2023 Rewind: Last year was busy one for major travel center chains

Tractor-trailers at fuel island

Even as the trucking industry slogged through a substantially down year, the big three truck stop and travel center chains had the pedal to the metal in 2023.

There was plenty of expansion, both in the number of new stores that were opened and the new product lines and services that were made available.

And, of course, it was a rollercoaster ride for fuel suppliers trying to keep up with the ever-changing diesel prices.

Love's Travel Stops added 23 new locations, 2,000 truck parking spaces

Love's Travel StopsLove's Travel StopsOklahoma City, Oklahoma Love's Travel Stops continued its expansionistic ways in 2023, adding 23 new locations, and of great importance to professional drivers, about 2,000 new truck parking spaces across the country. Love's also completely remodeled two existing locations and remodeled eight locations as a part of its Strategic Remodel Initiative.

But, Love's growth was not limited to opening new travel stops. The company also now has 50 Love’s RV Stops across the country., and six truck washes.

The company also signed a supply agreement in January that offers Interstate-branded batteries exclusively to customers of Love’s out of the big three over-the-road travel stops for the next five years. Love’s and Daimler Truck North America announced an exclusive strategic partnership to provide select services for Freightliner vehicles at approved Love’s Truck Care and Speedco locations.   

 Love's also acquired Oklahoma City-based, TVC Pro-Driver, a motor club and commercial driver’s license protection subscription service with more than 35 years of experience assisting individual drivers and fleets in reducing or dismissing fines, preventing downtime for court, and protecting compliance, safety, and accountability. scores.

The company was also ranked the best workplace in the country in Indeed’s list of Better Work Awards for 2023. The award was based on the world’s largest study of work well-being and millions of employee insights, showcasing Love’s commitment to the happiness, purpose, and satisfaction of its team members.

"In 2023, Love’s continued founder Tom Love’s innovative vision of continued growth and added new services and amenities to get customers back on the road quickly,” said Shane Wharton, president of Love’s. “From adding TVC Pro-Driver to truck washes and dozens of new stores to expanding our RV network, we are continuing to find new ways to accommodate the needs of drivers across the country.”

And the outlook for 2024? More growth. Love's expects to open 20 new locations in 2024.

TravelCenters of America was purchased by British energy giant

TravelCenters of America buildingTravelCenters of AmericaOne of the trucking industry's biggest stories of the year involved the sale of TravelCenters of America to bp, the British energy company, for $1.3 billion. That sale was finalized in May.

U.S.-based ARKO offered $2.4 billion for TA. The company's shareholders rejected the offer by one of the largest convenience store chains in the U.S.

With over 150 full-service restaurants nationwide, TA launched Fork & Compass earlier this year in Perrysburg, Ohio. Fork & Compass is designed to be an attractive option for all travelers and a destination spot for the community, with unique food options in a casual, comfortable, family-friendly atmosphere.

The TravelCenters of America Inc. opened a Black Bear Diner at its TA travel center off Interstate 40’s Exit 48 in Kingman, Arizona. The restaurant is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., has seating for about 150 people, offers full-service dining, and serves breakfast all day.

TravelCenters of America Inc., also announced updates to its full-service restaurant business.

The Ohio-based company announced Maira Isabel now serves as TA’s corporate executive chef, and "will focus on adding flavorful, healthy offerings and integrating food trends and regional specialties into the menus of TA’s Country Pride and Iron Skillet restaurants," according to a statement from the company.

Pilot spends $1 billion to remodel 100 locations

Pilot travel centerPilot CompanyLate last year, Pilot announced it had Pilot Travel Centers LLC completed more than 100 remodels under its $1 billion New Horizons initiative.

"Reaching 100 remodeled locations since launching our New Horizons initiative is a proud milestone for our teams and a reflection of our commitment to enhance the travel experience for everyone on the road," said Allison Cornish, senior vice president of store modernization at Pilot Travel Centers LLC. "These upgrades are an investment in our teams, in our guests, and in our communities, making our locations a great place to work and shop."

Also in 2023, Pilot and Kodiak Robotics, Inc., a self-driving trucking company announced the opening of their inaugural truckport. The facility, located at the Pilot Travel Center in Villa Rica, Georgia, will be used by Kodiak to launch and land autonomous trucks and will serve as a convenient hub for drivers to pick up and drop off first- and last-mile deliveries. The Villa Rica truckport will support Kodiak's 18,000-mile-long autonomous deployment network.

Last year also saw Pilot name Dan Crouse, a trucker with 50 years on the road as its 2023 Road Warrior grand prize winner. He drives for the trucking division of Boyd Grain of Washington, Indiana. Crouse won $15,000.

The second runner-up was Robert Palm, a trucker for 42 years and the founder of Truckers Final Mile. He received $10,000. Angelique Temple was the contest's third-place winner. The owner-operator has been driving for over 20 years. She received $5,000.

Also, during 2023, the company was embroiled in legal actions between Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway, which during 2023 spent $8.2 billion to increase its stake in the company to 80%. However, it is engaged in legal action in which it accuses the Haslam family, founders of the company who still owns 20% of the company's stock, of bribing Pilot executives to inflate the company's profitability. This would have forced Berkshire Hathaway to pay more to the Haslams.