by Bill Mardis
From a “preacher’s kid” to one of the most successful businessmen in Pulaski County, Chuck Coldiron is most deserving of a Distinguished Community Service Award, said Bobby Clue, executive director of Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s top award was presented Thursday night during the Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet at The Center for Rural Development.
Coldiron, son of Lenville and Pauline Coldiron, came from his birthplace at Benham to Pulaski County when his father answered a call to pastor what is now known as Woodstock Baptist Church. The Reverend Coldiron would spend the remainder of his life pastoring rural Baptist church, mostly in Pulaski County, and the younger Coldiron would grow up and become a successful businessman in Somerset, Pulaski County and surrounding areas.
Coldiron graduated from Somerset High School in 1969 and Somerset Community College in 1971. He would become well known as a radio announcer and, as time went by, Coldiron would involve himself in numerous business ventures. His mother, a successful businesswoman, has owned and operated Coldiron's Uniform Shop on South U.S. 27 since the 1970s.
Chuck Coldiron has a golden business touch. He currently has interests in six Arby's restaurants, a Donatos pizzeria, Hyundai of Somerset and related entities.
He started at the bottom rung of the ladder, bagging groceries at a Kroger store, located at what is now a Food Fair on West Mt. Vernon Street. His pay was $1.60 an hour “... but I got a nickel raise when I joined the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butchers Workmen Local No. 227,” Coldiron laughed. He also worked part-time at Womwell Auto Parts and Convenient Auto Parts while in high school.
During and after college, Coldiron worked as an advertising representative and announcer at WSFC - WSEK Radio in Somerset, and also at Modern Aluminum Company.
Coldiron was employed by the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office during the administration of Sheriff John Adams and by Jailer Hollis Smith at the Pulaski County Jail (now detention center) during the early 1980's.
With two partners in 1985, Coldiron built an Arby's Restaurant in Winchester. Since that time the company has expanded to include locations in Stanford, Versailles, Georgetown, Mt. Sterling and Morehead. Coldiron and his partners in 1998 opened Donatos Pizza in Somerset, and they continue to operate that restaurant at the U.S. 27-Ky. 80 intersection.
Coldiron in 2001 bought an interest in Karnes Motor Company in Somerset. Karnes was the authorized dealer for Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, Cadillac and GMC. That business has since been sold.
In December 2005, Coldiron was awarded a franchise in Somerset by Hyundai Motor America. Since that time he has operated Hyundai of Somerset at 5090 South Highway 27. Hyundai of Somerset has expanded with a couple of used car locations, including McAlpin-Hall Motors at the Oak Hill Road intersection with South U.S. 27.
Coldrion has served on a number of local boards through the years, including the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, and is a past president of the chamber. He currently is a member of the Somerset Community College Foundation Board of Directors, just completing a term as chairman.
He is a member of the board of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library through the Somerset-Pulaski County Library. He was appointed to the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Commission by Gov. Ernie Fletcher and still serves by Gov. Steve Beshear’s reappointment.
Coldiron is a founding member of Feed the Mind - Kentucky, a fourth-grade literacy program started in Pulaski County and expanded to a regional basis in 2013 at the request of Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear.
He is married to Jennifer Coldiron, a fourth-grade teacher at Hopkins Elementary School. His son Matthew is a doctor who works for Doctors Without Borders and is based in France with primary duties in Africa. His daughter Ashley is development manager for Lexington-Fayette County Humane Society, and son Michael is an occupational therapist at Cardinal Hill Hospital in Lexington, and will soon begin work on his doctorate in that field.
Other chamber honorees and photographs are on Page E11 in Sunday’s Neighbors Section.