IBJ Podcast: Jeff Wood’s white-knuckle ride from F-16 pilot to head of Tom Wood Automotive

Tom Wood Automotive Group is one of the best-known family businesses in central Indiana, with more than a dozen car dealerships and 1,000 employees. But relatively few people have heard of Jeff Wood, who took over the company after Tom Wood, his father, died from lung cancer in 2010.

Jeff Wood grew up in central Indiana and worked in the family business for a while, but he found his calling in the United States Air Force. He served for 20 years as a combat pilot who flew F-16s. As nerve-wracking as it might be to fly an armed aircraft at 1,400 miles per hour at an altitude of 40,000 feet, Jeff Wood wasn’t entirely prepared for the white-knuckle ride of taking over a huge family business at the request of his father.

It’s been more than a dozen years since Jeff Wood became company president, and he has used that time to diversify Tom Wood Automotive Group—often following his own interests to see where they lead. In this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, he discusses his dad, flying F-16s and the hair-raising transition to company leader in 2010. It’s been a tough year for the car sales industry, and Wood provides an insider’s look and a sense of how the group is trying to ride out the turbulence. And he provides a 30,000-foot view of this sprawling conglomerate and how he has been able to keep aviation in his life—flying as often as once per week.

Click here to find the IBJ Podcast each Monday. You can also subscribe at iTunesGoogle PlayTune In, Spotify and anyplace you find podcasts.

You can also listen to these recent episodes:

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IBJ Podcast: Jeff Smulyan talks radio, owning a baseball team and David Letterman

IBJ Podcast: Shari Jenkins of Noah Grant’s, Salty Cowboy on taking a third leap

IBJ Podcast: Pete the Planner on making the best of a terrible year for investments

IBJ Podcast: Former budget hawk flips role, asks for big increase in state health spending

Looking for another podcast to try? Check out IBJ’s The Freedom Forum with Angela B. Freeman, a monthly discussion about diversity and inclusion in central Indiana’s business community.

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