IBJNews

Truck stop mogul says he didn't know of fuel-rebate issues

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Embattled truck stop CEO and Cleveland Browns owner James Haslam took the blame for a lack of oversight in his fuel-sales rebate program, which is the subject of a federal investigation and multiple class-action lawsuits, during a speech Thursday morning at the Hilton Indianapolis Hotel.

Haslam’s company, Pilot Flying J of Knoxville, Tenn., has doubled in size in the past five years but didn’t have a chief compliance officer, he told the audience of trucking industry executives gathered in downtown Indianapolis for a conference presented by locally based law firm Scopelitis Garvin Light Hanson & Feary.

“I take the blame for not having that,” Haslam said, adding that hiring a compliance chief is one of the steps he will take to rectify the situation, in which he said it appears—so far—that about 250 firms may have been short-changed on their monthly rebates. Those rebates can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

The rebate scheme affects small trucking firms, in which the monthly discount is manually calculated and passed along to drivers who own their own trucks. Out of Pilot Flying J’s 5,000 customers, about 400 were in the manual rebate program, Haslam said. He plans to bring that program to an end.

Asked whether he had any personal knowledge of the rebate scheme, Haslam said, “Absolutely not.” Haslam said his audit team is scouring accounts and reimbursing trucking companies with interest.

The fact that Haslam hasn’t been muzzled by his legal advisors is unusual, Scopelitis partner Greg Feary said. “That would be the standard approach, but not his approach.”

The Scopelitis firm represents trucking companies in a variety of matters, but so far sees no reason to pursue a lawsuit against Pilot Flying J.

The biennial Scopelitis Transportation Seminar draws about 400 industry executives, giving Haslam a platform to not only defend himself but to remind clients of what Pilot Flying J means to the industry, which has a large presence in Indianapolis.

Pilot Flying J extends about $500 million a month in interest-free credit to trucking firms, Haslam said. The company is spending $75 million to renovate showers, restrooms and fuel lanes at its more than 500 stops across the United States and Canada, he said.

Montana trucking CEO Ray Kuntz said his 700-truck firm, Watkins & Shepard Trucking Inc., was not shorted, and he’s glad Pilot Flying J is still in business. “I was very impressed with the honesty,” he said after Haslam’s talk, during which he answered select, pre-screened questions.

Pilot Flying J is a “very integral part to both our company and the industry,” Kuntz said. “Hopefully he can restore the trust he says he’s going to try to do.”

Haslam’s company, Pilot, bought the Flying J travel centers out of bankruptcy in 2010, creating the largest chain of truck stops in the country.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am also a "vet" of several Cirque shows and this one left me flat. It didn't have the amount of acrobatic stunts as the others that I have seen. I am still glad that I went to it and look forward to the next one but I put Varekai as my least favorite.

  2. Looking at the two companies - in spite of their relative size to one another -- Ricker's image is (by all accounts) pretty solid and reputable. Their locations are clean, employees are friendly and the products they offer are reasonably priced. By contrast, BP locations are all over the place and their reputation is poor, especially when you consider this is the same "company" whose disastrous oil spill and their response was nothing short of irresponsible should tell you a lot. The fact you also have people who are experienced in franchising saying their system/strategy is flawed is a good indication that another "spill" has occurred and it's the AM-PM/Ricker's customers/company that are having to deal with it.

  3. Daniel Lilly - Glad to hear about your points and miles. Enjoy Wisconsin and Illinois. You don't care one whit about financial discipline, which is why you will blast the "GOP". Classic liberalism.

  4. Isn't the real reason the terrain? The planners under-estimated the undulating terrain, sink holes, karst features, etc. This portion of the route was flawed from the beginning.

  5. You thought no Indy was bad, how's no fans working out for you? THe IRl No direct competition and still no fans. Hey George Family, spend another billion dollars, that will fix it.

ADVERTISEMENT