WESTLAKE, Ohio — TravelCenters of America Inc., which operates 265 truck stops in 44 states, is turning increasingly to franchising to expand its brand and network across the country.
The emphasis on franchising comes amid a restructuring plan under new CEO Jonathan Pertchik that also has eliminated 130 positions at its headquarters in Westlake.
The company, which sells new tires, retreads and related maintenance services at 244 locations, sees "significant opportunities for continued growth through franchising," Mr. Pertchick said recently, noting TA had signed 18 franchise agreements since early 2019, is negotiating 19 additional agreements and has identified 80 more potential franchisees.
"Franchising is an integral part of our new strategic plan and a key driver for the continued expansion of the business," Mr. Pertchik said. "We believe putting the accelerator on this aspect of operations will allow us to become a growth engine and serve more customers and communities.
"We have a team dedicated to identifying and actively pursuing excellent franchisees who are committed to providing our customers with the services and amenities they've come to trust and rely on at our travel centers," he added.
At year-end 2019, 27 of TA's 265 locations were operated by franchisees, according to the company's financial filings.
TA's new tire offerings include BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Continental, Dayton, Firestone, Goodyear, Goodyear/Marathon, Kelly, Michelin, Roadmaster and Yokohama, plus retreads it produces at one retread plant in Perrysburg, Ohio, or sources from other independent retreaders.
Regarding the company's restructuring, Mr. Pertchick --- CEO since last December --- said he believes the publicly traded company needs to figure out what it's future is going to look like and communicate better, both internally and externally, what the TravelCenters brand means.
2019 was a rebound year for TA. After posting losses of $120.4 million in 2018, the company earned $33.5 million in 2019, but revenue wasn't growing: It was $6.2 billion in 2018 and $6.1 billion in 2019.
Eliminating corporate positions and other measures taken are expected to generate savings of approximately $13.1 million annually in selling, general and administrative expenses, TA said.
Mr. Pertchik replaced Andrew Rebholz, who retired last December after more than 20 years with TA, the last two as its top executive. He came to TA from Inntown Suites, where he was CEO of the extended-stay hotel chain.