TRUCK STOP MAKEOVER: The 10-Acre Truck Stop's switch to Esso is the beginning of a complete overhaul.Photo by Katy de Vries
BELLEVILLE, Ont. – After 10 years of pumping a competing brand of diesel and gasoline, the 10-Acre Truck Stop switched its pumps over to Esso this fall.
The product switch is just the beginning of a complete overhaul, said general manager John Belanger.
“We want to make this a one-stop solution for truck drivers,” Belanger said.
The 10-Acre Truck Stop already has a restaurant, a CB repair shop, hair studio, driver lounge, showers, a store, gas bars and parking for 225 tractor-trailers. The diesel pumps, stores and restaurant are open 24/7.
Originally, the blue building seen from Hwy 401 on the south side off of Wallbridge Road was a Methodist Church. Then it was a community centre. Opened as a truck stop in 1977 (the Belanger family, including John’s father Roland and brother Jeff took over in the early ’80s) it’s another kind of haven now – for truckers travelling Canada’s busiest corridor.
The recent switch to Esso gave the truck stop more of an opportunity to cater to owner/operators, with benefits like the Esso rewards programs, the Fleet Card program and the Key to the Highway Cardlock program, said Belanger.
“Since fuel is one of the largest costs for drivers, we saw advantages for us to make the switch but you have to make sure that you will be able to offer better prices and we have been able to do that,” he said.
The Esso card is generally accepted throughout the U.S. so the Belangers are hoping the new programs will attract American drivers as well. Up to now they haven’t normally wanted to make separate stops for fuel and food, said brother Jeff, who is the assistant manager.
Another recent change at the 10-Acre saw the management of the on-site maintenance shop taken over by Benson Truck and Trailer Repair.
“With Benson’s taking over the shop it allows them to focus on the driver from the service side and it frees us up to focus on other driver needs. And since the shop is located right beside us we can benefit from that too,” John Belanger said.
The Belleville Race Track Development Corporation is also hoping to build a hotel and convention centre with a harness race track and slots on a nearby lot, added brother Jeff.
“They are predicting that it would bring in one million visitors a year, which would make our corner a very popular one,” he said. “So we thought we should grow with it.”
Other changes the Belangers are considering include bringing back a truck wash service, adding a fast food restaurant and eventually completely renovating the entire facility.
So, far the first step in the overhaul – the decision to switch fuel sources – was a good one for the 10-Acre Truck Stop, according to the owners.
“The volumes are up and the customers are pleased and they are telling us so,” said John Belanger.