Day by Day at Pilot Flying J
"We will come out a much better, stronger company," Parent says of scandal-tested organization
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Seeking to put the overall Pilot Flying J operation into a context above and beyond the current diesel fuel scandal on which the media and in the industry has been focused, executive vice president Ken Parent offered some details in a Q&A on the company's Rebate Education website on the morale and day-to-day workings of the organization, which he said has been largely unaffected by the federal investigation.
The Knoxville, Tenn.-based fuel supplier and truckstop company has been under investigation and more than two-dozen lawsuits have been filed since April 15, when agents of the FBI and the IRS raided its headquarters and seized documents, emails and computer files related to the alleged scheme to cheat trucking-company customers out of rebates due to them for purchasing diesel fuel at the chain's more than 650 truckstops.
Following is the excerpted Q&A:
Q: Tell us a little bit about your job at Pilot Flying J.
A: I oversee Pilot Flying J's field operations of our 650 travel center locations spread across the United States and Canada. I'm also responsible for our human resources, technology and marketing departments. The main goal of all our departments is to deliver service in an extraordinary way to our customers. We all try to go above and beyond what is expected.
Q: Has your life changed much since the federal investigation?
A: The focus of the investigation has been on rebates for diesel fuel sales, but that's a very small portion of Pilot Flying J. As I oversee the day-to-day operations of the company, my goal and one of my key roles is to make sure that our team members and our core business are not impacted by what is going on. We are 100% focused on doing the right thing for our customers and our team members.
Q: How has the investigation affected other operations of the company?
The departments I oversee are highly focused on delivering quality service to our customers, and developing and training our team members. Overall, there has been little effect. I am very proud that our team has remained focused on our day-to-day operations and ways we can continue to serve our customers better.
Externally, we immediately reached out to all of our vendors. We have been very open with everyone. They know we are taking this matter seriously and that we will continue to keep them informed.
Q: How has the investigation affected morale of the overall workforce?
A: The first 60 days were particularly tough on everyone. Mr. Haslam and I traveled to stores all across the country and conducted town hall meetings. We answered questions from our team members and listened to their concerns. We continue to stress the importance of following our company's principles and policies.
Because our team members are spread out across the country, our rebate education website has also played an important role for them to get updated information. Overall, the morale is pretty good right now and continues to get better on a daily basis.
Q: When the investigation is all over, how do you expect the company to come out the other end?
A: We will come out a much better, stronger company. We are tightening our processes and procedures, increasing training and evaluating the company as a whole. We are all focused on moving forward in the right direction. We hope that our customers recognize our efforts in the travel centers to provide a fast, friendly and clean atmosphere.
Pilot Flying J is the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America. Its network provides customers with access to more than 60,000 parking spaces for trucks, more than 4,400 showers and more than 4,000 diesel lanes. Pilot Logistics Services is one of the largest independent energy logistics companies in North America, selling and distributing more than 1.3 billion gallons of refined petroleum products and serving more than 15,000 customers. Together, Pilot Flying J and Pilot Logistics Services generate sales of approximately nine billion gallons of petroleum annually.