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Pilot Flying J Celebrates 55th Year In Business

Pilot Flying J store interior

Last updated on November 22nd, 2013 at 09:55 am

Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America, marked a big anniversary this week. The Knoxville, Tenn.-based company recognized its 55th year in business on Wednesday.

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.”

Pilot Flying J offered 55-cent cups of coffee to customers throughout its anniversary day on Wednesday.

In addition to thanking loyal customers, Pilot Flying J is recognizing its team of 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.

“This company is the best place to work,” Clemons said. “We have great co-workers 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 says it 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 says it 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 says it continues to give back to the communities it serves, most recently raising $700,658, for the United Way of Greater Knoxville. This holiday season, Pilot Flying J is partnering 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.

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