A Day in the Life of a Truckstop Operator: Mark Russell


Industry suppliers know that understanding their customers increases service levels in addition to profits. While no two days are ever exactly the same for truckstop and travel plaza operators, Highway Business Matters sat down with Mark Russell, director of operations for Russell’s Truck and Travel Center 2, near Amarillo, Texas to learn about a typical day.

For Russell a typical day isn’t limited to business hours. While the truckstop and travel plaza business is known for its around-the-clock service, Russell takes it a step further by living on site in a mobile home during the week, meaning he is always ready to step in when needed.

"Typically I’ll work 12 hour day, but I am available 24 hours a day, because I am literally here," he explained. "Normally because I’m here 24 hours a day, it is isn’t atypical for me to do things at midnight. I start at 9 a.m. and am pretty much here until the restaurant closes at 9:30 p.m."

When Russell starts his day, he typically jumps right in with each of the departments, which include the fueling side of the business as well as a tire shop, Subway, restaurant, c-store and gift shop and a car museum, and addresses any issues that need to be taken care of. 

He reviews invoices daily and makes sure the company has the right grosses, but overall, Russell said he likes to let his managers run their departments. "We have our handprint on everything because we want things done a certain way," he said. "We train our employees well so that they follow those standards." 

To stay competitive, the location recently installed shorepower and bulk diesel exhaust fluid.

In addition to his other roles, Russell taps into his 15 years in the grocery business to determine the products the location will carry, which include more grocery items than a typical c-store.

"The closest town is 16 miles away, and it doesn’t have a grocery store. The closest grocery store is 36 miles away. Because of this, many local farmers and ranchers will come to us for daily items. They will call ahead and ask questions when looking for a particular item."

Russell focuses on his fuel purchases every day and watches prices carefully, which can save him hundreds of dollars. He has a variety of racks near him where he can purchase fuel. "When the price is right, we run several trucks and purchase as much as possible," he said, adding that the location has five trucks and two drivers. "It is really amazing to me that there can be such a big difference among the racks in the same day."


{HBMHighway Business Matters is a brief semi-monthly newsletter created exclusively for companies that provide products or services to the truckstop and travel plaza industry. Highway Business Matters will keep you informed on trends, tactics, and tips to help you connect to the $65 billion truckstop and travel plaza industry. 

Help tailor Highway Business Matters to meet your needs by sharing your feedback and story ideas. Send your input to: atoner@natso.com.

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Amy Toner

Toner markets NATSO products, services and meetings. She is the content editor of NATSO's core websites, Stop Watch magazine and Highway Business Matters biweekly articles. In addition, she provides creative services across all departments. Toner joined NATSO in 2006. Prior to joining the association, she served as director of membership services at an association for ambulatory surgery centers. Toner lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and son. More
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