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Going Green How truckstops cut costs and make the world cleaner at the same time

Energy drinks Preventing fuel theft

Paying to park DEF basics

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As President Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life.” Our industry has certainly seen its share of changes this year, and much of that change can be attributed to one thing — high fuel prices. The high price of oil is changing the way shippers think about moving freight. Shippers have been moving to regional distribution from long-haul for quite some time, but many of them have ramped up the changes to manage record-breaking fuel costs. High fuel costs, in addition to pro-environment initiatives, have also caused manufacturers to change the way they package their goods. For example, laundry detergents are being offered in concentrated forms and cereal manufacturers are reducing the size of their boxes so they are not paying costs to ship the air in those boxes. Changes such as these are leading to a drop in demand. A NATSO survey recently revealed that diesel gallons sold in May 2008 as compared with May 2007 dropped by about 6 percent. It’s rare to see a greater than 2.5 percent decline in demand for fuel, especially in a time that is considered to be peak driving season. Even though demand has dropped, retail prices have stayed high. According to the Oil Price Information Service, in May and June retailers were paying an average of 37 cents more than the prior month for gasoline and an average of over 60 cents more for diesel, topping the $4 mark for the first time ever. Many are forecasting that diesel prices will improve at year’s end. This is encouraging, but we know a significant number of businesses are at risk now. Plus, shippers and manufacturers have created efficiencies they will be embracing for years to come. I believe our members are among the most versatile and creative entrepreneurs in our nation. The way you do business is changing along with your customers’ needs and the economy. Every day NATSO members are adjusting the way they do business and making changes that will improve their bottom line. On page 10 you will read about two NATSO members who have increased their revenue by charging for parking. Sapp Bros. Denver in Commerce City, Colo., is looking to its shop and restaurant to increase sales — General Manager Dan Adams shares his insights on page 22. While there is little retailers can do to reduce their fuel expenses, many have made small changes to cut costs where they can. Several members have lowered their utility bills by 7 to 25 percent simply by switching out light bulbs and fixtures. Others have implemented recycling programs that have slashed their waste removal expenses. Learn more on page 12. From reducing fuel theft to offering new products on the market, this issue is filled with dozens of ideas that may change the way you think about certain aspects of your business and help you adjust to the change being thrust upon us by the marketplace. Best regards,

Lisa J. Mullings President and Chief Executive Officer SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2008



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© Caterpillar 2007. All rights reserved.



CONTENTS w w w. n a t s o . c o m


COVER Green 12 Going How truckstops cut costs and make the world cleaner at the same time

FEATURES to Park 10 Paying Charging for spaces can help — not hurt — a truckstop’s revenue

COLUMNS 3 9 20 22 26


Diesel Exhaust Fluid What retailers need to know about the new technology


Energy Explosion Drinks and other products that give drivers a boost mean big business


The NATSO Show 2009 Join NATSO in Nashville for networking, speakers, seminars and much more

CEO Letter: Coping with high fuel prices What’s Online: Web-only stories available now 7 Operator to Operator: Preventing fuel theft 9 Member Profile: Sapp Bros. Denver in Commerce City, Colo. 24 Selling Points: Surviving a recession


Chairman Dan Alsaker President & CEO Lisa J. Mullings Editor Mindy R. Long Associate Editor Mandi Oliver

Stop Watch is published bimonthly by NATSO, Inc., 1737 King Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, VA 22314. Copyright 2008 by NATSO, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without written permission of the publisher. All editorial materials are acceptable and published by Stop Watch on the representation that the supplier is authorized to publish the entire contents and subject matter. Such entities and/or their agents will defend, indemnify and hold harmless Stop Watch and

NATSO Action Report Foundation Update Short Stops

NATSO from and against any loss, expense or other liability resulting from claims or suits for libel, violation of privacy, plagiarism, copyright or trademark infringement and any other claims or suits resulting from the editorial materials. Periodicals postage 024-723 paid at Nashville, TN and other mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Stop Watch, 1737 King Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, VA 22314

For advertising and sales information please contact Stop Watch magazine at (615) 627-2236.




Copyright ©2008 Michelin North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Make them want to stop at your stop. Something special happens when you’ve got the MICHELIN® Man in your store. It’s like having a big sign welcoming truck drivers, fleets and the business they bring. There’s only one way to get that sign though, and that’s by carrying MICHELIN truck tires. Now is the perfect time to start with Michelin’s profitable truckstop programs. For more information, 08MTT974

contact Jason Koches at (864) 458-9710.

Protecting the Industry’s Interests

NATSO Fuel Survey Highlights Decreased Fuel Demand With diesel prices continuing to rise, NATSO commissioned a survey of its members to compare the amount of fuel sold from January to May 2008 with the same period a year ago. The results showed a dramatic decline of year-over-year fuel sales by about 6 percent. NATSO pointed towards speculation in the commodities markets as a chief reason for the rise in prices at a time when demand is softening. “In the past, when we’ve seen skyrocketing fuel prices like this, it is because of some crisis that squeezes supply,” said NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings. “We’ve seen no long lines at the pump; in fact, demand has fallen and supply is adequate, so it is clear that there is another factor driving up prices.” Learn more at

NATSO Speaks Out Against ATC The National Conference on Weights and Measures continued its discussion of automatic temperature compensation during its annual meeting in Burlington, Vt., this summer. NATSO Vice President of Government Affairs Holly Alfano gave a presentation on wholesale fuel transactions and explained how net billing terms are calculated. NATSO and the P.U.M.P. Coalition will continue to fight against proposals requiring ATC equipment at fuel pumps — estimated to cost retailers more than $3,500 per dispenser.

NCWM will decide by July 2009 whether to keep the current system for dispensing fuel, mandate that retailers install ATC or allow retailers to install the technology if desired. Alfano also spoke at the California Petroleum Conference along with Gordon Schremp of the California Energy Commission, which is conducting a cost-benefit study of ATC and is expected to release its draft report in September.

Credit Card Fair Fee Act Advances in Congress NATSO-supported legislation aimed to help lower credit card interchange fees for retail-


ers has taken significant steps in both the House and Senate. NATSO would like to thank all members who have supported the Credit Card Fair Fee Act. In July the House Judiciary Committee approved H.R. 5546, which now moves to the floor of the House. The bill directs credit card companies, their issuing banks and retailers to enter into negotiations to reach an agreement on appropriate interchange rates, waives antitrust regulations to allow negotiations, and requires the Department of Justice to oversee them. H.R. 5546 is sponsored by Judiciary Committee John Conyers (DMich.) and Committee member Chris Cannon (R-Utah). Earlier this year, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced the Senate version of the Credit Card Fair Fee Act with Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) co-sponsoring.

Government Affairs Committee Welcomes New Chairman NATSO is pleased to announce that Mike Lombardi, executive vice president of sales for TravelCenters of America, has been appointed as Chair of the Government Affairs Committee. He succeeds Delia Moon Meier, who was appointed to the NATSO Board of Directors earlier this year.

NATSO Hosts Fundraiser for Rep. Barton NATSO hosted a fundraiser for Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), who is serving his 12th term in Congress. He is ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. An industry ally, Rep. Barton has worked hard to protect retailers and consumers from the effects of high fuel prices, and is actively seeking solutions. His sponsorship of H.R. 6130, which calls for a study of the effects of speculation in the energy commodity futures markets, is a step in the right direction towards addressing the root causes of the recent fuel price increase.



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Go Online for More NATSO News



Learn more about the latest freight figures and what they mean for the truckstop and travel plaza industry.

NATSO is actively engaged with the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and other stakeholders on the fuel price crisis. The association has joined with others in calling on the Bush administration to examine energy speculation, and requested that the president raise the issue at the G-8 Summit in Japan. See the full letter online.

CASH & CREDIT FUEL PRICES Truckstop operators frequently ask NATSO about whether they are allowed to offer a discount for cash payments for fuel transactions. The answer is a resounding, “Yes.” The right to offer a discount to cash-paying customers applies not only to fuel transactions, but any retail transaction.

VISA/MASTERCARD LITIGATION NATSO is a class action plaintiff in a lawsuit against Visa, MasterCard and several banks. The suit alleges that they violate antitrust laws because they conspire to charge merchants outrageously high interchange fees.

FEDERAL CREDIT CARD LEGISLATION On the federal level, NATSO continues to actively lobby for legislation that would increase regulation of credit cards.

PUBLIC EDUCATION ABOUT CARD FEES NATSO and other groups launched a pump topper campaign to alert consumers that hidden card fees are included in the price of every gallon of gasoline purchased.

STUDY GROUPS Sign up for a study group and benchmark against non-competing travel plazas in a confidential environment. Participants learn about how to strengthen their businesses through sharing innovative, proven strategies and best practices.

REST AREA COMMERCIALIZATION NATSO is preparing for next year’s highway reauthorization battle, where states will be lobbying to allow commercialization of interstate rest areas.

NATSO’S CAPITOL CONNECTION Learn much more about all of these issues plus how to sign up for NATSO’s grassroots network, Capitol Connection, by clicking the link to visit NATSO’s Capitol Connection.


Dear Stop Watch readers: Over the summer the NATSO Foundation worked hard on program development to ensure it provides the best service, opportunities and programs to you, our valued truckstop and travel plaza community. The foundation started a dialogue with and heard from many operators in an effort to better understand what opportunities and services it can provide through its scholarship, community outreach and research program areas. For almost 20 years the foundation has collected and produced the most useful information for and about the truckstop and travel plaza industry. In an effort to provide owners and operators with the most relevant and current information regarding an important issue that affects your business, the NATSO Foundation hosted its first ever Webinar on fuel theft. Look for follow-up information at We encourage you to contact us anytime with your comments and ideas! Sincerely,

Jeff Irwin Chairman, the NATSO Foundation

Register for the NATSO Finale Event NATSO is planning fun for everyone at the NATSO Foundation Denim and Diamond Extravaganza on the General Jackson Showboat in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday, Jan. 27, 2009. This event will provide a grand finale to The NATSO Show. Open to all attendees, the evening includes dinner, dancing and performances from your favorite NATSO stars. Registration is required, so get your dancing boots on and register today at

Need more information? Call Sharon Corigliano at (888) 275-6287, visit or fax requests to (703) 684-9667. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2008



Pay to Park

Charging for spaces can increase a truckstop’s sales and revenue BY MINDY LONG




t only took two hours, some block barriPalmer and Flynn recently ers and simple tokens to convert 95 of shared their experiences with A.C. & Travel Center’s 137 spaces into a paid parking during a Great paid parking area, which has boosted Ideas! All Year Long best pracrevenue not only from parking, but also on tice sharing call for independinside sales. ent operators sponsored by Kristi Palmer of A.C. & T said, “Charging Michelin. Independent operafor parking has helped us, not hurt us. Drivers tors are invited to register for Flynn’s Truck Plaza in Shrewsbury, Mass., sits are parking and they have to come in and the Sept. 25 and Oct. 23 calls at at the end of a lot of freight runs, which get their token.” Learn more at means truck fleets often need parking for Drivers receive a free token if they dropped trailers. Flynn’s has capitalized on chase fuel or spend a minimum of $20 inside that need by renting dedicated trailer parking the location. “It doesn’t take a lot when you’re spaces directly to fleets. looking at a shower and a meal. If it is $18.95, we don’t squab“We stencil the fleet’s name on each spot that they ble. We’ll give them a token,” Palmer said. are renting,” said Sean Flynn, manager of Flynn’s. For drivers who haven’t spent $20 at the location, they have to “Every month we send a rent bill.” The trailer parking go inside to buy a token. “When they’re in buying their token, they area, which is paved and striped, is not located directly buy something,” Palmer said. She added that sales from her food at the truck plaza, but is just a short drive away. “If a case have increased. “Either way you’re making out because driver wants, he can drop his trailer and bobtail back to you’re getting the money for them to park or they buy something the truckstop,” Flynn said. so they can park.” Flynn added, “It works well because we don’t need A.C. & T — located on I-81 in Hagerstown, Md. — implementto make sure that every truck entering pays. To police ed paid parking eight months ago as a reaction to drivers who the lot, we can just drive through every other day or so fueled at a competitor’s location but parked there. Most drivers and make sure that no unidentified trailers are haven’t complained about the new parking policy, but in general, dropped.” Palmer said drivers from the South seem to be the most resistant. If an unidentified trailer is found, Flynn’s will make a “The Northern and Western drivers know to pay,” she said. few calls, explain the policy and try to turn the fleet into The tokens A.C. & T uses are similar to car wash tokens. Drivers a paying customer. pull up to the gated lot and insert their token to enter. Palmer said they placed signage around the lot explaining the policy and had staff in the lot in the first few weeks to explain the new system. “We were out there especially in the evenings to give them the concept of how to get into the lot,” Palmer said. Palmer said she conducted extensive research and determined most lots charged anywhere from $10 to $15 per day. A.C. & T allows drivers to pay for parking daily, weekly or monthly. If boosting revenue wasn’t enough, A.C. & T has seen another side benefit of paid parking. “Our parking lot is much nicer. If they’re going to pay, they keep it nicer,” Palmer said. A.C. & T also provides a paid parking area for cars that drivers or locals may be leaving in the lot for an extended period of time. Drivers purchase a permit inside the location and place it on their window. “If they don’t have a permit, then we’ll leave a notice on the car. If the car is still there the next day, it will be towed,” Palmer said. Palmer said the whole concept of paid parking has “worked wonderfully” for A.C. & T. “Since we’ve charged for parking we’ve actually received a lot more revenue from the parking and it has increased our inside sales,” she said.

Location, Location, Location




Going Green



How energy efficiency can help you spend less and earn more BY MINDY LONG


t used to be that people “went green” to protect the environment, but now it can protect their pocketbooks as well. Several NATSO members are reducing expenses by becoming more energy efficient and implementing recycling programs. They are also looking to increase revenue and meet drivers’ needs by offering and charging for idle-reduction services. NATSO member Randy Markham is in the process of building a completely green truckstop, the RoadTrip Oasis Travel Plaza in Howell, Mich. “We hope to be the first LEED-certified truckstop in the world,” Markham said. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. To be LEED certified, a location or business must adhere to 26 of the 90 standards the group has set. “It is going to cost substantially more upfront to do this, but in the long run it is cheaper,” Markham said. Some of the things Markham is doing include utilizing waterless urinals, flushing toilets with shower water and collecting rain water for the truck wash. “It looks like we’ll be able to have zero fresh water in our truck wash,” he said. Markham has been working with Paragon Solutions, a retail design and consulting firm that helps truckstops and travel plazas revamp operations through the use of creative design techniques. Paragon President and CEO Mike Lawshe and Markham will discuss ways locations can improve operations and save money during The NATSO Show. (See related story on page 23.)

Cutting Back on Electricity Markham is also one of many NATSO members increasingly utilizing LED lighting, which is more energy efficient. Dan Alsaker, president of Broadway Truck Stops, said he is switching out all interior lights to LEDs. “We’re seeing almost immediate savings of an additional 7 percent on our electric bill,” he said.

Bowlin Travel Centers switched out light fixtures at all of its 10 locations and has reduced electric bills by 25 percent in the first quarter alone. The switchover began with just one store, but the results made Bowlin rethink lighting in each location. Cyndee Biggers, manager of Bowlin Travel Centers, said, “We were remodeling one of the stores and we wanted to do it anyway. Then we started watching our utility bills. The bills were lower at the store we had remodeled with the LED lighting.” The new fixtures in the first store cost around $4,500 — a little more costly, but Biggers said it is worth the investment. “It is a little expensive initially, but in the long run, they are more efficient,” she said. “Because it wasn’t just a bottom line expense in doing the lighting, we’re able to capitalize it. It made it a little easier to have the expense.” Alsaker had been considering the switch for quite some time, but had reservations. “We have been particularly concerned over the years with the color the lights emit especially in the dining rooms and restaurants,” he said. However, advances in technology are making that less of a concern. In fact, the new lights at Bowlin Travel Center had an added bonus. “They almost made the stores feel a little fresher because the fixtures we picked have a cleaner light,” she said. “It is not a yellow light; it is more of a white light.”




Reducing Waste

that go into effect in 2010,” he said. While some states do have regulations, Tunnell said he is unsure of Recycling can drastically reduce a location’s waste bills, too. how many are enforcing them. “Obviously a big question is how do Biggers said at Bowlin they break down boxes and recycle cans and plastic bottles. “We have to try to do our part, plus it is saving us you enforce them? The police tend to have more of a public safety money. Our trash bills are lower because we’ve reduced the number focus and they say, ‘If I stop this person from idling, will I stop this person from getting a good night’s sleep and will they be safe on the of pick-ups,” she said. Jan Van Westerop of the Tennessean Truck Stop recently shared road?’ It is hard to put your finger on how much enforcement is going his experience with recycling during a Great Ideas! All Year Long best on,” he said. Jim Miller of the Sacramento 49er Travel Plaza in Sacramento, practice call. The location has several dumpsters just for cardboard, which the county will pick up for free. “We’re almost cutting our waste Calif., told Stop Watch, “I get complaints almost every day about drivexpense in half,” Van Westerop said. “It is running $15,000 to $20,000 ers who actually stay in state rest areas idling their engines and get big fines.” a year just to get rid of waste here.” Miller added that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) In the past, the Tennessean had its own garbage trucks and hauled waste to the local landfill. “But we had a big expense and a lot of lia- enforces the regulations, but must have a subpoena before they can bility,” he said. “We brought in a dumpster, but if you’re dealing with enter the private property of a truckstop. “In my location and in probably any other truckstop, CARB has come in here under the premise the local waste hauler, that can be very expensive.” It isn’t just garbage produced at the truckstop that operators have that they want to give out literature. I’ve told them that I want to be a to worry about — it’s the trash drivers leave behind, too. To help team player, but they need to have a subpoena,” he said. “The drivers reduce that, Van Westerop’s location has eliminated waste containers look at that parking lot out there as their private domain and you have in the parking lot. “We still have to sweep and clean up our parking to respect that. They are out there to rest and don’t want people banging on their trucks.” lot, but we’re receiving less garbage,” he said. Miller said he has seen an increase in the number of drivers utilizing Biggers said it was easy to get their employees’ support of their idle-reduction technology. Sacramento 49er has 16 parking spaces efforts. “The managers realize it affects their bonus on the expense that drivers can plug into. “We also have an application in right now to side,” she said. add another 22,” he added. Saving Fuel The American Auto Stop in North Stonington, Conn., has placed Several locations have also embraced idle-reduction technology, idle-reduction technology at all of its 116 spaces due to local regulaeither because of driver demand or because of state or county man- tions that limit idling to three minutes with no exceptions. All drivers dates. More and more states are limiting idling and doing away with will have to pay approximately $2 per hour for the services in order to exemptions for sleeper berths. park, which creates an additional revenue stream for the location. Earlier this year, California was the first state to eliminate the idling The American Auto Stop uses CabAire technology, which has exemption for drivers who were resting. Several NATSO members idling sensors that detect engine noise. “We can set this idling senlocated in California told Stop Watch that drivers were traveling out of sor for the local regulation,” said Dan Shannahan of CabAire. The state to rest. However, in July, Nevada also implemented system automatically alerts staff if drivers are over the a five-minute idling rule with no exemptions. three-minute limit. “I think that where this thing ultimately ends Another option for truckstops is to contract with up is that it may push people to drive a little IdleAire Technologies, which has 131 locations further than they would have gone,” said in 34 states. The company filed for Chapter Mike Tunnell of the American 11 bankruptcy early this year but recently Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). reached an agreement to be sold for $26 NATSO members who would like to million. IdleAire has said it expects its locaATRI is the research arm of the share their experiences with going tions to remain open. American Trucking Associations and provides a compendium of idling regThere are over 40 different idling reggreen or idle reduction can visit ulations, which is the most frequently ulations on the books that vary from state downloaded document from the to state and even county to county, which group’s Web site. makes it difficult for drivers and operators to Tunnell said California’s regulations keep track. ATRI recently released a Cab seem to be spreading to other states, but Card drivers can carry in their glove box that some are allowing more time to prepare. “Rhode lists truck idling limits, exemptions and fines — it is Island and New York added sleeper berth provisions available at





Coming to a Retailer Near You

n about a year there will be over 100,000 trucks hitting the road that need diesel exhaust fluid to operate. For the truckstop and travel plaza industry, several questions remain regarding how they will dispense the fluid and how many of their customers will need it. NATSO is currently working with chemical, pump and tank manufacturers to help answer operators’ questions and find solutions that will benefit drivers and operators alike.




DEF is stored in a tank and passes through a pump to be injected into the diesel engine’s exhaust stream between the diesel particulate filter (DPF) and the catalytic convertor. As it passes through the convertor, the resulting chemical reaction limits the amount of emissions.

Meeting the Need

They can utilize aboveground or underground storage tanks, tote Many original equipment manufacturers will rely on Selective bins, or sell gallon or two-and-a-half gallon jugs. Those interviewed agreed all retailers should have some form of Catalytic Reduction (SCR) to meet 2010 emissions standards. SCR injects diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), also called urea, through a catalyst DEF, even if it is just a two-and-a-half gallon jug that they would into the exhaust stream. This small injection triggers a chemical store just as they do their windshield wiper fluid. Lonsdale said, “There is product that is going to be in the marreaction that converts nitrogen oxides into nitrogen and water, ketplace whether it is in a 50-gallon drum, two-and-a-half-gallon which is then expelled through the vehicle tailpipe. Volvo has used the technology in Europe for years. Ed Saxman, containers or even one-gallon containers.” He added that ultiVolvo powertrain marketing manager, said, “It works well and mately DEF will be dispensed in bulk, much like fuels are today. “When the customer comes in and fuels up with diesel, they can improves fuel economy.” It also produces a “near-zero also fill up with a pump that is adjacent to that emission engine,” he added. NATSO will present a with diesel exhaust fluid,” he said. Barry Lonsdale, president of DEF manufacturer Webinar on DEF on While portable options may provide a shortTerra Environmental Technologies, said, “It is the only Oct. 16. To learn more, visit term solution, they may not be a long-term technology that has this kind of track record. You’ll option. Foster said, “If a driver has a 20-gallon have significant reductions in emissions and there are tank and that driver takes 10 two-gallon jugs off fuel economy benefits.” Trucks will have a 20-40 gallon DEF tank and will use between 2 your shelf, it is inconvenient and now there is a waste factor.” Tote bins, which hold hundreds of gallons, may not provide a and 4 gallons of DEF for every 100 gallons of diesel, according to David McKenna, Mack powertrain marketing manager. “We envi- long-term solution either. “Tote bins hold 275 gallons to a little sion drivers topping off the DEF tank about every other time they fill over 300 gallons. But, if the DEF tanks are somewhere between up with fuel,” he said. Drivers may also buy a jug and keep it in the 20-50 gallons, the totes aren’t a very viable answer,” said Jim Spooner, vice president and general manager of Colonial truck to avoid running out. Chemical Company. “It is going to be used in a quantity where it has to be in some kind of bulk tank. You also have to have a pump Dispensing the Product There are several ways operators can choose to dispense DEF. that has gone through weights and measures approval.”




How SCR Works

happens, it can cause equipment failure,” Lonsdale In determining how much of the product to carry, said. “Equipment will have to be dedicated or locations are going to have to make a business deciResources on the Web: there will have to be some very rigorous clean up sion. Spooner said, “There is a competitive situation equipment.” where if you have it and someone needs it, they will go to your truckstop.” “As the number of vehicles increase, the demand Preparing Drivers for the fluid increases as well. It is the chicken and Volvo will be working throughout the year to egg issue right now,” Lonsdale said. educate drivers about the new technology. The Brendan Foster, president of Benecor LLC, said operators will company will be attending truck shows and displaying first have to determine if they are losing diesel sales because they 2010 trucks that will use DEF. don’t have the product. “There will be an initial group who jumps in Even though DEF will be a new technology, neither Volvo nor and doesn’t see sales immediately because the ramp up for Mack expect to see a large pre-buy of trucks from fleets or drivers demand is slow,” he said. “But, they will establish themselves as trying to avoid the technology. Pre-buys did take place prior to the early adopters and gain market.” rollout of the 2007 engines that required ULSD. Unlike then, the 2010 trucks won’t have new engines. “It’s the same engine plus an exhaust after-treatment system, SCR,” McKenna said. Dispensing in Bulk Drivers and retailers alike are wondering what DEF will cost. Pump and tank manufacturers are currently developing systems to be used in the U.S. DEF distribution systems exist in Europe and Since it is produced from natural gas, costs will be based on factors similar to fuel today. Lonsdale said the cost of the product is also should be on the market here soon. Operators will have to keep DEF between 20 and 85 degrees, going to vary based on retailers’ geographic locations. “It will be no since the product is temperature sensitive. “The construction of a different than diesel. The cost will vary based on the cost of getting tank that handles urea is a little different,” Spooner said. “There has it to those locations,” he said. DEF cannot be shipped in any of the existing pipelines, accordto be insulation and, in some cases, heating. We’re looking at a 1,000 gallon tank that is insulated and maybe has a heating system ing to Spooner. He anticipates that it will be shipped by rail car in a concentrated form and then distributed out to truckstops. associated with it, or not, depending where it goes.” “It is a fairly complex process to determine how to distribute a DEF is highly corrosive to certain metals, but can be held in plastic or stainless steel. “There are a number of variations that could brand new fluid across North America,” Lonsdale said. “We have provide more economy and we’re working on those now,” the manufacturing ability. Now we’re working on the distribution system.” Lonsdale said. “This is a commodity and its price will go up and down like Spooner told Stop Watch the benefit of plastic-lined metal tanks is that they can be heated and cooled and tend to last longer. As for petroleum-based products do,” Spooner said. Urea is actually a pumps, they also have to be built in a way to handle DEF. Spooner global commodity as a fertilizer. “It is the supply and demand of said the openings for the urea tank are smaller than the openings fertilizer that really drives the price,” Spooner said. “If the ethanol for the diesel tank to help guard against misfueling. Nozzles will be market in the U.S. pushes the corn crop to go up, then the price of different as well. urea will go up because the demand for fertilizer will be up,” he Lonsdale said Terra is working with a number of different pump added. Lonsdale told Stop Watch it is his understanding that DEF manufacturers to ensure the systems are compatible. “We are work- will cost less than diesel fuel. Ultimately the goal of the chemical manufacturers and the ing with various supply chain partners to put together the distribution and working to set up the distribution system to truckstop OEMs is to make distribution as easy as possible. “When it gets to retailers, they won’t have to do anything but sell it, the same as they operators,” Lonsdale said. Volvo is working with Detroit Diesel, Paccar and the SCR do with diesel today,” Lonsdale said. Foster said the initial change will require some work and educaStakeholders Group, of which NATSO is a member. “The goal is to make sure that we get the information out to the truckstop owners tion, but eventually it will be old hat. “This is just the addition of a and providers of the fluid and pumps to ensure a turnkey package new fluid for the diesel industry,” he said. “It will become a staple to our marketplace.” for the retailers,” McKenna said. To help operators prepare for the changes NATSO will continue In addition to maintaining temperature, operators will need to ensure DEF doesn’t get cross contaminated with dirt or other covering DEF in Stop Watch, present an online learning opportunichemicals. “Cross contamination from chemicals could occur ty on Oct. 16 and will feature an educational session at The because the fluid is put in a tank that held something else. If that NATSO Show.





s Americans i n c re a s i n g l y sleep less and work more to make ends meet, consumers are continuously looking for ways to boost their energy levels. From super-caffeinated coffee to energy shooters, there are more than 200 brands and countless individual products in the energy category. Truckstop and travel plaza owners are taking notice and stocking their shelves with products that give drivers an extra lift.

cartridge. NOS is available in 11- and 16-oz. aluminum cans, 11- and 22-oz. resealable bottle forms and as a 2-oz. power shot. NOS is also available in fruit flavors or sugar free. Scott Chamberlain, national account manager for DAS, a supplier of general travel plaza merchandise, said sales of energy products are exploding. “Energy products are very popular, especially on the supplement side. Our number-one selling energy product is the 5-Hour Energy drink in berry flavor.” 5-Hour Energy is advertised as having no sugar and only four BY MANDI OLIVER calories, and promises no “crash” later. Ben Franklin, co-owner of Grady’s Truckstop in Pulaski, Ga., said 5-Hour Energy, along with numerous other energy products, is very popular at his location. “5-Hour Energy products do very well here,” he said. Franklin said their market for energy drinks is fairly large and appeals to a broad range of customers. “Monster Energy Gary Wood, vice president of convenience retail national sales is very popular with our Hispanic customers. They buy a lot and organization for Coca-Cola, told Stop Watch that energy drinks really love it,” he said. have been the fastest growing beverage category at truckstops Cheryl Flageolle, store manager at Sapp Bros. Denver in and convenience stores for the last few years. The top six brands Commerce City, Colo., said they usually sell out of 5-Hour Energy are Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, Full Throttle, AMP and NOS. products. “The 5-Hour Energy flies off of the shelves here,” she “These six brands are 90 percent of the total energy category, said. The other two most popular drinks at the location are the according to Nielsen year-to-date numbers for June,” Wood said. 32-oz. Monster and Rockstar drinks. “NOS is the fastest growing energy brand this year, increasing Alongside the current favorites, there are growing energy 155 percent in 2008.” trends. Wood said the smaller, more concentrated energy shots NOS stands for Nitrous Oxide Systems, and the product is are forecast to be a $500 million category in 2009, which is dousometimes distributed in a bottle designed to look like an NOS ble from 2008. Wood also said to be on the watch for coffee plus



Experts forecast energy shots to be a $500 million category in 2009. energy hybrids and brands like Java Monster, Rockstar Roasted and Full Throttle coffee. DAS’ Chamberlain agreed that energy shooters — not to be confused with shots — are becoming increasingly popular. “Shooters are tiny red bottles that contain pills,” he said. “You can take the pill with or without a drink.” Stackers, which promise an energy boost and fat burning properties, are another popular product. “One is the Yellow Jacket extreme energy shocker. It is marketed as no crash afterwards, sugar free and zero carbs,” Chamberlain said. Black Ice is a similar product that is seeing increased sales. While energy products are seeing increased sales, truckstop and travel plaza operators will want to look before they leap — all products aren’t selling equally. “For every energy drink that is selling well, there are dozens that just sit in the cooler,” Wood said. “I urge caution for any operator to jump at the heavily discounted goods with a reduced retail upstart energy brand. The facts are that very few are successful.” The good news for business owners selling or interested in selling energy products: The consensus is that there is a large market. According to a 2006 Mintel Energy Drink Report, energy drinks are typically most attractive to young people. Approximately 65 percent of drinkers are between the ages of 13 and 35 years old, with males being approximately 65 percent of the market. Chamberlain said that the general age group buying energy products seems to be teens to early 20s. However, older drivers are using them, too. “In particular, these products are popular with crosscountry drivers for obvious reasons,” he

said. “Four-wheel traffic consumes just as much as the truck drivers.” Sapp Bros.’ Flageolle agreed, noting that both the truck drivers and fourwheelers equally buy their energy products. “Besides the regular drinks, we also sell all different types of protein bars and Power Bars, and all seem to sell very well,” she said. “I’ve noticed that the energy products have been great sellers here for the past two years.” Wood emphasized that advertising and placement of energy products is important. “Truckstop owners should give these products dedicated space in the cold vault with the best selling SKUs. Plus, good point of sale is also important,” he said. Wood said that in terms of space, owners should take the category management approach. “This means allocating the total cooler space based on a combination of current sales data, past trends and future forecast,” he said. Owners may also want to take advantage of impulse purchases. For instance, 5-Hour Energy does not have to be refrigerated, so many stores display the product right beside the cashier. This way, customers may go to the cold vault to purchase an energy drink for immediate consumption, then go to the register and grab something they can consume later without worrying about keeping it cold. As for the future of energy products, Wood thinks they will remain in demand. “We forecast high single digit or low double digit growth over the next two to three years,” he said.







How Do You Prevent Fuel Theft at Your Location?

Jason Brandon “Our biggest move to stop fuel theft was enforcing pre-pay on gas and at the diesel islands. We have had pre-pay on gasoline for about two years and about a year and a half on diesel. I was personally against prepay originally. The old thinking was that it ran off customers. However, every location I know of in our region is pre-pay on gasoline islands and I imagine many are on diesel. Fuel theft is more apt to happen with four-wheel traffic because it’s easier to get away with a $20 purchase than a $500 one. At least that has been our experience. Our general manager, Randy Black, pays very close attention to our diesel islands all the time, making sure things are in proper operation. Having pre-pay helps. On top of having pre-pay, if a cashier feels nervous about a certain truck they call or radio a “PDO on # 3 island.” PDO stands for possible drive off. This is used for cash customers that we feel are a threat. Being out and around the site and on the fuel islands is also a good practice to prevent problems.” —Jason Brandon Davy Crockett TA Travel Center Greeneville, Tenn. The NATSO Foundation recently held a Webinar on fuel theft. Find it at



Lamar Rowe “We have had some recent problems with fuel theft. About two months ago we discovered that drivers were vandalizing the pumps and stealing diesel. Most thieves were taking the cover off of the meter and messing with the gears, which stopped the wheels of the meter from running. Since the meter wasn’t running, it wasn’t showing up for the cashier. If you were to go outside and look at the pump amount, it would say zero, which is obviously wrong. It’s not really until you do a physical inventory that you see the problem. We put a metal pipe between the face covers of the pump, but it didn’t stop the theft. So we took flat iron metal and circled the pumps with it. This stopped the theft because the thieves would have to break the entire metal surrounding the pumps. The theft was happening day and night but you wouldn’t realize it until the next day. Our total loss is about $65,000 or more and our insurance company is investigating. We have maintenance workers who monitor the fuel islands every hour, but it only takes the experienced thief two to three minutes to steal fuel.” —Lamar Rowe Wings America Travel Center Avoca, Iowa

Chuck Bosselman “We recently had problems with fuel theft, but it has gone down tremendously in the recent weeks due to our daily intensive inventory and being more aware of the problem. We now have a person on staff in charge of this problem. He is working to produce a shield for the pumps and a type of cage that goes over the dispensers. The thieves are stealing in a computerized way — they get inside and change the program and tamper with it. There are some thieves who would just completely tear down the bottom panel of the caged pump. We have employees who walk around and monitor the diesel islands at our larger locations. We don’t have as much as a problem with the four-wheel traffic because we went to pre-pay three years ago. We do have prepay at the diesel islands but drivers are always trying to find a new way to steal fuel. For instance, we had a truck pull up at the fuel island and go inside to pay with a credit card. However, the credit card wasn’t a real credit card. It looked like one but was more of a gift card type and it was empty. We have since changed our procedure when accepting credit cards.” —Chuck Bosselman Bosselman, Inc. Grand Island, Neb.






Changing the Focus BY MANDI OLIVER


igh oil prices and a slow economy are making business difficult for many truckstop and travel plaza owners. In times like these, operators are getting creative to boost sales in other departments, and Sapp Bros. Denver in Commerce City, Colo., is no exception. The location is focusing on its shop, restaurant and customer service program to increase sales and keep customers happy.

General Manager Dan Adams thinks the most room for growth is in the restaurant. He said his location’s current goal is to be known as the maker of the one-pound burrito, which it began selling for only $4.99 this summer. “We have been steadily selling 100 a day,” Adams said. “Customers can get anything they want on their burrito, like homemade sausage, bacon or hamburger. It’s similar to visiting a Chipotle.” If customers don’t want to wait, they can visit the food bar for a grab-n-go burrito labeled with its fixings. The burrito has become very popular simply through the use of signs and word of mouth. Sapp Bros. also relies on its full-service shop to generate sales. It offers certified alignment, roadside service with two trucks from 7 p.m. - 11 p.m. every day and is on call for Michelin around the clock. “We advertise that we will beat any competitor’s price in our shop,” said Operations Manager Jared Reorda. “Drivers come to our shop and use this promotion quite often.” Another thing that makes the location unique is its approach to customer service. Every customer is treated as a guest and employees implement five steps to get customers to come back. The five steps are to: 1) welcome them; 2) use their name when



possible; 3) take care of their needs, whether it is directing them to a shower or serving them in the restaurant; 4) thank them, and; 5) General Manager Dan Adams invite them back. “We also have mystery shoppers to make Day on Capitol Hill. “It was the perfect sure we are implementing the guest pro- chance to meet face-to-face with lawmakgram and that our customer service skills are ers,” he said. “The conference gave us a up to par,” Adams said. “We are always train- chance to voice our concerns and be a part ing our employees and it’s an ongoing of NATSO. I also really enjoyed meeting other NATSO members and interacting with process.” To keep drivers happy, Sapp Bros. focuses other operators who are facing the same on keeping its facilities current. Last year problems.” Adams started in the truckstop industry in Sapp Bros. completely remodeled its showers. “Our showers are fantastic now,” Adams 1989 as a cashier. “I always had an interest of said. “We try to remodel and upkeep our moving up within the company,” he said. “I showers once a year.” The location also plans liked that Sapp Bros. offered a work environto remodel the truckers lounge, bathrooms ment where I could grow and they offered other opportunities such as buying stock.” and game room in the next year. The experience of working his way up To diversify sales, Sapp Bros. also offers drivers a chiropractor, barber shop, chapel, allows Adams to relate to his employees, and and a medical clinic that provides DOT physi- he makes sure to let them know they’re cals and drug tests. Adams said the drivers appreciated with frequent events such as a BBQ or karaoke night. “I really believe that use their clinic frequently for physicals. Like many businesses in the industry, because I know the pressure that sometimes Sapp Bros.’ biggest challenges are high fuel can be put on them and the stress, it helps prices and credit card fees. That’s why Adams me understand what they go through at decided to attend the most recent NATSO times,” he said.

Show Time I

ndustry heavyweights will convene during The NATSO Show 2009, Jan. 2428, at the only national trade show for truckstop and travel plaza owners and operators. NATSO has already confirmed several speakers who will present at NATSO University Business Forums during the show. Bob Costello, chief economist at American Trucking Associations, will be back by popular demand to provide insight into the latest on the future of the trucking industry. Costello will discuss the economic factors that will influence the trucking industry throughout the coming year and how it will affect truckstop and travel plaza operators. Also back by popular demand is retailing expert Rick Segel, president of Segel and Associates. Segel always provides valuable information on marketing and ways for truckstop and travel plaza owners to stay successful. Read Segel’s latest Stop Watch column, “Selling Points,” on how to survive a recession, on page 26. Since operators are always interested in increasing sales, NATSO U will feature Darren Schulte, vice president of regional sales for Barjan Inc., who will divulge ways to increase inside sales.

Betsi Lueth Bixby, president of Meridian Associates, will present two 90-minute sessions discussing several topics such as industry trends and how they are affecting family wealth management, and what every marketer should know about cash, profit and financing. NATSO will also present a panel on diesel exhaust fluid and the 2010 engine requirements. (See related story on page 15.) Decreasing expenses is just as important as increasing sales, so Paragon Solutions President and CEO Michael Lawshe will offer a case study on how going green benefited one travel plaza location. (See related story on page 12.) Lawshe has 22 years of specialized and targeted industry experience, consulting with a multitude of customers including convenience stores, travel centers and petroleum companies. His company is recognized as one of the leading design firms in the industry, with over 150 projects completed annually throughout the U.S. NATSO U is the only place to learn about the latest issues facing the industry. Learn more at

Get a First Glimpse at New Products Going to Market Over 200 industry vendors will be on hand in the NATSO Solutions Marketplace displaying their products, answering your

questions and helping you find solutions to your current challenges. Exhibitors are from all classes of trade. The trade show

floor sells out every year. Learn more about this year’s vendors at




DOT Proposal Includes Rest Area Commercialization and Promotes Tolling The Bush administration recently unveiled its proposal reforming federal surface transportation programs, which relies heavily on tolling and would allow 10 states to commercialize rest areas. Both of these actions would devastate highway-based businesses, such as travel centers, truckstops, restaurants, gasoline stations, convenience stores and lodging establishments.

DOT Announces $11 Million in Truck Parking Grants The Department of Transportation is awarding $11 million in grants under a truck parking program included in the most recent highway reauthorization bill. The Department awarded approximately $5.5 million each for two projects along Interstate 5 and I-95. Combined, the two highways constitute over 10 percent of interstate truck traffic. On I-5, the California iPark Project will use advanced technology to communicate to driv-


ers the availability of spaces along the interstate. The I-95 Corridor Coalition will use the funding it received for technology improvements to communicate available spaces to drivers, and also work with businesses to use parking facilities during offpeak hours.

Visa Announces Cap on Fuel Interchange Fees In June, Visa announced a restructuring of its interchange rates for gasoline sales, capping interchange rates for debit cards at $0.95 per transaction and


announcing a streamlined interchange rate for credit card transactions. Changes to the debit card transactions took effect on July 18 and the changes in credit card interchange rates will occur in October. Visa also said it is willing to work with fuel merchants to negotiate interchange fees. Visa also announced it will begin real-time credit card processing, rather than processing transactions at the end of the day to reduce the holding times banks place on customers accounts. Visa will initiate real-time processing this fall.

NATSO Attends Georgia Idle Reduction Stakeholders’ Meeting NATSO participated in a meeting with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to discuss the agency’s proposed idling regulation. NATSO submitted written comments in advance of the meeting, identifying its major concern as the agency’s proposal for holding landowners liable for violations of the proposed idle reduction rule. According to EPD, this was one of the most common concerns of organizations participating in the stakeholder process, and one it will fully address in a future stakeholder meeting.

EPA Develops UST Web Site EPA has developed a Web site to educate underground storage tank (UST) owners and operators

on ethanol and biodiesel storage issues. The Web site contains information from several sources dealing with biofuel storage issues including equipment compatibility and installation, biofuel handling capacities, health and safety, remediation, UST system conversion and state policies. Visit the Web site at bfcompend.htm.

I-80 Tolls in Pennsylvania Would Harm Businesses, NATSO Says Two U.S. Congressmen recently held a forum in western Pennsylvania to discuss the Pennsylvania legislature’s plan to implement tolls along Interstate 80 in the state. In a statement for the record, NATSO criticized the plan to use tolls on I-80, saying it would weaken the already struggling Pennsylvania economy and add to the pressures truckstop operators are facing as a result of record-high fuel prices.

Nominate an Industry Leader

NATSO Urges Bush to Address Excessive Energy Speculation As part of the Energy Market Oversight Coalition, NATSO signed on to a letter urging President Bush to examine energy speculation, and requested that the president raise the issue at the G-8 Summit in Japan. The letter said that swift action is necessary to stem the cost increases in energy that threaten the stability of global energy markets. Read the letter at

NATSO is accepting nominations for the Hall of Fame and Friend of the Industry awards until Sept. 29. The NATSO Hall of Fame award, formerly the Distinguished Member award, recognizes current or past NATSO members whose participation in their communities, the industry and our association brings honor to and serves as a source of pride for the travel plaza and truckstop industry. The NATSO Friend of the

2006 Hall of Fame inductee Phil Saunders Industry award was created to honor NATSO allied members (either as a company or individually) whose participation in the community, industry and the association also brings honor to and serves as a source of pride for the industry. Learn more at

NATSO-Opposed Price Gouging Legislation Fails in the House A price gouging bill that would have given the Federal Trade Commission expanded powers to prevent price manipulation of large wholesale and retail markets for gasoline and petroleum, such as diesel fuel, failed in the House this summer. NATSO opposed the measure because of its vague language. The dead legislation targeted mainly the largest companies involved in the wholesale and retail petroleum business with sales of more than $500 million per year, excluding most independent owners.

ATRI Updates Cab Card with New Idling Regulations The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has added new state regulations to the idling regulations compendium and cab card posted on its Web site, Three states currently developing idling regulations have also been added. The compendium provides a listing of truck idling

limits, exemptions and fines as well as hyperlinks to more than 40 idling regulations throughout the United States. The cab card provides a quick reference guide to these limits and can be carried in the glove box of a truck.

Visa Eliminates Debit Card Rule Visa announced in July that it will withdraw a rule that resulted in the different treatment of Visa-branded signature and PIN debit cards. The new rule will allow Visa PIN debit cards to be processed in the same manner as signature cards. Previously, Visa had waived the signature requirement for its signature debit cards, which are processed on the Visa network but still required customers to enter a PIN for PIN debit cards (which are processed on a rival network). The signature waiver, generally relating to transactions of less than $25 and those made over the Internet, led to criticism that Visa was seeking to steer more debit card traffic towards its own network. The canceled rules will now enable customers with PIN debit cards to be processed at the same speed as signature-based cards. Visa rescinded its rule amid an antitrust investigation by the Department of Justice. Visa’s agreement to change the rule essentially closes the DOJ’s investigation.





How to Stay Successful During a Recession BY RICK SEGEL


or the longest time my approach or attitude toward recessions or economic slowdowns was to strengthen my own business and understand that even during the worst of times, there is always someone doing business. I still believe that, but with the rapid increase in fuel prices and the stock market falling into a bear market, it’s time to readjust our thinking. All recessions have a few things in com- competition to worry about. mon. Some businesses go out of business. In his song “The I can’t make that sound any better, but the Gambler,” Kenny Rogers, trick is to not be one of them. Your sales said, “You got to know when will decline but that doesn’t mean you will to hold ’em, know when to fold ‘em.” That make less money. Many businesses make means cut your losses as early as possible. even more money because they cut the fat A great idea during good times might just from their budgets. Credit will tighten up be a dud during a recession. Your first loss and your vendors will need to collect their is the best loss. receivables more diligently because they It’s also time to refocus every employee are afraid of the business failures and don’t toward sales and marketing. Making sales want to be stuck with worthless debt. and add-on sales are the heartbeat of a That opens the first opportunity. business during times like these. Everyone Vendors need and worry about their cash is a salesperson, from the high school kids, flow, so now is the time you can negotiate to the bookkeeper, to the person who vacmuch better terms for uums the floor. Everybody Don’t miss Rick Segel at prompt or early payments. is selling. Sometimes it’s as The NATSO Show. See Even if you owe vendors simple as pointing to a related story on page 23. money, don’t be afraid to piece of merchandise in ask for a discount if you front of the customer and pay an invoice early. saying, “Did you see this?” It might just Next opportunity — the businesses add an extra sale a day. that don’t know how to operate during Think about how your customers’ attislow downs are the first to close. The place tudes have changed. They believe that that loves to advertise that they are the every retail store is hurting because of the cheapest in the town will not be able to economy. Because of that the “prosustain any type of slowdown and they will motable” item is even more important. be gone. That means you have a little less Always have some type of special or pro-



motion. This is also a great time to start sending out coupons. They work and more and more businesses are making them part of their marketing plans. Make the coupon easy to understand and always have an expiration date. This is also the time to reevaluate every expense you have. Expenses that work in strong times are extravagant during slow times. That means be careful with your buying as well. After all, we do 80 percent of our business with 20 percent of our inventory. Buy from companies that can fill reorders quickly. It is better to have a vendor inventory the extra merchandise than you having it in inventory. Inventory costs money. Let’s work to make our inventories more efficient. Be the best at something and customers will follow. And we must also remember that all recessions do come to an end. All I know is that there is always someone doing business and I want it to be you.

Sell the Tires

That Sell Themselves Bridgestone R287

Bridgestone M726 EL

When you carry Bridgestone radials, trucks from America’s biggest fleets will be drawn to your shop, because Bridgestone is the standard for America’s top fleets. Add Firestone and you’ll cover the other half of America’s truckers—with tires that offer the kind of quality and value that make Firestone the smart choice for the smaller fleet.

Firestone FS590 PLUS

Firestone FD690 PLUS

Either way, your customers will buy with confidence, because Bridgestone and Firestone truck tires are offered by America’s largest network of truckstops—so they’re available more places than any other brands.

Ask your Bridgestone Firestone representative how to cash in on the tires that bring customers to you.

1.800.543.7522 JULY/AUGUST 2008



is a big reason why, after so many miles, more than 1.2 million, my truck still gets me where I am going and never gives me a problem along the way.

©2008 Exxon Mobil Corporation. Mobil and Delvac are trademarks of Exxon Mobil Corporation or one of its subsidiaries. NASCAR® is a registered trademark of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.



Magazine for NATSO Members


Magazine for NATSO Members