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Whether driving across town or driving across the country, Bosselman Companies has made an impact on the transportation and service industry.
Since 1948, Bosselman Companies has been creating opportunities in central Nebraska. President Charlie Bosselman continues to capitalize on opportunities and partnerships for the success of the company today.
“Not all of them have worked out,” Bosselman said, of partnerships their company has had over the years. “We’ve had some relationships with some companies, usually they’re large corporate giants, that don’t have entrepreneurial thoughts like we do. For us, it’s all about opportunities and what we can do.”
Cultivating and maintaining their most successful relationships has allowed Bosselman Companies to not only expand, but to enhance the services offered in their many locations. In 2011, after analyzing their strengths, Bosselman Companies sold seven of their eight travel centers to Pilot Flying J. The deal worked in favor for both companies, as Pilot Flying J was looking to expand and Bosselman wanted to redirect their focus.
“We were looking to spend more of our effort developing our shop network,” Bosselman said. “We sold (Pilot Flying J) truck stops and they, in turn, gave us property on their locations to develop shops. It allowed us to move from one division where there wasn’t going to be much growth potential to another where there was a tremendous amount of growth potential. It’s opened a door for us.”
It is that knowledge that has led to the success for the Bosselman Company. They know their strengths and stick to what they know.
“My dad always told me, ‘Do what you do, and let the other guy do what he does.’ What he was saying is, if you are good at this, then this is what you should stick to,” Bosselman said. “We’re a blue collar business growing up in Nebraska— we’re good at dealing with customers. We do retail well, we hire good staff and we manage them well and we take care of our customers. So, we do that, because that’s where opportunity is.”
“We made a decision to make that strategic move,” Bosselman said. “It was difficult as it was one of our most profitable divisions, and when you carve that out of the overall company, there’s a lot of growing pains you have to go through to see how everything shakes out.”
Chuck Bosselman passed away soon after they closed the deal with Pilot Flying J.
“He was the main cog in the wheel there, so we had to figure out how to fill that gap and move forward,” Bosselman said.
Bosselman’s father, Chuck, and uncle, and Frank Bosselman Jr., were partners and ran the company after Frank Bosselman Sr. passed away. More recently, Chuck passed away in 2012 after a battle with cancer.
The Bosselman’s were faced with estate planning. In the planning, the business was split into two entities: retail and energy, Bosselman Companies and Bosselman Energy.
Bosselman Companies is now run by Charlie Bosselman and his wife Laurie and Brandi Bosselman-Lofing and her husband Dustin Lofing. Bosselman Energy is overseen by Fred Bosselman Jr. Both companies are based in central Nebraska and are rooted in family.
Bosselman Companies can be found in 24 states, but the groundwork began in Central Nebraska. Headquartered in Grand Island, the company employs 1,200 people. Fred Sr. and Maxine Bosselman, with his brother Charles, and brother-in-law Al Eaton and sister Charlotte Eaton, opened the Bosselman and Eaton Truck Stop on Highway 30 in Grand Island 66 years ago.
Bosselman Companies has expanded from the original Bosselman and Eaton Truck Stop. Currently, the family-run business owns and operates 50 Pump & Pantry convenience stores, 44 Boss Shops—truck and fleet service centers, the Bosselman Travel Center, multiple hotels, restaurants, food courts and the Nebraska Danger Indoor Professional Football Team.
While the Bosselman’s have been in central Nebraska for decades, Charlie Bosselman started his venture in the family business in Salina, Kan. after graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1989.
“I graduated college and my dad drove me down to Salina, Kan. and said, ‘We just took over this restaurant and you get to figure it out,’” Bosselman said.
“I was left there. I’m a college graduate with a degree on my wall and I spent nine months there flipping burgers and washing dishes, working 75 hours a week,” he said as he recalls his experience.
“I knew that if I was going to develop this into something that I had to do that. I couldn’t just walk in and tell people what to do—because I didn’t know what the hell they needed to do.”
“I learned that the restaurant business is the toughest business to make any type of money,” he said. “We were successful at it. I learned that if you can make money in the restaurant business, we ought to be able to make it in the others because they’re not nearly as complicated to run.”
Bosselman Companies is broken into divisions with strong leaders at the helm. Bosselman said each employee plays a huge role in the organization. Calling themselves a fair-sized company, Bosselman said they still operate like a small company.
“Our staff has the ability to be as involved as they want and most of them are very involved,” he said.
“We give them that free reign and as long as we stay on-point and stay on message and follow those guidelines, we’re pretty open as far as the direction we’ll let people take us.”
The company’s underlying principles—pride, cleanliness, fun, integrity and friendliness—were set forth by Chuck Bosselman. Placing them into the day-to-day operations, these principles can be seen when attending a Danger football game or picking up your morning caffeine kick at one of the convenience stores.
“That carries on into everything we do. We emphasize that every day and it’s what differentiates ourselves from our competition,” Bosselman said.
Bosselman said regulations from the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are constantly changing. Staying on top of those changes is a daily task for Bosselman Companies.
Additionally, following all regulations set forth by the Department of Transportation (DOT), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Bosselman Companies has several federally mandated regulations to adhere to.
“It’s tough,” Bosselman said. “Just about every day we have someone coming in saying we have to change this now. That’s just the way it is.”
In addition to constantly changing regulations, imagine working with your family day in and day out. Bosselman noted the difficulty of underlying family issues coming into play when working for or running a family-owned business.
“Issues surrounding estate planning, the last couple of years have encompassed a lot of our time,” he said. After the passing of his father, the company decided to divide into two entities, creating some challenges, most of which have been overcome.
Expansion has been the lifeblood of the company since its inception, and President Charlie Bosselman said he foresees the company will need to change with the times.
“Forty years ago we might have been in the 8-track tape business, but some businesses just expire,” he said. “We’re always looking for opportunity, things you can get involved with that will lead into other things. We look at whatever opportunity comes at us, we look at what our strengths can be and try to play off of them.”
It's the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven Bosselman Companies to where it is today.
Needless to say, Bosselman Companies has been through a lot in the last few years, but it’s their spirit that drives them forward. Taking a road trip generally includes purchasing gas, food and novelties along the way. At Bosselman’s Pump and Pantry locations, all of that is possible.
The company’s impact on the travel industry reaches far beyond the borders of Nebraska. By partnering with the Focus Brands, the owners of Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Carvel, Schlotzsky’s Deli, McAllister’s Deli and Moe’s Southwest Grill, Bosselman’s is now able to offer some of these amenities to customers at their Pump and Pantry locations.
“We planned on having one Cinnabon,” Bosselman said. “Try it out and see how it goes; now we have 10."
In 2010, Bosselman Company introduced Danger Football, western Nebraska’s professional indoor football team. Bosselman said the decision to bring the football team to Grand Island was to create something for the community to rally behind — something to get people into town and get excited. They are now in their fourth season and have a rallying fan base.
While you attend a football game, you may notice that Bosselman Companies is highly associated with the organization. Encapsulating their marketing has allowed Pump and Pantry to be associated not only with Bosselman Companies, but the Nebraska Danger.
Bones, the Danger’s mascot, is now the official mascot for Pump and Pantry shops and convenience stores, creating a converged marketing message.
“You have to take a look at those opportunities,” Bosselman said. “Just because it’s like this right now, doesn’t mean a year from now it’s going to be the exact same thing.”
Whether you pick up a tasty Cinnabon treat or wash your car at their new facilities, Bosselman Companies’ message is clear: the opportunity for growth is possible and keeping your marketing message consistent with your mantra will provide not only comfort for your customers, but for your employees and your brand, as well.
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