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Integrity is defined as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character.”
That’s how people who do business with Donnie Sechrest describe him – a man of integrity and character.
“Over the years, we have called on Sechrest Garage to help with people stuck at the fair during muddy seasons. During the development of the new fairgrounds, Donnie Sechrest came to the rescue on many occasions,” wrote Tena Webster in her nomination for Sechrest to be given the 2012 Excellence in Business award at the annual Grant County Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet.
Sechrest got the towing bug from his father, Ray Sechrest. Ray worked in a garage on U.S. 25 owned by Dewey Pettit and eventually bought Pettit out in 1945.
For nearly 60 years, Donnie has spent five and a half days a week, at the Williamstown landmark that’s hard to miss – first, with its rock building, which has since been replaced by a newer, larger metal building in shades of green.
He employs a dozen people at his family’s towing business.
From the driver’s seat, Sechrest has seen a lot - horrific accidents that killed nearly all the passengers and wrecks where accident victims crawled away unscathed from twisted metal and damaged cargo.
Sechrest’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I’ve never seen a situation that he couldn’t handle,” said Williamstown Police Chief Al Rich. Rich and Secrest have been good friends for many years.
That sense of community and professionalism is the reason that Rich nominated him for the Order of Towmen Award from American Towman Magazine.
“Sechrest Garage is the most efficient and professional tow company I have ever had to deal with. They are always courteous to not only the officials, at the scene, but to their clients, which many times were victims of accidents or some type of stressful situation,” Rich wrote in the letter nominating Sechrest for the towman award.
“The extreme professionalism shown by Sechrest Garage in performing accident-related tows” was recognized in November 2011 in Baltimore, Md. during the American Towman Exposition.
Rich also said that Sechrest is “a compassionate, hard-working dedicated father and husband. His company is built on trust, and dependability.”
Sechrest has done it all from towing broken down vehicles and assisting in pulling large tractor-trailer trucks up embankments after they had tumbled off the roadway. He helped moved an announcer’s stand from the bottom of a hill at the new fairgrounds on Baton Rouge Road to the top of the next hill.
“He hoisted that building right off the hill, across the road and into place, with only one little piece of metal bent.
There stands Donnie with that friendly little smile shining through that distinguished beard of his. He just loves a good challenge,” Webster said.
He’s also helped stranded motorists far from home.
“I just try to treat people like I want to be treated,” he said.
When he’s not working, he enjoys NASCAR racing. He’s traveled to a dozen racetracks and worked a wrecker during races. He’s even been to Japan to work before.
He works at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta during racing events. He also enjoys riding his 2007 Screaming Eagle Harley Davidson when he has time.
The rest of his time is spent with his wife, Marsha and daughter, Sabrina Harris, as well as his three grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Sechrest’s son, Brian, died in 1995.
He thinks of retirement, but mostly just keeps working because that’s what he knows.
“The awards were nice, but I’m just me and I’ll just keep plugging along,” Sechrest said.