A Big Lodi Hello

By on January 1, 2010
RoadKing Mag

Drivers who walk into the Lodi, Ohio TA for the first time know they have stepped into a very special place. Every inch sparkles, and there are plenty of inches covered. A 3,000 square foot travel store, just one element of a full-service travel center, is stocked with the latest electronics for the road and all of the essentials for a comfortable and productive ride. The roomy, marble showers and bathrooms are beautiful and always clean.

“The location and building itself are impressive,” says store manager Debbie Shelton. “But the people who work here are really what makes Lodi so great.”

The location has many longtime employees — including a good number who have been working there for more than 20 years. “They know what the drivers need,” Shelton says. “They’re ready and experienced and trained to help.”

Fun Factor
During National Truck Driver Appreciation Week in November, the Lodi TA brought in an Elvis impersonator. He sang and posed with customers, who were tickled to see the white jump-suited performer. At least twice a year the employees put together some sort of appreciation event, with karaoke a big hit among both customers and TA staffers.

Check Up
A chiropractor who rents space in the building helps drivers who suffer from back pain and other ills, but also offers DOT exams. A nearby hospital sends healthcare professionals to the site regularly for free blood pressure checks and cholesterol screenings.

Meet Miss Dorothy
Manning the Café Express station, Dorothy Eakin always makes sure that the coffee is fresh and hot. Regular customers feel right at home the moment they see her smiling face, since she has been at Lodi for 25 years. Jackie Risley has been at the fuel desk for ten years. “She’ll know the drivers before they even get out of their trucks,” says Shelton.

Star Power
Sitting between two major concert venues in Ohio, the Lodi TA has seen its share of famous faces, included fresh-off -the-tour-bus visits from metal band Metallica and country duo Sugarland. One of the biggest stars to stop in? Actor Will Smith. “It’s always exciting to see them, and sometimes the celebrities will sign autographs for the people here,” Shelton says.

Open for Construction
Look just across the way and you’ll see the spot where the old Lodi TA used to stand. “In 2001 we did a complete raze and rebuild,” shop manager Allan Buhite recalls. “We kept the old building in operation. The whole time we only had about 12 hours of downtime.”

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