Truck stop pioneer leaves lasting legacy


The man considered the father of the modern truck stop has passed away. James “Jack” Cardwell died on January 23 at the age of 89.

Cardwell’s Petro Truck Stop, the first self-service truck stop in the United States, opened in 1975 in El Paso, Texas. By 2007 — when Cardwell sold the majority of his business to Westlake, Ohio-based TravelCenters of Americas — he had built the business to 69 truck stops spanning 33 states.

Petro revolutionized the truck stop by adding amenities such as trucker showers, more food options, and a general store designed to meet the needs of truckers.

Following the sale of Petro in 2007, Caldwell reflects on the success of his business.

“We understand drivers and understand what they need,” Cardwell told El Paso Inc.. “We treated them with respect and dignity, and let them know we value their business. And they would like to come back to see us. That was basically our strategy.

Cardwell was born March 1, 1932, in Poplar Bluff, Mo. He moved to El Paso while serving in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954. From then on, Cardwell was a fixture in the El Paso business community. , receiving the El Paso Community Spirit Award from El Paso Inc. in 2007 for his philanthropic work in the area.

In 2007, he established the Cardwell Family Foundation, a support organization for El Paso Community Foundationto continue his philanthropic efforts in the El Paso area.

TravelCenters of America CEO Jon Pertchik said they will continue to run their sites with the same focus Cardwell has had for many years.

“We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jack Cardwell. He was a true advocate for drivers and we are honored to continue his legacy of ensuring that professional drivers have a home away from home on the road. Pertchik said. “We have many team members who had the pleasure of working for Jack. They truly mourn his loss as he was a compassionate, highly respected and family-oriented leader. We express to him our gratitude for playing a major role in what our 50-year-old business is today, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family.

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