OGDEN -- The merger between Flying J Inc. and Pilot Travel Centers, LLC., completed Wednesday after nearly a year of negotiations, will eliminate an unknown number of jobs in Ogden.
The combined company starts business today as Pilot Flying J.
The move came about because Flying J filed for bankruptcy in December 2008 after being hit hard by price fluctuations in the petroleum market in the previous year. Flying J sold its refinery in North Salt Lake to Alon USA Energy in June and its insurance arm to The Buckner Co. in November 2009, all related to the bankruptcy filing. Flying J also sold its refinery in Bakersfiled, Calif., earlier this year.
"We are now one great company, two great brands," Pilot Flying J President and CEO Jimmy Haslam said in a news release. "Our new organization is a combination of two of the best-known brands in the travel center industry, both with strong family histories and shared values."
Flying J spokeswoman Virginia Parker said in an e-mail to the Standard-Examiner that Flying J's companywide labor pool will be reduced by about 3 percent because of job redundancies created by the merger. She didn't provide specific numbers of the estimated job loss.
"Most of this loss will be in Ogden at the corporate headquarters and involve retail and corporate support staff," Parker said.
Flying J will retain its corporate headquarters building in Ogden, which will continue to house the business divisions of Flying J not involved in the merger, including North Salt Lake Refinery, Transportation Alliance Bank, TCH (Transportation Clearing House), and ownership in the new Pilot Flying J company that was formed in the merger.
"We have no plans to sell any of these businesses," Parker said.
Also, the website www.pilotflyingj.com lists 26 Pilot or Flying J travel centers that will be sold because of the merger. The only Utah location on that list is the Pilot Travel Center at 25 N. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City. Flying J locations in Willard, West Haven and North Salt Lake will continue operating, as will the Pilot Travel Center in Ogden. The company said the locations would be sold to Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores to meet antitrust requirements of the Federal Trade Commission.
The merger was announced July 14, 2009, but negotiations over final arrangements took until Wednesday to complete, a Pilot spokeswoman said. She said no company officers were available for comment Wednesday afternoon "because they're still all upstairs signing the papers."
Parker said Flying J has a reorganization confirmation hearing July 6 in Delaware.
"Assuming this plan is approved we should exit bankruptcy and pay creditors 100 percent by late July," she said.
The merger creates a network of more than 550 interstate travel centers and plazas, the companies said in a joint news release. The combined firms, to be known as Pilot Flying J, will have operations in 43 states and six Canadian provinces.
Pilot already was the leading company in the diesel interstate fuel market with Flying J ranked third, so the combined company will have even greater purchasing power. An analysis by Trucker News Services estimated that Pilot Flying J could have more than 50 percent of that market because of its extensive national network.
"The merger is a historic moment in our industry. It will be exciting to see our more than 550 locations come together, providing a complete North American network of travel centers," Crystal Call Maggelet, chairman of the board of Flying J, said in a news release. "Our customers will benefit through new and expanded services. Outstanding customer service will continue to be a top priority at the new company."
Some travel centers will add food partners from Denny's, Subway and Pizza Hut in addition to making upgrades to drivers lounges and restrooms.
Maggelet will serve on the board of directors of the new company for at least five years, a spokesman said. Bill Haslam, one of the owners of Pilot, is running for governor of Tennessee.