Investors: Fernley truck stop will fill need |

Investors: Fernley truck stop will fill need

Northern Nevada Business Weekly

At a time when most development projects are stalled, Paul Morabito said the numbers are irresistible for the casino and truck stop that his Big Wheel Properties LLC is developing in Fernley.

The volume of truck traffic is off by 7 percent with the recession, he acknowledges, but the Reno-Sparks market needs a 25-percent increase in truck stop parking and facilities to be comparable with similar-sized markets.

Morabito figures truck traffic into the region will only increase as the dollar continues to weaken, drawing more imports into the Port of Oakland and other Western gateways.

The company is about three weeks into the dirt work for a seven-acre truck stop at Exit 48 along Interstate 80 at the east edge of Fernley.

Miles Construction of Carson City is the general contractor on the project, which is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2010. About 45 construction jobs will be created, and the developer expects that 60 full-time jobs will be created once the truck stop and casino are open.

Centerpiece of the property will be a 20,000-square-foot building that includes a full casino with 240 slots machines and gaming tables, a truckers’ service area, a convenience store, a Texaco gas station and an unbranded diesel fueling station.

The development company and its general manager, Trevor Lloyd, have applied to IHOP for a franchise for a restaurant in the building.

Morabito carved out the Fernley site – which was home to a high-performing Winner’s Corner truck stop for more than 30 years – in 2007 when he sold the rest of the Winner’s Corner chain of gas stations and convenience stores to Jerry Herbst, owner of the Terrible Herbst chain of gas stations. He acquired the site when he purchased Berry-Hinckley Industries, a pioneering northern Nevada fuel company, in 2005.

Big Wheel Properties is a joint venture of entities controlled by Morabito with financing and additional equity provided by Andrew Sobel, the co-founder and managing member of Brentwood Capital Partners, a $300 million private equity fund headquartered in Los Angeles.

Sobel said his firm believes truck stops present strong growth opportunities.

“We are looking to capitalize on niche opportunities in core American industries. And nothing is more basic and likely to succeed than investing in the future of long- and short-haul trucking in the United States,” he said. “Truck stops continue to be an under-served market in this country, and nowhere more so than northern Nevada.”

Before the Winner’s Corner truck stop on the location was closed a couple of years ago, it had been among the busiest facilities operated by Berry-Hinckley Industries.

“We’re confident that it will quickly reclaim that title as one of the most successful facilities in Nevada,” Morabito said.

Wholesale fuel to the truck stop will be provided by Western Energetix LLC, a division of Nella Petroleum Inc. Nella purchased the wholesale fuel operations from Berry-Hinckley Industries in 2007.