Thirty years ago, I bought Lee Hi Travel Plaza. I was a mechanic who decided to take a chance on a new business venture. On my first day in business — Oct. 3, 1981 — I did $660 in business. I remember thinking, “Man, what a business.”
As I look back over my past 30 years within this industry and especially the past year as your chairman, I once again find myself thinking, “Man, what a business.” Today at 61 years old, I’m as enthused about the travel plaza industry as I was 30 years ago.
I am proud of our industry and I am honored to have served as your chairman. It has been a privilege to serve with my fellow board members. The quality of people who have volunteered to serve on this board is unmatched, and the board roster serves as a testament to its importance. Whether operators own one location, 10 locations or national chains, they serve on the board because they believe in NATSO’s role. Time is not a luxury these operators have. The fact that they’re willing to give their time shows how important NATSO is to every one of us. I thank all of NATSO’s board members, past and present, for the leadership and guidance they’ve provided.
My sincere thanks goes out to NATSO’s staff. The entire team works together like a well-oiled machine. Lisa, Holly, Tiffany, Pamela, Christine and Amy in particular have made my role as chairman seamless. More importantly, they work around the clock to carry our message to Capitol Hill and to keep members apprised of the legislative and regulatory threats to our industry. They also ensure members have access to the latest educational opportunities and that we stay current on industry trends.
I truly wish that more people would get involved with NATSO. You know, as do I, that this is the only national trade association to represent the truckstop and travel plaza industry. As operators, our participation is crucial to the overall success of our industry.
Like you, my days are full and I have a limited amount of time to give, but let me assure you that NATSO’s staff makes it easy to serve. What’s more, when you volunteer, you will learn more from your fellow operators and board members than you could imagine. There are only two reasons I can think of why people don’t volunteer — either they already know it all or they don’t want to become any better, because if you’re involved in NATSO and the board, you can’t help but become a better operator.
Even if you’re not ready to commit to a board or a committee, you can still benefit from NATSO. Take part in an educational session, attend the show or use NATSO’s many opportunities to promote your location and your staff. Every issue of Stop Watch provides dozens of opportunities for you to spotlight the inspiring stories about your employees and your business.
I’d also like to use this opportunity to thank my staff. We have a tremendous group of employees at Lee Hi Travel Plaza and White’s. I want to thank Ken Keller, Gale Jasper, Lamar Perlis and all of those who have helped me within this industry for the wealth of industry knowledge they’ve shared.
And once again, I want NATSO’s staff to know how much I have enjoyed working with them as chairman. Not only are they a great staff, but they’ve become my friends, too.
Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to serve as your chairman. It is such an honor. I’ve enjoyed meeting many of you at NATSO events and at your locations. Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns and your achievements.
This article originally ran in Stop Watch magazine. Stop Watch provides in-depth content to assist NATSO members in improving their travel plaza business operations and provides context on trends and news affecting the industry.
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