Get Your Fill

By on March 1, 2009
RoadKing Mag

Store Manager Patty Murlick may only have worked at the Saginaw TA for three years, but she’s been stopping by for a lot longer. And what drew her there is the same thing that attracts many of the location’s repeat customers — the restaurant’s working train set.

“I can remember coming in here when I was a little girl and the train was always running,” she says. “We’d come in every Sunday and eat lunch and watch the train. Now drivers tell me they come back just to see it again and tell their friends and family to come, too.”

Drivers may come to see the train, but lately they stay to partake in the location’s new restaurant special, which offers all-you-can-eat options for everything on the menu.

“We’re one of the Test Zones, so it’s just starting up,” she says. “But if it goes well, they’re going to roll it out at more locations.”

The location also recently underwent a renovation that re-paved the parking lot and perked up the restaurant’s interior.

Training day
Murlick started at the location as a part-time employee, but quickly worked her way up through TA’s manager-in-training program. Now her assistant manager is following in her footsteps. “They’ve even upgraded the program since I went through it,” Murlick says.

Northern hospitality
Saginaw is located about 100 miles north of Detroit — or as Murlick explains it, hold up your left hand to represent the state, and Saginaw sits right between the thumb and index finger. The Northern city has had it’s fair share of winter weather this year, but residents take it in stride. “You can always tell when a driver’s from the South,” Murlick says with a chuckle. “They’re never dressed appropriately for the cold.”

Meet Susan
Restaurant manager Susan Walney has worked at the Saginaw TA for more than 25 years. “It’s amazing how many years some of our people have put into our location,” Murlick says. “It says something when you can keep an employee that long.”

TA Test Zones offer value
By Tom O’Brien, President and CEO
There was an ad slogan a while back, “Imagine the Possibilities.”

Why imagine when you can actually put them into action?

That’s the idea behind the new TA Test Zones in place at selected locations.

TA understands that drivers are looking for value and choice, especially when it comes time to sit down for a meal. We want to know what we can do to make your TA dining experiences the best they can possibly be.

At TA Test Zones we offer special concepts, menus or pricing so that we can understand what works best for you.

The TA Test Zone logo lets drivers know that something special is happening at a location. Right now there are a few Test Zones underway.

Selected locations are offering all-you-can-eat menus. While the buffets at TA have always been a bottomless plate deal, three locations will offer anything on the menu as an all-you-can-eat item. Other locations have value-priced buffets, with prices as low as $4.99 for unlimited trips to the buffet.

Taking our most promising ideas out for a tryout allows TA to see what  our customers like best, but also lets us find the most efficient and cost-effective way to deliver it. After all, a great idea poorly executed is not all that different from a bad idea. We hope to hear from customers at our Test Zone spots about whether  and why they like a particular concept, so that we can refine it to reach a point of perfection.

I’ve said many times, in this space and to TA employees, that our customers have a choice about where to stop. We want our regular customers to continue to consider us as a reliable stopping center, but we also want to continue to offer them more. More value. More choices. More reasons to choose TA.

The current Test Zone ideas are just the beginning. TA Test Zones will continue to pop up at various locations in the coming months. Look for the Test Zone logo. It gives you the heads up that a surprise offer is awaiting you. Take us up on it. I feel certain that you’ll be pleased, and we do want to hear from you.

Send TA your comments and feedback about the Test Zones you try, and if you have ideas for future Test Zones, send those along too. Just call 1-888-982-5528. We want to hear from you.

Big Winners
Two club members earn big cash prize

Alan Hughey of Smyrna, Tenn., was on the road when he got a call from his sister. She had just received a message for him. “Do you know what you did last night?” she asked. Well, he had been driving a good part of the night, and stopped to fuel up at a TA. But nothing out of the ordinary.

“Then she told me that I won $25,000,” Chrome Club Elite member Hughey says with a hearty laugh. That TA fuel stop made him one of two Mega Shot Sweepstakes winners, and allowed him to take a little break from non-stop trucking.

“I spent eight years mostly on the road. I came home and it was just throw and go. Now I’m staying home for a while.”

Bennett Price, of Denver, Colo., also won $25,000 in the sweepstakes. His first reaction was suspicion that somebody was trying to pull a scam on him, but after careful investigation he was pleasantly surprised to realize that the win was real. “I don’t  enter contests,” Price says. “I have gone to the casinos in Las Vegas, but most of the time I spent on that trip I traveled to national forests.”

A former stockbroker who has been driving professionally for 12 years, currently with Central Refrigerated Services,  Price allowed himself a couple of splurges. “I got an iPhone and a 42-inch screen television,” he says.

A driver is off to the races!
With two kids in college, one in high school, and lots of time spent on the road,  owner-operator Kevin Adams doesn’t get to get away with his wife too often. Thanks to his grand prize win in the Ultimate Race Sweepstakes, the couple jetted off to Florida to attend the Sprint Cup Daytona 500 in style.

“It’ll be a nice vacation for the wife and me — just the two of us. We can use the break,” Adams said a few weeks before the trip. “I was shocked when I got the phone call. I never win anything. But this was so easy — I just used my Road King Club card and that entered me to win.”

A former cab driver, Adams comes from a truck driving family. “My dad and brother have been driving all of their lives,” he says. “I used to travel with my dad when I was a kid, and I said in the past that I would never drive a truck. It’s been five years and now I wish that I had started doing this 30 years ago!”

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