Flying J replaces longtime CEO with founder’s daughter

| 1/27/2009

J. Phillip Adams, who as CEO of Flying J oversaw the massive expansion of the diesel retailer and truck stop chain, has resigned after 26 years with the company.

Flying J made the announcement Jan. 19, adding that Adams will be replaced by Chairman of the Board Crystal Call Maggelet, daughter of Jay Call, the company’s late founder.

“All of us at Flying J recognize and appreciate the contributions Phil has made to the company over the years, and we wish him well,” Maggelet said in a statement. “Given the challenges our company is currently facing, however, it is essential that we look forward.”

Maggelet becomes President and CEO of one of America’s 20 largest privately held companies with reported sales of $18 billion this past year.

But Flying J also is facing many challenges, including the recent drop in oil prices, the damaged trucking economy and many defaulted loans. The company has at least temporarily shuttered its Big West refinery in Bakersfield, CA, and has reportedly put off plans to open a chain of travel plazas in Europe based on its U.S.-Canada chain model.

The Flying J frustrated many truckers in 2007 by not allowing certain credit cards to be used at truck diesel pumps, though they were allowed in-store and at pumps for recreational vehicles.

Many of Maggelet’s first actions will be overseeing the company’s restructure and calming the waves.

“We are fortunate to have in place at Flying J a deep bench of seasoned division leaders and strong teams of employees performing at a high level both at corporate and in the field,” Maggelet said in a statement. “We are receiving tremendous counsel and support from our team of restructuring experts, including our new Chief Restructuring Officer John Boken, our financial advisor The Blackstone Group L.P., and our law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. As a result, we have great confidence in the company’s ability to successfully emerge from its current restructuring a much stronger company with bright future prospects.”

Maggelet served on the company’s board of directors for more than 20 years, and owns and operates with her husband, Chuck Maggelet, a regional hotel chain called the Crystal Inn, according to a statement from Flying J.

She earned a master’s in business administration from Harvard University.

Call, Maggelet’s father, died in March 2003 after the plane he was piloting crashed in Idaho.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer