One year later: IdleAire returns to Knoxville
By Steve Butera
7:37 PM, Jan 27, 2011
Idaho truck driver Duane Madsen used to see all the empty tubes and towers at truck stops across the country. He knew they were mostly former IdleAire sites.
“We’ve seen them in other areas but they’ve always been out of business and disconnected,” Madsen said. “My wife and I were sad because it was a great opportunity.”
IdleAire offered amenities like the internet and cable TV to truckers needing to stay the night. It also allowed these drivers to turn off their engines, keeping emissions down that would’ve been placed in the air.
However, one year later, the Knoxville-based business is back with new owners. Convoy Solutions, LLC bought the rights for the service in 2010.
“We took the time to simplify our operations, lower our costs and get our bases on a sustainable model,” said Convoy Solutions President and COO Mike Fielden.
He said the namesake will stay, except it is now called “IdleAIR.” It will also keep its ties to East Tennessee.
“Our offices are where our warehouses are, off of Broadway and we’ll be there for the foreseeable future, so we’re still a Knoxville company,” Fielden added.
The company started 21 sites since summer 2010. One of those locations is the TA truck stop off Watt Road in West Knox County. Owner Sam Smith said the service has garnered plenty of attention in recent weeks.
“We got nine sites up and running and it’s been going well and as business picks up we’ll devote more sites to the IdleAIR service,” Smith added.
Truckers agree they like having the service back.
“We’re able to put on our internet through our laptop and everything kicked on, it’s really awesome,” said driver Madsen.
Fielden said Convoy Solutions will have around 40 IdleAIR sites by the the end of 2011. This includes one site at the White Pine Pilot. He also said there are plans to start using solar power for their ports.
So far, the company has added 50 jobs, more than half of them to the East Tennessee economy.
IdleAire started in 2000 and once had more than 130 sites in 34 states. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2008.
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