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You’ve Got a Friend
A culture of caring exists at the Atlanta South TA, embracing road-weary drivers as soon as they park their trucks. It’s a direct result of owner Bob Ryan’s faith and philosophy of helping others. When they are not at the truckstop, members of the Ryan family can often be found on missions to developing countries, helping the locals to build their church and community. At home, Ryan founded an annual charity golf tournament that raises money to help needy children join community sports programs — providing them with equipment and uniforms. The tournament also funds sports scholarships for deserving students.
That nurturing spirit thrives at the truckstop as well, and is embraced by its employees, who are always ready to help their customers. “I’ve had people tell me that when they come to Atlanta South they can feel the difference,” says Kevin Ryan, vice president and general manager of the sprawling oasis off of I-75.
His dad, Bob, notes that drivers know exactly what to expect when they roll in. “Being family-operated is a huge deal. The drivers know me, my wife Susan and my son Kevin. They know we’ll be here. We’ve never been closed for a second since we first opened 24 years ago.”
“I personally handwrite a note to everyone who fills out one of our comment cards,” says owner Bob Ryan.
The chapel, operated by Truckstop Ministries, has full-time chaplains. “We run a Christian place — most of us are strong Christians but we don’t push it on anybody. We just ask our employees to treat everyone the way they would like to be treated and that makes a big difference,” Ryan says.
The motto at Atlanta South TA is “Together We Build” and though it refers to a positive attitude throughout the staff, building is something of a regular feature at the travel center. Over the course of 24 years, Ryan has put millions of dollars of his own into 14 major remodels, including a handsome bridge that leads into the restaurant. The wood and wagon wheels were donated by local residents with barns.
The latest renovation took place at the fuel island, where new state-of-the-art diesel pumps were installed.
When their truck is in the shop, drivers might fret and worry, but Pete White puts them at ease. He’s been working at the location for almost 17 years now — so he and the drivers who stop by know each other well. “I love working in the shop,” he says. “I love meeting the customers, and helping them get in and out quickly. It’s true that a driver may come to us, upset about their truck, but I always tell them, ‘I know it’s been a bad day, but it will get better.’”