The greatest impression one takes away from a visit with Stuart Wood is loyalty. His loyalties are fierce and many. Loyal to his family and friends. Loyal to his businesses and his colleagues. Loyal to the community, the region and ETSU. For Wood, preparation for success in business started with a commuting student's complicated life. Working on the production line at Kern's Bakery in Bristol in the evenings, delivering Bristol newspapers in the morning, classes at ETSU during the day, and grabbing sleep with a pillow tucked in his car or slipping home in the late evening, he was a true commuter student.
Graduating from Tennessee High School in 1956, Wood started college at Virginia Tech. The out of state cost brought him home. After ETSU, he had a short stint in the U.S. Army. Returning to the Tri-Cities, Wood put his business degree to work with General Electric Capital Corporation serving in Kingsport, Knoxville, and in Atlanta handling special financing as a credit manager.
Wood's first association with Anheuser-Busch came next. However, it was not with the well-known beverage operation. Wood came to their bakery products division selling to commercial operations like Kern's. Ready to run his own company, he moved to Kingsport in the mobile home business. Bonanza Mobile Homes in Kingsport, Bristol, and Pennington Gap became his focus.
In 1971, a new opportunity became available. A distributing company in Johnson City with which he had family ties was being held in trust. Wood, knowing what could be, sold his Kingsport business and purchased Holston Distributing, which was working from a small 10,000 square foot warehouse near downtown. This business had been a part of the family since 1934, and Anheuser-Busch approved the wholesaler arrangement in 1972. Stuart Wood was fully in the beverage business. In cramped quarters, with just a few staff and building access that was also used by a gasoline station, the business was on the move. The first year saw over three routes established and 285,000 cases sold. Today, Holston Distributing sells over 2 million cases through 20 routes from a 110,00 square foot facility on 15 acres. Development of the business included high profile sponsorships such as Bristol Motor Speedway events and being one of the original Budweiser sponsors of top fuel dragster Kenny Bernstein.
The highest company honor was achieved with the "Dimensions of Excellence" program Ambassador wholesaler designation in 1984. This beer industry equivalent to the "Masters" of golf recognizes the top 3% or top 23 of 983 distributors. The company has maintained this level every year since. Beyond his base operation, Holston Distributing, Wood has created Warehouse Central and Truck Central to provide for a key storage and delivery system for business. He also has interests in Woodridge Construction Company, the Hunterwood Subdivision development, and Bowman Wood Development LLC in Bristol.
His greatest impact is seen in his local activities including leadership roles in the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Board, the Public Building Authority, the Power Board, Regional Planning, the Development Authority in Johnson City and Washington County. His contributions there include helping create the Clean Team program and the development of the Senior Olympics as part of his time on the Johnson City Senior Citizens Advisory Committee. Wood holds important roles in the region and the state. Those duties include service on the Wellmont Healthcare Foundation board, Northeast State Foundation, the Sullins Academy, the Sequoyah Council of the Boy Scouts, and the Paramount Center board. He has also served as a member of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency commission.
At ETSU, Wood has left an indelible mark. He is the first university graduate to serve as president of the ETSU Foundation. His past leadership has involved serving as president of the Pirate Club, serving on several university and foundation committees. He was one of the first members of the board of advisors for the College of Business.
His philanthropic support at ETSU has included the establishment of a scholarship fund for business students. Holston Distributing has been a key partner in the promotion of ETSU athletics ranging from television and radio sponsorships to scholarship support. Wood is the father of Frank Wood, who is a vice president of Holston Distributing and daughter Meredith, who is a professional entertainer in Atlanta.