Fueling Our Relationship with Love’s:
How Innovation and Thought Leadership Changed the Future for One of the Largest Privately Held Companies in the U.S.
Founded in 1964 and headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the Love's family of companies is truly that, a family-owned business with deep roots in the Midwest. Today, with more than 530 locations in 41 states, Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores is more than just a gas station. A lot of that has to do with the partnerships built along the way, taking Love’s from a single location in Watonga, Oklahoma, to one of the largest privately held companies in the United States.
Fueling Our Relationship with Love’s
In 2013, HFA was first approached by a contact working at Gemini Motor Transport, a company contracted by Love's to transport fuel and other products to Love's locations across the United States, to help with their Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) program. The initial and most immediate need was for an AE firm with an intimate knowledge of the fueling industry.
From there, our team developed a relationship with the Love’s facilities maintenance and construction teams in which we were initially charged with the design and management of their Light Machine Shop (LMS) rollout program. The success of that program lead to store remodels with the facility maintenance team as well as new store development projects with the construction team.
A few trusted relationships within the Love's leadership team, one of which was a former HFA employee, really helped to expand upon this partnership, allowing us to not only initially get our foot in the door with Love's but made it possible for us to coordinate a devoted team that could lean into the most critical aspects of business for Love's, which evolved throughout their eight-year tenure as our client.
"Over the last couple of years, we've been able to fine-tune our team's internal structure, allowing us to better define new store versus remodel versus prototype groups," says Travis Pruitt, Director for the Love's team.
When we first began our relationship with Love's, they were actively working with two other Architectural firms, but there was a need for consistency in building a robust new store process. Because of our history working with 7-11, Walmart Express, and Stripes, Love's was aware of our expertise working in prototypes, specifically in the convenience store industry, allowing us to lean in and help guide their new store processes.
As we continued to cultivate our relationship and earn the trust of our Love's clients and the overall Love's leadership team, we started pitching the idea for a new store prototype built exclusively in Revit, which was a departure for Love's, because up until this point, they had been working solely in AutoCAD. The Love's team at HFA worked closely with our in-house BIM team to iron out the process, making it as seamless as possible for all involved.
This not only impacted our team on a singular level, but it also established new ways of working for the other firms Love's partners with, as well. At the onset of our work with new construction projects, our team immediately saw the benefit and need for a prototype because it would save our client's time and money and cut down on miscommunications amongst the various architecture and engineering firms on a project-by-project basis. This new process also opened the door for our team to implement a change management process, a model that had been working with other clients but could be updated and personalized for the Love's team's needs.
Partnering Together for the Future
Continuing to innovate and build upon the relationships we currently have has always been important to us at HFA. One way we can do this is by providing thought leadership, largely available thanks to the vast amount of knowledge and experience the HFA team brings to the table.
With Love's specifically, we have been able to bring new and innovative ideas to fruition, solving for the specific challenges Love's faces. For example, in 2020, when COVID-19 made many industries pivot to alternative ways of working, our team was able to work closely with the Love's team on ways to ensure that customers were safe when entering their stores across the nation.
“Often, our Love’s clients will come to us with new ideas that they are interested in and willing to try, and it’s then our task to go out and beat the bushes to figure out how to make them a reality, whether it is something we’ve done in the past or not,” says Branson Hall, Love’s/Fueling Team Lead.
While we are often presented with specific projects that the Love’s team is focused on, just as often, we find ourselves instead presented with much broader opportunities, allowing our team of architects and engineers the freedom to ideate, providing innovative solutions that may not have been offered otherwise. The trusted relationship that we have with the Love's team is paramount to our continued success and our partnership's prosperity.
We continue to look toward the future regarding our relationship with Love's, whether with the fueling industry, remodels, new store prototypes, or any other sector we lean into on behalf of the Love's team. By producing timely and innovative work, we feel confident that this relationship will only grow in the future. We know that a key to that success is keeping our fingers on the pulse of the goals Love's has for their business and continuing to work towards that in big and small ways every day.
To learn more about our work with Love’s Travel Stops, feel free to contact Branson Hall, Love’s/Fueling Team Lead or Nathan Connors, Team Lead. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.