Pooling for Profitability

Think of Roady’s Truck Stops as the 350-pound lineman of the business world, a far-sighted colossus who plows path after dogged path for teammates who are trying to negotiate that riotous retail gridiron.

And then, think of Roady’s President Bob Lee as the head coach, sort of the Chuck Knoll of truck stops, convenience stores, golf courses and public school districts.

“It’s all about blocking and tackling,” said Lee, who joined New Plymouth, Idaho-based Roady’s late last year as president. “It’s about getting back to the basics and looking at all of it with strategic vision.”

Lee joined Roady’s from Affiliated Computer Services’ (ACS) TripPak division, where he headed up sales and marketing for transportation and truck stops. He’s worked with UNOCAL and has been in the transportation, truck stop and convenience store industries for the past 26 years.

Roady’s itself was formed two years ago through the merger of marketing firms Great Savings Network and TruckStops Direct. The company has built a formidable presence in the retail world, where 250 independent truck stops in 41 states now operate under the Roady’s banner.

Roady’s also operates Internet Truck Stop, an Internet truck-load matching system—the largest in the country— that matches shipper loads to independent drivers.

Eye on the Big Picture
The strategic vision Lee refers to goes far beyond truck stops, tractor trailers and convenience stores. When Roady’s launched in January 2007, the company’s leaders took their core competencies—shipping, ordering, marketing, vendor connections and such—and applied them to industries and businesses that some would consider well outside the ring of convenience retailing.

Think … golf courses, hospitals and school districts.
“We’re heavily into the convenience store side, the truck-stop side, golf courses and school systems,” Lee said. “Those are our four key verticals.”

Businesses that rely on food, fuel and a diversity of supplies for their daily operations, whether it means selling the items themselves or selling to a customer down the chain, can team with Roady’s to save money on these purchases.

The Roady’s-led buying group pools resources to save money on everything from packaged goods and fuel to office supplies and more. So far, the buying group has pulled in customers from 41 states, including 250 truck stops, 1,500 convenience stores, 1,000 golf courses and six different school districts.

“If you look at the key vendors that service any of them, half or more are the same,” Lee said, pointing out that there are about 30 vendors—companies like Coca-Cola, Sara Lee and Sysco—that regularly serve those seemingly dissimilar industries.

“We look at the core offerings we can provide,” Lee said. “We can do purchasing and marketing for our group of customers, and use that among (all of them) to offer a better buying price.  

“The biggest thing is pricing,” Lee continued. “Like everything else, you’re really attempting to do more with less. Prices continue to go up on pretty much any product that’s out there, but it’s difficult to translate that price to consumers when you’re trying to be as competitive as possible.”

Unless, of course, you’ve got a good play book and a great lineman to back you up.

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