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James Holcomb Plans for Progress of ABAC Foundation to Continue

August 15, 2017

“Continued progress beats postponed perfection,” according to James Holcomb, the new chair of the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Foundation, Inc.  This philosophy sums up the way Holcomb lives his life as a successful business leader, and he says it will also guide him as he begins his tenure leading the ABAC Foundation.

“I had always enjoyed the thought of a business career,” Holcomb said.  “I used money I made cutting grass as a kid to purchase stocks on the New York Stock Exchange at 14 years of age. I read the Wall Street Journal during study hall in middle school. The die was cast early on for the direction of my career path.”

As a senior in high school, Holcomb began exploring the next step in his education.

“I went to College Night at Athens High School having never heard of ABAC and left with an application,” he recalls.

While a student at ABAC, Holcomb not only appreciated the smaller class sizes and relationships with professors, but he dived headfirst into student life.

“I enjoyed the intramural sports program of dorm vs. dorm competition in flag football and other sports,” Holcomb stated.

Holcomb was also a member of Phi Sigma Delta, which he described as, “the only fraternity back then and just local to ABAC, but it was fun.”

Holcomb graduated from ABAC in 1970 and continued his education by returning to his hometown of Athens to earn his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Georgia.

In his first job with the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Holcomb lived and worked in four different states before eventually moving back to his home state.  In 1981, Holcomb purchased Ardry Trading Company, Inc. Under the leadership of Holcomb and his partner, Ardry moved to New Jersey and began a new period of sustained growth.

In 2003 the partners pioneered a move from New Jersey to Savannah, which enabled the company to expand its headquarters and gain access to the Savannah seaport for improved logistics. Holcomb and his wife still reside in Savannah while his partner works out of Florida.

Ardry Trading Company has over 65 years of experience in providing equipment, materials, and logistics for companies’ electric transmission and distribution needs and has customers located on every continent except Antarctica.

While traveling his career path, Holcomb continuously supported ABAC, but it wasn’t until he moved back to Georgia that he became deeply involved with the ABAC Foundation Board of Trustees.

“At some point, ABAC President David Bridges came to Savannah, and we had lunch together,” Holcomb said.  “Shortly thereafter an invitation to join the Board was extended. I was happy to accept the invitation and have served since that day. I enjoy being a small part of the growing, improving, expanding venture called ABAC.”

Since then, Holcomb has certainly made his mark on his alma mater. In 2014, he was the recipient of the Outstanding Business Leader Award from the ABAC Alumni Association for his devotion to his business, church, community, and ABAC. He also created an endowment at ABAC for students majoring in business from Chatham, Clarke, Effingham, Hart, and Towns counties to provide a start for the next generation of business leaders.

For his strong record of support, Holcomb was named a member of the ABAC President’s Club. He has also opened his home in Savannah for ABAC alumni events on several occasions.

“We are delighted to have James Holcomb leading the ABAC Foundation,” Bridges said.  “His passion for his alma mater combined with his strong record as a business leader make him the right person at the right time to lead the Board to the next level.”

Holcomb gives credit for much of the progress of the Foundation this past year to Lynn Lovett, the previous chair of the Foundation, who is an executive with the Georgia Power Company.

“Under Lynn Lovett’s leadership, the Board has started and completed a range of projects, expanded fund raising efforts, and completed new campus construction including the Lab Science Building and a renovation of the pool,” Holcomb said.  “If I continue to build on her success, I’ll certainly consider it to be a successful term for me.”

Holcomb also credits Bridges with the school’s recent positive changes and calls him a “dynamic leader that ABAC is lucky to have.”

Understanding the impact of the ABAC Foundation is obviously a prerequisite for the Foundation Chairman.  Holcomb is right on target.

“The Foundation’s work touches every student, faculty and staff member at ABAC, and our work is never done,” Holcomb said. “Continued progress is my goal.”
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