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Truckstop Travels: How the Flowers at White's Travel Center Blew Me Away

Posted in: Great Ideas, Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail, Truckstop Travels


Last week Pamela Hayes, NATSO’s vice president strategic partnerships, and I had the pleasure of spending five quality hours with NATSO member Bobby Berkstresser at his two truckstops, Lee Hi Travel Plaza and White's Travel Center, LLC. The majority of our time was spent at White's Travel Center, LLC.

Both locations are top examples of cleanliness, efficiency and effective service. There are so many amazing positive programs, processes and procedures taking place that create a wonderful customer experience.

Among all these sights, smells and sounds that you experience at White’s, there is one that really stood out for me. It was all the flowers. Entering the White’s location you are greeted by well-groomed grass, awesome landscaping and artistically placed boulders and rocks. And then, there are the flowers! Flowers of all types are everywhere.


Sitting and watching customers fuel, both at the diesel islands and the gasoline islands you notice that something is different about them. When trash falls to the ground, customers scurry to pick it up and place it in the trash bin like they are being watched by the fairy landscaping mother and they do not want to disappoint her. They take care to place the truck brush and squeegees back properly into the wash bin.

It also seems to me that they are smiling and speaking with one another a lot more then what I have witnessed over the past 25 years of observing or cleaning fuel islands.

This positive attitude continues into the main buildings where customers shop and buy merchandise at an incredibly brisk pace.

I will not share any sales numbers, but White’s is mirroring the retail sales of Petro locations before 2007. These locations grew their retail business by double digits every month for the past 18 months, according to Bobby. That level of growth is a monumental accomplishment in our competitive truckstop world.


Well groomed flowers, plants, trees and shrubs cannot be escaped anywhere you stop to look or catch a breath and while certainly the perfect landscaping is not the only reason for this happy customer, the strategy of excellence in landscaping certainly is a portion of it. If I heard it once, I heard it multiple times from customers during those five informative hours with Bobby… “This place has the nicest arrangements of flowers and some of the best landscaping I have seen on the interstate. It makes me feel so comfortable.”

The next time you are looking to differentiate yourself from the competition, you may want to consider flowers. Take Bobby’s word for it­ – the rewards you will reap will outweigh the costs you will incur of adding clean, approachable and inviting landscaping.

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/// Read more Truckstop Travels here.  

Photo 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.