• ITVI.USA
    15,535.570
    47.840
    0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    24.760
    -0.540
    -2.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,494.220
    48.160
    0.3%
  • TLT.USA
    2.720
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.500
    -0.050
    -2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.080
    0.050
    1.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.080
    -5.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.950
    0.040
    1.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.690
    -0.010
    -0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.130
    0.110
    3.6%
  • WAIT.USA
    120.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,535.570
    47.840
    0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    24.760
    -0.540
    -2.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,494.220
    48.160
    0.3%
  • TLT.USA
    2.720
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.500
    -0.050
    -2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.080
    0.050
    1.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.080
    -5.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.950
    0.040
    1.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.690
    -0.010
    -0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.130
    0.110
    3.6%
  • WAIT.USA
    120.000
    0.000
    0%
FuelTrucking

Pilot Flying J changes name to capture totality of businesses (with video)

Finite growth in truck stops a factor in creating Pilot Company umbrella.

Pilot Flying J is changing its corporate name to the Pilot Company, reflecting its expanding petroleum business and the reality of finite growth in new truck stops in the U.S. and Canada, the company said Thursday.

The Pilot Company is an umbrella for a retail group covering its industry-leading chain of approximately 1,000 travel centers, and its energy division, which includes 1,800 trucks that make up the nation’s third-largest tanker fleet. Every 18 seconds they deliver a load of some type of liquid to a truck stop or other location.

Pilot Flying J is changing its corporate name to the Pilot Company, partially to reflect the $29 billion company’s growth in the energy sector. (Image: Pilot Company)

“It’s actually a way of organizing where we can explain to our 28,000 team members that this is what the company really looks like,” CEO Jimmy Haslam, the son of the company founder, said in an interview with FreightWaves.

Customers at the 750 Pilot and Flying J service plaza canopies won’t see anything different because both brands have strong equity with truckers and the traveling public. Pilot Company also has diesel marketing agreements with more than 200 additional stores.

Logo homage

Corporate initiatives branded with the logo reflect Pilot founder Jim Haslam’s first gas station in Virginia purchased for $6,000 in 1958. Pilot Company had $31 billion in revenue in 2019.

Pilot opened its first truck stop in 1981 and grew through mergers, acquisitions and organically before acquiring Flying J out of bankruptcy reorganization during the Great Recession in 2009. The two merged into Pilot Flying J in June 2010.

“We wanted a brand logo that took us back to the very beginning,” Jimmy Haslam said. 

The homage also reflects a business reality. 

“We couldn’t make money in just the travel center business, which is why in 2016 and 2017, the company began looking into the energy side of the business,” Haslam said.

“There’s a finite number of truck stops you can have in the U.S. and Canada,” he said. “The growth may be coming to an end.”

But Pilot is still committed to retail with plans to open 20 new stores and execute 30 new diesel marketing agreements this year.

“We think we can do that again in 2021 and 2022, and we’ll see after that,” Haslam said.

Petroleum focus

In 2017, Pilot Flying J hired Shameek Konar, a former Goldman Sachs commodities executive, as chief strategy officer. Later the same year, Pilot Flying J sold 39% of the company to Warren Buffett’s private equity giant Berkshire Hathaway for a reported $2.8 billion.

Konar, operating out of Houston, supervised the purchase of approximately 14 petroleum and related businesses in 2019, moving the company into oil field services and expanding the hauling of crude oil and water produced from fracking.

Over the last two years, Pilot Company has invested to build a comprehensive service model focused on supply, logistics, oilfield services and wholesale marketing.

“We see and look at opportunities every week,” Haslam said. “We do not expect the same kind of frenetic activity that we had in 2019.”

As a “super jobber,” Pilot Company also supplies more than 11 billion gallons of diesel, bio-diesel, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) and gasoline through its retail chain and wholesale business annually. The average price for a gallon of diesel is reflected at SONAR DTS.USA.

The actual price of diesel per gallon at trucks stops as reflected on FreightWaves SONAR DTS.USA (Chart: FreightWaves/SONAR)

Future state

The new corporate identity foreshadows the future when the Maggelet family, which owned Flying J, exits the business leaving the brand intact. Berkshire Hathaway will become the majority owner of Pilot in 2023 when it purchases an additional 41% of the company.

Other than giving consent, Berkshire had nothing to do with the name change, Haslam said.

“They totally leave you alone,” he said. “They are great partners with a reputation for being hands-off and allowing current management to run the company.”

After 2023, “this family will still have 20% of a pretty big company.”

Tags

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.

33 Comments

  1. The pilot in Morton’s gap (Madisonville Ky) needs a total revamp everything is out dated. Alot of times your not left with shelf of food no hot food at all and subway it closes down by 8 or 9pm don’t open until 4am. Really a cesspool for parking lot holes every where ,dropped trailers and no parking lines. Pumps are down more than up. If it wasn’t only pilot travel center near Owensboro I personally would not go there

  2. Growth may be coming to an end. If you look along the east coast, anywhere near Chicago, the DFW area, or nearly any metropolitan area you will find full truck stop by 1900, and lines at the fuel Island throughout most daylight hours. This is especially true for the New England area. Pilot has a long way to go before the growth comes to an end.

  3. Instead of focusing on only growth you need to look at some of your locations and improve them. Nasty rough parking lots, outdated facilities and mostly rude employees.

    1. Agree on the rudeness of the employees. That is why I will go out of my way not to have to deal with the nasty attitudes and parking lots

      1. I like the way Pilot is taking notice to change. Personally, I would like to see more field managers, that can come around to some stores and make sure the places are being tan right. Some the people that employed by Pilot Flying J. Do have poor attitudes and a poor way of taking care of the stores. Cleanness should be number, the same as customer service. Anybody that works in public service. Should know their there to be courteous and kind to everyone. Regardless of race creed or color.. all in all. I like the company I have for years. I wish them the best and hope they stay around and productive as long as I’m still out here driving. I really miss the newsletters and magazines they used to have. Always kept me up on new things in the trucking industry.

  4. Truck Stops will always be packed during the day because of the mandatory 30 min break now. Lots of trucks try to take their 30 minute break in the fuel Island as they fuel. Like when there is no where to park easy elsewhere during the day for that.

  5. Since Pilot Company is a technology company, are there any plans for incorporating electric charging at your station network?

    As you are the largest network for fueling stations in North America, this would be an awesome enhancement for people driving electric cars…..

  6. The customer service at some of the pilots are rude nasty people they dont care about customers service they are just there for pay check

  7. Always the employees rude……how about the drivers being rude and acting like babies…..walk by a truck that is blocking them in to run their mouthes to the cashiers that they can’t get out and dont want to say anything to the driver that is blocking them because they are scared or stupid or maybe both…..then want maintenance go out and tell them to move……these so called drivers are nothing but rude…….you say good morning to them and they always have a smartass response…..you can’t be nice to them…. just plain rude

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