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Pilot Flying J announced a network of fueling stations designed for smaller fleets, hoping to attract their business with more locations, credit, benefits and perks.
The Knoxville, Tenn.-based truck stop company touted the One9 Fuel Network during a teleconference Nov. 19. The network’s moniker is derived from Channel 19, the primary CB radio channel used by commercial drivers across North America.
CEO Jimmy Haslam said the network will help owners of smaller fleets by expanding location choices and extending credit. The One9 network will include access to more than 170 locations, including Mr. Fuel, Pride and Stamart travel centers, as well as designated Speedway commercial fueling lanes across the country, he said.
Haslam also detailed the company’s retail expansion in 2019. The privately owned firm said it has opened 26 locations, enhanced 20 and rebuilt three. The company owns more than 900 retail and fueling sites in 44 states and six Canadian provinces, with most of this year’s locations in the midwestern and western United States.
Haslam also said Pilot Flying J added 1,000 parking spaces to its U.S.-Canadian inventory of 75,000 total spaces, part of the company’s mission to help alleviate the parking space shortage for trucks.
“We are doing everything we can to alleviate [the truck parking problem],” Haslam said during the teleconference.
Truck parking has been ranked as the No. 5 issue in the industry, according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s 2019 survey of drivers and fleets.
“The lack of available truck parking creates a dangerous and costly dilemma for truck drivers who are often forced to drive beyond allowable hours-of-service rules or park in undesignated and, in many cases, unsafe locations,” according to ATRI’s annual report on the top 10 issues in trucking, released in October.
Hours-of-service rules have changed the need for parking, according to Robert Poole, director of transportation policy for Reason Foundation of Los Angeles. Yet as the new regulation has exacerbated the need for more truck parking, it has created a business opportunity for companies such as Pilot Flying J, Poole told Transport Topics.
The exact number of spots the nation needs is unclear to Poole, although he estimates the demand is far from solved.
“I think we are quite far behind,” he said. “This is a real problem. … It’s actually an opportunity for truck stop companies.”
Pilot's Flying J app. (Pilot Flying J)
One sign of the problem could be seen in the success of the Pilot Flying J mobile app. Haslam and Pilot Flying J officials said since it was launched in April, the app has attracted an average of 250,000 daily users. It can be used to reserve parking spots, plan trips and obtain fuel prices.
The fuel marketing agreement with Speedway is an extension of Pilot Flying J’s previously announced relationship with the company, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corp. Pilot Flying J officials said the network enables a “seamless use” of credit and benefit programs at more than 160 Speedway diesel fueling lanes.
In other news, Pilot Flying J announced it is adding paid, gender-neutral parental leave to its benefit package. The policy became effective Sept. 1.
Company officials said the benefit provides 100% paid parental leave for six weeks to all team members, full and part time, who have at least one year of service and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months.
“It is critical that we support our team members with growing families,” President Ken Parent said in a statement. “We strongly believe that paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers is a much-needed benefit, especially for hourly workers in the retail and convenience store industries.”
Pilot Flying J also operates 32 Pilot Flying J Truck Care service centers with roadside assistance, 44 Goodyear Commercial Tire and Service Centers and 34 Boss Shops.
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