YOUR HOMETOWN — Mount Jackson: ‘Ordinary Guy,’ Extraordinary Success

‘Outstanding Virginian Of The Year’ A ‘Humbling’ Award For Modest Entrepreneur

Posted: April 3, 2013


Bill Holtzman took part in February’s groundbreaking ceremony for construction of the new Shenandoah County Free Clinic in Woodstock. The 75-year-old Mount Jackson resident, named the Outstanding Virginian of the Year earlier this year by the General Assembly, built a small distributorship he purchased in 1972 for $37,000 into a multifaceted gas, oil, construction and food corporation. Photo by Kaitlin Mayhew / DN-R.
MOUNT JACKSON — The Old Dominion has always been home to the 2012 Virginia General Assembly Outstanding Virginian of the Year.

Yet Bill Holtzman, 75, of Mount Jackson, said he wasn’t even quite sure what the award was when he heard from a friend that the honor was his.

“I was really surprised,” he said. “It’s very humbling.”

The award lauds the achievements and service to the community of one recipient annually.

Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, brought a resolution before the House of Delegates recommending Holtzman, a lifelong Shenandoah County resident, for the honor earlier this year.

“Bill has always been so generous to the community and his various alma maters with his time, talent and treasure,” said Gilbert. “I am very happy that he was chosen.”

The roots of Holtzman’s family lineage in Shenandoah County run deep.

“I have a land grant from Lord Fairfax for land in the Mount Jackson area,” he said. “My family goes all the way back to the settlers.”

He left the county to study at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1959 when it was still a military college. He then served as a lieutenant at Fort Knox, Ky., before earning a master’s degree at Cornell University.

Returning to Shenandoah County after his education, Holtzman worked in the apple industry for a company that would later become Bowman Andros. But his career plans didn’t stop there.

“I wanted to have a business of my own and there was a Gulf Oil distributorship in Mount Jackson with four employees,” he said.

He purchased the distributorship in 1972 for $37,000. Today, that business has grown into a multifaceted corporation, Holtzman Corp, which includes Holtzman Oil, a Chevron, BP, Exxon, Texaco, and Liberty supplier in Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia, and is one of the largest employers in Shenandoah County, Virginia.

Other divisions of the Holtzman empire include a propane division, a bulk and package lubricant business, a fuel transport business, a construction company and a wholesale ice distribution company. The corporation even has its own food division known as Little Apple Corp., which operates Burger King, Denny’s and Godfather’s Pizza restaurants, and convenience store Blimpie venues. Holtzman Oil also is part of a cooperative that founded the Liberty gas station brand.

“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” a modest Holtzman says of his success.

Holtzman has served the community in countless ways over the years. He has served as president of the Rockingham, Page and Shenandoah Counties’ Oilmen’s Association, and as a member of the Virginia Agribusiness Council, Mount Jackson Town Council, Shenandoah County Memorial Hospital board and Shenandoah County School Board, among others. He also contributes to local organizations such as the Elks, Jaycees, Lions and Rotary clubs, and the Shenandoah County Fair Association.

“The success of our company is predicated on the people we deal with in the county and surrounding [areas],” he said. “I’ve always felt like it was very important to give back to the community that makes you successful.”

Holtzman also serves on the board of visitors for Virginia Tech and contributes regularly to many initiatives at the university, where the Holtzman Alumni Center is named in his honor.

Holtzman still lives in Mount Jackson with his wife, Ann. He has two children, two stepchildren and nine grandchildren. His daughter, state Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Front Royal, represents the 27th Senate District. Son Todd Holtzman, also a Republican, has declared his candidacy for the 2015 race for the Virginia Senate’s 26th District seat.

“I’m just a pretty ordinary guy and it’s surprising that I would be chosen for this,” Holtzman said. “Frankly, I’m sure there are a lot of people far more deserving than me.”

He was recognized in a Central Aisle Ceremony on the floor of the House of Delegates on Feb. 14.

Contact Kaitlin Mayhew at 574-6290 or

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