Chris C.F. Hammond Jr., former President and Chairman of the Board of Great Dane Trailers, Inc., passed away Monday in Savannah, Ga. Hammond was 98.
Hammond 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. 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.
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 (TTMA), an association which he helped found. In 1947, he became vice president of The Steel Products Company, the forerunner to Great Dane. Just two years later in 1949, Hammond helped develop Great Dane's and the industry's first true refrigerated semi-trailer.
After becoming president of The Steel Products Company 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-chairman of the board and CEO-from the late '60s to the mid-'80s. In 1984, he retired as chairman of the company, but continued to serve Great Dane as a consultant.
A graveside service for Hammond will be held at Greenwich Cemetery on Bonaventure Road at 11 a.m. on Friday. A reception will follow at the Oglethorpe Club in Savannah.
The family requests donations be made in lieu of flowers to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and Hospice Savannah. Donations to the church may be mailed to The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 222 East Harris Street, Savannah, Georgia 31401. Donations to Hospice Savannah may be mailed to P.O. Box 13190, Savannah, GA 31416 or made online at www.hospicesavannah.org .