Quicklee’s Travel Center in Avon, New York, was founded by Peter Bruckel, Quicklee’s president and managing member. Bruckel started in the petroleum industry in 1995 when he opened a gas station on land adjacent to his industrial bridge painting company.
Since the start in 1995, the company has grown to 17 convenience stores, but it didn’t enter the truckstop business until 2017 when Bruckel opened a new state-of-the-art travel center off of I-390 South. “Over the years we saw the traffic grow,” said Ken Perelli, vice president and chief operations officer and son-in-law to Bruckel.
“Relative to other states, New York is pretty thin on truckstops. We started to see a crowding of those truckstops that already existed,” Perelli added.
Since they owned a lot of land behind a convenience store that was due for a raze and rebuild, they saw an opportunity to get in to the truckstop business. “It was an opportunity to rebuild and bring in new profit centers. The business was going to continue to grow. This seemed like an opportunity to bring in a new set of customers,” Perelli said.
In addition to a convenience store, the travel center offers a car wash, Dunkin’ Donuts and Calabresella New York Style Deli, along with a diesel mechanic shop, overnight parking, showers and laundry. It also has 80 overnight parking spots and eight idle spots.
Since entering the truckstop world, Bruckel and Perelli have learned about both the similarities and differences compared to running a convenience store. “Earlier we thought of ourselves as experts in the c-store business and we thought we could use those skills at the truckstop. Truckstops are so different. For example, the way that we sell fuel to a local driver and the way we sell fuel to a professional driver are very different,” Perelli said.
“In my opinion, there are a lot of misconceptions about professional drivers. They have high expectations and they expect us to be professional too. I have a lot of respect for that,” Perelli said.
Historical Photos, Unique Lounge and Emphasis on Warm
Perelli described the décor as phenomenal and Schulte can back him up. “When I was visiting Quicklee’s, a driver walked up to me and was raving about the decorations at the location. He said it made him feel humanized,” Schulte said.
“It is very warm,” Perelli echoed. He explained that the location brings this warmth with a very open and clear layout. It also has tall ceilings, big drum lights, coral lights over the checkout and LED lighting accenting the coolers.
Another element of the humanized feel is the dedicated lounged in the center of the store rather than a small nook. The lounge has plenty of outlets and charging spots as well as a fireplace and leather chairs.
Quicklee’s also highlights some of the history of the area. They worked with a local historian who provided 100- to 120-year-old photos, which Quicklee’s enhanced, enlarged and mounted on birch. Because the town is located on one of the finger lakes, the location has pictures of ice fishing and the railroad, plus customers can learn more about any of the pictures through a historical kiosk. “Any picture in the food court, you can go to the historical kiosk and touch the picture and it will tell you about the experience. Being from this area, I learned a lot,” Perelli said.
The truckstop is even physically warm, offering heated floors in the showers, which are cleaned by hot steam wands that clean the showers better.
The Quicklee business motto is “fast, clean, friendly,” and they’ve brought that motto to the truckstop, bringing a dedication to meeting the demands of new customers. “We take great pride in our stores. We like clean food areas and professional staff. Drivers are showering and practically living here and we treat them with much respect,” Perelli said.
Quicklee’s offers free parking that is safe and well-lit and has plenty of room for trucks to easily pull up.
The truckstop is affiliated with AMBEST. “As an independent, you have to find ways to represent yourself. AMBEST has been very helpful in driving business to us. It is a network of support, but it has also enlightened me to how many other family-owned trucktops there are,” Perelli shared.
While they are careful with their operational expenses, they’ve also made sure to staff and offer incentives geared toward growth. “To be honest, we are still trying to build the business. We are overstaffed and we know it. We accept it for now, because it is helping us grow loyal customers,” he said, adding that they’ve extended this focus on growth by making sure people know the company behind the truckstop personally.
Since opening in June of 2017, the truckstop has slowly grown and now sees roughly 100 drivers a day. “Some of the growth came with patience. It is hard to wait, but getting the large fleet business takes time,” said Perelli.
With time, it is clear that motto of “fast, clean, friendly” is going to pay off.
Photos credit: Darren Schulte/NATSO
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