John Stewart | ACTC

John Stewart

John Stewart

John Stewart, a lifelong Ashland resident, embarked on a remarkable journey that began with his graduation from Ashland High School in 1964. He furthered his education at Ashland Community College and the University of Kentucky, where he earned a degree in Business and Economics in 1968. His dedication to education was evident when he received an award for financing 100% of his college expenses.

While pursuing his education, John gained valuable experience at companies like Sears, Cinderella Crafts, Allied Chemical, and the University of Kentucky. Notably, he represented the Business College at the University of Kentucky in the International Business Games hosted by Emory University.

Upon returning to Ashland in 1968, John embarked on a career that would leave a lasting legacy. He began as a part-time truck driver at Big Sandy Furniture, working under Robert VanHoose, Sr. As fate would have it, the expansion of the business led to an opportunity for John to transition into sales and eventually manage the store. This was just the beginning of his remarkable journey with Big Sandy Furniture.

In 1969, John's dedication and commitment were recognized when Robert VanHoose, Sr. offered him the opportunity to invest in a store in nearby Ironton, Ohio. The growth continued, with the construction of a state-of-the-art furniture and appliance store and distribution center in 1974. During this time, stock became available to Kentucky employees, marking an important milestone in John's career.

Following Mr. VanHoose, Sr.'s retirement, John Stewart assumed the role of President at Big Sandy Furniture, Inc. Around 1986, he, along with Mr. VanHoose, Sr., initiated the repurchase of all outstanding stock with the vision of passing the torch to Robert VanHoose, Jr. and John Stewart themselves.

In 1987, Robert VanHoose, Jr. and John Stewart took over ownership and management of the business, steering it to remarkable heights. Today, Big Sandy Furniture, Inc. (dba Big Sandy Superstores) boasts 19 stores across three states and employs over 600 people, firmly establishing its position as the 52nd largest furniture store in the United States.

John Stewart's journey didn't stop there. After retiring from Big Sandy Furniture, Inc. in 2010, he founded VanArt Properties, dedicated to commercial real estate development. Additionally, he established the Tri-State Angel Investment Group in collaboration with ACTC, which has invested over $10 million in regional economic development.


Beyond his professional achievements, John Stewart cherishes his family. Married to Pat since 1968, they are the proud parents of three accomplished children, all of whom have earned college degrees. John firmly believes in the transformative power of education, a value that led to the creation of the VanHoose Stewart Foundation. The foundation has provided 35 scholarships to local students, furthering their educational pursuits.

Furthermore, John Stewart has played an integral role as a dedicated board member for the Community and Technical College Foundation of Ashland since its inception in 1994. Currently, he serves as the

esteemed President of the Board, exemplifying his unwavering commitment to the organization's mission and goals.

In his leisure time, John Stewart enjoys the simple pleasures of life, relishing moments spent with his seven grandchildren and engaging in a round of golf with cherished friends. His dedication to education, entrepreneurship, and community betterment is a testament to the lasting impact one person can have on their surroundings.

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