Artwork for podcast Best of Johnston County
Navigating Growth and ABC Management with Chad Stewart
Episode 2813th May 2024 • Best of Johnston County • Jonathan Breeden
00:00:00 00:40:52

Share Episode


Join us on The Best of Johnston County Podcast where we sit down with Chad Stewart, former County Commissioner and current head of Johnston County ABC stores. Discover Chad's deep roots in our community, his journey through politics, and his dedicated role in managing our local ABC stores. Learn how he balances family, community service, and his passion for Johnston County. 

Tune in for an insightful episode that explores local governance, business, and civic engagement right here in Johnston County.


Chad Stewart: [:

Jonathan Breeden: when

Chad Stewart: it's my understanding from my legislative buddies, when it gets into session every year about privatization, they can't get past that number.

How do we make that up?

Jonathan Breeden: Well, Seven hundred million dollars is a lot of money.

Chad Stewart: How do we make that up? Right. When you got no risk, it's just dumping into your account and across the State of North Carolina. You got legislation that perfectly wrote and you're out of sight, you're out of mind. And for the most part, other than some mistakes here and there, it's ran very well, producing jobs.

Every building in here, it belongs to the county. If we shut down or went to privatization tomorrow, we would turn our property over to the county. If it's in a municipality county, from being on county commissioners, they probably would give it to the town, or they would sell it at auction and put the money in general funds.

an experienced family lawyer [:

Jonathan Breeden: Hello and welcome to another edition of the Best of Johnson County Podcast. I'm your host, Jonathan Breeden. And today we have as our guest, former Johnson County Commissioner and the current head of the ABC stores here in Johnston County, Chad Stewart, who is from Four Oaks, and he's been here his whole life and he's forgotten more about Johnston County than I'll ever know.

We're going to talk to him a little bit about what the ABC stores do, how the ABC stores are What his job with the ABC stores is? We'll talk a little bit about some of the farming he's done, he owns a store, and he was on the county commissioners for a long time.

resting look back at Johnson [:

Welcome Chad.

Chad Stewart: Hey, thank you for the invitation.

Jonathan Breeden: All right. No problem. So, Introduce yourself to the audience.

Just tell who you are, where you're from?

th. I was born:

We still enjoy it for hunting and fishing. And I've got three boys. I've got what probably going to be a junior at UNC Wilmington, my oldest Grant Stewart. My middle one's Andrew Lance Stewart, he is graduating from South Johnston this year. And my youngest, Boy is Grimes Oakley Stewart and he turned 16 in October and he'll be a rising junior at South Johnson.

son is where I graduated from:

Jonathan Breeden: Oh, awesome. that's awesome.

Chad Stewart: And so, we're very community oriented. I graduated in 88 and went to North Carolina State University, which we follow very well.

d, because he was a military [:

s Navy. I met my wife then in:

I transferred to Campbell University. There, I received a Bachelor of Business from Campbell University. And my wife graduated with State. And we started our family. Got married in 98. And we're still together. that's,

that's good county.

Jonathan Breeden: All right. That's good. Cause as a divorce lawyer, you know, to see anybody that can stay married 26 years, that's quite an accomplishment.

Chad Stewart: Yeah.

Jonathan Breeden: We're, we're,

Chad Stewart: We're making a lot of money, but I'm sure you, I'm sure you, what is the right now?

Jonathan Breeden: Oh, it depends on how much you want to fight.

Chad Stewart: What's the divorce rate?

Jonathan Breeden: Oh, the divorce rate is, mean, they say 50% overall. I don't know if there's an actual statistic somewhere.

I've never [:

Third marriages are more like 70% in the divorce, know, that kind of stuff. So, I think that may skew the numbers. I, you know, I've, been happily married for, you know, coming up on, oh my gosh, 17 years. So, I'm a big fan of marriage. I hope everybody should get married.

And if you're in one that you need to get out of, or it's not working for you, we can help you with the Breeden Law office you know, do that. So, you got, that business degree at Campbell and you came back. I know your, father owned some businesses in town.

Chad Stewart: My father owned Keener Rubber Company.

arted it with his brother in [:

Jonathan Breeden: All right. I remember that.

Chad Stewart: When he did, the board asked me to fill out, he had 2 years left on his term. They appointed me to fill out his term. And I enjoyed it. I ran their four year terms. I ran, I won. And then, I ran, serve four years. I ran again, I won. And I was 2 years into my second four-year term. And I was actually chairman of the county commissioners when this Johnson County ABC general manager job came available.

than Breeden: And that was in:

Chad Stewart: I think:

Jonathan Breeden: November.

hnson County ABC. The former [:

I contacted the county attorney, county manager. I had people from the county and friends approach me and said, Hey, back to your point, what we do other than sawmills, we own convenience stores, hardware stores, a bunch of retail, car lot, garage. Since my dad passed and I've took on all this other.

place. And I got approached [:

So, I had a year to vett it. I vetted it through attorneys, our county attorney, Jennifer Slusher. My personal attorney, Chip Hewitt. And we looked at statutes, and in the state, there are situations where a county commissioner also serves as a general manager of ABC. Now, they might be more rural counties. So, we looked at that option. And it was my decision, but I felt that it didn't look right to the public. I just didn't feel like that because I work for a three member board that is appointed by county commissioners. So keep in mind, I was hired and took a job by three people while I was part of putting there.

Jonathan Breeden: Correct.

nd we'll get into that later.[:

So, it was a decision that I didn't want anybody to think that I'd be deceptive in any way, whatsoever. So, I made a choice.

Well, And I'm glad you did because when I first heard about it, my first thought was, he cannot stay as the county commissioner because I knew the county commissioners appointed that board, and I couldn't figure out exactly why you wanted to do it when you had so many other things. It's not like you didn't have a full time job on top of being a county commissioner, and three children, and a wife. And I was like, what is he thinking? I Literally, I asked several people that know you and I even mentioned to my wife, I'm like, what is chance?

Jonathan Breeden: So, we're thinking like, he does not have time to run the ABC stores in Johnston County, but apparently you do.

Chad Stewart: Yeah. And I started getting all of my personal stuff out of the way. I still keep my inspection station and I've got a retired man. I work on weekends and at nights if people need inspections, but I had a guy that retired and was willing to look after that.

But in the meantime, I offloaded and rented out all the other stuff.

Jonathan Breeden: [:

Chad Stewart: And it was really, and I'll get to that. My wife asked me the same thing. I said, you worked so hard in politics. You're a chairman of the county commissioners, not everybody gets that. Why are you stepping down?

You know, We're already doing okay. And I kind of sum it up. Where do you go from chair? Ironically, several things started coming in. Keep in mind two years ago, we got what's been sorry holds now, we got a Senate position for Johnson County, and North Carolina state legislation.

And I had some people come and ask me, was that something I was interested in? So I'm juggling it. And I keep in mind, we've got a year to process all this stuff. Do I want to step down from politics? Do I want to be general manager? Do I want to run for state office? We got this position opened up, which would be the natural course of action from chairman you would most likely move into a state seat.

ng to do with Washington, D. [:

Jonathan Breeden: Right.

Chad Stewart: The legislators just do not get paid enough. And I've said, either you're independently wealthy or you're retired, and that's who's representing us. And the way me and you live, we can't go up there. So I don't feel, even though we got great representatives, right. I don't know why Larry Strick and Ben is doing a great job.

He has been so helpful to me and ABC, great. But keep in mind, once an attorney that's able to work it out, the other two are retired. So, I know the commissioners a while back. Matter of fact, the year after I got off, they bumped their pay up, which I'm an advocate for.

Jonathan Breeden: Yes.

Chad Stewart: I promise you, I did the job.

Every commissioner that we've had in the past work as hard as some commissioners West with anything, obviously not, but that needs to be a paid job.

Jonathan Breeden: I don't disagree. And I think, the legislators should be paid you know, close to a hundred thousand.


thousand. I mean,

Chad Stewart: they,

Jonathan Breeden: they, I mean, They do get a hundred dollars a day when they're in session, but it's still, it's not enough.

And raising politicians pay is not politically popular, but it is so much work. I mean, Even being a county commissioner, to do it right is probably 20 or 30 hours a week, at least.

Chad Stewart: I was on the phone with Rick Hester and fellow county commissioners because obviously, we can't all meet when we want to because of the bylaws.

It just, you're dealing with the issues, you're dealing with people's lives, the number of people that would come into my place of business. I've said it before, I don't know that I've ever been to a wedding, a birthday party, a concert, where I could have told you who the band was, probably couldn't tell you who the bride was, and I love it.

ay, eventually, I might look [:

I really enjoyed working through issues. We got a great board of commissioners and I'm not saying that because I've taken some work for them. I serve with these guys.

Jonathan Breeden: Right.

Chad Stewart: And the newly elected ones, I know them. I know them well. And from a county standpoint, I know, we've got growth issues and we can talk for 5 days on everybody's complaints and what's going on. As Jeff Carter, my board member, and fellow county commissioner, I'll take our problems over everybody else's any day to the week.

Well, right, I mean, well you've got, Would you rather have overcrowded schools or schools closing?


Jonathan Breeden: and

Chad Stewart: you know,

Jonathan Breeden: being from Scotland County, they're closing schools.

Chad Stewart: Bingo.

Jonathan Breeden: Uh,

Chad Stewart: so

Jonathan Breeden: you,

Chad Stewart: you prime right.

Jonathan Breeden: And it's a county that is losing population, not gaining population. And

Chad Stewart: And I know there's a balance.

You, me and you've known each other for a long time. We've been to a lot of political events together. We've talked about many issues together. Me and you're not new to one another. And I get it. I get the frustration. But you don't build roads and wait for people to come. You don't build schools and wait for them to fill up.


You also remember what happened in 08?

Jonathan Breeden: Well, We had the economy crash too. No, there's no doubt.

Chad Stewart: The sheriff was very patient with us, but he finally came to me and said, Hey, it's time to lead the way. Your daddy promised me this thing in 08 and I've sat patient. And the feds were on him, you know, the contracts and you know, more about it. Well, right. Well,

Jonathan Breeden: And we had a federal contract there with our jail where we had to guarantee so many beds for federal prisoners. And that was part of how they built that jail 30 years ago. And the jail was overcrowded. That was, they were having staffing issues. It was no longer really safe with the number of people that were in it with the guards and all of that stuff.

nse for a long time. I spent [:

Chad Stewart: And if I can remember correctly, I think, we had budgeted 60 million. I think, it came in at 45. And we said, wow, we also need the public safety center.

Y'all need courtrooms. Spirit court judge, Tom Loft had been after me. And we're great friends, but been after him for a long time. Ms. Jackie Lee, remember Judge Jack. They need courtrooms. And, I think, this freed up a lot and it gave us money for the county standpoint to go ahead and do the public safety center also.

Jonathan Breeden: And it's now open and, looks great. And all of that too. So, yeah, so that,

exciting. Let's talk about the ABC board itself. So, for a lot of people listening to this are new to North Carolina, the liquor in North Carolina is controlled by the state. And it is sold through the county stores, right?

arolina has complete control [:

Chad Stewart: It is. And bear with me, I mean, you've agreed and disagreed and we've always been able to do that on a lot of issues and I'm here today because we're still friends.

I'm ashamed of what I did not know about ABC. And beer's my preference, I hate to say it but I've never been much of a liquor guy. But serving as accounting commissioner, matter of fact, I don't think I've ever been in an ABC store until I took this job. And keep in mind, I'm only two and a half years into it.

So there's still a lot I don't know. Right. And I might get something wrong. If I do, I'd be glad to come back and correct it or you correct it for me when you edit or whatnot. But I was ashamed to be a county commissioner, what, eight, nine years. And it just really plays into how great a job sway did before he retired.

ouldn't have told you how it [:

s. Think prohibition was what:

It took till 64 before our county voted it in. I don't know how many times it was on the ballot before that, but we voted it in 64 as a countywide thing. Now, you take Sampson County. Clinton has Clinton ABC. They have a three member board that's appointed by the town council. Then you got Sampson County, ABC.

So, I think there's one in Newton Grove and might be another one. And then, they've got a three member board. We refer to them as boards, ABC boards. You take Harnett County. It's not like Johnston. It's got Andrew board, which is town council. They point their board members. They appointed general managers runs that one store.

ecided to come into the game [:

And the state, you got 181 boards. And you got a hundred counties. So, if that gives you any indication of how it is, and the state hits on the issues all the time, and it would be so much better for a lot of issues that we'll get into later if you just had a hundred boards. Each county, right? we do in Johnston, but the towns don't want to give up their source of revenue.

Jonathan Breeden: Correct.

Chad Stewart: You can't tell me someone in legislation can't figure out how that they still can get that part of the revenue, but more organized. But that's kind of how it was brought about. So, we're county run. We came in 64 and first stores in Smithfield. Then we built one in Selma. Then we built one in Kenley. And for crying out loud, we built one in Meta. We didn't build a store, but we went in where at the crossroads there, rented a spot. Then we came to Benson. And I'm gonna say, all this was done from 64 to the early 70s. And then, we went to Clayton. Then eventually, we worked our way to flowers plantation.

Then we [:

Jonathan Breeden: Right? We have Cleveland.

Chad Stewart: When 40 came through in the early 90's, late 80's, it killed Meta, but this boomed. We built right here at 40/42, right over across the road.

Jonathan Breeden: Right.

Chad Stewart: I think that's the second building that was built in this community when 40 opened up. So we shut Meta down, and we called this store #4. And some stores we own, Standalone, and some we rent flex space or buildings. But I'm doing an aggressive campaign on building stores.

I've been there 2 1/2 years. I've closed on a piece of land at McGee's Crossroads. And we got a building, a quarter of way under construction, 8,500 sq ft. We're building the same, bit. We, two weeks after I got the job, we opened this store at 40/42.

Jonathan Breeden: The new one at 40/42.

the new one over behind the,

Chad Stewart: And that's the prototype, right?

re building that same store. [:

And we're in negotiations at Flowers, where we rent flex space from Ms. Becky Flowers and her group. We're in final negotiations on a piece of land there and we'll build a 10,000 sq ft, same prototype store there. Okay. So, I pretty much been a realtor, I've been a construction guy, superintendent, still trying to learn liquor.



Jonathan Breeden: So, the counties builds the stores, and then, the counties buy the liquor from the state.

Chad Stewart: Okay.

Jonathan Breeden: Right. That was,

nd sq ft warehouse, just way [:

And we're looking at getting a 400,000 sq ft warehouse, State warehouse, every liquor. And we got one in Clayton that we rent. for over, right.

Jonathan Breeden: The state has a warehouse to house liquor in Clayton.

Chad Stewart: And one thing that needs to be known, if you ever bought a bottle of liquor, not to put you on the spot.

Jonathan Breeden: I don't think so.

Chad Stewart: It's not costing you a dime. If you don't buy liquor, it costs the taxpayer, not one penny. But you do get to enjoy the revenue off of it. And we'll get that in a second. But so, all the liquor comes from all these distilleries all over the world. And it's layered with reps, and it's layered with suppliers, and it's really convoluted. But all the liquor comes at the warehouse in Clayton and then on Tryon Road.

Jonathan Breeden: Okay.

Chad Stewart: And from there, it goes as far as Manteo, and as far as Asheville.

Jonathan Breeden: Okay.

t of liquor from Wake County [:

So, I'm working, I'm helping with the commission, get that done. But yes, and from there, we LBMB is a private trucking company per se. They got their tentacles all over the globe, but they are in fuel, they're in basically a transport. They won the last 10 year contract to truck our liquor to all ABC stores, or locations designated where they need to deliver.

Jonathan Breeden: Okay.

Chad Stewart: And then, when I came on, he just signed a new 10 year contract. I believe there was a little controversy there. But I think, I found out that nobody else really bid it. Right. So,

Jonathan Breeden: So, the state buys the liquor from all the distilleries around the world. They house it. And then, the county buys it or town or the town.

Chad Stewart: We call them boards.

than Breeden: The boards buy [:

Chad Stewart: Nope.

Nope. That buys it from the distilleries.

Airbnb ships it. They get a per case price to deliver to all the stores. Then the state, I'll show you some numbers in a minute. But we actually, we spend a million and a half dollars a month where we send checks out to 100 different distillers across the world.

Jonathan Breeden: Okay. All right.

Chad Stewart: They invoice us through LBMB. So nobody's got no money yet. All the liquor gets into one warehouse and then it gets distributed out from that warehouse. Then invoices go into that warehouse, I pull them down on my computer and then our office individually, and it's all done on computer automatically sends checks for those invoices.

Jonathan Breeden: Okay. All right.

Chad Stewart: We'll

send out, We'll send out a hundred checks a month across the world.

Jonathan Breeden: Okay.

isit us at www. breedenfirm. [:

Jonathan Breeden: All right. And then, you also deliver if I'm Outback Steakhouse or Applebee's bars. right. Cause we were sort of,

Chad Stewart: We call them mixed beverage.

Jonathan Breeden: Okay. And they buy from your board.

Chad Stewart: They can own, you can go anywhere in the world and buy liquor you want it, as long as you're of age and it's legal and you're not intoxicated.

If you're, what we call a mixed beverage, an Outback Steakhouse, and I'm not here to throw nothing out for anybody, Clubhouse up the road, you have to get your liquor from your local board, which is me. You pay $3.75 more than an individual would pay and you can't go anywhere else to get it.

our nine locations, five of [:

Jonathan Breeden: Okay.

Chad Stewart: I'm not going to have them go to Smithfield.

Right, right. Now, if you're in Clayton, then you go to Clayton. And what we do in the office, we set you up an account, you send your order in to the manager, either fax or email. We've got 48 hours to pull that order. We stamp it like a pricing gun. We stamp it with a number. And then, we box it. You come pick it up.

The restaurant picks it up and brings it back. Now, when they're done with that bottle of liquor, they have to check it off in their book, and they have to keep the stamp and show us proper dispose. And that reason is, they don't go to the store personally and try to cheat the $3 and whatever 75 cent. And we have a law enforcement officer, mandated by the State of North Carolina, that a certain percentage of my budget every year has to go to law enforcement.

e restaurants and we're more [:

not, not abide by the law, right? He has to write tickets. But we provide him a vehicle, everything he needs to do his duties.

And steady doing training, as we talked about earlier on checking ID's. I know people were frustrated because they might be a regular customer, they might be 70, 80 years old and have to pull an ID out. We just want to be consistent and fair to everybody. We don't want to say, hey, we're going to card you, not you.

Do we make mistakes? Sure, but we try to limit them. I think, we do a better job. We talked about it earlier. It seems like every time there's a sting, I think you refer to it.

Well, yeah, I mean,

Jonathan Breeden: Yeah, before you got there, Clayton would run a sting. The Clayton police department run a sting where they would send it under each person in and they wouldn't even send them a fake ID.

the job, the Johnson County [:

Chad Stewart: Beverage control, and that control is the biggest word. But we're telling, the world the reason why we're state affiliated and not like the other outside the 17 States where you can go to Walmart or Costco and get your liquor.

We're saying, we can control the sale of it to minors better than y'all can. So it is somewhat embarrassing when, no, apparently you can't, And so, we commissioned us a great job on training us, providing training. I would say, that's the most important part of our job.

Jonathan Breeden: And it's a crime and these agents who work for the county that sold to these underage children that the Clayton Police Department used were charged with a criminal misdemeanor. I don't know if they were fired, but they definitely were charged for crime.

ve a policy manual I have to [:

Jonathan Breeden: You gotta go. Yeah. So that's good. The other thing that I like, and the reason that I am, you know, there's a big push and we don't have time to get into this episode today about privatizing all of the ABC boards.

And there's some people in legislature would like to see that. I personally don't want to see that because you have very limited hours and you do the best job, I believe, of checking IDs. And I think, that is important when it comes to having this liquor out there. It's just my opinion.

North Carolina legislators in:

Basically, they say, you cannot open before 9 and you cannot be open after 9.

Jonathan Breeden: Correct.

Chad Stewart: But we don't care if you open at 10, if you close at 7, we give that to you. They set these broad parameters that I think is fair as anything I've ever seen.

Jonathan Breeden: You're not open on Sunday?

Chad Stewart: That's mandated. Now there, you can talk with Benton and Larry and Donna legislators there.

There is an ominous bill out there. That's South Carolina just did it. Virginia's doing it. I think it's very disrespectful to the religious community. I think, it's going to hurt our bottom line. Whoever bought two bottles on Saturday night is going to buy one on Saturday and one on Sunday, and then I've still got staff stores.

But once again, if the state says, they set the parameters that you can open on Sunday, don't mean I have to. I work with my board on that. I can open one store, two stores. So they set the parameters, but they give us a lot of local control.

Jonathan Breeden: Right.

county approximately make on [:

Chad Stewart: I'm going to say, $2-3 million a year.

Um, and

that, that's the profit for the county. Mm-Hmm. .

Jonathan Breeden: Okay.

Chad Stewart: Here,


Jonathan Breeden: you know,

Chad Stewart: we have to operate, we have to give so much to last, and that's part of my job when I do my budget, which our budget year ends June 30th. We gave $150,000 to alcohol education and recovery.

I have a formula I have to go by. Same as the law enforcement. X amount. If we don't use it with the law enforcement officer we got, then we send it to local towns or sheriff's department. Same thing with the nonprofits. I've got a formula that I use that says, this year it was 150,000. Overflow here at McGee's Crossroad has got a recovery program. They got 50,000.

The one in Selma,

Jonathan Breeden: Reentry.

Chad Stewart: I think that's it.

Jonathan Breeden: Right.

Chad Stewart: Yeah. I present this to my board and they approve it. They got 50. I think, My Kid's Club got 10,000. I dodged them last year. Right. On Thad, my buddy, he comes by,

you know, well,


Jonathan Breeden: mean, My kids' club's a great program.

Chad Stewart: So, tha he always goes by, but I gotta think, I couldn't justify coloring books.

I mean, Keep in [:

Jonathan Breeden: Right.

Chad Stewart: So how I justify it is, wait, if we're going to spend a hundred grand on recovering adults, why can't I justify spending some money on educating in the beginning?

Look, it ain't for everybody. We're not telling you not to drink. Obviously, you're not ordering to drink, but you need to be educated and know that it don't work out for everybody. But we give a hundred, I was going to try to pull up some numbers for you right quick cause I know you're a numbers guy.

$710 million went to the state legislation. $710 million.

Jonathan Breeden: Is what the state got.

Chad Stewart: All exactly what the state got. And then,

Jonathan Breeden: Oh my goodness.

Chad Stewart: And then I'll send you this information when I leave. The general fund received 534 million. County and city distributions received 132 million. This is the state now.

million. Local alcohol [:

Jonathan Breeden: well

Chad Stewart: we did. 23,300,000. Law enforcement 13 million, Department of Health and Human Services 2 million, and counties rehabilitation 4 million. So, all that adds up to be $710 million that is absolutely no risk to you, no risk to her, no risk to me. You don't have a dime in a building. You don't pay for no labor. I'm not even talking about the jobs ABC provides. And if you don't buy liquor, you're paying for none of this, but you're benefiting from that. So,

Jonathan Breeden: when

Chad Stewart: it's my understanding from my legislative buddies, when it gets into session every year about privatization, they can't get past that number.

How do we make that up?

Jonathan Breeden: Well, Seven hundred million dollars is a lot of money.

ome mistakes here and there, [:

Every building in here, it belongs to the county. If we shut down or went to privatization tomorrow, we would turn our property over to the county. If it's in a municipality county, from being on county commissioners, they probably would give it to the town, or they would sell it at auction and put the money in general funds.

So it's really an interesting. Very interesting.

Jonathan Breeden: I had no idea it was $700 million, the state budget this year, and sometime around 29 or 30 billion.

Chad Stewart: I'm gonna say. I'm gonna say it's gonna be a billion dollars in two years.

Jonathan Breeden: Yeah. Well, And the state budget is 29 or 30 billion this year. So, that's a lot.

That's a lot. I mean, that is a lot. I mean, That's probably more than the lottery in some years, if you really get down to it. So I had no idea. $700 million is state's process.

Chad Stewart: With zero risk, state don't have a dollar in the game.

right. So, other than a warehouse, that's been rented by a private trucking company and the commission.

Jonathan Breeden: Man, that's crazy.

you love most about Johnston [:

Chad Stewart: I think, I put on that form everything. There's nothing I don't love about Johnston County. The traffic in the growth is aggravating. I get it. I'm a progressive guy. I come from a rural area. I hear all the time, hey, when are we going to get an Olive Garden?

When's Floyd's going to get a Bojangles? I said, well, let me bring you a couple of subdivisions. Oh no, we don't want them. When are you going to give me an internet and blackness crossroads? I said, let me get about four more subdivisions out there. You need about 300 more homes. Oh, well, we don't want that.

You don't get the good, right off the bad. So, everybody wants nicer amenities, but nobody wants the people here that's pays for those amenities.

Jonathan Breeden: Right.

Chad Stewart: But Johnson County is very diverse. I think, the last time we looked 75% of this county is farmland woodland. That's a large percentage. Correct me if I'm off on my numbers.

I think, the last time I checked when I was County Commissioner, 50% of this county won't even born here. It's very diverse.

n go in the stores. You were [:

But 50% of this county weren't born here. They want nice stores. They want ABC, they want products. They want to go in and shop. They don't care if they're female or what race or nationality. That's a destination for them. And we have to make that, we have to adjust for that. So the center block store hidden in the corner is a way of the past. But I enjoy the people, we've got great pharmaceutical, we've got good paying jobs, we got a lot of farmland, as we mentioned. Come on, Jonathan, what are we, three hours to the mountains? An hour and a half from the coast. I can walk out of my yard and get on the interstate and go to New York or Florida.

Or I can go to the beach or California. The climate, I think it's just the greatest place in the world.

Jonathan Breeden: I don't disagree. It is, it's awesome. And the people, it always comes back to the people.

Chad Stewart: We've got genuine people. When I was county commissioner, they'd be aggravated and that's part of life.

come, we allow them to vent [:

And I don't want to see that. But it's just anything you want to do. I think on that form, I also saw what would I like to see in Johnson County. Right.

If anything, I would love to see more recreation. I'd love to see more county, maybe run ball fields. I do think, and we have bought some land with the county and bought open space, but I think if you got to balance it and the infrastructure is just going to have to play catch up, it always will, but you need a place for people to go see their kids play ball, to ride horses, to walk their dog, to go out and enjoy the day.

ut doing it. We've got great [:

Have you ever stop Rick Hester where he didn't stop and talk?

Jonathan Breeden: No. And he's I mean, he's the longest serving county manager in North Carolina.

Chad Stewart: Have you ever asked him a question you didn't get an answer for?

Jonathan Breeden: I have not.


have not. He's just the greatest ever.

Yeah. That's awesome. He's been great.

And I know he won't be here forever because he'll be retiring in the next few years and the county commission was about to find another manager. That'll be interesting to see. And that'll be a big decision for that board when that comes.


Chad Stewart: One more thing, back to your point, when you asked me in the beginning. I know I've

kind of dropped the rail, but why would I do this ABC job? I was getting to the other things to possibly line up, but my old buddy, Jeff Carver called me and said, you just can't accomplish enough, can you? And I said, yeah I want to tackle this. I want to build these stores. I want to see this industry once again. Chairman commissioner, I mean, I didn't really want to go home.

I love doing that more anything in the world. I want to do it again one day. But I wanted to see what I could do here.

nathan Breeden: And at least [:

So far, so good. So anyway, I want to thank Chad Stewart for being our guest here on The Best of Johnson County podcast. If this is your first time listening to this podcast, will you do us the favor of leaving us a five star review down below so that our availability will become more out there for other people to see. Also do us a favor of liking, or subscribing, or following this podcast, wherever you're seeing it on Apple podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or any of our social media channels of The Best of Johnson County on LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, or any of those, so that you'll be made aware of future episodes of The Best of Johnson County podcasts.

ounty Parks and Rec Director [:

Thanks for listening.

That's the end of today's episode of Best of Johnston County, a show brought to you by the trusted team at Breeden Law Office. We thank you for joining us today and we look forward to sharing more interesting facets of this community next week. Every story, every viewpoint adds another thread to the rich tapestry of Johnston County.

If the legal aspects highlighted raised some questions, help is just around the corner at www. breedenfirm. com.





More from YouTube