Athens Distributing Management team
Trusted Partners

Our Start

In 1946 our founders John L. “Chink” Donnelly, Sr., and T. Howard White, Sr. became partners in a new venture they called “Athens Distributing Company.” That year they landed an account with Hiram Walker Distillers and the company was started with one brand “Imperial.” The next year they added Brown Forman Distillers as their second account. 

Howard White and John Donnelly


They successfully combined 15 years of sales experience (Mr. Donnelly) with 17 years of financial and banking experience (Mr. White). More importantly they combined their business values of mutual respect, a service focus, and a sincere desire for their supplier and retail partners to create and sustain successful businesses. Those are the values that drive Athens Distributing of Tennessee still today.


Athens is privately held and has been run by four generations of family members. Our owner/managers share a vision for the company that includes our business success, our partners’ business success, and a positive contribution to the lives of our communities.

Each location is lead by a direct descendant of the founders. This continuity and longevity translates into value for our suppliers.

  • We have a known and respected reputation for delivering what we promise and for supporting our suppliers and customers.
  • We know our retailers and restaurateurs, and they know us.
  • We are local. We live and work in the communities we serve.

Hard Work: Adding to our Partners’ Success

What is important to us is keeping our focus on what makes the distribution business successful. Our success depends on the success of the brands we represent. It is our job to be sure the wine and spirits retailers and restaurateurs know the story behind each brand, know how to merchandise each one, and are able to help their customers select the products they will want to come back for time and time again. It is also our job to make sure they have our brands on hand whenever they need them. Our suppliers rely on us; our retailers rely on us because their customers rely on them. 

Service: Embodied in our Sales Philosophy

Our sales philosophy is “service.” We are dedicated to

  • Sharing our industry and community knowledge
  • Building helpful and reliable relationships
  • Delivering product on time, accurately, and safely
  • Adding our communication, merchandising, and marketing experience to that of our supplier partners to help retailers connect our products to their customers

Read more about how our sales program works.

Respect: A Corporate Responsibility

We are parents too. We want our children and yours to live happy productive lives. As a state-wide organization we are dedicated supporters of two charities whose missions are the responsible and legal consumption of alcohol:

In addition, each location chooses other organizations and causes to support. For example:

See Nashville, Memphis, and Chattanooga for more on local charitable activities.


Grounded in moral and ethical values, Athens Distributing Company of Tennessee is a family run business dedicated to bringing quality wine and spirits products to the Tennessee consumer. In partnership with national and international suppliers, Athens is committed to educating Tennessee retailers and consumers on wine and spirit products, providing them with the highest level of customer satisfaction, and promoting the responsible and legal consumption of alcohol products.

Athens’ family values extend to our employees and the communities in which we live and work. We are actively involved in community outreach and strive to honor our founders’ values of love, mutual respect for all, service, and hard work.