No business like tow business

Published 11:00 am Monday, May 17, 2010

A local business owner has a special story about the name of his business that no one would ever be able to guess by looking at the name.

Bob Ackland owns Big Toe & Little Toe Excavating & Towing at 625 W. Main St. in Albert Lea. He said he thought of that name because I-90 and I-35 that he works on while towing are so dangerous.

“I’m the Little Toe and the Lord is the Big Toe because he’s out there protecting me,” Ackland said.

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Ackland works with his sons Mike and John doing many different kinds of work. They are able to work on septic systems, foundations and do demolition as well as towing and excavating. Ackland says he’s completely licensed and bonded and is a licensed contractor and plumber as well, and all those licenses require some upkeep.

“I have to go to about eight seminars a year,” Ackland said.

He said the weather has been a little wet so he hasn’t been too busy but he expects business to pick up again soon. His main business principle is to help those who need it the most.

Around Christmas, he will help someone with a tow at no charge if it seems like they would have a hard time paying. He also set up a special fund to help people with water and sewer bills.

Another way he found to help people was learning about an emergency fund the USDA has for people with sewer problems who don’t have money to pay to fix it.

“That’s a good thing,” Ackland said.

He says he thinks the business is diversified enough with all the different tasks they can accomplish. He’s technically fully retired but doesn’t ever want to quit working. He wants all customers to be satisfied when he works with them. “That’s what we strive for is to bend over backward to satisfy,” Ackland said.

Ackland is a retired history teacher from Devils Lake, N.D. He moved back to Albert Lea to help his dad with farming and then started Big Toe & Little Toe about five years ago. He said he doesn’t miss teaching much and stays active in other ways.

He sings with a barbershop group and also sings gospel with his wife, Sharon. He’s also active with the VFW and the American Legion because he is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He likes that his business is steady but not overwhelming.

“We’re not overly busy, but we’re busy enough,” Ackland said.