Pilot Company Founder Reflects on Leadership

In his memoir, Jim Haslam shares how he grew Pilot from a gas station to a large, privately owned company.

September 09, 2020

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—Want to know how Pilot Company became Pilot? Pilot Company founder James “Jim” Haslam II pulls back the curtain on that and more in his new memoir, “Co-Piloting: Luck, Leadership, and Learning That It’s All About Others.” The book traces his journey from owning a single gas station in Gate City, Virginia, to starting one of the largest privately-owned companies in the United States.

“This book is written to hopefully inspire people to embrace life,” said Haslam in a press release. “Hold firmly onto the values you set as the foundation of your life and stay true to them, remembering that life is not a spectator sport.”

The story of the Haslam family and Pilot Company offers an encouraging, engaging and entertaining perspective on family, faith and the discovery of what really matters the most in life. Friends and family offer stories and insights, including contributions from Natalie Haslam, his wife and community philanthropist; Peyton Manning, former University of Tennessee and NFL quarterback; Phillip Fulmer, former UT head football coach and now director of athletics at UT; Rick Barnes, head basketball coach at UT; Lamar Alexander, a U.S. senator and former UT president; Jimmy Haslam, oldest son and CEO of Pilot Company; Bill Haslam, youngest son and former mayor of Knoxville and governor of Tennessee; Ann Haslam Bailey, daughter and vice president of the Haslam Family Foundation; and Lee Scott, former CEO of Walmart.

“I am a little biased, but I think the story before you is unique, inspirational, and often hilarious," Bill Haslam wrote of his father. “You should also know that it has been written against the will of its author. You don't see that every day, I know. But then again, you don’t meet many people like my dad every day.”

Jim Haslam, a military veteran who served in the U.S. Army, is the founder and chairman of the board of Pilot Company, which is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee. Founded in 1958, the company has remained a family business. Jim Haslam has served as CEO for the past 25 years, and several other family members, including Bill Haslam, serve on the board of directors, while Whitney Haslam Johnson serves as chief experience officer and a board member. Under the family’s leadership, Pilot Company has grown to become the 10th largest private company in America, according to Forbes, and is a leading supplier of fuel and the largest operator of travel centers in North America, the company said.

All proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit nonprofits that support small business, entrepreneurial and community-based ventures.

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