Watch Now

19 MEX centers, with Pilot branding, temporarily shut by operator bankruptcy

Mountain Express operated facilities in 10 states

Pilot has been forced to temporarily close 19 outlets due to the bankruptcy of an operator. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

(Editor’s note: This article has been corrected from its earlier publication to more accurately describe the relationship between Pilot and Mountain Express).

Nineteen MEX center outlets that feature Pilot branding in its fuel sales have been closed as a result of the bankruptcy of Mountain Express Oil.

Mountain Express, based in Alpharetta, Georgia, is a wholesale fuels and retail outlet operator that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas in March. This week, that Chapter 11 filing was converted to a Chapter 7 petition, which is a liquidation of the company.

In a statement posted on its website in March that announced the Chapter 11 filing, Mountain Express also said it had entered into a joint venture with Knoxville, Tennessee-based Pilot/Flying J to become Pilot’s largest dealer in the U.S.

According to a spokeswoman for Pilot, the MEX centers are dealer locations. Mountain Express operates and owns the stores. Pilot provides the fuel, it is sold through dispeners that are Pilot-branded under a Pilot canopy. She added that the locations are part of Pilot’s network, “allowing guests to use awards at the locations.”

“Mountain Express Oil Co. (MEX) and its affiliates are ceasing operations due to Chapter 7 liquidating bankruptcy,” a spokeswoman for Pilot said in an email to FreightWaves. “As a result, 19 of MEX’s dealer locations within our network are temporarily closed. Pilot Company will continue serving our valued customers at our more than 800 locations across North America.”

A screenshot circulating social media Friday signed by David Hughes, Pilot’s senior vice president for sales, listed 19 outlets that Huges said were “ceasing operations” due to Mountain Express’ bankruptcy. It described the closures as “temporary,” with a list of alternate Pilot sites that customers could visit.

The MEX Centers are not the same as Pilot Travel Centers. A search of the cities where the MEX centers on the Pilot’s website list of its travel centers does not list the various locations among the 19 MEX centers that were closed.

The 19 outlets listed on the Hughes document line up precisely with 19 outlets named in a Pilot filing in the bankruptcy case.

That filing, a notice of property interest, says Pilot’s property at the sites includes diesel and diesel exhaust fluid held in storage tanks; dispensing equipment; various pieces of sales-related equipment; and the storage tanks themselves. 

The MEX locations affected are in Birmingham and Cusseta, Alabama; Blytheville, Arkansas; Kansas City, Kansas; LaPlace, St. Rose and two in Minden, Louisiana; Sainte Genevieve and two in Hayti, Missouri; Monroe, Rockingham and Seagrove, North Carolina; Williston and Grand Forks, North Dakota; Hazleton and Pine Grove, Pennsylvania; and Cowpens, South Carolina.

Pilot is an 80%-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B).

Convenience store real estate complexity

Real estate relationships in the convenience store world can be complex; that is what ultimately sank the last-minute bid by ARKO to acquire TravelCenters of America out from under BP, which had already announced a deal to acquire the travel center chain. 

Ironically, ARKO (NASDAQ: ARKO) earlier this month submitted a bid of $13.5 million for some of the assets of Mountain Express. 

“We believe that our proposal will allow the Company to execute an orderly winding-down of (Mountain Express) while allowing for continued employment of a majority of the Company’s employees,” reads the Aug. 4 offer letter to various attorneys and financial representatives. “Additionally, we believe that our proposal will provide the opportunity for the hundreds of the Company’s dealers to continue to operate their small businesses at the stations and provide for employment of their thousands of employees, as opposed to causing the creditors, employees, the dealers’ small businesses, and other Company stakeholders to be subject to a Chapter 7 liquidation.”

C-Store Dive, a news outlet that covers the convenience store industry, said the bid by ARKO subsidiary GPM Investments is now in mediation between GPM and the lender of debtor-in-possession financing, which has helped keep the company alive.

Fast rise, quick fall

Mountain Express operated convenience stores under numerous national brands, according to its website. In the bankruptcy court’s order to convert the filing to Chapter 7, the judge said all those licenses are terminated. 

Some of Mountain Express-operated convenience stores already had shut down, according to C-Store Dive.

Mountains Express’ recent history has been a story of a quick rise and fall. It was purchased by Turjo Wadud in March 2020 from its founders. Wadud was described in the company announcement of the acquisition as a “series entrepreneur.”

It made several acquisitions, helped by a $205 million debt financing it acquired less than two years ago. That same month, October 2021, it also announced the acquisition of Brothers Food Mart, just seven months after another acquisition in March of the West Hill Ranch convenience store chain.

More articles by John Kingston

Recent estimates on transportation employment likely higher than reality

Werner’s appeal of $100 million Texas verdict focuses on legal arguments

Takeaways from State of Freight: A surprising volume increase in July

F3: Future of Freight Festival


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.


  1. Kerry

    I currently resigned from a PilotCo operation in Utah. Spent 1 full year working. Too many sick calls no discipline. Hire anyone who applies and those hired don’t want to work. It was a never ending Circus. New manager trying to follow cooperate guidelines and not solving any problems. It might reflect a great company to work for but it’s not. Truckers need fuel but I wonder if there is a better place to go

  2. Carmen Montes

    If you have a direct contact since you were able to get in touch with the owner of pilot flying J can you guide me to it. They need to stop abusing people’s mental health! Two lives were lost to that!!! Many more to come!!! Been looking for an attorney but company is so big NOBODY will take my case!!! 432-465-0696

  3. Stephanie

    The geographic reach of the 19 locations includes outlets in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Kansas, Louisiana and North Dakota. None of the 19 locations actually appear on the fuelwise or pilot locations

  4. Someone

    How about actually listing the Pilots in the article, instead of being once again – another lazy journalist who can barely piece an article together?

    Thousands of drivers on a daily basis, literally plan their days around stopping at these locations so that they can fuel, get the necessities needed, or to use facilities maintained.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.