Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores
The chain opened more than 20 new travel stops and 48 Truck Tire Care Centers last year, and expansion plans continue
In January 2011, Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores announced plans to invest $230 million back into the company for the year. Of this total, $180 million was to be allocated to new construction â specifically more than 20 new travel stop locations â and more than $50 million was to be spent on improving existing sites. These improvements included adding new Love's Truck Tire Care Centers to current locations, expanding parking lots, reimaging restaurants and remodeling restrooms.
Now, one year later, the company has delivered on its promise.
"Love's opened 21 new locations in 2011," Kyla Turner, communications manager at Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores, headquartered in Oklahoma City, Okla., told Convenience Store News. "These were all new construction projects built from the ground up. We also acquired a travel stop in Benson, Ariz., from Gas City, and it is now a fully remodeled Love's."
The company opened locations in a number of states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. Additionally, Love's added 48 new Truck Tire Care Centers to its locations in the last year, which offer an extensive selection of tires, as well as batteries, parts and a variety of services.
"2011 was an exceptional year for Love's," said Tom Love, founder and CEO. "We will continue to grow throughout the country, offering accessible locations and the clean places and friendly faces Love's is known for."
THE FUELING FRONT
As the demand for diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) continues to grow, with new heavy-duty truck, SUV and van engines entering the market, Love's is increasing the amount of its locations with bulk DEF â a urea-based chemical reactant that's used to destroy harmful emissions in the exhaust and meet Environmental Protection Agency standards.
"We are especially focused on providing bulk DEF at pumps alongside our diesel islands for the convenience of our professional drivers," Turner explained. "Truck drivers need readily available DEF to keep running on the road, and we are committed to bringing bulk DEF to more of our locations at a competitive price."
Love's ended 2011 with 100 bulk DEF locations â accounting for more than one-third of all its company locations â and the retailer will continue to add more this year, according to Turner.
In addition to DEF, the chain also recently began offering compressed natural gas (CNG) in partnership with Chesapeake Energy Corp. of Oklahoma. Love's installed the first pump at its location in Kingfisher, Okla., just outside of Oklahoma City where the company is headquartered. The c-store and truck stop operator plans to add 10 more CNG pumps to existing locations in Oklahoma this year.
"CNG is becoming a popular alternative fuel as companies and municipalities are converting their fleet vehicles to run on natural gas," Turner noted. "It is also becoming more popular with consumers as several major automobile makers now offer CNG-fueled models."
This past summer saw Love's release Love's Connect, a mobile application (app) for iPhones, Androids and BlackBerries that offers customers real-time access to company locations, fuel prices, store amenities, food offerings and special promotions, as well as the ability for rewards members to check their points and credits. For the June launch, the company promoted the app with a nationwide sweepstakes, entering every customer who downloaded the app into a weekly prize drawing.
"Our mobile app is truly a way to connect with our customers," Turner said. "Enhancements are made based on the feedback we receive from our customers."
One of those enhancements included the addition of instant roadside assistance, which launched via an upgrade in December. Drivers can now instantly contact the chain's dispatch service when encountering problems on the road. The new upgrade also added DEF pricing and the ability for customers to see the total number of parking spots available at Love's truck stop locations.
These enhancements "help drivers get the services they need," Turner said, explaining that the company plans to introduce more upgrades and improvements to the app this year.
Another technology advancement announced by Love's in 2011 was a plan to install radio frequency identification (RFID) technology at all of its locations, allowing fuel transactions to be processed wirelessly without using a credit or debit card. The program, called Fuel Island Manager, is being installed and tested at select locations across the country.
"RFID transmitters identify trucks with a radio frequency tag and can automatically turn on a diesel pump and dispense the appropriate amount of fuel," said Turner. "This saves professional drivers valuable time at the pumps, and it helps trucking fleets manage their fuel costs."
While 2011 was an aggressive growth year for Love's, the company is continuing its efforts in 2012.
New travel stops are in the works, along with remodel projects to improve both the accessibility and aesthetics of older locations, according to Turner. New Love's Truck Tire Care Centers are also planned, as is the continued expansion of bulk DEF offerings at Love's locations.
"Keep an eye out for new projects that will pop up [this year]," Turner said. "We constantly look for innovative ways to better serve our professional drivers and motorists on the road."
For comments, please contact Tammy Mastroberte, Contributing Editor, at [email protected].
"Truck drivers need readily available DEF to keep running on the road, and we are committed to bringing bulk DEF to more of our locations at a competitive price."
â Kyla Turner, Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores