My brother made a pit stop to see me on his trucking trip down east this week. Not having seen each other for over a year, there was lots to talk about and being a trucker, he had lots of stories of near misses on the road, crazy wild animals and truck stops.
Laurent talked about some really bad truck stops but then mentioned one that was one step above the rest. One that had nice showers, good food, clean and didn’t sell anything bad. (I didn’t ask what anything bad was). Laurent said, “they are called Flying J’s and the owner Osborne Jay Call was a Mormon”. Jay was killed in 2003 in a plane accident at the age of 62″.
Laurent went on to talk about how impressed he was with these truck stops and how he always looked for one when he was on the road. He mentioned that after Jay’s death, whoever took over made changes, caused the decline to the privately owned business. Flying J bought crude oil on speculation and lost when it went down which forced them to file for Chapter 11 bankruptsy protection. After a merger with Pilot, they continue on as a business.
My ears perked up when I heard that he was a Mormon. I found it interesting that my brother had only good things to say about the older Flying J, as like everyone else, it’s so much easier to find the not so good.
Having been a Mormon, I can empathize with the difficulties that must present itself in the business world, in trying to make a viable business and stay true to ones principles. I’m impressed with Osborne Jay Call’s ideals in making his truck stops “different” by having higher “ideals” and a vision above the rest. Obviously, it worked. It’s just great to hear something so positive in the world of nay sayers. I salute anyone he has the determination to do this, no mater what religion or non religion they may be…as long as it’s done with humility and not to make a prideful point.
So here is a bit about the company:
Jay started in 1960 with one small leased station in Willard, Utah, and by 1968 he had incorporated as Flying J, Inc. with four independent gasoline outlets. Over the next ten years, he rapidly expanded his discount chain by adding 50 stations, primarily along the Pacific Coast and in Idaho. After several major acquisitions and years of success with the first company-built truck stop (opened in 1979 in Ogden), Jay established the goal of becoming the leader in travel plazas along the interstate highways.
Today Flying J has annual sales of $4.6 billion, operates 167 travel plazas in 42 states and Canada, and is the national leader in on-highway diesel sales. Jay’s emphasis on clean, appealing, service-oriented facilities for truckers led to an upgrading of the entire industry. In 2002, based on sales, Flying J was the 45th largest U.S. private corporation in rankings by Forbes magazine.
…and about the man from his obituary.
He was most content when working on a project, flying an airplane, or engaged in making a business deal. He took pride in giving his staff open assignments and watching them grow. As a result, he was revered by his employees (now numbering more than 11,000) as the charismatic leader of the organization. His emphasis on integrity led to the development of trusting relationships with his many associates. He always gave credit to others for the company’s success, but it was his keen insight in recognizing opportunities and his willingness to take enormous risks that positioned the company to reach the top of the travel-plaza industry. He is well known for his generosity, both in and out of the office.