Love’s Travel Stops has been quietly, and quickly growing its brand and footprint in the past few years and the acquisition of Speedco and its 52 locations to its portfolio last November has hastened that growth. With some 25 or so locations coming online each year, the Love’s family is quickly becoming the family of the trucker.
“[Speedco] is fully part of the Love’s network so drivers will earn their points the same as they would at a Love’s,” Dan Jensen, director of tire sales and service, told FreightWaves during a meeting at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville on Thursday.
As the brand has grown to some 325 locations, and as Love’s has added more mechanical services to many of those locations, the need for technicians has grown. To help that, the company instituted an apprenticeship program two years ago that, while still in its early stages, is already bearing technicians.
“It’s unlike a trade school where you have to invest in the tools and pay for the education,” said Jensen. “In our program, they get the tools and earn a paycheck.”
Once an apprentice finishes the program, which is approximately one year long, if they remain with Love’s for an additional year, the tools they have been using will transfer from Love’s ownership to the technician. That’s a huge cost savings for young technicians. Love’s has graduated approximately 100 technicians so far and most have stayed with the company.
“One of the side benefits is the loyalty they develop,” explained Jensen.
All the apprentices learn light mechanical work – the same work that Love’s performs on customer vehicles – under the direction of a seasoned technician. They also receive computer-based training and train inside Love’s mobile training lab trailer.
Love’s employs approximately 650 technicians, although they are often about 100 short of what is needed. There are about 490 current apprentices in the company spread out across most locations.
In addition to its apprentice program, Love’s has been gaining ground with its retread program. Started in April 2016, the program offers quality retreads for most major brand of tires and includes a Love’s branded retread that goes through an extensive Love’s manufacturing process. That retread is available through the Michelin national account program and based on the casing, is available on multiple brands of tires.
According to Steve Phillips, general manager of retreads, the Love’s retread is the “most inspected casing in the market today” and includes a lifetime warranty. It is available at most Love’s locations.
“The key to the warranty is the ability to warranty that retread at any location,” Phillips said.
“It was a move to further enhance our offerings to fleets,” he added, “by having our available retread option for fleets.”
The addition of Speedco, which caters primarily to owner-operators, came about as Love’s started expanding into oil changes. The business became available to acquire and Love’s jumped at the opportunity.
“In our opinion, they were the best out there, so it really put us on the map for oil changes,” Jensen said.
Additional services will likely be added at Speedco locations in the future, but the combination of the locations provides owner-operators additional opportunities to interact and benefit from the services and programs Love’s has to offer.
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