By Jonathan S. Reiskin
WASHINGTON — The trucking industry hauled in 25% of what it needs to fund its five-year image campaign — Trucking Moves America Forward — with a single contribution of $1.25 million from Pilot Flying J travel plazas founder James Haslam II.
Haslam came to a museum here to make the donation June 19 that was received by officials from American Trucking Associations, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Truckload Carriers Association. The funds will be paid out over five years.
Pilot Flying J is the nation’s largest truck stop chain and its influence on the economy of its hometown of Knoxville and surrounding parts of Tennessee is so significant that three Republican members of Congress appeared to offer their sentiments on trucking in general and Haslam and his company, specifically.
“I wouldn’t be in the Senate today without him. He’s a big reason I chose a life of public service,” said Sen. Bob Corker, who was a college roommate of Haslam’s son Jimmy, the current CEO of Pilot Flying J.
Reps. John Duncan Jr. and Marsha Blackburn also appeared.
ATA President Bill Graves offered his thanks to Corker for being a co-sponsor of Senate legislation that would shore up the federal Highway Trust Fund by increasing taxes on diesel and gasoline.
As for Haslam’s donation, Graves said it would help trucking educate the public on the essential work done by the industry in supplying homes, hospitals, schools, stores and restaurants.
“Our industry serves 80% of America’s communities and handles 70% of its freight,” Graves said.