The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Pricey roadside services a thing of the past

A roadside assistance business is offering discounts to WSU and U of I students
Courtesy of 541 Roadside
Car stuck on snowy hill getting help from Justin Wildman’s business 541 Roadside.

The owner of 541 Roadside and former University of Idaho student, announced that they are offering discounts to students from WSU and U of I this winter.

541 Roadside is a roadside assistance service that helps with towing, off-road recovery, tire changes, jump starts, battery issues, and dealing with keys locked in cars,  Justin Wildman, the owner of 541 Roadside said.

The service has been in business since Oct.  2022, Wildman said. Wildman’s experience in roadside assistance started with a part-time job driving a tow truck during the summer after undergraduate school at Ohio State to pay for law school at U of I, he said.

Wildman’s service is offering student discounts this season as part of their commitment to reasonable prices, he said.

“I think you can make good money in this industry without ripping people off or charging enormous rates,” he said. “We don’t do impound work. We only want to be there if someone’s calling us.”

This is because 541 Roadside does not maintain a physical office and can manage its costs, Wildman said.

“We don’t actually have a true office. We run everything out of our vehicles, which keeps overhead low,” he said. “We can offer cheap pricing and, without the discounts, we’re already probably the least expensive in the area.”

The buisness also makes an active effort to charge reasonable prices, he said.

“The industry standard is to bill it hourly port to port, which means from the time we leave to the shop to the time we get back we’re billing,” he said. “So [a past customer] got quoted at $275 an hour port to port and I was only charging $115 an hour port to port, and that’s just our cash rate.”

Members of the WSU community have used 541 Roadside in the past, Wildman said.

“We actually winched out a WSU professor, a couple of students, and a lot of Uber drivers and DoorDash drivers who were college students when it got icy last year,” he said.

UI alum Levi Carnahan who availed of 541 Roadside’s services earlier this year in January and now works for 541 Roadside.

“I got a pickup stuck, and Justin came out and helped me winch it out,” he said. “Then he offered me a job there and, a few weeks later, I started working for him.”

The accident occurred due to an ice patch in the road, Carnahan said.

“It was mid-afternoon and there was an ice patch on the road and [I] hit the ice patch and drifted into a snow berm and couldn’t get it out. I tried on my own for a little bit [to get it out] and then started browsing online,” he said. “I called 541 Roadside, and asked what their price was, and it seemed reasonable so I called Justin back. He threw a couple of shackles on a tree, used the cable, and just pulled me out. We used our tractor on the back of his winch-out rig to do a little extra pulling but we were able to free the vehicle.”

541 Roadside is able to work with a customer’s insurance, Wildman and Carnahan said.

“There’s an app we used called Towbook, and a lot of the insurance companies will use it to dispatch people to wherever their client needs help,” Carnahan said. “According to that, our company has done about 2,000. We’re over 2,000 calls now.”

541 Roadside also makes sure to bill fairly with insurance, Wildman said.

“Let’s say someone has State Farm, and they need a tow, State Farm actually lets me bill them directly instead of taking cash out of the customer’s pocket,” he said.

This coming winter is looking to be a busy time for 541 Roadside, Wildman said.

“If you’re talking about people calling in last winter whenever it snowed, we’re probably doing five to six or more a day,” Wildman said.

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