WESTLAKE, Ohio — One year after taking the helm of TravelCenters of America Inc. (TA), President and CEO Jonathan Pertchik reflected on the beginning of the company's transformation during TA's latest earnings call.
"2020 was primarily a year of planning and preparation, a year with the three Ps: people, plan and purse," Pertchik said during TA's fourth-quarter 2020 earnings call, held Feb. 26.
"We put the team of people together through our reorganization. We developed our transformation playbook or plan, and we developed the purse through our $85-million equity and $200-million debt raise, as well as the installation of a newfound and aggressive cost discipline. We end 2020 prepared to invest capital in growth and remediation, as well as to execute on our broader transformation plans," he added.
For 2021, TA's agenda centers on refining the company's capital plan, designed around cleanup, catch-up and growth, according to Pertchik.
"Our capital plan includes reestablishing our information technology, or IT systems, and doing so with a focus on creating an efficient and effective foundation upon which to rebuild our organization," he explained.
Plans also call for improving its locations — remedially and financially — to make the travel centers more attractive and useful to professional drivers and four-wheel motorists.
In this next phase of its transformation agenda, TA will stay within its asset base, the chief executive stressed.
"Our capital plan includes the exploration of collaborations and joint venture opportunities — and to be very clear, these investments in growth will be focused exclusively in our asset base and not in non-strategic unrelated businesses or areas," he said. "Ample areas of opportunity to invest within our asset base include travel centers, the truck service business, fuel and technology to support our growth."
The company recently entered into an agreement to sell its standalone restaurant business, Quaker Steak & Lube, as Convenience Store News previously reported.
According to Pertchik, TA is also tapping outside consultants to support its transformation agenda in key areas such as fuel margin and site-level operating expenses.
"We expect this investment will begin to bear fruit during 2021," he said.
Based in Westlake, TravelCenters of America's nationwide business includes travel centers located in 44 U.S. states and Canada, standalone truck service facilities located in three states, and standalone restaurants located in 12 states. Its travel centers operate under the TravelCenters of America, TA, TA Express, Petro Stopping Centers and Petro brand names, and offer diesel fuel and gasoline, restaurants, truck repair services, travel/convenience stores, and other services designed to provide attractive and efficient travel experiences to professional drivers and other motorists. TA's standalone truck service facilities operate under the TA Truck Service brand name.