The Making of a Legend: Jim Stepp Memoir
Here at Omadi, we are often inspired by tow operators who build massive operations from the ground up. They take risks many wouldn't dare to and are often consumed by passion, hard work, and the desire to serve their communities.
Omadi's 2017 Towing Legend, Jim Stepp, is the perfect example of this. His journey to success wasn't easy. It wasn't a fairytale, and there were times when the end did not seem in sight. Regardless of these challenges, Jim Stepp was determined not to be defeated. His company began with one wrecker and a small gas station in Florida and now has over 150 towing and vehicle transport units all across west central Florida.
What makes a Legend?
Legendary people are leaders; They are trailblazers in their respective fields. They are the people that we aspire to be like. While they may be known for their grand accomplishments they are best known for the positive impact they leave behind.
All legends have a unique journey that leads them to their success. Jim Stepp's passion for the towing industry, willingness to sacrifice, and determination to succeed molded him into a legendary figure. Those three elements—passion, sacrifice, and determination are at the core of many legends. They offer a pattern that one can model themselves after.
Jim Stepp was passionate about the towing industry. He was so committed to bettering the industry he even founded Tow-Times Magazine—a magazine dedicated to elevating those in the towing industry.
While Jim’s professional career is impressive, it is not his only passion or accomplishment. Jim was a family man. We had a chance to sit down with Jim’s wife, Judy and she emphatically noted that he was “a great father, a great husband, and a great-grandfather.” He had four children and nine grandchildren at the time of his passing. One of Todd's—Jim’s son—favorite memories of his father was during a photo shoot. He recounts, “We were lifting up one of our rotators in the air that day. He (Jim) was very nervous about it, so it was good that my wife brought the baby. He was sitting there making faces at Brock (his grandchild), and Brock is all tuned in on him. It worked out good—we distracted him with a baby!”
Jim was well known for loving his children, fishing, The Tampa Bay Rays, and the towing industry. His passion for the towing industry was contagious. His son, Todd, currently runs the operation and shared, “It was great to work side by side with my dad day in and day out. I miss him, and I think about him every day. I still think about how he would answer a question or fix a situation we are facing. He is a vital part of who I am today.” Jim’s legacy lives on in Todd and all those employed by Stepp’s.
Being an entrepreneur is hard and requires significant sacrifices in time. Judy, Jim’s widower, explained, “He always believed that he needed to be an example and was the first one there in the morning and he’d be the last one to leave.” Jim would wake up long before his children would be up and arrive home late after they had already fallen asleep. Judy even endearingly noted that for a period Jim “saw [the children] grow as they were sleeping.”
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Jim’s small company. Jim was diagnosed with throat cancer, had kidney stones, and had a heart attack while he was running Stepp’s Towing. In addition to these physical ailments, Jim’s small company struggled financially at times. While many would have used these difficulties as a reason to stop or slow down Jim let these obstacles fuel his desire to succeed. He knew that nothing could stop him from making it happen—so nothing did.
We are grateful for towing legends that remind us of the power of passion and determination. Jim’s example of sacrifice, passion, and determination serves as a reminder that we need only to persevere to succeed. His life left a legacy that will be remembered and looked to for generations to come.