W.W. Cannon Celebrates 80 Years in Business
For Greg Brown, running his own business was a foregone conclusion. So when he heard about W.W. Cannon going up for sale in 1996, it was a dream come true — both for Brown, and the company.
“I had wanted my own business since I was four years old,” recalls Brown, sitting behind his desk at W.W. Cannon’s main office in Dallas, “and I found this industrial business, which is what I knew, and I said ‘I bet I can figure this out.”
Brown was right. Thanks to his business acumen, and W.W. Cannon’s longstanding reputation in the Texas industrial and manufacturing worlds, W.W. Cannon saw an incredible new level of growth.
“I bought it and took off with it, and by 2000 we won an award for being one of the 100 fastest growing companies in Dallas/Fort Worth,” Brown says.
In 2018, W.W. Cannon, a material handling storage equipment company, will celebrate its 80th anniversary. But even to its owner, W.W. Cannon’s origins are a bit of a mystery.
“It’s my understanding that the two founders, Bill Cannon and Jack Cannon, Sr., came to Dallas and started selling shelving out of the back of their car, and that’s basically how W.W. Cannon started,” says Brown.
By 1980, the brothers had turned W.W. Cannon into one of the largest materials handling houses in Texas, but then fell on harder times. Their reputation, however, remained intact — something that Brown wanted to ensure he continued to grow.
“If you’re looking for solutions, that’s what we are. We’re solutions people,” says Brown.
Growth also comes in the form of new hires.
“There was about four or five employees when I took over,” says Brown. “Right now we have 26 full-time employees and I think we’ve got probably 6 to 10 W-9 employees. I actually had an interview and made an offer today for a new employee.”
So what’s the secret of W.W. Cannon’s longevity? According to Brown, it’s all about community.
“Developing people, bringing on younger talent is very important now. Seeing those people learn the business and thrive and seeing the impact that has on their lives and families — that’s what I like to see,” says Brown. “When I think of 80 years, and the people that work here, it’s bigger than I am, and that’s the vision: to be a part of something bigger than you are and influence others in a positive way. And it will continue to get bigger, and someday there will be younger, probably more talented people that will pick up that torch and take off with it, and that gives me a lot of joy.”
Brown also says the support of local and state government has been a major boon to the company.
“We don’t have a government in Texas that’s running people out of state like some places. It’s a business-friendly state,” says Brown, who also serves as the chair of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in Texas. “There are a lot of good people who own businesses in Texas who are trying their best to make it good for the people that work for them, and we appreciate the work that the Texas legislature has done to keep Texas a business-friendly environment. We’ve seen in other places where it’s not that way and what a slog it is for people to try to do business with a lot of regulations and high taxes.”
What’s in store for W.W. Cannon moving forward? Brown says a lot more growth, thanks in part to the growth of home delivery companies like Amazon.
“Right now we’re in a big growth phase,” says Brown. “I think it’ll double in size in the next 10 years or less. We don’t make products or deliver products that Amazon or Texas Instruments of American Airlines or a bevy of our other customers offer, but we make it so that they can make those products or get those products to market. Whether you’re delivering to a warehouse or delivering to an individual, all these things still have to be in place.”
When asked how much longer Brown himself plans on staying on as head of the company, the 54-year-old just laughs. “I’m thinking about another 27 years.”