Ernest Woodruff

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Ernest Woodruff (May 23, 1863 – June 5, 1944)[1] was an important businessman in the U.S. city of Atlanta.


Woodruff was born in Columbus, Georgia, United States. After relocating to Atlanta, he made his home in Hurt's Inman Park suburb.


He married Emily Caroline Winship on 22 April 1885, only child of Robert Winship, the foundry magnate.


With his brother-in-law, Joel Hurt he founded the Atlanta and Edgewood Street Railroad which ran its first electric trolleys on April 22, 1889 and Woodruff followed Hurt as president of the Trust Company in 1904 a post he held for 18 years before becoming its Chairman of the Board.

Woodruff's greatest skill was in re-organizing existing companies to improve value by increased scale:

In 1903, he combined three small ice and coal companies into the Atlanta Ice and Coal Company which went on to become Americold.

In 1910, with the help of the Trust Company he organized those types of companies from Virginia and throughout the Carolinas into the Atlantic Ice and Coal. None of these companies were able to make much money on their own with high costs of home and office deliveries but combined made handsome returns to shareholders.

Then he restructured the Atlantic Steel (current site of Atlantic Station) factory and installed Thomas Glenn to get it out of debt. The restructuring of Atlantic Steel would set the table for the biggest move of Woodruff's career: the take over of The Coca-Cola Company in 1919, which he negotiated with Asa Candler.[2]

His sons, Robert W. Woodruff and George W. Woodruff, would run that company for years leaving Candler's son Howard Candler rather out of the picture.


Preceded by
Joel Hurt
President of Trust Company of Georgia
1904 – 1922
Succeeded by
Tom Glenn