Carolyn Hardy is a serial entrepreneur and an amazing leader. If leadership is best measured in times of adversity, Hardy’s finest hour to date may have been in 2005 when she and her staff were notified that the local Coors plant would be closed at the end of 2006. With morale understandably in the tank, Hardy gathered her 400 employees and delivered a new mission: win Coors’ prestigious Environmental Health and Safety Award. If the plant was to be closed, Hardy was determined her staff would go out on top. Accumulating points for safety, health, and waste controls, the Memphis plant indeed finished atop the Coors charts on December 31, 2005. Coors management called Hardy, flummoxed. They couldn’t announce that a plant they were closing was the most efficiently run. Hardy is the only Coors employee to receive a personalized (smaller) version of this trophy. This is the attitude Carolyn adopted when she bought that same brewery and founded Hardy Bottling Company.
Hardy started Hardy Bottling in August 2006. Carolyn Hardy was majority owner in Hardy Bottling. A 5% owner was a silent partner who was given the 5% for helping her secure the loan. He did not contribute any cash. First year sales were just over $1 million and exceeded $10 million annually by 2009. In May 2011, Carolyn sold the contract beverage manufacturing facility for $30 million dollars. At the time of the sale, Hardy Bottling Company employed over 200 people.
After selling Hardy Bottling in May 2011, she began her transloading business, Henderson Worldwide Investments. Henderson Worldwide Investments, LLC (DBA Henderson Transloading Services) has attracted the largest grain companies outside of Memphis to source grains in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and the Missouri “boot heel” into Memphis. This business model uses Memphis’ proximity to 13 million acres of 6 major crops, excess supply of containers and five Class I railroads to create this new business in Memphis.
Carolyn is currently involved with partners to develop HTWO, a metabolic drink of molecular hydrogen water designed to boost metabolism, detox the body, reduce stress on the cellular level, relieve soreness and fatigue and protect the body & mind. HTWO Beverage Company plans to move its manufacturing operations from Arkansas to Memphis to capitalize on our natural resources– the artesian water supply and the advanced distribution network.
Carolyn is currently Chairman of the Federal Reserve- Memphis Branch, 2012 to present, New Memphis Institute, Greater Memphis Chamber, Soulsville/Stax Foundation, University of Memphis, Methodist LeBonheur Hospital Systems, Mayor Action Committee, Philanthropic Black Women of Memphis, and Crews Venture Lab. Carolyn is the Founder of Industrial Readiness Training program at Southwest Tennessee Community College to support Memphis manufacturing companies.
Carolyn’s family of companies has invested over $5 million dollars since 2011 in the Hickory Hill community with the hopes of revitalizing this very important community while providing employment in an area with high unemployment.
Chism Hardy Investments invest in real estate that supports the railroads and their growth in the Memphis area. Henderson Worldwide Investments (dba Henderson Transloading Services) transloads grains and other goods, serving Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and the boot hill of Missouri.
Entrepreneurship is critical to our city and country’s success and survival. Entrepreneurs see the world and hear a conversation through a set of lens that is unique and special allowing them to visualize possibilities. They do what they do because it is their life similar to oxygen. I was once told that people work for a job and live for their passion.
Entrepreneurs are critical because we live in a changing world and someone has to be brave enough to change with it. Also, entrepreneurs create new from the old. We are risk takers while loving every minute of it. The global economy continues to shrink. As we know, most jobs are created by small businesses. Jobs and meaningful work gives people hope and a reason for being. As we seek to improve education, reduce crime and increase jobs; I like to claim that as an entrepreneurship I have had a small impact on people’s lives in that way.
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