Love's travel stop manager passes down leadership lessons to son and daughter
Tony R.’s biggest priorities are faith, family and work, in that order. These three have intertwined to leave a lasting impact at Love’s.
Tony, a Love’s travel stop general manager, first joined the company as a country store team member in western Oklahoma, in the 1980s. That job, only meant to pay the bills while Tony was in college, was where he met a fellow employee, Raylene, who would become his wife.
“I was working the overnight shift and she came by to visit on her day off. I asked Raylene if she wanted to go to breakfast if she was still awake when my shift ended, and she thankfully said yes. That was our first date,” Tony said.
While Tony soon found an opportunity outside of Love’s, Raylene worked her way up to store manager and was on shift when she went into labor with their first child, Katy. Tony’s growing family moved to Georgia, which could have been the end of their Love’s story. However, they chose to return to Oklahoma, Tony rejoined Love’s as an assistant manager and realized he had found a company he plans to retire from.
For the past 16 years, Tony has been leading the team at the travel stop in Clinton, Oklahoma. His track record of fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging speaks for itself – he hired his current restaurant manager 24 years ago, both his inventory management coordinator and trainer have been part of the team for 15 years, and most of his overnight crew has a decade with Love’s under their belt.
“One of the keys to leading people is learning what they’re really good at and letting them do it. They’ll be happier than being pushed in a direction they don’t want to go,” Tony said.
Tony’s ability to retain such a close-knit team is something many managers strive for. He is even prouder of the example he’s set for his children, Katy C. and Justin R., both Love’s Truck Care managers.
Justin, who leads the Speedco shop in Guthrie, Oklahoma, has also been training teams across the country on a new point of sale system to improve the customer experience. Meanwhile, Katy recently moved to South Carolina to train the Love’s Truck Care team in Summerton.
Every day, Tony, Katy and Justin find time to hop on a call while driving home from work and talk about how their day went.
“Seeing my dad and big sister achieve success in their Love’s careers, it motivated me to step out of my comfort zone as a leader. I’m blessed to have two incredible people to bounce ideas off of,” Justin said.
This year’s Love’s Education, Awards and Development (LEAD) Conference was the very first time Tony, Katy and Justin all had the opportunity to attend the event together in person.
“I get emotional just thinking about it,” Katy said, “Getting to see dad get recognized for 25 years of service since he rejoined the company, sitting in breakout classes with my little brother and shaking (Co-CEO) Frank Love’s hand after dad introduced me, it was truly surreal.”
This experience at LEAD was a full circle moment for Tony, Kay and Justin as they prove servant leadership can run in the family.