Petro, the first self-service truck stop in the United States, started up in El Paso

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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. In 2007, when Jack Cardwell had built his business at 69 truck stops in more than 30 states, he sold the majority of his business to TravelCenters of America.

This May 15, 1976 article by then-El Paso Times economics writer Ed Kimble explains the success of Cardwell and his truck stops:

El Paso has its 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, is an experiment that has worked better than expected, developer Rip Russell said.

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

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

Today, it attracts an average of 150 trucks per day for an average full tank of 110 gallons of diesel.

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

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Low petro diesel prices

The most obvious reason for Petro’s success is the price of diesel fuel, which is 3-5 cents a gallon cheaper there than at gas stations.

On a 100-gallon fill-up, a driver saves $ 3 to $ 5, Russell said.

These are the kinds of savings that are 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 companies.

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

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

Long-haul truck drivers fill their diesel fuel tanks at the Petro truck stop along Interstate 10 at Horizon Boulevard.

Petro’s location adds to the appeal

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

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

Truckers also seem to appreciate the service they get at the restaurant-store-rest stop complex.

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

The Petro truck stop complex includes the Iron Skillet restaurant, operated by Tom Jordan of Jord-Inns: Hi-Yo Silver’s, a western trucker clothing and supplies store, run by Ms. Syble Midgley, and a rest area for truckers, which includes a games room, 12 private bathrooms and laundry.

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Free shower with filling

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

The Iron Skillet, which opened in March, features a truckers-only cafe and a restaurant with 70 items, all of which can be ordered at any time of the day or night.

The restaurant has a soup bar as well as a salad bar and the house specialty is an all-you-can-eat menu which includes fried chicken, chicken fried steak, T-bone steak and the 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 need to be used for parking.

There is a certain philosophy reflected in the design and quality of service at Petro, said Russell.

The self-service wave of the future

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

“I think by 1980 self-service stations will have 80% of the gasoline market and 20% of the diesel market. At present, 56% of all gas is pumped into outlets. Self-service As fast as you can build self-service, you are effectively wiping out full services, ”said Russell.

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 meanwhile. its receipt at the sales entrance on Friday.

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

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

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

Trish Long is the librarian for the El Paso Times and spends her time in the morgue, where the newspaper keeps her old clippings and photos. She can be reached at 546-6179 or [email protected].

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