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Operational Lessons from Chile: Elevating the Ordinary to Extraordinary

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Truckstop Travels


NATSO Chairman Tom Heinz is fond of saying, “It is the ordinary things done extraordinarily well.”

If you were to use any phrase to describe COPEC, a Chilean energy company with a chain of fueling stations throughout Chile, that is it.

During our most recent international study tour, we were treated to an amazing inside look at the premier fuel, food and retail operator in Chile, and I would not be exaggerating when I say it is one of the best in the world. NATSO and NATSO members had an experience that topped anything that most of us have experienced recently.

The locations are amazing.

They are clean, well groomed, effectively laid out, innovative, constructed with outstanding architecture and efficient in everything they do.



However, it is the simple things that drive all of this. Taking care of the customer, both internally and externally, essentially drives the executive team, which funnels directly down to the employees themselves. They are perfecting the simple things, such as having clean restrooms yet using technology innovation to let the operators know immediately if the restroom experience was not up to standards (as a side note, Sapp Bros. is executing a similar program).


COPEC is also making sure the uniforms that their team members are wearing every day are what they need by having the designers that create the new uniforms spend a month in the locations wearing the current uniforms so they understand what needs to improve and change. As Keith Kirkpatrick has said for years before it was a popular corporate speak, “You cannot effectively service your customers until you first effectively service your employees."

COPEC moves people, literally and figuratively. They are experts in understanding this simple but often made complicated process. The experience they want their customers to feel is in every touch point, from their web site and interstate and site location messaging to their architecture, which they use as an emotion enhancer.



They are also educating customers on their site locations’ wind- and solar-powered processes. Yes you read it correctly, their locations are using solar and wind-power for energy.

Speaking of wind- and solar-power, they have a passion for innovation that can be seen throughout the operations from their offering of mobile wallet at all sites to their solar, wind and geo-thermal energy efficiency initiative to their unique oil change facilities.


If you are looking for an organization within the fuel, food and retail segment to best practice, look no further than COPEC, the masters of the ordinary done extraordinarily well.






/// Read more Truckstop Travels here.  

Photos Credit: Darren Schulte/NATSO

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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.