Petro Rochelle Travel Plaz Remembers the Troops Along with its Customer Base

When the staff at Petro Rochelle Travel Plaza in Rochelle, Illi­nois, started wearing t-shirts to recognize RED Friday—a day in which people remember everyone de­ployed—they thought it would be a nice way to recognize members of the military. What they didn’t expect was that customers would begin asking to buy the shirts. Now, they are a top-selling item and the proceeds from the sales will support the Wounded Warrior project.

“We’re a patriotic bunch,” said Cindy Knight, human resources manager for the location.

Staff at the location worked on the custom-design for the shirt, but Petro Rochelle Travel Plaza has always shown its support for the troops, Knight said. “As individu­als we treat them with respect and say thank you,” she said, adding that the location will have military convoys stop for fuel and sees sol­diers passing through as they re­turn from combat in Afghanistan. “When we heard that one unit was going to be stopping here before returning home, I said, ‘Let’s take the ball and run with it. Let’s sur­prise them.’”

The location reached out to oth­ers and had local students, firemen and members of the community show up to welcome the troops home. Now whenever the loca­tion learns that troops are com­ing home and will be stopping for a travel break or to meet up with local police and fire departments for an escort, the staff works their magic. “We spread the word and meet them with a crowd of people holding flags and signs and greet them when they come of the buses with applause and hugs. They are always overwhelmed,” Knight said.

The location, which sits on 30 acres near I-39 and I-88, also goes above and beyond for its day-to-day customers. “We have just shy of 400 truck parking spaces and generally see 1,200 to 1,500 trucks a day,” Knight said.

Knight said the location focuses on cleanliness and service. “We’ve been here for 23 years and people still come in and ask if this is a new building,” she said. “We are a fran­chise location, so you have manage­ment here with boots on the ground every day. Everything is kept very clean and nice,” she said.

The location has been working to grow its local customer base, and has turned what used to be the smoking section of the restaurant into a meeting room that can be closed up for gatherings. “We have a lot of people who meet here,” Knight said.

The location also has a lot of RV travelers who stop. “We have a whole section of goods and supplies for RVs. The fueling island is a pull-through design for them,” Knight said.

After the RVs pull through the fueling island, they can head straight into a RV lot where they can get water and propane or ac­cess the dump station. “Then they make a nice u-turn and come out,” Knight said.

The travel plaza has worked hard to tap into the local flavor of the town, which appeals to professional drivers, travelers and locals alike, Knight ex­plained. In addition to having agri­cultural decorations, the travel plaza has tapped into a train theme.

“The Union Pacific and BNSF rail lines crisscross right here, and that is unusual and a huge attraction,” Knight said, adding that she adver­tises the location’s rail-themed din­ing room near the railroad and has railroad memorabilia for sale in the travel store. “We really try to have something for everyone.”

Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
Source:
Stop Watch Magazine
Retailer Featured:
Rochelle Travel Plaza

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