The Suburbanite
  • Browns owner Haslam speaks at Chamber dinner

  • Oil and natural gas exploration in eastern Ohio’s Utica shale formation seems to excite Jimmy Haslam as much as his new football team does.

    • email print
  • Oil and natural gas exploration in eastern Ohio’s Utica shale formation seems to excite Jimmy Haslam as much as his new football team does.
    The Cleveland Browns owner believes that drilling in the Utica and similar shale formations around the country can be a huge boost for the U.S. economy. Shale drilling means jobs, lower-priced energy and wealth for the country.
    “Rather than sending money to other countries where, candidly, they hate us, we’re creating wealth right here in the United States,” Haslam told a record crowd Thursday night at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 99th annual dinner at Memorial Civic Center.
    Chamber officials considered Haslam a perfect choice for this year’s dinner because of his status as new owner of the Cleveland Browns and chairman of Pilot Flying J Travel Centers. The combination pairs well with the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary and the area’s role with increased oil and natural gas drilling.
    And Haslam offered insights on business and the Browns, although the audience definitely seemed more interested in hearing about football.
    Haslam seemed surprised by so much support for the Browns, but appreciated the love locals showed for his newest business venture.
    “I need to take this back to Cleveland and tell them about the support you all have for the Browns,” Haslam said after thanking the crowd.
    Business success is why Haslam owns the Browns. He is chairman of Pilot Flying J Travel Centers, which itself is an American success story. Haslam’s father started the company in 1958 with one gasoline station. Now it boasts more that 600 retail locations in the United States and Canada that generated $30 billion in sales.
    Haslam said the business went from service stations to convenience stores, then moved to travel centers and truck stops.
    “We evolved and changed as the customer asked us to,” he said.
    The company is expanding its Ohio operations in the coming year, adding five new travel centers. That includes a new center south of Canton replacing the Gulliver’s 77 Truck Stop.
    While Haslam’s main family business is known for selling gasoline and diesel, it has moved into shale drilling with the purchase of businesses that supply lubricants and fuel to drilling rigs.
    “The future of energy shale is huge and the Utica has great potential,” Haslam said.
    Before Haslam spoke, the Chamber and Arts In Stark presented the second Business for Art award to the Day Ketterer law firm recognizing its work supporting local art and artists.
    The dinner also was the Chamber’s chance to recognize and thank departing board members and welcome new members.
    Departing Chairman Rick L. Haines, president of AultCare, passed the gavel to the 2013 chairman, Karen M. Brenneman, managing partner with Hall, Kistler & Co. Haines also received a parting gift for his work during the past year, an official NFL football signed — on the spot — by Haslam.

    Comments are currently unavailable on this article

      Events Calendar