Two C-store Families Retain 'World's Billionaires' Status
NATIONAL REPORT — Convenience store owners continue to rack up the recognition, with two families taking their place alongside other billionaires.
Tom and Judy Love, founders of the Love's Travel Stop & Country Stores, are ranked No. 303 on Forbes magazine's 2017 The World's Billionaires list. The couple appeared in the No. 205 spot in 2016 and No. 418 in 2015.
The couple began the Oklahoma City-based retail chain with one gas station in 1964 and today has a portfolio of more than 420 locations. The family-owned and –operated company plans to open a total of 50 new travel stops this year.
In addition, Love's acquired Trillium CNG, a compressed natural gas provider, in March 2016.
Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam, with a net worth of $3.6 billion as of March, took the No. 522 spot on the 2017 list. He appeared on the 2016 list as No. 771 and No. 663 in 2015.
As the chief executive of the Knoxville, Tenn.-based travel center operator, Haslam has steered the company through a rough patch when it was faced with allegations of fraud in its fuel rebate program in 2013. Pilot Flying J reached a $92-million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice the following year.
"Since then Haslam has overhauled the company in hopes of preventing similar problems in the future," Forbes wrote. "At the same time volatile oil prices have helped boost margins on fuel and attracted more customers inside stations."
In addition to Pilot Flying J, Haslam is owner of the National Football League's Cleveland Browns.
Haslam's father started the company in 1958. His brother, Bill, served as president of the company until 1999 and was elected governor of Tennessee in 2010.
Bill Haslam also landed on the magazine's 207 list, holding the No. 782 spot with a net worth of $2.6 billion as of March. He began his political career when he was elected mayor of Knoxville in 2003. According to Forbes, he was briefly the richest politician in America — until Donald Trump decided to run for president.
According to Forbes, the number of billionaires around the world increased 13 percent over the past year, from 1,810 to 2,043 — marking the first time the magazine reached more than 2,000. Their total net worth rose by 18 percent to $7.67 trillion, also a record.