Chris C.F. Hammond Jr., former president and chairman Great Dane Trailers Inc., passed away Monday, Jan. 3, in Savannah, Ga. Hammond, who was 98, was a pioneer in the truck trailer industry for more than 50 years, and his influence was instrumental in developing what began as a local trailer company into a national enterprise.
Shortly after graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech in 1934, Hammond began his career in the truck trailer industry. In 1937, he became the first true salesman for Great Dane Trailers, building relationships with customers throughout the Southeast. Some of those customers continue to remain 100 percent loyal Great Dane fleets.
In 1943, he was elected the third president of the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, an association which he helped found. In 1947, he became vice president of The Steel Products Co., the forerunner to Great Dane. Just two years later in 1949, Hammond helped develop Great Dane’s first true refrigerated semi-trailer.
After becoming president of The Steel Products Co. in 1953, Hammond changed the color of Great Dane’s signature dog oval from black to red, which it remains to this day. In 1958, the business name was changed to Great Dane Trailers Inc., fitting since its structural steel production was phased out as aluminum began replacing many of those components in the 1950s.
Hammond continued to serve Great Dane in various positions – including chairman and CEO – from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s. In 1984, he retired as chairman of the company, but continued to serve Great Dane as a consultant. During Hammond’s years at Great Dane, both his son Kit and grandson Chris joined the company. Kit retired in 2005, and Chris continues to work as vice president of dealer sales.