Mergers & Acquisitions

More Changes at Pilot Following Buffett Buy

2 executives exit travel center company
pilot
Photograph courtesy of Pilot

Pilot Travel Centers LLC has lost two more executives following Berkshire Hathaway taking full control of the company, according to a Reuters report. Brad Jenkins, who was president of Pilot Flying J Energy, and Bill Cashmareck, vice president of petroleum marketing and business development, are no longer with the company.

Earlier this month, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. acquired the remaining 20% interest in Pilot Travel Centers that it did not own from Pilot Corp. The Haslam family, which includes Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, in 2017 sold 38.6% of Pilot to Berkshire Hathaway for $2.8 billion and, in January, 41.4% for more for $8.2 billion. The Haslam family settled a billion-dollar lawsuit against Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway ahead of a trial over how Berkshire Hathaway accounted for the value of Pilot stores.

The companies had different ideas on how to run the company.

“I’m very glad we own Pilot. I just wish we bought 100% of it when I first made the deal, but that was not the deal that was offered to us,” Buffett told shareholders in 2023, according to a CNBC report.

“We realized things were going to be run differently, and there were some philosophical differences,” former Pilot Chairman and CEO Jimmy Haslam, who also owns the Cleveland Browns football team, told the Knoxville News Sentinel in a recent interview. “They owned 80% of the company and paid us a lot of money for that 80%. We just thought it was best for our family to go ahead and sell the 20% and to move on, and we certainly wish the company and all its team members nothing but the best of luck."

In May 2023, the new owners replaced Chief Executive Officer Shameek Konar and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Wills with longtime Berkshire Hathaway executives Adam Wright and Joe Lillo, respectively. The company also released about 15 employees, mostly connected to its crude oil trading operation, Reuters said.

Pilot had expanded its fuel purchasing and trading business by recruiting diesel, gasoline and crude oil traders from ExxonMobil, Phillips 66, Noble Group and others, said the report. Since Berkshire Hathaway took an 80% stake, the company began scaling down its risk-related trading operation, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

“We can confirm that Brad Jenkins and Bill Cashmarek are no longer with Pilot Travel Centers LLC,” the company said in a statement provided to CSP. “We are committed to our energy business, and to providing reliable supply to our customers, with the ambition to be the leading energy and experience provider people rely on to fuel their journeys. Our energy division remains an important piece of our overall strategy.”

  • Pilot Co. is No. 13 on CSP’s 2023 Top 202 ranking of U.S. c-store chains by store count.

Pilot Co., Knoxville, Tennessee, is the largest operator of travel centers in North America, with more than 750 locations across 44 states and six Canadian provinces, selling approximately14 billion gallons of fuel a year and approximately $3 billion in food and merchandise.

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