Pilot Flying J (PFJ), formerly Pilot Travel Centers, steers truckers and other motorists to more than 550 company-owned and -operated Travel Centers in 43 states and six Canadian provinces. In addition to selling fuel, the travel plazas house Arby's, Subway, Wendy's, and Taco Bell. PFJ is expanding through licensing agreements with local travel centers, including Montana's Town Pump. As a leading supplier of diesel fuel to the trucking industry, the company provides about 10% of the on-road truck diesel consumed in the US. PFJ acquired and merged with is rival Flying J in July 2010 to form Pilot Flying J.
Pilot entered into a preliminary agreement to acquire the travel center operations of rival Flying J out of bankruptcy for $1.8 billion in 2009. Flying J operated about 270 locations. (Flying J's woes were a result of recent sudden drops in oil prices and tight credit markets.) The purchase price for it, valued at more than $1 billion, allowed all Flying J creditors to be paid off, and Pilot provided $100 million in debtor-in-possession financing to fund Flying J's operations. Pilot was already the largest truck-stop operator in the US, the addition of Flying J sites created an even bigger US presence, as well as a strong foothold in Canada; Flying J signs will remain at its locations and Pilot signs will remain at current Pilot centers.
PFJ has plans to add restaurants to all sites that currently do not have them. Flying J sites will accommodate Denny's, Subway, and Pizza Hut. In addition it intends to update drivers' lounges, remodel restrooms, and install new gas and diesel pumps at many locations. As part of the deal, PJF is required to sell 26 locations to Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores by the Federal Trade Commission. The merger did not include Flying J's oil and gas production and other businesses, which are being shopped to other buyers.
Pre-merger, the company has tried to lure more tired and hungry truckers and other motorists to its travel centers with the launch of an ambitious marketing campaign to promote its coffee. Its Facebook page promotes its coffee and its fleet of tanker trucks boast "Best Coffee on the Interstate" on the back panel of their trailers. In addition to coffee, the chain offers six new teas and is adding breakfast items, such as oatmeal, to the menu. In addition to fuel and food, PFJ offers amenities such as wireless Internet connections and audio book rentals to keep truckers connected and entertained while on the road.
Established as a 50-50 joint venture between Marathon Petroleum and Pilot Corporation in 2001, Marathon sold its stake to Pilot Corporation and private equity firm, CVC Capital Partners in 2008. CVC Capital bought a 47% stake in it for $700 million, forming an equal governance partnership with parent company, Pilot Corporation. – less