New ownership of the Pilot/Flying J Travel Center in Suffolk, VA takes effect today, with plans to provide added amenities for truck drivers over the course of the next few years.
Sadler Brothers Oil Company will take over the operation of the facility located on Holland Road.
Hermie Sadler, vice president of development for Sadler Brothers Oil Company, owns Emporia-based CHN LLC along with his wife, Angie. They confirmed a $6.5 million deal of nearly 42 acres, 5.6 acres of which include the travel center.
Sadler isn’t new to the trucking world- his family has been in the convenience store and truck stop business for decades. Sadler has been involved part-time for about eight years before committing full-time last November.
He began talking to the former owner, Jimmy Haslam, about buying the Suffolk truckstop several years ago. After taking ownership he plans to expand on the retail and food options available at the existing location, making improvements that weren’t possible before. Sadler’s investment will bring increased revenues for his company as well as for the city, supporting truck drivers, tourists, and city residents.
“Our family-run operation, we’ve never made an investment this big,” Sadler said to Suffolk News-Herald. “And so, that’s how we are in the location and in the plans we’re going to have, including Pilot and Shell and Dunkin’ Donuts and the other people that we’re going to try and bring in. It’s a beautiful facility, but in our opinion, it’s just not finished, and we want to finish it.”
“We feel like that area of Suffolk, just with all the traffic between (U.S. Route) 58 and the Port (of Virginia), there’s just a lot of traffic in that area,” Sadler said. “We think the location has a lot of potential.”
The current truck stop only has only 17 truck parking spots. Sadler is looking to create a more inviting atmosphere for drivers by expanding the lot. He has spoken with city officials for the past couple months on plans to add 300 truck parking spaces in addition to a newly-paved, well-lit parking lot.
“The drivers don’t have time to come inside and buy food and eat food and buy snacks and drinks, and those kinds of things, because there’s always somebody waiting behind them to fuel, and there’s nowhere for them to park,” said Sadler.
Sadler’s long term plan, which includes the added spaces, is split into three phases over the course of about three years. He hopes to restart the deli and kitchen and add retail similar to their Sadler Brothers location in Emporia. The additional property would allow for four or five different retail operations, creating ‘a little retail city,’ according to Sadler. Five Guys, Quiznos and the FoSho sports bar are a few future possibilities.
The Suffolk truck stop will stay a branded Pilot dealer location. It will become the fourth partnership between Pilot and Sadler Brothers. Their other locations include Emporia, South Hill and Dunn, N.C.
Shell/Motiva will be the gas supplier in Suffolk.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our company,” Sadler said. “To be able to expand our company in a market like Suffolk and strengthen our relationship with Pilot at the same time is big for us.”
The expansion project will begin after the proper zoning and conditional use permits are acquired to expand the truck parking on about 15 of the acres. Sadler said the company is expecting a six-month timeline to get those things in place, then another six months to build the lot, approximately 12 to 16 months total. Then it would be able to continue with the additional work on the property.
“I think it’s important for people to know the kind of investment that we’re making to the city of Suffolk,” Sadler said. “Hopefully, I’ll get people on City Council and people with the Planning Commission to get them to understand what a financial investment we’re making in the city of Suffolk.”