David Braun Photography/NATSO
Within today’s truckstops, movie theaters, private showers and fast-food franchises are common, but at one time they were cutting edge, and one man — Chuck Bosselman — was a driving force behind them. Chuck was a true visionary within the industry.
“Sometimes he’d come up with an idea and I’d think it was the craziest thing in the world, but it would work out,” said his son Charlie Bosselman.
Jimmy Haslam, chief executive officer of Pilot Flying J, said, “Chuck Bosselman was a true pioneer in the truckstop hospitality business. He was one of the creators of the Ambest network and, of course, the driving force behind Bosselman truckstops. He has done a tremendous job of putting together a nationwide chain of stops, which bear the ‘Boss’ name.”
At The NATSO Show 2012, the NATSO Foundation honored Chuck for his dedication to the truckstop and travel plaza industry, his fellow operators and his community by inducting him into the NATSO Hall of Fame. The award recognizes individuals in the industry whose participation in their communities, the industry and the association brings honor to and serves as a source of pride for the travel plaza and truckstop industry.
Roger Phillips, manager of truckstop sales, Bridgestone, called Chuck the “John Wayne of the truckstop industry,” saying he was one of the toughest, kindest and smartest people he has known. “Chuck didn’t look at things like they are and say, ‘That is just the way they are.’ He looked at things as they could be and made them that way,” Phillips said. “He thought about the future more than any man I ever knew.”
Todd Carpenter, a Subway development agent who has worked with the Bosselmans, said, “He ran great operations. He looked for every opportunity to take good care of his people.”
Building a legacy
Chuck’s father, Fred, founded the first Bosselman’s location in 1948. In 1967, Chuck became general manager of the Grand Island Interstate 80 Bosselman Truck Plaza. Through the 1970s, Chuck expanded the business into 20 states. Chuck passed away in January, leaving a legacy within the truckstop and travel plaza industry that spans decades.
Today, the company has more than 1,400 employees and includes a Bosselman Travel Center, six Grandma Max’s and Max’s Highway Diner restaurants, 42 Pump & Pantry convenience stores, 34 Boss Shops, Sam Bass’ Saloon & Steakhouse, one Hampton Inn, six Motel 6s and three Pump & Pantry Motels.
Bosselman spent countless hours volunteering for the NATSO board of directors and the NATSO Foundation. As one of the founding members of Ambest, Chuck “saw the validity to bringing together independent truckstop owners to market together,” Charlie said.
Within his community, Bosselman supported many organizations, including the American Red Cross, Zion Lutheran Church, Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of America. The Bosselman family has also supported the Heartland United Way Crisis Center, Children’s Miracle Network, MADD, Make-A-Wish Foundation, DARE, Goodwill Industries, the Arthritis Foundation Nebraska Chapter and the National Cancer Society Foundation.
Chuck’s success came down to his genuine concern for the people who frequented his locations. “He also knew that you could have all the gimmicks you want, but you have to take care of the customers,” Charlie said.
Haslam said, “As good a businessman as Chuck was, he was an even better person. Chuck never met a stranger, was a friend to all and literally lit up a room whenever he walked in.”
Since 2004, the NATSO Hall of Fame award has been presented only four times. Members of NATSO’s executive committee and past inductees to the Hall of Fame select the recipient.
Charlie accepted the award on his father’s behalf. View photos from the Hall of Fame award presentation on NATSO's facebook page.
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Nominate a Leader
Do you know an individual in the industry whose participation in their community, the industry and our association brings honor to and serves as a source of pride for the travel plaza and truckstop industry? You do not need to be a member of NATSO to nominate an individual or be nominated. Click here to learn more about the Hall of Fall Award and access the online nomination form. Nominations accepted until Aug. 31.
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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