|Years active 1958–present|
Name Jim Haslam
|Full Name James Arthur Haslam II|
Born December 13, 1930 (age 85) (1930-12-13) Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
Residence Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Alma mater University of Tennessee
Children Jimmy Haslam, Bill Haslam, Carol Pattison, Ann Haslam, Jennie McCabe, Susan Robie
Spouse Natalie Leach (m. 1976), Cynthia Allen (m. 1953–1974)
Grandchildren James E. Oakley III, Whitney Haslam Johnson
Organizations founded Pilot Flying J, Pilot Corporation
Similar People Jimmy Haslam, Bill Haslam, Dee Haslam
Education University of Tennessee
Jim Haslam talks about his life, legacy and UT
James Arthur Haslam II (born December 13, 1930) is an American businessman and philanthropist, best known as the founder of Pilot Corporation, which operates a chain of convenience stores and travel centers throughout the United States and Canada, and is one of the largest privately owned companies in the United States. Haslam is also a prominent donor for the University of Tennessee, having provided tens of millions of dollars to the school over several decades. Haslam's son, Jimmy, is the current owner of the Cleveland Browns, and his other son, Bill, is the current Governor of Tennessee.
Haslam was born in 1930 in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Melitta (Fry) and James Arthur Haslam. His father was a World War I veteran who was, at the time, working for the Studebaker Corporation. The family lived for a time in Pennsylvania before moving to St. Petersburg, Florida. Jim was a star football player at St. Petersburg High School, and had offers to play at several colleges. He eventually chose the University of Tennessee, following a recruiting visit from legendary U.T. coach Robert Neyland.
Haslam enrolled at U.T. in 1948. During the Volunteers' 1951 national championship season, he was a starter on an offensive line that helped his Sigma Chi fraternity brother, Hank Lauricella, to an All American season and a second place finish in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. Haslam was a captain on the 1952 team, but missed the last few games of the season due to eligibility issues.
Following graduation, Haslam joined the United States Army, with the commission of Second Lieutenant. He spent several months in Korea following the 1953 armistice that ended combat operations in the Korean War. After returning to Tennessee, he turned down an offer to coach the South Pittsburg High School football team, and instead joined LaFollette, Tennessee-based Fleet Oil. After about a year, Fleet president Sam Claiborne appointed Haslam head of the company's new Sail Oil chain of stations.
In 1958, Haslam left Sail Oil to start his own company, having made an agreement with Claiborne that he would not compete in East Tennessee for three years. On October 9, 1958, Haslam and his first wife, Cynthia, incorporated Pilot Oil Corporation, the name of which was inspired by an insurance ad Haslam had seen while traveling in North Carolina. One month later, the company purchased its first filling station in Gate City, Virginia, for $6,000. This first station had four fuel pumps, and sold cigarettes and soft drinks.
While waiting for his non-compete agreement with Fleet Oil to expire, Haslam focused on the Virginia and Kentucky areas. A former Pilot board member and early associate of Haslam, Jimmy Smith, later recalled that Haslam would sometimes spend days driving around a city, analyzing its traffic patterns, before deciding on a new location for a filling station. By 1965, Pilot had grown to a dozen stations, but was struggling with debt, and thus sold a 50% stake in the company to Marathon Oil. Marathon provided Pilot with a consistent supply of source oil and a $4 million loan, which allowed the company to further expand.
In 1974, Haslam's wife, Cynthia, died suddenly, and his eldest son, Jimmy, then a student at U.T., took her place on the company's board of directors. Shortly afterward, Pilot expanded into the convenience store market. In 1981, Pilot opened its first travel center in Corbin, Kentucky, a move inspired by a visit to fellow U.T. alum Ken Pritchard, who was operating a travel center in Slidell, Louisiana. As Marathon began to complain about Pilot's expansion efforts, Haslam bought out Marathon's share of the company in 1988.
In 1994, Pilot acquired 11 Pro Stop stations, making it the nation's second largest truck stop chain. By 1995, Pilot was operating over 80 travel centers in 33 states and 51 convenience stores in Tennessee and Virginia, and employed over 4,000 people. That year, Haslam's son, Jimmy, moved up to CEO, while his other son, Bill, moved up to president. Haslam became the company's chairman.
In 2001, Pilot partnered with Marathon-Ashland to form Pilot Travel Centers, LLC. In 2003, Pilot bought 60 locations from Williams' Travel Centers for $189 million. By 2008, Pilot was the nation's largest operator of travel centers, with locations in 40 states and Canada, and was the nation's largest seller of over-the-road diesel fuel. That year, Pilot bought out Marathon's share of Pilot Travel Centers for $700 million, and in turn sold a 47.5% stake to CVC Investments.
In 2010, Pilot Travel Centers merged with the bankrupt truck stop chain, Flying J, to form Pilot Flying J. This new company operates over 550 locations in 23 states and Canada, and employs over 23,000 people.
Haslam has long been involved in politics in Knoxville, Tennessee, where Pilot is headquartered, both in an active role, and as a Republican Party fundraiser. He was a fundraiser for both Senator Howard Baker in the 1960s and President Gerald Ford in the 1970s. He was also appointed chairman of the Knox County Public Building Authority in the early 1970s. As chairman of this group, Haslam, a long-time proponent of metropolitan government, spearheaded the initiative to build the Knoxville City-County Building. In 1999, Knox County declined to reappoint Haslam to the Public Building Authority, which some interpreted as revenge for his support of a failed metropolitan government initiative the previous year.
In 2002, Haslam's son, Bill, ran for mayor of Knoxville, bringing greater public scrutiny to the Haslam family. His opponent in the race, Madeline Rogero, consistently tried to portray Bill Haslam as a puppet of his father and the region's oil interests, which Bill Haslam staunchly denied. She also blamed Jim Haslam for UT's hiring of controversial president, John Shumaker, in 2002. During Bill Haslam's 2010 gubernatorial campaign, his opponents consistently brought up price-gouging allegations levied against Pilot in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
In 2006, Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker, a former college roommate of Jimmy Haslam and long-time family friend, was elected to the United States Senate. Jimmy Haslam was the financial manager for his campaign.
Jim Haslam was the Tennessee state co-chairman for the 2012 presidential campaign of Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Haslam currently serves on the University of Tennessee's Board of Trustees, and has donated tens of millions of dollars to the school and its athletic programs over the years. In 2002, the football team's new practice field was named "Haslam Field" in his honor. Jim and Natalie Haslam's gift of $32.5 million in 2006 represents the school's largest gift ever. Part of this money was used to construct the new College of Business building, the James A. Haslam II Business Building, and part will be used to construct a new building for the School of Music, which will be named for Natalie Haslam. The money will also support construction of the Baker Center and renovations to Neyland Stadium.
The Haslams are also major donors to numerous Knoxville-area institutions, including the Knoxville Museum of Art, the Knox-Area Rescue Ministries, the East Tennessee Historical Society, the Foothills Land Conservancy, the Boys and Girls Club, United Way, St. John's Episcopal Church, and the Knoxville Zoo. In 2006, three of the zoo's newborn lion cubs were named Ann, Bill, and Jimmy, in honor of Haslam's children. The Knoxville alternative newspaper, Metro Pulse, has dubbed Haslam "Knoxville's most conspicuous philanthropist."
In 2014, the University of Tennessee announced that its College of Business would be renamed honor of Haslam after the family donated $50 million to the university.
Jim Haslam married Cynthia Allen in 1953. They have three children: James "Jimmy" Haslam III (born 1954); Ann Haslam Bailey (born 1956); and Bill Haslam (born 1958). After his first wife died, Haslam married his long-time friend, Natalie Leach Tucker, in 1976. Through her, he has three stepchildren, Jennie McCabe, Susan Robie, and Carol Pattison.
Bill Haslam is the current governor of Tennessee, sworn in January 15, 2011, and previously served as the mayor of Knoxville, 2003–2011. Haslam's son, James III (Jimmy), resigned as CEO of Pilot in September 2012, but resumed his role as CEO in February 2013. He also owned a minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers, but made preparations to sell it in order to accommodate his purchase of the Cleveland Browns franchise in August 2012.