Love’s founder shares his wisdom during Junior Achievement event

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. to add hotels to its business platform.
by Paula Burkes Modified: April 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm •  Published: April 6, 2014
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In its 50th year, Oklahoma City-based Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. this month plans to add hotels to what the company founder calls its “highway hospitality business” platform of fuel, fast food and convenience stores.

Tom Love announced the new initiative at a Junior Achievement event Thursday at Oklahoma City University’s Meinders School of Business.

Love’s, which Tom Love and his wife Judy founded as Musket Corp. in 1964 when they leased a filling station in Watonga, ranks No. 9 on Forbes’ list of America’s largest private companies. Love’s, which has grown to 300 retail outlets across 40 states, employs about 11,000 employees and reports gross annual revenues of more than $26 billion.

“We’ve gotten pretty good at operating and managing our platform of five to six moving parts: a convenience store, trucker store, gas and diesel fuel, and one or more branded restaurants in all our stores,” Love said. According to the company website, the latter includes Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., Chester’s Fried Chicken, Godfather’s Pizza, Hardee’s and McDonald’s.

Expansion planned

Love’s three years ago added a heavy truck commercial tire business to its offerings, Love said, and has 180 light mechanical service shops, which it plans to grow to 300 by the end of 2016, he said.

“Each highway store is a profit center,” he said, “which, because of interlocking parts, has a competitive edge. For example, a McDonald’s restaurant may bring in gas and store sales. It all works pretty harmoniously.”

This year, Love’s will add about 42 highway stores, including some on secondary highways in rural Oklahoma, Love said. In west Texas and North Dakota, where there are staffing challenges, the company has bused workers from El Paso to Odessa or offered adjacent cut-rate living quarters in Williston, N.D., as an extended employee perk, he said.

Meanwhile, it moves tens of thousands of barrels of crude oil every several days via rail cars from Houston to the mountains, and from the Dakotas to the Gulf Coast, Love said.

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by Paula Burkes
Reporter
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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Volunteers sought

Junior Achievement of Oklahoma is seeking workers of all levels to teach financial literacy, workplace readiness and entrepreneurial skills to students in kindergarten through the 12th grade. Using easy-to-follow prepared curriculum, volunteers each semester opt to teach one day for five to six hours, or one hour for five to six weeks. Nineteen volunteers are needed now to teach in the Oklahoma City schools. To volunteer, call (405) 235-3399 or email volunteer@ja.org.

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