ATLANTA. Pilot Flying J (PFJ) is planning to keep expanding its Truck Care division this year, with 11 shops now established as part of its five-year plan to add both fixed and mobile maintenance services within its U.S. truck stop network, with seven more on the way by mid-year. The company is also focused on doubling its number of shop locations by 2019, explained David Latimer, PFJ’s vice president of shops strategy.
“Our goal is that whether you operate one truck or a fleet of 10,000, our shops can take care of your common maintenance needs,” he explained in an interview with American Trucker here at the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) 2018 annual meeting. “Now, we’re not doing engine rebuilds and heavy work like that. But we’re doing the most common planned and unplanned maintenance a truck operator encounters: oil changes, tire work, etc.”
Latimer – a longtime truck stop industry veteran who established the Petro Stopping Centers network of maintenance shops and who joined PFJ in July of 2016 – said the real key to the company’s maintenance strategy is taking care of that 70% of “common items” that lead to roadside safety violations: tires, wheel ends, and lights.
“Our whole focus is to help prevent out of service violations for those most common problems,” he explained. “A year ago, if you came onto one of our properties with one of those [maintenance] problems, we would have had to tell you to go somewhere else to get it fixed. Not anymore.”
PFJ now has more than 150 mobile emergency trucks on the road in 36 states with 11 full maintenance service centers open for business in Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, Michigan, Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, and Wyoming, with another seven locations planned to be opened by mid-year. They offer tire sales and service, preventive maintenance, DOT Inspections, and light mechanical as well as 24/7 roadside assistance across the West, Southwest, Midwest and Eastern regions on the country, PFJ noted.
“One of our top priorities at Pilot Flying J is to make drivers’ lives more comfortable and convenient while on the road,” Latimer noted. “We expanded our services to include emergency roadside assistance and service centers nationwide last year and will continue to expand these services throughout 2018.”
The combined network of more than 750 Pilot and Flying J Travel Centers across North America now serves more than 1.2 million customers daily, the company added, and in terms of fostering the “future growth” of its shop network, it’ll be “exploring the acquisition of existing shops” to expand its footprint and provide more maintenance services to drivers. And as parking remains a “top concern” among drivers, PFJ said it is designing its maintenance shops separate from existing lots or in areas with minimal impact on current parking and “vehicle flow.”