Sunset For The Orange Ball
October 6, 2000
The sign that has virtually symbolized high quality auto/truckstop services across America for more than three decades, is about to disappear over the horizon.
The board of directors of National Auto/Truckstops Holdings Corp. recently announced that National Auto/Truck Plazas will be combined with Truckstops of America (TA), creating a new organization to be known as TravelCenters of America (TCA). The announcement said the new network will comprise 125 locations in 39 states.
Some 45 current National and/or TA facilities are expected to be cut loose in one way or another where there are overlapping facilities in the same location. At the time of the merger, Union operated 121 facilities, and the TA flag flew at 49 locations.
It is believed that many of the locations dropped from the TCA network will be bought by their present operators and operated as independent truckstops.
Industry sources estimate the complete change of identity will cost upwards of $30 million for new signage to replace the familiar orange ball and T/A shield. The new logo has yet to be released, but all the new signs are targeted to be in place by mid-1998.
The hauling down of the orange ball thus ends an era that began in 1965 when Union Oil Co. bought out rival Pure Oil Co. which had pioneered the full-service truckstop concept in 1953 and had established a chain of 150 modern facilities, mostly in the Midwest. Union, in turn, sold the truckstops in 1993 to the Clipper Group, a New York investment bank.
Most industry insiders believe the new company will emerge stronger and be more competitive than either of its predecessors.