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Browns owner Jimmy Haslam returns to role as CEO of Pilot Flying J

By Nate Ulrich Published: February 11, 2013

Jimmy Haslam

Pilot Flying J announced today that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam will return to his former role as its CEO.

In August, Haslam struck a deal to buy the Browns from Randy Lerner for about $1 billion and then hired John Compton, the former president of PepsiCo, in September to run his family’s Knoxville, Tenn.-based truck stop empire while he shifted his focus to the NFL.  Haslam changed his title from CEO to chairman and gave Compton control.

But Haslam has recaptured the reins of Pilot Flying J. Compton will assume a new role as strategic adviser to Pilot Flying J, the Browns and the Haslam family, Pilot Flying J announced.

"[Compton has] strong expertise in branding and marketing, and certainly if there's ever an opportunity to pick his brain, we will," Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis said. "But his role will be strictly as an adviser.

"The announcement is not going to have any impact on the operations of the Browns nor will it affect Jimmy's involvement with the team."

Haslam told the Knoxville News Sentinel that he missed being CEO of Pilot Flying J and pointed out a team of executives has been hired to run the Browns since he was unanimously approved as the organization’s owner in October.

“This is about me realizing my first love is running Pilot Flying J and wanting to return to that job,” Haslam told the News Sentinel. … “It's not at all about John. It's more about Jimmy having a change of heart in terms of what he wanted to do. … I realize people will look at it in different ways, but that's the reality.”

In a news release, Haslam said he believes Compton will remain valuable in his new role.

“We have had the good fortune of working with John over the past five months at Pilot Flying J,” Haslam said in the news release. “During this same period, we have completed the acquisition of the Cleveland Browns and Pilot Logistic Services (formerly known as Maxum Petroleum). We have made meaningful changes in both of these organizations, hiring Joe Banner as CEO of the Browns and promoting David Hughes to President of Pilot Logistic Services. We think it makes sense to leverage John’s skills across not only Pilot Flying J, but also the other businesses in which our family operates. Accordingly, we have asked John to become a Strategic Adviser across all of our core businesses. John brings an excellent skill set in marketing, operating excellence and strategic thinking. These are skills that would benefit all of our businesses, not just Pilot Flying J.”

In the news release, Compton said, “I am thrilled to work with Jimmy on the strategic opportunities facing our companies. I have greatly enjoyed working directly with the Pilot Flying J teams and look forward to assisting the Cleveland Browns as well. My family and I are proud to call Knoxville our home and we look forward to a long-term relationship with Jimmy and the Haslam family.”

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