requests. The company has computers in its service vehicles to analyze problems such as dead batteries.

“It’s a big deal for AAA right now,” Wales said. “First we diagnose the car to see what’s wrong. If it’s the battery, there are 15-20 different batteries in the truck. You don’t have to buy a , pick it up, and try to install it.People don’t know how to install anything.”

Ceres Pro Tow has grown from 2 to 4 to 8 tow trucks and from 0 to 4 service vehicles.

Mike and his wife Maureen plan to build a home in the countryside near Minden, Nevada to stay home while maintaining their connection to Ceres. He resigned from the Ceres Unified School District board last year and sold his Ceres home to his son Nick, a Ceres police officer. On their return to Ceres, they will be staying at his late mother Betty Welsh’s home. Another son is a firefighter and another is a school teacher.

“I still have a deep connection with Ceres. I love Ceres.”

After retirement, you can enjoy life more by planning trips and playing golf.

“I joined a golf club in Nevada. I plan to RV, tour, play golf, and fish. I’m interested in. He is 8 years old and is on the Ceres Blaze team.

“Do what retired people do and have fun. You know, we’ve worked so hard for years to get here, and I’m still fit enough.”

The Welshman also drives a race car every year, but “does such a stupid thing.”

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