John Williamson

John Williamson, III was born in Bedford County, Virginia in 1954.  He is a Roanoke businessman and civic leader who took an early career in local government and turned it into a long, successful run in the business world. John attended Montvale elementary school, and liberty school, with half days spent working on architectural drafting at Bedford vocational center. He was working for money by age 14, stocking shelves at carter’s store, and running the gas and diesel service at the Atlantic truck stop in Montvale. Although he worked long hours, he still had time to be a member of the Beta Club, Future Farmers of America, and the JV baseball team. 

After high school john attended Virginia Western Community College, where he received his associate of science degree in business administration. After that he attended Virginia Commonwealth University and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in May of 1977. From there, John became the assistant county administrator in Bedford County… where he approved early plans for development at smith mountain lake.

In 1979 John, at 24, became the youngest county administrator in the state of Virginia, when he took over the reins in Nelson County. There, he would work with businessman L.F Payne on the development of The Wintergreen Resort. In 1981, John left the job in nelson county to earn his MBA at William and Mary.   Upon graduation in 1983, he took a job with C & P Telephone, which would later become Verizon. 

Not wanting to move to larger cities to move up the corporate ladder, the Williamson family started looking at living in Roanoke. John wanted to be near his aging parents, so he accepted a job as Botetourt County administrator. During his time in this role, he from 1986 to 1992 he would develop the county’s first industrial park, east park commerce center, create the county’s public works department, and manage the steady growth of southern Botetourt County and finance upgrades to the county’s public-school buildings and fire department and rescue fleets. 

Despite those successes in the public sector, john’s best work was still ahead of him. In 1992 he joined Roanoke Gas Company as director of rates and finance. In less than a year he was named vice president of rates and finance – a position he held for five years. Then in 1998 John was named President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director.  In 2003 he added the title of chairman – positions he still holds today.

Among his early actions – the creation of RGC Resources, a holding company that allowed for diversification – including the acquisition of several propane companies and ventures into heating and air conditioning, information systems and utility services consulting. When John and the board sold highland propane in 2004, the company paid a special dividend of almost $10 million to the shareholders. Since john joined the company in 1992, the company’s stock has improved from $15 a share to $34, paying $27 in dividends and a 300-percent increase for shareholders over 20 years. Today the company has more than $100 million invested in natural gas plants, provides 60-thousand customers with environmentally friendly fuel and pumps $7 million in wages into the local economy, while remitting 3.5 million in property and utility taxes to local governments.

Beyond work and family, John has been a significant contributor to the community as well, serving on the boards of numerous businesses including corning natural gas, Luna innovations, Botetourt Bankshares, optical cable, synchrony, friendship retirement community, Roanoke regional partnership, Virginia Tech corporate research center the business council and of course RGC Resources. The list of non-profits which have benefitted from his service is equally long, and he has chaired many of them. With John’s career still in full swing, he uses a quote from President John F. Kennedy for daily guidance:  for those to whom much is given, much is expected.

John Williamson was inducted into the Southwest Virginia Business Hall of Fame in 2011.

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