With 422 Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores nationwide and 73 in Oklahoma, America loves the Oklahoma City-based, privately owned, multibillion-dollar company.
Strategically built along local and U.S. highways, the company plans to open 50 more shops this year.
However, in the early 1960s, finding lasting business success was a bit of a challenge for Love’s founder and chairman Tom Love and wife Judy, who is now Love’s corporate secretary and chairwoman of the Love Family Fund.
“We have the best customer services and this sets us apart,” said Kealey Dorian, Love’s media specialist. “Tom and Judy’s sense of family really trickles down from the corporate office into the field and we believe our great customer service set us apart.”
More accurately, it’s succeeded due to, customer service, hard work and a commitment to community service.
“Tom Love is still extremely active as the founder and executive chairman,” Dorian said. “We employ about 17,000 employees across the nation and anticipate hiring thousands more this year. We love supporting fellow Oklahomans.”
Dorian said that because Love’s is nationwide, the company donates a large part of its budget in support of area nonprofits’ needs.
Dorian said as for Love’s financial footprint, each new store has an average capital investment of about $11 million. As for Love’s charitable arm of the company, it has already donated more than $5 million this year statewide and beyond.
“The company also steps up to help communities in times of crisis,” she said. “When there were terrible wildfires in the panhandle in Oklahoma and Texas, we donated gas cards to farmers and others delivering supplies to farmers and ranchers. Much of the hay had burned and people needed food for the animals, so we worked with the Oklahoma Farm Bureau to supply fuel cards for those bringing in hay for the animals.”
Building a legacy
As one of seven children born to Margaret Love and F.C. Love Jr., Tom Love knew early on he had big shoes to fill if he would someday match his father’s achievements. Love Jr. was a successful attorney and civic leader and in the late ’60s, became Kerr-McGee Corp.’s president.
After dropping out of St. John’s University in Minnesota and briefly attending the University of Oklahoma, it soon became clear Love’s passion was business, not academics.
Early on, Love managed car washes and restaurants. He married Judy in 1961. By 1964, the couple had family feed as their brood grew. They saved their money before next trying the family’s oil business in western Oklahoma.
The Loves leased a self-serve gas station for $5,000 in Watonga. Soon, they leased a similar one in Sayre. Their shops also sold Kerr-McGee Corp. gasoline.
By leasing the fuel stations and operating with used equipment, the couple could test the shops out before buying them. Eventually, the Loves had 40 fuel stations and had named their company the Musket Corporation.
Moving with the times in 1972, they expanded their filling stations to offer customers a multitude of shopping choices, and added the first Love’s Country Store, a combination convenience store and self-serve filling station, in Guymon.
Love’s Country Stores’ one-stop shopping located mainly near interstates soon hit the spot with professional truckers, RV travelers and other long-distance drivers hungry for clean, safe and 24-hour service. The company continued to expand to other states and in the early 1980s, added gifts, toys and eventually in-store restaurants like Subway, Winchell’s Pizza Hut and others.
The Loves opted for a big family, too. They raised four children. Three work for the family business: daughter Jenny Love Meyer is vice president of communications and sons Frank and Greg Love are co-CEOs. A third-generation Love family member now works for the company in field services.
Thirteen Loves Travel Stops & Country Stores now dot the greater Oklahoma City metro, including Guthrie, El Reno, Norman and Choctaw.
Love’s employees also give to local food banks, tutor students and stretch well beyond in support of many local and national nonprofits.
“Local charities also benefit during our store openings during ribbon-cutting celebrations as partners with local chambers of commerce,” she said. “We also nationally support the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals during their annual fundraising campaign in support of local children’s hospitals. Overall, the Love’s companies have raised more than $17.5 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals since 1998.”
Print headline: Keep on truckin’; Oklahoma owned and operated Love’s travel and convenience company grows as its family does.