Couple tows the line for business

Laverne and Lonnie Sello have operated an at-home business together for 34 years.

Laverne and Lonnie Sello have operated an at-home business together for 34 years.

Couples around the county manage businesses together. Lonnie and Laverne Sello have operated an at-home business for 34 of their 38-year marriage.

Lonnie decided at the age of 40 to try something different. He had always worked for someone else, and wanted to try his hand at entrepreneurship. His wife, Laverne was supportive. Together they opened Lonnie’s Towing.

Initially he handled the tow jobs and automobile repairs; she handled the phone calls and the administrative tasks.

“I had to get used to being with him all the time,” Laverne said of the challenge. “We didn’t get a whole lot of leisure time together.”

They had to sacrifice vacations for the sake of the business. Lonnie’s desire to visit the Grand Canyon never materialized. The couple has mostly written it off since he feels he is now too old to make the drive and she is not inclined to fly.

“We had to do what we had to do,” Laverne said. “We gave up some of that time.”

Laverne pointed to transparency as a positive aspect of managing a business together.

“You know everything that goes on,” she said. “You don’t have to question anybody.”

Lonnie said he and his wife were always on the same page as far as how to treat their customers.

Over the years, the couple’s three sons have taken over most of the business duties. Laverne retired as director of the Burke County Board of Elections last December. Still, she continues to handle the nighttime dispatch duties for the towing company. Lonnie, 73, doesn’t repair vehicles anymore, but still often responds to tow calls during the day. The couple spends more time pursuing leisure-type activities. Lonnie rides his Spyder-type trike for fun and from time-to-time Laverne, 68, still rides behind him. They consider themselves to be semiretired. Full retirement plans are not in place, but the desire to one day stop working is there.

“I don’t know about him,” Laverne said laughing. “But, I will.”

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