It’s difficult to talk about Tom Holt Jr. ’85 VSB and the Holt family tradition he started at Villanova without going back 90 years into Holt family history.
In 1926, Holt’s grandfather, Leo Holt, was looking for a better way to support his family. He bought a truck and started delivering cargo. He worked tirelessly throughout the Great Depression and other challenges. Later, Tom Holt Sr. and his brother worked alongside their father to help grow the trucking business.
Tom Sr., Holt’s father, was “larger than life” and thrived in the family business. A graduate of a Catholic high school, he enrolled his children in Catholic schools. He also encouraged them to do something he had never done—get a college education.
SETTING THE TREND
Holt took his father’s words to heart, and when he enrolled at Villanova, he became the first Holt to attend college.
“Villanova was just what I was looking for,” Holt says. “I was coming from a small Catholic high school, and I wanted to be close to my high school sweetheart, Angela DiBello, who was attending St. Joseph’s University. I really enjoyed my time at Villanova and learned a lot about business.”
Holt’s positive experience had a profound influence on his family. Over the next decades, his two brothers, Leo ’86 CLAS and Michael ’95 CLAS, and Leo’s wife, MeLinda DeNofa-Holt ’96 VSB, attended the University. Holt and Angela married, and Villanova was the college of choice for their five children: Tom III ’06 VSB; Eric ’07 VSB; Angela Marie “Minnie” ’09 CON, ’17 MBA; Phillip ’10 VSB; and Christian ’15 VSB. Minnie’s husband, Mike Devine, is enrolled in Villanova’s Executive MBA program.
After graduation, Holt and his brothers became the third generation to join the family business. The values they learned at home, at Catholic schools and at Villanova remain an important part of how they live their lives and run their business.
“As alums, we can go beyond simply supporting our alma mater and have a meaningful impact on a tremendous success story.”
—Michael Holt ’95 CLAS
Today, Holt Logistics Corp. is a group of affiliated transport companies—encompassing logistics, port and warehouse services—that spans nine counties in southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. By any measure, the Holt businesses are innovative and successful. But what makes the third generation of Holts proudest is something much more personal.
“Our grandfather’s and father’s devotion to family is the thing that probably means the most to us,” says Leo. “Today, we have the fourth generation of Holts coming on board. And the company not only supports the entire Holt family, but also supports more than 1,000 families in the Delaware Valley.”
In the 1990s, Holt’s dad, Tom Sr., donated to Villanova to pay for scholarships for those who couldn’t afford to attend. Holt says giving back to Villanova is a priority for him as well.
“I reconnected with Villanova through one of the early campaigns, and I have a lot of passion for and commitment to the University,” Holt says. “I have many more Villanova friends now than I did when I graduated. They are involved in many different things, and giving back is a big part of it.”
“It’s amazing to look at the evolution of the University and see what Villanova has become over the past 30 years,” Holt’s brother Michael says. “As alums, we can go beyond simply supporting our alma mater and have a meaningful impact on a tremendous success story.”
Holt serves on the President’s Advisory Council, which meets with University leaders, helps alumni and parents stay connected to Villanova, and has been instrumental in the momentum behind the Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change. The Holt family has hosted various Villanova events, and was one of the major donors who helped create and fund Villanova’s Institute for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship.
“We even had 11 Holts in Houston in 2016 supporting our basketball team for the championship game,” Holt says. “We had a tremendous time. From my perspective, reconnecting with Villanova is probably one of the best things I’ve ever done.”