Jack Cardwell, owner of first Petro self-service truck stop, dies at 89: Trish Long


The Petro Truck Stop, the first self-service truck stop in the United States, opened in 1975 at the intersection of Horizon Boulevard and Interstate 10.

El Paso businessman Jack Cardwell died Jan. 23 at the age of 89. His obituary in the El Paso Times states that James A. “Jack” Cardwell was born March 1, 1932, to Agnes Godwin and Aubrey Cardwell in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. .

“From 1952 to 1954, he served two years in the United States Army, which brought him to El Paso, TX. In the fall of 1952, he met the woman of his dreams, Martha Evonne Emmett, who died on the 10th August 2019, just two weeks away from their 66th wedding anniversary.

“Jack’s decades-long entrepreneurial spirit began with Jack’s Super Service in 1954, continued with the El Paso Truck Terminal in 1965, and then Petro Stop Centers in 1975, known for their user-friendly innovations. He successfully operated Petro until it was sold in 2007. Jack was recently honored in 2021 by Chevron for 60 years as a Chevron Dealer and Distributor with C&R Distributing.

Jack Cardwell obituaries: https://www.elpasotimes.com/obituaries/tnm058938

El Paso has its first self-service truck stop

This May 15, 1976, article by Ed Kimble explains the success of the Petro truck stop:

El Paso has the very first self-service truck stop in the United States.

Petro, the $2.5 million truck stop complex at the intersection of Horizon Boulevard and Interstate 10, was an experiment that worked better than expected, developer Rip Russell said.

Russell is vice chairman and co-owner, with Jack Cardwell, of Crinco Investments, Inc., the holding company that developed Petro last year.

The pumphouse, with its 12 self-service diesel islands, computerized vending center and 250,000-gallon storage tanks, has been open for about a year now, Russell said.

It now averages 150 trucks a day for an average full 110 gallons of diesel fuel.

“At Petro, we already do double what the El Paso truck terminal (also owned by Crinco) does and it’s a full-service truck stop,” Russell said.

It’s the kind of savings that’s especially important to independent truckers, and it’s no surprise that most of Petro’s customers are independent truckers or drivers who work for smaller transportation lines.

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Not crowded, easily accessible

Another reason for Petro’s growing popularity is that it is not crowded. Russell explained that at full-service truck stops, drivers often leave their trucks near pumps to be filled while they go inside to eat and shower, making it difficult for people to get in and out. other trucks.

At Petro, the driver fills his truck himself and then has to move it to a parking area well away from the pumps.

Also, since Petro is outside the eastern city limits where there is less freeway traffic, truckers can get on and off the freeway more easily, Russell said.

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Tire repair, scales and restaurant

Petro’s self-service complex includes a tire repair center and currently under construction is a set of scales allowing truckers to weigh their trucks to see if they meet New Mexico Port of Entry requirements.

Truckers also seem to appreciate the service they receive at the restaurant-store-rest area complex.

“There’s only one truck stop I’ve ever seen with showers like this,” commented Gordon Bearden, a freelance trucker from Dalton, Georgia. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better roadhouse.”

Petro’s truck stop complex includes the Iron Skillet Restaurant, operated by Tom Jordan of Jord-Inns; Hi-Yo Silver’s, a clothing and supply store for Western truckers, run by Mrs. Syble Midgley; and a trucker’s rest area, which includes a game room, 12 private shower rooms and laundry facilities.

Jack Cardwell, left, and his son Jim Cardwell and wife Julie attend a March 2019 ceremony on the campus of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso in honor of the Cardwell family's $750,000 donation to the 'school.

Jack Cardwell, left, and his son Jim Cardwell and wife Julie attend a March 2019 ceremony on the campus of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso in honor of the Cardwell family’s $750,000 donation to the ‘school.

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Free shower with filling

Every trucker who fills up at Petro is entitled to a free shower. Otherwise, the use of the shower rooms costs $1. Russell said shower rooms are cleaned and supplied with new linens and soap after each use.

The Iron Skillet, which opened in March, includes a trucker-only cafe and a restaurant that offers 70 items, all of which can be ordered any time of the day or night.

The restaurant offers a soup bar as well as a salad bar and the house specialty is an all you can eat menu which includes fried chicken, fried chicken steak, T-bone steak and “house” stew.

Originally, Crinco intended to build a 100-room hotel on the Petro site, but Russell said the land reserved for the hotel will likely have to be used for parking.

A certain ethos is reflected in the design and quality of service at Petro, Russell said.

wave of the future

According to him, self-service is the wave of the future in truck stops.

“I believe that by 1980, self-service stations will have 80% of the petrol market and 20% of the diesel market. At present, 56% of all gas is pumped into retail outlets As fast as you can build self-service, you’re effectively eliminating full-service,” Russell said.

Truckers seem to have mixed feelings about the concept of self-service.

“It’s okay. It’s not my idea, it’s the boss’s idea. It’s just another way to cut costs. We fill 28 trucks here every week,” Ed Montsinger said as he waited for his received at the sales center on Friday.

Bearden, the pilot from Dalton, Georgia, said he prefers the self-serve concept. “If something is wrong, you have to look at yourself,” he said.

And Bobby I. Freeman, a Fort Worth trucker, summed it up over a good-sized chewing tobacco: “I think it’s a really nice place. If you don’t like the service, you don’t don’t have to stop here.

“One thing, though. They need better waitresses,” he said, spitting a stream of brown juice onto the sidewalk as he turned to fix his engine.

Trish Long can be reached at [email protected] or 915-546-6179.

This article originally appeared on the El Paso Times: Jack Cardwell, owner of 1st Petro self-service truck stop, dies at 89


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