Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

The Century Club: Tom Love, CEO of Love's Country Stores

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

The Century Club: Tom Love, CEO of Love's Country Stores

Article excerpt

Staying one step ahead of his customers' needs has always been the key to entrepreneurial success for native Oklahoman Tom Love.

Love was born in Oklahoma City in October 1937. One of six siblings, he left home at the age of 13 to attend boarding school in Shawnee.

He graduated from St. Gregory's High School in Shawnee. A standout football player, he attended St. John's University in St. Cloud, Minn., and the University of Oklahoma. But his low grades made it clear he wasn't going to succeed academically.

He lived by his motto: "Know what you do well and stay focused on it."

So Love, who had also served in the U.S. Marine Corps, dropped out of school early to become an entrepreneur. At first he owned restaurants and car washes, but then he discovered an opportunity in abandoned gas stations.

In January 1964, Tom Love and his wife, Judy, opened a self- service gas station in Watonga. The Musket Corp. was born, carrying on a family tradition in the oil business. Tom Love's father, F.C. Love, had been president of Kerr-McGee.

After leasing their first filling station, Love opened more than 30 others.

Then in 1971, as he drove by a cleaning company near his home, he saw that the cleaners had added self-service gasoline pumps. This gave Love an idea that would change the direction of his business.

He believed that if he could merge self-service gas stations with convenience stores, his company would have a chance to grow and survive. …

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