VOL. 133 | NO. 20 | Friday, January 26, 2018
Dunavant Awards Will Feature Hardy As Keynote
By Michael Waddell
As a lifelong Memphian and successful entrepreneur, Carolyn Hardy is all about finding new ways to grow the city.
“My passion is how do we grow Memphis, how do we leverage Memphis’ awesome assets and how do we energize the business community to leverage Memphis assets?” said Hardy, chairman and CEO of Chism Hardy Investments LLC as well as chairman of the Greater Memphis Chamber Chairman’s Circle.
“In spurring those things, my goal is to increase women and minority businesses here in our community,” she said. “Whether public or private, they both play a role.”
Hardy will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming 15th annual Dunavant Public Service Awards on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis.
Each year the Rotary Club of Memphis East recognizes the importance of public service to the community by hosting the Dunavant Public Servant Awards. Two public servants are honored – one elected official and one non-elected. The event is co-sponsored by The Daily News.
“I’m honored to be selected as this year’s keynote speaker,” said Hardy, who recently served as chairman of the Greater Memphis Chamber. “I consider myself a public servant, and to see other people whose heart and passion is Memphis and to be surrounded by other people who are our thought leaders, it gives you a warm feeling. “Dunavant Award recipients are taking their talents to create a better Memphis,” she said.
“What better purpose can there be?”
15th Annual Dunavant Public Servant Awards
What: The Rotary Club of Memphis East recognizes the importance of public service by honoring two public servants each year – one elected official and one non-elected.
When: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m, Wednesday, Feb. 28
Where: Holiday Inn-University of Memphis
Nomination Deadline: Feb. 1 (Nomination form can be found here: http://www.rotaryclubofmemphiseast.org
Keynote Speaker: Carolyn Hardy, chairwoman of the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle and president and CEO of Chism Hardy Investments
Reservations: A table for 10 can be reserved for $400 and individual tickets are available for $50.
Contact: Lee Hughes, email@example.com
Hardy joins a list of prominent officials – both public and private – as keynote speakers of the Dunavant Awards, including U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, FedEx Corp. founder Fred Smith; U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander, Howard Baker and Phil Gramm; U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr.; AutoZone president and CEO Bill Rhodes; Tennessee Govs. Bill Haslam and Phil Bredesen; Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour; and Spence L. Wilson, chairman of Kemmons Wilson Cos.
“As one of our most notable and successful female African-American entrepreneurs, Carolyn Hardy is an extraordinary ‘home grown’ leader in both business and civic arenas in Memphis,” said Richard Marsh, senior vice president of Commercial Banking with Trustmark National Bank and member of the Dunavant Public Service Awards Committee. “She has exemplified the qualities of civic engagement that help make Memphis the great city that it is.”
Hardy has continually stepped up to serve the community, including her service to the chamber as well as sitting on boards of The Memphis Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Leadership Memphis, New Memphis Institute, Tennessee Complete, Methodist Hospital and the Philanthropic Black Women of Memphis. She has also served on the Mayor’s Action Committee.
One example of the significance of her efforts is the recent renewed commitment to and success of the chamber’s Chairman’s Circle initiative to grow minority and women owned businesses in Memphis.
“Carolyn made that a key priority of her tenure as chair, and inspired Chairman’s Circle members and other business and civic leaders to significantly expand their efforts in that area,” Marsh said. “As a result, Memphis has seen a significant increase in MWBE business activity and continues to be recognized nationally as a ‘best city’ for entrepreneurs and, in particular, women and minority owned businesses.”
Hardy began her career with the Smucker Co. as a staff accountant and worked her way up to being the company’s first female plant manager before leaving to take a vice president position with Honeywell Palm software company.
From there, she became a vice president and general manager for Coors Brewing Co., managing manufacturing and distribution for the Southeast U.S. and all international business.
When Coors closed its Memphis plant in 2006, Hardy bought the facility for $5 million and started Hardy Bottling, where they produced non-alcoholic beverages like teas, energy drinks and functional beverages for Coca-Cola, Arizona Teas, 7-11 and more.
In May of 2011 she sold the company for $30 million to Blues City Brewing and then expanded her intermodal business, Henderson Worldwide Investments, a real estate company that develops container yards around Memphis for lease.
In 2012 she formed Henderson Transloading Services with her two daughters, Jennifer and Whitney. The company handles bulk grain and bulk liquids in containers for export.
She also owns MRO Supply, a maintenance repair and supply.