OMAHA, Neb., and KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has made a significant minority investment in Pilot Travel Centers LLC, doing business as Pilot Flying J, the companies have announced. Berkshire Hathaway will acquire a 38.6% equity stake in the travel-center company.
The Haslam family will continue to hold a majority interest with 50.1% ownership in the company, and FJ Management Inc., owned by the Maggelet family, will retain 11.3% ownership until 2023. In 2023, Berkshire Hathaway will become the majority shareholder by acquiring an additional 41.4% equity stake, and the Haslam family will retain 20% ownership in the company and remain involved with Pilot Flying J.
Jimmy Haslam will remain as CEO. Pilot Flying J President Ken Parent and the company’s management team will also remain in place. The company's headquarters will stay in Knoxville, Tenn.
“Pilot Flying J is built on a longstanding tradition of excellence and an unrivaled commitment to serving North America’s drivers,” said Buffett, chairman, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. “Jimmy Haslam and his team have created an industry leader and a key enabler of the nation’s economy. The company has a smart growth strategy in place, and we look forward to a partnership that supports the trucking industry for years to come.”
Pilot Flying J is one of the largest operators of travel centers in North America, with more than 750 locations in 44 states and Canada, more than $20 billion in revenues and more than 27,000 employees. Pilot Flying J ranked No. 12 on CSP's 2017 Top 202 list of the largest c-store chains in the United States.
The investment will expand Pilot Flying J’s opportunities for growth, the company said.
“Given the impeccable reputation of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, and our shared vision and values, we decided this was an ideal opportunity,” said Haslam. “As a family business that has evolved and prospered over the last six decades, we knew that any potential partner would need to share our commitment and have a proven track record as a long-term investor. We have that in Berkshire Hathaway—they believe in our strategy, support our team and are excited to see Pilot Flying J grow. We are honored and humbled to partner with them.”
The investment by Berkshire Hathaway reflects the success of a series of transformational milestones that have allowed the company to evolve and strengthen its capabilities and market position in the past several decades, it said. These milestones include the merger of Pilot with Flying J, as well as transactions with Marathon Ashland Petroleum, Williams, Speedway, Mr. Fuel and Speedway-Wilco that have grown the company’s network.
Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway and its subsidiaries engage in diverse business activities, including property and casualty insurance and reinsurance, utilities and energy, freight rail transportation, finance, manufacturing, retailing, and services.
Berkshire Hathaway owns convenience-store and grocery distributor McLane Co. Inc., Temple, Texas. In March 2016, Pilot Flying J extended its multiyear agreement with distributor McLane Co. Inc. for McLane to service 530 Pilot Flying J travel centers.