Spokane Journal of Business

Broadway Group expanding

Spokane truck-stop chain getting set to make its third acquisition in seven months

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Broadway Group, a Spokane-based company that owns a chain of truck stops and smaller fuel stop-convenience store outlets as well as other properties, is getting ready to expand again.


It expects shortly to buy a truck stop, casino, motel, and recreational-vehicle park at Battle Mountain, Nev., that would be its third acquisition in the last seven months and its first property in Nevada, says Dan Alsaker, the companys president.


It will be our largest facility to date in terms of profit, and will boost the Broadway Group to about 30 facilities in all, counting gas stations, restaurants, motels, and so on, and about 500 employees, he says.


Battle Mountain is located along Interstate 80 between Elko and Winnemucca in the northern part of Nevada. The complex that Broadway Group is buying there employs about 80 people, Alsaker says. The motel thats part of the property has about 80 units, and the RV park has about 100 spaces, he says.


The truck stop will become a Broadway/Flying J Travel Plaza, which will make it the ninth Broadway Group property to be flagged with that name, he says. The company has about six other fueling-related properties that arent branded Flying J.


Last June, Broadway Group bought a truck stop, restaurant, and casino in Belgrade, Mont., along Interstate 90 west of Bozeman, and a fuel stop-convenience store facility in Hardin, Mont., along I-90 east of Billings, Alsaker says.


The Belgrade facility is as big as anything weve done to date, he says. He estimates its about twice the size of the companys largest facility in the Spokane area, which is located at Broadway and I-90 in the Spokane Valley. The Hardin property is smaller in size, more comparable to Broadway Groups fuel stop-convenience store facility at the Geiger Boulevard-I-90 interchange west of Spokane.


Separately, Broadway Group created a stir recently when it put up for sale some property near the Medical Lake-I-90 interchange, about eight miles southwest of Spokane, where it has been planning for five years to build a new truck stop.


That caused some speculation among commercial real estate agents that the company might be planning to scrap the much-delayed, multimillion-dollar project, which had been expected to be a catalyst for other development activity on the West Plains.


Alsaker says, however, that Broadway Group simply is repositioning where it wants to put the eight-acre truck stop on the about 26 acres of land it owns south of the interchange and west of Hayford Road. That, in turn, has changed the configuration of excess surrounding land that the company has been seeking to sell for related commercial projects so that it now includes the originally proposed truck stop site, he says.


Broadway Group has had difficulty getting the much-anticipated truck stop off the ground and has blamed some of the construction-start delays on regulatory obstacles, including required road-improvement work.


We still consider this environment a bit hostile for investing capital, compared with some of the markets into which the company is expanding, Alsaker says. Nevertheless, the company still intends to proceed with the truck-stop project and hopes to begin work on it this spring, if weather conditions and other factors allow, he says.


That would be good news for a handful of trucking-related companies that have set up operations near the interchange or are planning to do so partly because of the spin-off business they expect the planned truck stop to generate.


Broadway Groups original plans, announced in early 1993, had called for the West Plains truck stop to replace the companys truck stop at Broadway and I-90, which sits on a comparatively small site.


That well-known truck stop, which serves hundreds of trucks a day, has been operating at its current location for about 35 years. The surrounding area is home to a host of trucking-related businesses that employ hundreds of people.


Broadway Group has had that property on the market and has received some interest from prospective buyers, but is re-evaluating its plans to sell the site, due partly to the recent extension of sewer service there, Alsaker says.


Commercial real estate agents have predicted that the busy truck stops anticipated move to a new $4 million West Plains facility would prompt other trucking-related businesses to migrate nearby or to start up there.


One company, Cummins Northwest Inc., which sells and services diesel engines, electrical generators, and refrigeration units for trucks, already has built and moved into a $2 million building a short distance west of the Broadway Group site. Another company, Spokane Freightliner Inc., the dealer here for Freightliner over-the-road trucks, has opened a used-truck center about a half-mile to the east of the Broadway Group property.


Yet another company, Boise-based Western States Equipment Co., which operates Spokanes Caterpillar equipment dealership and a truck-repair shop here, two years ago bought about five acres of land just across the road from Broadway Groups West Plains site. However, it has yet to begin work on a planned new truck-repair facility there.


One other Spokane business, called TimeSavers, had announced plans to build an automated truck-wash facility near the Broadway Group site. However, the couple who own that company said last fall that they had shelved those plans for personal financial reasons.


Commercial real estate agents say the timing of surrounding development activity would be affected if Broadway Group decides not to move ahead with its West Plains truck stop, but they contend that the long-range prospects for the long-touted, but still slow-developing West Plains remain bright.


Kiemle & Hagood Co.s Jim Watson, who is the listing agent for about 160 acres of commercial and industrial land near the Broadway Group site, says, Were all waiting for that area to mature, as far as the (real estate) market is concerned, and Im sure it will. Its just a matter of time.


Regardless of decisions made on individual projects, the features that make the area potentially attractive to business, such as its quick access to the freeway and its proximity to Spokane International Airport, havent changed, he says.


Broadway Group originally had hoped to complete the West Plains truck stop by the fall of 1995. Alsaker said the truck stop would be a high-tech, high-profile facility catering not just to truckers, but also to families and all other travelers. He said it would be able to accommodate as many as 150 to 200 trucks overnight, compared with the 80 to 85 at its current location, and would employ about 100 people.


Broadway Group is owned by Alsaker and his brother-in-law, Tom Hemingway.


The companys origin dates back to 1960, when Alsakers father, Don Alsaker, went to work at the Third Avenue Truck Stop, which was located near the current site of the Shilo Inn near downtown. The operation moved to Broadway and I-90 in 1963, and changed its name.


The elder Alsaker bought into the business the year it moved, and became sole owner in 1971. He died a couple of years ago.


In addition to the truck stops on Broadway and in Belgrade, which include Saks restaurants, Broadway Group operates two other truck stops with Saks restaurants, in Ellensburg and Federal Way, Wash. The gas station-convenience store outlets that it owns include the one at 3709 S. Geiger Boulevard and one in Greenacres; one each in Pasco, Wash., Moses Lake, Wash., and Libby, Mont.; and three in Kalispell, Mont.


Other Broadway Group properties include Broadway Oil, a Spokane trucking and ethanol-distribution company; a 72-room Comfort Inn at 6309 E. Broadway; and a Saks restaurant in Veradale.

Kim Crompton
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