This trucking industry report shows how truck stops have evolved over the years to travel centers with various amenities and service establishments that cater to the needs of men and women truckers alike. These changes and innovations in technology have also caused rapid growth in trucking jobs due to the increase in production and market expansion of many businesses and companies. If you want to be a trucker or at least learn the present advantages of becoming a trucker to motivate yourself in getting the trucking job you want, then this trucking industry report is for you.
Truck stops started in the 1940s with the purpose of providing fuel to a fleet of truck drivers as they battle it out from one destination to another. With this, truck stops have become a reflection of what a society values for that time period, such as from the time when the trucking industry was dominated solely by male drivers to the present time when the trucking business has become multi-diverse.
From Truck Stop to Travel Center
Previously simply called truck stops, these “stopovers” are now being referred to as travel centers, too far beyond what it was originally coined to be. From primarily providing refueling, food, and nap services, these gas depots have offered truckers much more services to attract more “stoppers” to their doors. Truck stops, or travel centers, have been an increasingly competitive market, thereby requiring the need to upgrade their services. Modern travel centers now offer healthier diners, gym facilities, Wi-Fi services, hair trimming services, TV and movie lounges, laundry shops and in some extreme cases, medical facilities. All these are provided on top of the most basic need of any truck driver — The best tasting brewed coffee along the interstate. As the vice president of marketing and public relations for Travel Centers of America puts it, “Our company feels the purpose of a truck stop is to offer hospitality and service to the hard working men and women who make up the professional truck driving industry, and these core services have always stayed the same.”
Retention and Innovations
Pilot Flying J is the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America. Boasting 650 locations across the United States and Canada, Pilot Flying J is committed to making life better for American drivers. In doing so, they recognize that they would be able to accomplish this through every day interactions with customers. All the changes they make are anchored to their changing customers as well, thus making them successful as they are today. “We are continually seeking feedback from drivers through face-to-face conversations in our stores, through interactions at national expo shows and conferences, through our trucking company customers and through social media. We’re always looking for new ways to better serve the driver and ways to enhance our existing goods and services,” says Anne LeZotte, Pilot Flying J’s communications manager.
Operators of the TA and Petro Stopping Centers go through innovations yet they maintain the primary goal of their business — To provide complete package amenities and services for truck drivers. With over 40 years in the business, they continue to adopt new technologies without losing sight of their original target. “Our company feels the purpose of a truck stop is to offer hospitality and service to the hard-working men and women who make up the professional truck driving industry, and these core services have always stayed the same,” according to Tom Liutkus, vice-president of marketing and public relations of Travel Centers.
Some of the technology-driven changes include the truck stop location directory. From a small book kept in the cab, these directories have evolved into online, printable versions using Smartphone app. Another service that has seen technological advancement is the fueling speed and putting together a quick hot meal.
Truck Stops Welcome Women Drivers
The year 1982 marked the adoption of women drivers to the trucking industry. It is this year when stops included shower rooms for women. Prior to this year, according to a 40-year female veteran truck driver, showers were only in the men’s bathroom and to take a shower, they needed somebody to guard their door. Candy Bass continues, “For women who started driving after ’82…well, they wouldn’t have any idea about some of the things we had to go through.”
Starting her driving career in the early 70s, Bass worked in the era where women truck drivers were few in number. This lack of women in the business built the image of stopovers as dens for men. Even as early as ’74, Bass adds, women truck drivers were still considered as a “novelty”. She adds that it takes months and months before she could see another female driver along the road.
Bass adds a few more instances where her gender becomes an issue in truck stops. She recalls that to be attended to in a restaurant, she would need to have her husband get inside first to order food. Only then could she enter the restaurant and sit down. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be served. On occasions when she needs to pay for her fuel, she mentions that she had to grab at an attendant and say, “I am a driver and I want to pay for my fuel.” Without this slight brush, nobody would take notice of her and take her money.
One of the considerations of major travel centers is listening to feedback and making the necessary adjustments for both male and female truck drivers. As far as discussions with women are concerned, travel centers included hair dryers in their driver showers. In one instance, a woman team driver gave suggestions regarding ways to improve laundry facilities, and in no time, laundry services were developed and equipped into these travel centers.
TA and Pilot Flying J continue to receive positive feedback from both male and female truckers. As a lady truck driver, Bass sees these two companies as one that treats lady drivers with respect. To make her point, she says, “I never really figured out why these two particular truck stops didn’t have a problem with me.”
For over eighty years, truck stops have been complying with the needs of truckers across the nation. For as long as travelers continue to traverse the highways, truck stops will continue to provide and innovate their services while serving the best coffee they could possibly offer.