The Business of a Truck Stop
The 70-foot-tall sign that beckons travelers to 7 Feathers on Interstate 5 in southern Oregon was made by ES&A Sign & Awning using half a mile of neon tubing. Kevin Jones, a second-generation signmaker, purchased the Eugene, Oregon, company in 2000. The 70-employee business makes neon signs, video displays, and scoreboards for clients such as Starbucks and Denny's. In 2007, it created a 47,000-square-foot video display for Walgreens in New York City's Times Square.
Talk about a long haul. Leavitt's Freight Service specializes in shipping wooden poles, beams, and joists as much as 150 feet in length to destinations around the country. The Springfield, Oregon, business, founded by brothers Doug, Dean, and Dewey Leavitt in 1958, now has a fleet of 90 trucks that hauls freight for several hundred customers. Cousins Terry and Duane Leavitt own the 110-employee business with partner Ron Riddle.
Fuel pumps and equipment
Each month, 7 Feathers cranks out 1.1 million gallons of gas and diesel fuel using tanks, pumps, plumbing, and thousands of feet of flexible pipe supplied by Northwest Pump & Equipment in Portland, Oregon. Bob Miller co-founded Northwest in 1959. Now run by Miller's son, Gregg, the distributor sells $125 million in equipment and services annually to gas stations and truck stops in Alaska, Hawaii, and five Western states. It has 256 employees.
One of the top-selling snacks in the 7 Feathers store is Cosmos Caramel Corn, a sweet treat made by Planetary Food Group in Eugene. "People call it crack corn," says company founder Lisa Roberts, who created the recipe in her kitchen six years ago. In 2008, she sold 6,500 boxes of the crunchy concoction on QVC in six minutes. Her six-employee company now has $875,000 in annual sales and hundreds of mail order and wholesale customers.