Pilot Flying J Travel Centers are getting into the truck repair business with the acquisition of the Bosselman chain of truck stops. Photo is of the Pilot Flying J travel center on Watt Road at Interstate 40-75 interchange Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)
Maintenance of trucks that transport goods across every state is taking on greater importance with new federal regulations that crack down on unsafe vehicles.
Pilot Flying J is watching the trend of transportation companies placing even more emphasis on upkeep and is positioning itself to leverage a business opportunity.
Through an existing partnership with Bosselman Travel Centers Inc., Pilot Flying J will be expanding 20 Bosselman truck repair sties, called Boss Shops. to Pilot Flying J travel centers across the country. Bosselman will continue to own and operate the Boss Shops at Pilot Flying J locations.
Mitch Steenrod, Pilot Flying J chief financial officer, said Boss Shops already are in 18 Pilot locations.
One factor driving the partnership is Compliance, Safety, Accountability, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration initiative put in place last December to improve large truck and bus safety. The goal of CSA is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities linked to commercial motor vehicles, according to Pilot Flying J.
A report issued earlier this week by the National Transportation Safety Board was critical of some interstate bus services the NTSB claims are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents as other interstate buses.
The NTSB and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in response to serious incidents related to the conditions of drivers and vehicles, are focusing on accident prevention through reductions in driver error and vehicle malfunction.
Steenrod explained that motor carrier drivers can lose their commercial driver licenses if they accumulate too many safety violations under the new CSA rules, and transportation companies are being scored through regular federal audits on compliance with the standards.
“Every violation has a detrimental impact on a score. It is very important for carriers to be in compliance with these regulations. It can affect insurance rates and the ability to do business with customers,” Steenrod said.
For example, Steenrod said a motor carrier with a high number of violations could be forced to suspend operations, losing key distribution customers to companies with better scores.
Pilot operated truck repair operations several years ago but decided the business didn’t mesh with its expertise in running retail travel centers. Steenrod said management of a truck repair business requires a different management approach as well as a different labor and inventory program.
“The beauty of the relationship we have with Bosselman is that is their core competency. We can have someone operate a great repair operation while we run a great travel center,” Steenrod said, adding that Pilot Flying J will be able to offer fleet carriers and independent truckers a full range of services.
Pilot Flying J has an existing partnership with Goodyear, which operates several Wingfoot repair shops at Pilot locations.
The Boss Shops expansion was announced this week as part of Pilot Flying J’s acquisition of seven of Bosselman’s eight travel centers in Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Nebraska. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Steenrod said the acquisition, set to be completed in January, will add about $350 million in revenue to Pilot Flying J annually and about 350 employees to Pilot’s work force.
In 2004, Bosselman and Pilot entered a trademark license and service agreement, where Pilot’s branded operations were put Bosselman locations.
“These travel centers have had special meaning to Bosselman over the years. However, with the changing times and economy, we are looking to place a stronger emphasis on our truck repair shops and full service restaurants. The sale to Pilot Flying J will allow Bosselman to further expand its Boss Truck Shop network nationwide ,” Chuck Bosselman, Bosselman Travel Centers Inc. chairman, said in a statement.
Headquartered in Knoxville, Pilot Flying J has more than 550 travel centers in the United States and Canada and about 18,000 employees. The company is one of the largest U.S. petroleum retailers, delivering more than 500 million gallons of fuel in 47 states and eight Canadian provinces.
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