Love's Checks In to Hotel Business

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. is expanding its reach to the hotel business.

According to company founder Tom Love, Love's is adding hotels to its "highway hospitality business" platform of fuel, fast food and convenience stores. He revealed the new business initiative at a Junior Achievement event on April 3 at Oklahoma City University's Meinders School of Business, reported.

"We've gotten pretty good at operating and managing our platform of five to six moving parts: a convenience store, trucker store, gas and diesel fuel, and one or more branded restaurants in all our stores," Love said.

In late March, the company opened a 90-room Wyndham hotel in Pecos, Texas, on Interstate 20 between El Paso and Odessa, which initially will be managed by St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Sky Hospitality. Management plans to open five hotels a year for the next three years, Love said, with Sweetwater, Texas; Jasper, Ala.; and Mossy Head, Fla., following the Pecos hotel.

Along with the Wyndham Hotel Group, Love's has been working with Marriott Hotels and Hilton Hotels, according to the news outlet.

At the same time, Love's plans to keep expanding its core business. The Oklahoma City-based company will add 42 highway stores this year, including locations on secondary highways in rural Oklahoma. In addition, Love's radar includes growing its 180 light mechanical shops to 300 by the end of 2016.

"Each highway store is a profit center," Love said, "which because of interlocking parts, has a competitive edge. For example, a McDonald's restaurant may bring in gas and store sales. It all works pretty harmoniously."

Tom Love and his wife Judy started Love's in 1964. Today, the company has 300 locations in 40 states and reports gross annual revenues of more than $26 billion.

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