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    Road Ranger Nears 100 Store Goal

    Larger scale allows company to recruit prime talent and gain buying power.

    ROCKFORD, Ill. -- With this month's purchase of 15 Fast Break Food Mart locations in Louisville, Ky., Road Ranger, operator of 87 c-stores and travel stops based here, is approaching its goal of having 100 stores by the end of 2009, BusinessRockford.com reported.

    "We want to keep gaining scale for a lot of reasons," Chief Financial Officer David Saporta said in the report. "It allows us to recruit the best talent in the country. It also gives us buying power with suppliers and vendors."

    The chain managed to grow despite earning roughly the same profits in 2008 as it did in 2007, along with generating lower profits in the first half of 2008, when gas prices soared, and saw better returns in the second half, when prices fell, according to the report.

    "The wholesale price of fuel products change more rapidly than the price on the street, so when it goes up, it’s tougher on the retailer, and when it goes down, we do better," he said.

    Road Ranger's growth was funded by selling most of its properties in 2006 and leasing them from the new owners, resulting in cash to expand the business, and also shielding the company from the real estate fallout last year, the report stated.

    "I wish we could say we knew that would happen," Saporta told BusinessRockford.com. "We did know that values were very high and somewhat inflated. We wanted a quicker way to grow."

    In March 2008, Road Ranger added locations through the purchase of 11 AmeriStop stores located in Kentucky and Ohio, CSNews Online reported at the time.

    "Road Ranger is excited about its acquisition of these former AmeriStop sites, and is looking forward to expanding rapidly in the near future through the strategic acquisition of groups of stores and companies that fit Road Ranger’s criteria," company founder and president Dan Arnold said in a statement issued last year.

    Road Ranger will look for other locations to grow, but will be conservative because of the financial climate, Saporta said in the report. It recently opened a new store in Marengo, and others could follow in that area of the Chicago suburbs, he added.

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