TravelCenters of America (TA) is the largest full-service travel center chain in the US.
Serving professional drivers and motorists, TA provides a wide variety of convenience services including fuel, food, lodging and repairs. As one of the investors who founded TA to purchase the truck stop businesses of Unocal and British Petroleum, Olympus recognized a national network of full service travel centers would be very attractive to large truck fleet operators and difficult for smaller competitors to replicate.
Over 14 years (spanning three Olympus funds), we played a very active role. Although a minority investor, an Olympus General Partner was the only investor director to serve on the Board from TA’s formation until its sale. We worked with management to create a truly nationwide network by buying in a majority of the company’s franchisees and executing three follow-on acquisitions. TA grew from 95 to 162 sites, revenues grew fivefold, and they enjoyed 14 years of uninterrupted annual EBITDA growth. At the same time, the company significantly upgraded its service offering by remodeling its sites and entering into a strategic partnership with Freightliner for maintenance services.
In 2007 TA was sold to Hospitality Properties Trust (HPT), a publicly traded REIT. HPT retained ownership of all real estate, but spun out the operating company as a separate, publicly traded company (AMEX: TA). Driven by remarkable EBITDA growth, TA’s equity value per common share grew almost 15 times during the period Olympus was involved.