On Nov. 20, 2013, Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America, marked its 55th anniversary.
The Pilot journey began in 1958 when James A. “Jim” Haslam II opened the first Pilot in Gate City, Va., Pilot Store No. 102. The purchase price for the four-pump station was $6,000. Today, Pilot Flying J has more than 650 retail locations and is ranked by Forbes as the sixth-largest private company in America.
“When I think about how we’ve grown over the years, it really is remarkable,” Haslam said. “As we reflect on 55 years in business, we recognize our loyal customers and dedicated employees, without whom none of this would be possible.”
To celebrate its customers, Pilot Flying J offered 55-cent cups of coffee throughout its anniversary day on Wednesday, Nov. 20. The coupon for this special offer was available on the Pilot Flying J Website and Facebook page. Customers had the option of showing the coupon on a mobile device or presenting a printed coupon, which were redeemable at all of the company’s locations across North America.
Along with thanking loyal customers, Pilot Flying J recognizes its great team of hardworking employees. “Committed, capable, well-trained employees are the backbone of any successful organization,” Haslam said. “We work hard to hire the best people, provide them with the training they need to best serve our customers and reward them for a job well done.”
Many employees have worked for the company for decades. Bobbie Clemons has worked for Pilot for 26 years and is currently the assistant manager at the Cumberland Avenue Pilot in Knoxville, Tenn.
“This company is the best place to work,” Clemons said. “We have great coworkers and great customers, and there is a family focus storewide. We also love it when Mr. Haslam pops in to visit the store. He is a great man and even better person to work for.”
Pilot Flying J and its 24,000-plus employees stay dedicated to the values on which the company was founded 55 years ago. And while Pilot Flying J has not changed when it comes to its longstanding commitment to provide outstanding customer service, the company has made many positive updates and enhancements throughout the years.
On July 1, 2010, Pilot Travel Centers and Flying J Travel Plazas entered an agreement, officially creating Pilot Flying J. Shortly after the two interstate brands joined as one company, Pilot Flying J invested $50 million to remodel driver showers; added DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) at the pump to more than 3,400 lanes nationwide; expanded its network of stores; enhanced the MyRewards loyalty card program; and launched a new fast, casual dining concept called PJ Fresh Marketplace to provide fresh, healthy and quick meal options for customers.
“Professional drivers are the foundation of our country, and it has always been our highest priority to help make each driver’s life and job run smoothly while on the road,” said Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam. “We recognize that long hours, tough driving conditions and days away from family are just some of the challenges they face each day. As we reflect on the past 55 years, we also look to the future, and we remain committed to making life better for professional drivers.”
Pilot Flying J also continues to give back to the communities it serves, most recently raising $700,658, for the United Way of Greater Knoxville, where the company is headquartered. This holiday season, Pilot Flying J is proud to partner again with Wreaths Across America to support the organization’s efforts to honor the men and women who have served their country. Wreaths Across America places hundreds of thousands of wreaths on the tombstones and memorials of the nation’s fallen heroes each December.