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Truckstop Travels: Service Stands Out at Coffee Cup Fuel Stops

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Truckstop Travels

Editor's note: Darren Schulte, NATSO vice president of membership, frequently visits NATSO members to review their locations and offers impactful merchandising and operations improvements. Contact Schulte at or (915) 526-5820 to learn more about the costs and details of this service.


When you walk through the front door of the Coffee Cup Fuel Stop location in Vermillion, South Dakota, what strikes you is the customer service. As soon as you enter, you can feel how they have taken ordinary and made it extraordinary.


You are greeted with a smile and hello not only when you walk in, but also as you continue to move through the store. Everyone is friendly and the travel center itself is bright and happy. If you’re in a bad mood or having a hard day, that would all change when you visit because of the friendliness you encounter. 


Ericka Schapekahm, director of human resources and special projects at the company, works hard to invest in employees and dedicates about 10 hours a week to finding and training leaders. She also has invested in hiring millennials and her commitment to finding and retaining talent is obvious. 

The location itself also adds to the customer experience. When you enter, you see the Caribou Coffee on the right and the diesel, gas and retail counter is on the left. Everything is fun and bright. It is incredibly clean from the pumps outside to the inside.


Everything is very crisp and focused, and everyone is focused on making the customer experience positive and enjoyable. They are doing the small things really, really well, and it really comes out in their employees and their location. 



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/// Did you know most weeks you can find me visiting a NATSO member truckstop location, spending three to four days, using my merchandising and operations expertise to help them grow their business? I periodically share about those great retailers I visit here on the blog. 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.