Successful Chickasaw businessman with deep tribal roots

Tom Love is the founder and CEO of the family-owned company Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores. Love and his wife, Judy, opened their first service station in Watonga in 1964 with a $5,000 investment from Judy's parents. Since then, the company has grown to operate more than 300 locations and 175 Love's Truck Tire Care centers in 39 states. Wholly owned affiliates of Love's, Gemini Motor Transport and Musket Corporation, provide truck and rail logistic and terminal services to Love's and its customers.

The CEO is the descendant of two different Chickasaw families bearing the same last name of "Love." The two families met and joined together during the Civil War. One of Tom Love's ancestors, Benjamin Love, was the official interpreter for the Chickasaws. He was commissioned by the federal government to travel to Oklahoma and scout out the land as a possible site for Native American relocation around 1820-1840. According to Love, the Chickasaw Nation relocated to Oklahoma against their will. However, the tribe ended up enduring significantly less hardship than many other tribes because of the financial success they had accomplished back in their native lands and in their new home, Oklahoma.

Born in Oklahoma City, Love attended St. John's University but left to join the Marines. During his service, he rose to the rank of corporal.

When OPEC announced an oil embargo in 1973, it threatened Love's businesses, which relied almost entirely on gas sales. He pioneered combining the gas station with the 24-hour convenience store as well as self-service pumps.

Love and his wife have also been leaders in philanthropy. Between personal donations and corporate giving, the Love family has supported institutions of higher education as well as local charities across the country. Since 1999, Love's has partnered with the Children's Miracle Network, raising more than $28 million for children's medical research.

Accomplishments

  • Inducted in the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2019
  • Love's received the 2000 Outlook Award, for innovation and outstanding contribution to the future of the convenience store industry
  • Forbes magazine ranked Love's at No. 9 on its list of America's largest private companies in 2012
  • Acquired 20 Pilot Travel Centers locations and six Flying J locations in 2010