Love’s Plans for Another Record Year

Kristina Peters, Associate Editor, CSP

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores

OKLAHOMA CITY -- After a record-breaking last year, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores is looking to one-up itself with plans to open 50 or more stores in 2017. 

The family-owned chain, with headquarters in Oklahoma City, opened 47 new locations in 2016—the most new-store openings in a year for the company. 

Here’s a look at how Love’s will accomplish its new-store goal, as well as other plans it outlined for the year, including adding more truck parking spaces, bringing back laundry facilities, becoming a commercial-tire player and more ...

Opening 50 or more stores

Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores

Love’s communication specialist Kealey Dorian announced the company’s plans to open 50 or more stores in 2017 during a YouTube interview with Tom Love, founder and executive chairman.

“It wasn’t too long ago that we thought we were running out of space,” Love said. “We used to have a rule of thumb about the gap between stores being 100 miles or more in the same quarter.”

But as the number of trucks on the road increase, that school of thought is changing. 

“That’s coming down to 50 or 60 [miles], and in some cases, much tighter that that, like 50 feet in Van, Texas,” Love said. “We built a brand-new store in Van, Texas, right across the street from a very successful but older location that was becoming overwhelmed, and it’s been a killer.”

The chain currently has 349 Travel Stops and 62 Country Stores. 

Adding 3,400 truck parking spaces

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores

As the number of trucks on the road increase, the need for parking spaces increases as well. To help alleviate the problem, Love’s plans to add 3,400 or more truck parking spaces in 2016.

“Truck parking across the country for the industry is a really big deal. We hear it from our customers … every day,” Love said. “We’re doing our part. Are we going to eliminate the problem nationally? Of course not.”

Love’s added 3,100 truck parking spaces in 2016.

Bringing back laundry facilities

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores

“We used to do laundries, and then we didn’t, because we thought the need for them was going away,” Love said. “We were just wrong, I guess, because we are going back in and adding them now. It’s a matter of listening to our customers.”

Becoming a commercial-tire player

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores

Love’s is in the midst of expanding its Truck Tire Care center, which offers heavy-duty tire care, including TirePass, an inspection service for professional drivers; light mechanical services; and roadside assistance.

The program will roll out to more travel-stop locations and offer additional services, including oil changes and maintenance for transmission and gear boxes. 

“The reason we’re pushing so hard on that is because we see a tremendous future for Love’s in the heavy-truck tire business,” Love said. “In addition to that, last year, we wandered into a totally different field related to tires when we went into the distribution center business.”

The company built distribution centers in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Kingman, Ariz.

“We think we can become one of the most significant players in North America in commercial tires and light mechanical services,” Love said. 

Opening eight new hotels

Hotel beds

Love’s, which operates 11 hotels under its Love’s Hospitality branch, is set to open eight more locations this year.

“All of the hotels are and will be adjacent to a Love’s Travel Stop,” Love said. “How natural a fit is between a Love’s and a hotel, that’s still evolving. We’re pretty confident that we are finding synergies.”