Pilot Flying J is targeting small trucking fleets with a new fueling network aligned with brands like Marathon Oil’s Speedway commercial fueling locations.
“The truck stop industry as a whole has focused on larger and midsized companies,” Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam said on a conference call Tuesday, Nov. 19. “We feel like the smaller companies and owner-operators have been underserved by the truck stop companies.”
The One9 Fuel Network is named after Channel 19, the primary citizens band (CB) radio channel used by professional drivers across North America.
“These smaller trucking companies are really struggling to make it economically,” Haslam said. Offering credit, reasonably priced fuel, loyalty for their drivers and a large network “will help these smaller companies not only survive but thrive,” he said.
The new network will include 160 Speedway Commercial Fueling stores in the Midwest and Southeast, 108 of which will be online by the end of the year. Each has two to four diesel fueling lanes.
The fuel marketing agreement with Speedway is an extension of Pilot Flying J’s long-standing relationship with Marathon (NYSE: MRO).
“It will be a slow buildout as we get all of the Speedways tied into our technology,” Haslam said. “We’ll hit the ground running full speed the first week in January.”
Other brands include Mr. Fuel in Illinois and Mississippi, Pride Travel Stop in Arizona and three Stamart convenience and travel centers in North Dakota. Pilot Flying J will purchase some of the locations and manage others in partnership.
One9 will have 250 locations by the end of 2020 joining 750 Pilot Flying J outlets.
“We will look at any truck stop out there that is interested in selling or partnering with us as a potential addition,” Haslam said. “Our instincts are that we’ll end up with several different brands under the One9 network.”
Some of the smaller locations will help Pilot Flying J draw closer to distribution centers that are popping up along U.S. routes as e-commerce grows short-haul and regional trucking and contributes to shorter distances for long-haul drivers.
“It is a substantial opportunity for us to grow,” Haslam said. “It will give us different types of truck stops, in markets not big enough to build a Pilot or Flying J.”
Providing a safe place for drivers to rest is a Flying J and Pilot priority. The company added more than 1,000 truck parking spaces in 2019 for more than 75,000 spaces in 44 states and six Canadian provinces.
“I think that’s more than our two leading competitors combined,” Haslam said. “We’re doing everything we can to help alleviate the pain the companies and the drivers face every day and every night in terms of finding a parking place.”
Finding safe truck parking ranked No. 5 for the second consecutive year on the 2019 Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry compiled by the American Transportation Research Institute.
Pilot Flying J will add 40 to 120 parking spaces at the new One9 Network locations.
“It will vary widely,” Haslam said. “A lot of these will be smaller stops that will have limited capacity in terms of parking.”
Pilot Flying J grew its primary business by 15 locations in Arizona, California, Illinois, Oregon, Texas and Washington during 2019. Plans call for 30 new locations in 2020 and 2021.
Knoxville, Tennessee-based Pilot Flying J ranks No. 14 on the Forbes list of America’s largest private companies. It rebuilt three locations this year and upgraded 20 others. It added 16 new truck care shops that offer emergency service repairs and preventive maintenance.