More Than a Truckers’ Paradise

While Kenly 95 Petro caters to professional drivers, the complex has plenty to lure tourists and locals alike.

More Than a Truckers’ Paradise

April 2023   minute read

By: Sarah Hamaker

Kenly 95 Petro in Kenly, North Carolina, has the appearance of a small city, with its sprawling complex of buildings and fuel locations designated for truckers and regular cars. When it first opened in May 1980 as Truckland Truckstop, the location included a small store, sit-down restaurant and diesel fuel islands. But that was only the beginning of expansions and name changes before it became the Kenly 95 Petro of today.

“Through the years, we’ve kept growing physically and sales-wise,” said Ernie Brame, general manager with Corbitt Partners LLC, which operates as Kenly 95 Petro.


Within two years of its existence, the company became a franchisee of TravelCenters of America and within a decade, the owners began the first of many expansions and remodels, from adding a convenience store and mechanics shop to revamping the restrooms and shower facilities. Today, the complex is the largest truck stop on the East Coast and has five fast-food restaurants in its food court, plus the full-service Iron Skillet restaurant.

“In the older days, we used to market ourselves as being midway between the apple (New York City) and the orange (Florida),” Brame said. Kenly 95 “tries to give a North Carolina flavor for the car traveler and tourist in our retail operation, along with our extensive gear and accessories for truckers,” he said. For example, the store stocks truck parts and chrome accessories and clothing for truckers and motorcyclists. For tourists, Kenly 95 has North Carolina souvenirs and traveler essentials.

Brame said they are constantly turning over inventory and trying new items. “Sometimes, we have what we think will be a sure fit and it fizzles,” he said. “Then we get some items, like these toy rifles that shoot salt at flies to kill them called Bug-A-Salt, and those sold like hot cakes.”

Another surprising hit was to-go deviled eggs. “I’d noticed deviled eggs were the first to go at covered-dish church suppers, so thought we should try making them,” Brame said. “We put six half deviled eggs in a grab-and-go container and sold 20 to 30 in a day. Now even Iowa 80 has put the item in their store.”


Kenly 95 plays up its North Carolina pride with its décor. For example, a scaled 65-foot replica of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse (the original is 215 miles to the east) welcomes truckers and tourists, drawing attention to the location. “We have quite a few people each day who stop to snap their photo beside our lighthouse,” Brame said. “It’s helped make Kenly 95 Petro a destination of its own.”

Inside the store, a mural of Interstate 95 from Maine to Florida adorns the trailer of a full-sized semi and highlights Kenly 95’s importance to interstate travelers and truckers. Along I-95, billboards also draw attention to the stop. A recent billboard campaign incorporates the lighthouse replica into the design, with the lighthouse tower going all the way down to the ground and rising above the billboard’s message center. “Adding the lighthouse to our billboards really made them pop, and it’s been a great marketing campaign for us,” he said.

Kenly 95 Petro also has strong ties to the Kenly community. “We are one of the largest businesses in town, and we try to give back as much as we can to the community,” he said. For example, the company hosts the town’s Independence Day fireworks and holds the East Coast Trucker’s Jamboree, a three-day festival celebrating trucking, over Mother’s Day weekend each year.

The company also supports local charities, especially area schools. “We’re one of the biggest supporters of the high school booster clubs,” Brame said. “It was a natural fit given how many times team members come into our store.”

“We like to consider ourselves a destination stop,” said Brame. “We want people to plan their stop around our location.”

Bright Ideas

Ernie Brame, general manager of Kenly 95 Petro in Kenly, North Carolina, said a focus on cleanliness and loyal employees is the secret to success. “I tell our employees: ‘The lighthouse might point the way here, but you’re going to point the way back.’”

The complex employs roughly 250 people, with new employees paired with seasoned workers who know how to tell the stories of Kenly 95. While Kenly does have employee turnover, the management team has longevity on its side, with most managers having clocked 10 to 20 years, and one who has been with Kenly’s since opening day in 1980. Brame himself has been with the company 40 years.

“We also emphasize to our employees to use the tools they were taught growing up—say please, thank you, come see us again—and smile,” he said. “That goes a long way to welcoming people back.”

See More!

Ideas 2 Go showcases how retailers today are operating the convenience store of tomorrow. To see videos of the c-stores we profiled in 2022 and earlier, go to

Sarah Hamaker

Sarah Hamaker

Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer, NACS Magazine contributor, and romantic suspense author based in Fairfax, Virginia. Visit her online at

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