Anchorage woman casts off gender stereotypes as owner, driver of towing company

Anchorage woman casts off gender stereotypes as owner, driver of towing company
Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 10:17 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For Sunny Aldrich, co-owner and general manager of Fred’s Towing & Recovery, towing runs in the family blood line. In the 1980s, her uncle Fred started the towing company alongside her grandparents.

Now, she works alongside her uncle. One of Aldrich’s favorite parts of her job is the long-haul towing, where she gets to see a lot of the Alaska scenery.

”It’s just kind of me and my truck,” Aldrich said. “... It’s really nice to get out to the area where there is no cell phone service. Nobody can find me and it’s just me and the road.”

Aldrich was born and raised in Alaska. Growing up, she hunted and fished alongside her mother.

“I learned a lot from her on how to get a car unstuck,” Aldrich said.

Her mother also taught her how she can do anything she sets her mind to.

“Not thinking there is things that I can’t do because I’m a woman, or because, you know, it’s traditionally something only men do,” Aldrich said.

It‘s a mindset she now regularly practices. For the past four years, Aldrich has also been towing, working as one of a handful of female tow truck drivers in the Anchorage and Wasilla areas. Nationally, she is part of the 6.6% of tow truck drivers in the industry who are female, according to the 2019 Truck Driver Shortage Analysis. The report illustrated the lopsided ratio of female tow truck drivers to the national percentage of female workers across all industries, which is 47%.

“You learn to work smarter instead of harder when there are things that you physically can’t do. You learn to use the equipment to your advantage,” Aldrich said.

Aldrich said people are often surprised on the phone when they discover she will be the driver.

“Nobody ever really reacts negatively, they’re just surprised,” Aldrich said. “They just assume that it’s going to be a guy showing up.”

However, when she gets on scene, she says they are impressed watching her, especially the children. She said it’s one of her favorite reactions to see.

“Especially little girls, but also sometimes little boys when it sometimes doesn’t occur to them that a women can do that job,” Aldrich said. “I’ve had these looks of awe on little girls’ faces, where they’re just like, ‘Wow’, and you can tell they find it really fascinating, and they’re really interested.”

However, Aldrich still runs into situations where male customers will try and help her out while she is working.

“Now mostly, they just offer me help backing up because they’re very concerned about whether or not I can effectively back a tow truck in. Usually it’s easy for me,” Aldrich said. “... Most of the time it’s like, yeah, I can do that. I can back up an articulated rock truck, on a dirt pile in the dark. I can handle a tow truck in the middle of the day in your driveway.”

Aldrich is now preparing to pass down the lessons she has learned about towing to her 20-year-old daughter, bringing towing into the next generation of her family, as well as female workers across the state.

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