Bowlin Travel Centers Incorporated History
For over 100 years, the Bowlin family has taken pride in serving the traveling public with Southwestern tradition and hospitality. Their business venture actually began in 1912 when Claude M. Bowlin began trading with the Native American Indians of New Mexico and began learning their languages and customs. After World War I, from 1919 to 1935, Mr. and Mrs. Bowlin bought and sold several trading posts in the Gallup and Farmington areas of New Mexico. In 1935 they built the Old Crater Trading Post at Bluewater, New Mexico. It was named for the extinct volcano (or crater) to the north of the store. The wagon wheel-rutted road leading to the trading post later became Route 66. This store was closed in 1973 due to the construction of the new Interstate 40, which bypassed it. Bowlin's Bluewater Dairy Queen Travel Center now serves this area.
After World War II Mr. and Mrs. Bowlin expanded their horizons. With wisdom and foresight, they anticipated the needs and desires of tourists visiting the Land of Enchantment. They wanted every visitor to have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and talent of the Native American artisans through Navajo and Zuni jewelry, Navajo rugs, and baskets and pottery from many pueblos. Beginning in 1946 three trading posts were built in southern New Mexico on Highway 70-80 (later designated I-10). The first was the Continental Divide Trading Post followed by the Akela Flats Trading Post (now called the Akela Flats Travel Center) and the Wagon Wheel. In the following years more stores were added including the Jack Rabbit Ranch, the Old West Trading Post and Running Indian at Alamogordo.
By 1953, Claude and Willa Bowlin's business had expanded to the point that it was advisable to incorporate under New Mexico laws. In reality, however, the Bowlin Family has been extending Southwestern hospitality steeped with tradition for over 90 years; offering a cup of coffee, a warm "Howdy," and a big smile that says, "We're happy to see you!"
Since 1953, more stores have been added on the interstate system. Full service facilities, extensive selections of gifts, souvenirs, Black Hills Gold Jewelry, and outstanding Indian Handmade Jewelry are offered year 'round at Bowlin stores. To ensure excellent food services for our customers, many of our locations include Dairy Queen Brazier restaurants.
Further, in the early 1980s, the company expanded into the outdoor advertising business, which served as an extension of service to the traveling public. By the mid 1990s, the company covered the southwest with over 3,000 billboard faces in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, and Oklahoma.
On December 17, 1996, Bowlin's Incorporated officially became BOWLIN Outdoor Advertising & Travel Centers Incorporated, as the company began its initial public trading on the NASDAQ Stock Market. With this step the company and its employees entered into a new and exciting era of growth and new challenges.
In 2001, Bowlin's sold the outdoor advertising operations. The sale of the Outdoor Advertising division provided outstanding value for our shareholders. After a period of listing on the OTC Market, Bowlin Travel Centers Inc. is now traded on the Pink Sheets under the symbol " BWTL."
We are proud to be a part of the heritage of the Southwest. Our founder, Claude M. Bowlin, passed away in 1974, his youngest son, Michael L. Bowlin, took the helm in 1972 and continues as President/CEO to date.
Our company shall always strive to maintain the pride and tradition started many years ago - carrying first-rate merchandise and offering first-rate service to the traveling public. Our mission statement says it all, "Bowlin Travel Centers shall continue to grow and serve our customers in our long standing tradition of honesty, integrity, and hospitality by providing high quality products and services at competitive prices, while providing financial stability and a reasonable return on equity for our stockholders, and compensation in excess of market along with a satisfying work environment for our employees."