Rep. Jeff Denham (R-California) has visited Joe’s Travel Plaza in Westley, Calif., as part of the NATSO government affairs team’s push to put truckstop and travel plaza owners and operators in direct contact with congressional leaders.
As a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. Denham is deeply interested in transportation-related issues and wanted to learn more about the truckstop and travel plaza industry. He said he stops at Joe’s Travel Plaza as a customer, but this is the first time he had a full tour. “When we’re driving, my wife will tell me we’re almost out of gas, and I’ll tell her we can make it to Joe’s,” Rep. Denham said.
Kashmir Dhoot, the location’s owner, opened Joe’s Travel Plaza in 2003. The facility sits on 137 acres and features 100 parking spaces, 14 showers, 24 employees, a convenience store, a Denny’s restaurant, 12 diesel lanes and 16 gasoline lanes.
In addition to touring the location, Rep. Denham sat down with Dhoot as well as his key management team to discuss a number of issues affecting the location, including credit card fees and the liabilities merchants face under the new EMV requirements.
“Other than labor, credit card fees are one of our highest expenses,” Dhoot said, adding that all of the location’s fraudulent transactions are done with credit cards. “The best way to stop credit card fraud is to have a pin.”
The group also discussed the importance of highway funding and the negative effect rest area commercialization would have on the industry, which Rep. Denham said he understands.
“Until you get into the details of what that does to the businesses and the local economy, you don’t understand the implications it can have. The quick cash isn’t worth destroying a tax base,” Rep. Denham said, adding that he knows of one town in California whose entire budget is dependent on truckstops.
Rep. Denham and Dhoot also discussed the location’s fuel sales and how distribution centers that had opened in the area were altering gallons. Rep. Denham also asked about the healthy foods and snacks for sale within the c-store and drivers’ stopping patterns.
Rep. Denham was first elected to Congress in 2010 and is currently serving a third term. In addition to his role on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Denham sits on the Agriculture Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.
NATSO kicked off its congressional visits on Feb. 5 when Congressman Frank Lucas, former Chairman of the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Agriculture, visited the new Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores' location in Guthrie, Okla., which is situated in the Congressman's congressional district. These visits allow Members of Congress to hear and experience first-hand the challenges and issues facing the truckstop and travel plaza industry today.
NATSO members interested in hosting a Member of Congress can contact Shannon Meade at (703) 739-8566 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Mindy Long/NATSO
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