Charles Albert Cannon, the son of a textile mill owner, was born in 1892. After attending Fishburne Military Academy and Davidson College, Cannon entered the textile industry himself, achieving success as a manager, treasurer and secretary. When his father died in 1921, Cannon assumed the leadership of the Cannon manufacturing plants and consolidated them to one entity, The Cannon Mills Company.
At the age of 29, he was one of the youngest industrial managers in the world. Often referred to as a marketing genius, Cannon used advertising, packaging, and trademark branding to catapult his company to national success. Cannon was also instrumental in establishing the American Cotton Manufacturers Association, a precursor to the American Textile Manufacturers Institute. His industrial communities provided affordable housing and shopping, recreation, and “hands on” support for his employees.
Concern for the good of others was always important to Cannon, and in 1917, before medical care in the workplace was common, he encouraged his father to hire a nurse to care for the company’s employees. He founded the Cabarrus Memorial Hospital and served on the board there for more than 30 years. He also served on the board of his own company until his death in 1971 (despite retiring from the company years earlier). Today schools, hospitals and community service agencies across the Carolinas continue to benefit from his generosity through the Charles A. Cannon Foundation.