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October 2018
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W.W. Cannon makes a mark in material handling
Eileen Schmidt
Eileen Schmidt

For eight decades, W.W. Cannon has been making a mark in material handling and storage equipment industry. The Dallas-based business was founded in 1938 by Bill Cannon and his brother Jack. The family sold the business in 1993, and in turn, Gregory (Greg) Brown purchased the operation in 1996.

Brown, who has a degree in industrial distribution from Texas A& M University, had worked for Black and Decker and Unisource Worldwide, before taking on an ownership role with W.W. Cannon. “When I bought it, it was pretty much a rack and shelving company with a pretty good emphasis on automotive dealerships,” said Brown, who said he explored different areas the business could make its mark and expanded quickly. “It got pretty broad pretty fast,” he said. 

Today, W.W. Cannon has a staff of 30 and operates in the automotive, retail, manufacturing and warehouse industries. The company’s work is spread equitably throughout those industries, according to Brown.

“We do business with all those people in a big way. Distribution is so huge in Dallas, but manufacturing is pretty big too. We’re pretty broad on the customer spectrum,” he said. 

The company bills itself as “a leader and innovator in the material handling,  and storage equipment industry,” according to the business website, which emphasized “cutting edge material handling products” and “expert procurement, design, integration and installation services.” 

In addition to Dallas, W.W. Cannon has offices in Houston and San Antonio, but employees work on job sites throughout the U.S. “We are fairly regionally focused but sometimes our customers have locations all over the nation,” said Brown, who added that the company also receives a worldwide range of requests online. 

After a time of sub-contracting installations the company returned to in-house installations, a move that proved key to the company’s recent success. “About 2005 we went into that in a lot bigger way, and today we’ve seven installation crews on the road,” Brown said. 

It was an offering reinstated thanks both to customer requests and a desire to do the best job possible by installing the business’ own equipment.

“It became a turning point for the company,” Brown said. “That really separated us from our competition.” 

The expansion to the service side of the operation has meant challenges in the form of human resources as the business has grown to meet customer demands, according to Brown, who named the expense of labor and the task of finding good employees as both being part of this effort. 

In the coming years, Brown anticipates that labor capital challenges will also be top of mind for the business’ leaders.

“Capital is always an issue and trying to make a profit is always an issue,” said Brown, who said on this score, the anticipation of some tax relief will be pitted against increased inflation. 

But as W.W. Cannon celebrates its 80th year, opportunities are also on the horizon.

“We’ve grown, we’ve doubled in size since 2008. So I would say in five years we’ll double in size again,” said Brown, who said the company may also grow its geographic footprint. “We’re about at the limits of what the (current) building can do for us. We’re looking at real estate, trying to make some decisions in that area.”

Going forward, Brown said the company will remain focused on providing quality products and services. 

“We’re trying to be what the customer is looking for. Not just selling stuff, but being a total package deliverer,” he said. 

Eileen Schmidt is a freelance writer and journalist based in the Greater Milwaukee area. She has written for print and online publications for the past 12 years. Email editorial@mhwmag.com or visit eileenmozinskischmidt.wordpress.com to contact Eileen. 

 
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