James A. Haslam II, chairman emeritus and founder of Pilot Company, is a 1952 graduate of the University of Tennessee. He was starting tackle on the University of Tennessee football teams in 1950-52 and captain of the '52 team. The 1950 and '52 teams played in the Cotton Bowl, and the 1951 team won the national championship and played in the Sugar Bowl.
Haslam was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1952. He was on active duty from 1953 to 1955, and served as a Company Commander of an Engineer Combat Company in Korea in 1954 and 1955.
Haslam founded Pilot Company in 1958, with one gas station in Gate City, Virginia. The company has grown to become one of the leading suppliers of fuel and the largest operator of travel centers in North America. In 2023, Berkshire Hathaway acquired 80% majority ownership of Pilot Company with the Haslam family remaining actively involved and invested as 20% minority owners.
In 2013, Haslam received the Hall of Fame award from NATSO, the trade association representing the truck stop and travel plaza industry.
In October of 2014, for the first time in its 220-year history, the University of Tennessee named a college in recognition of an alumnus and donor. The James A. Haslam II College of Business was approved by the UT Board of Trustees after a landmark gift of $50 million was made to the university in honor of the Haslam family patriarch. In 2016, Haslam received the prestigious Horatio Alger Award, which is bestowed upon leaders who triumph over adversity to achieve success and who are committed to philanthropy and higher education.