Soft freight and high fuel got you down? You’re not alone. Though business for the nation’s truckers has picked up since the extremely slow period we all saw last year, difficulties continue for many, and for two independent truckstops in Michigan the pressures were just too much. Writing in the Battle Creek Enquirer, Andy Fitzpatrick told a story today at once of long-running business difficulties brought to the breaking point and rich, well-remembered history.
The Te-Khi Travel Court and Truck Stop at I-94 and 11-mile road, today next-door to FireKeepers Casino, was opened in 1963 and lived through times recalled by so many as the glory-filled bygone days of trucking. It lived through tumutuous times, too, as Fitzpatrick wrote: “In 1978 the Te-Khi sheltered 100 truckers and other drivers while a January winter storm raged through the area. In 1979 the truck stop witnessed an independent truckers’ strike …”
The Te-Khi, an adjacent restaurant and its sister stop, the Tekon Travel Plaza in Tekonsha, Mich., had been undegoing bankruptcy reorganization since 2004, and, unable to satisfy creditors or transfer to new ownership, operators decided to liquidate.
But as Fitzpatrick quoted Operations Manager Vince Bedwell: “Despite the local and national economic crisis and dramatic changes in the petroleum industry over the past several years, we have been able to maintain the business for longer than many independent truck stop operators.”
Some of the difficulties of the fuel and truckstop business — and well as operator ingenuity in the face of them — are detailed in Misty Bell’s sidebar to my story dissecting the price of a gallon of diesel in the March issue of Truckers News, now live via www.truckersnews.com (scroll down and click on the “Money in the Tank” thumbnail image of this month’s cover, or click on it here). Give it a read when you can. As it turns out, when fuel skyrockets, most truckstop operators are just as peeved as the rest of us.