Nate Stewart
Nate Stewart

Age 36 | President, Perishable Distributors of Iowa

Before Nate Stewart was president of Perishable Distributors of Iowa (PDI), Hy-Vee Inc.’s largest subsidiary, he mowed the grounds at the company’s headquarters. He also worked in a Hy-Vee warehouse during college and did the graveyard shift at a Hy-Vee gas station.

However, after college, Stewart went down a different route and became a funeral director. Although he enjoyed it, he said he missed the energy and pace of working in retail, so after three years, he went back to his roots and worked at a Hy-Vee supermarket in Ankeny.

He quickly worked his way up the corporate ladder and, in October 2011, he became the president of PDI, which distributes meat, seafood, dairy products and frozen food throughout the state.

“He has been an incredible force within the Hy-Vee organization,” wrote Mary Hunter, executive director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, in a nomination letter. “He is respected among his industry colleagues, Hy-Vee peers, executives and friends.”

But getting to where he is now hasn’t been easy. Stewart said he has moved seven times in the last 10 years, working in Omaha, Kansas City and Sioux Falls, among other Midwestern cities.

“I missed the familiarity,” he said. “It was almost like being abroad. I missed reading the paper and knowing where the high schools were in a sports story. I missed the memories associated with them.”

However, Stewart found time to help out even as he moved from city to city. He’s involved with the Knights of Columbus, the Variety -- The Children’s Charity telethon and is a past board member of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Greater Iowa chapter.

But now that he’s staying put for a while, he said he’s excited to get involved in the community.

“I’m excited to be involved with my kids’ schools,” he said. “I’m just ready to give back to the community.” Stewart and his wife, Erin, have two children: Quinn, 9, and Jillian, 6.

Five reasons he’s a 40:

• Quickly rose through the ranks from assistant manager of a Hy-Vee supermarket to president of Perishable Distributors of Iowa.

• Past board member of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Greater Iowa chapter.

• Recipient of 2011 Hy-Vee Officer of the Year award in operations.

• Volunteer for Variety – The Children’s Charity telethon.

• Active with the Knights of Columbus.

Fun Fact:

Stewart is naturally left-handed, but has trained himself to write using his right hand. “My handwriting is actually better when I use my right hand,” he said.