Following in a father’s footsteps

Following in a father’s footstepsPictured is Matt Karpel of Val-U Auto, located at 113 Southside Dr. in Owego, N.Y., and standing next to a newly acquired heavy-duty tow truck. Matt Karpel is transitioning into being the owner of the business, following in his father’s footsteps. (Photo by JoAnn R. Walter)
Following in a father’s footsteps

Pictured are Joe and Matt Karpel of Val-U Auto, located at 113 Southside Dr. in Owego, N.Y. In February, the father and son team acquired a heavy-duty tow truck, which was purchased with the goal of being able to provide expanded towing services. The new tow truck was used in the reality television show, “Highway Thru Hell.” (Provided Photo)

Matt Karpel, of Owego, recalls when he was about five or six years old, he started hanging out at his father’s Val-U Auto business whenever he didn’t have school. Today, at age 20, he is transitioning as the owner of the business. After more than 20 years at the helm, Joe Karpel is watching his youngest son follow in his footsteps.

“It’s important to have a succession plan,” Joe said, and explained that he doesn’t hear as often that children follow in the footsteps of their parents by carrying on a family business.

For Matt Karpel, he states in a video featuring Val-U Auto, and available to view on, “I fell in love with the business.”    

Val-U Auto, with locations at 113 Southside Dr. in Owego, N.Y., 688 Conklin Rd. in Binghamton, N.Y. and 130 Cherry St. in Ithaca, N.Y., provides engine repair, lube, oil and filter changes, state inspections and used car sales, among other services, out of their Owego location, and 24-hour towing services and roadside assistance via other locations.  

Towing tractor-trailers, going directly to job sites to repair tractor-trailers, and fixing flat tires on the road are just a few examples of the work performed by Val-U Auto.

Earlier this year, Joe and Matt Karpel acquired a heavy-duty tow truck, a Century 5230 wrecker on a 2007 Western Star 4900 truck, which was purchased with the goal of being able to provide expanded services, and to be used in addition to their other light and medium-duty tow trucks.

Interestingly, the new tow truck has star-quality attached to it. Used in the action-packed reality television show, “Highway Thru Hell,” the tow truck was featured during an intense episode of season three that involved a fuel tanker hitting a log truck.  Joe and Matt traveled to the Midwest in February to pick up the rig.

Since then, the new tow truck has been used by the Karpel’s in several of their own dicey situations, such as assisting a tour bus that had veered off Route 79, and helping a cross-country trucker whose rig, filled with 40,000 pounds of celery, became unattached after the driver had made a stop in the southern tier. 

Another tow truck Val-U Auto acquired last year, and easily recognized on the road, is painted pink in recognition of breast cancer awareness. In October 2016, Joe Karpel took the truck, which is adorned with breast cancer awareness ribbons, to the Traci’s Hope barbeque and motorcycle ride in honor of his two nieces who were in treatment for breast cancer. Val-U Auto has made contributions ongoing to Traci’s Hope from their use of the pink tow truck.

For more information, call (607) 687-0056 or (607) 343-VALU (8258). You can also visit their Facebook page or website,    

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