Hercules Manufacturing, which produces custom insulated and dry freight truck bodies, is grieving the loss of Joe Banna, retired president and president emeritus, at 78 years old.
“He did an awesome job growing our company over the period of 40 years of service,” said Jeffrey A. Caddick, CEO/owner of Hercules. “When Mr. Banna joined Hercules in the late 60s, we were building five bodies a week on average. Now we build four to five bodies a day, which is a testament to the customer relationships that Joe cultivated, and the manufacturing team that Joe assembled.
“We are grateful for Joe’s friendship and leadership, and the fact that even after his retirement he stayed on in the role of president emeritus and continued to share his knowledge and experience with us ‘newcomers.’”
Born in Israel, Banna landed in the United States in 1960. He was hired by George Caddick, longtime president of Hercules, in 1969 as vice president of operations, and in 1993 he was named president—a role he filled until his retirement in 2009.
When Banna joined Hercules, the metal for manufacturing truck bodies was fabricated at Evansville Sheet Metal, so he persuaded George Caddick to purchase the equipment to allow the company to perform metal fabrication in-house. Banna also oversaw Hercules’ relocation from an old plant in Henderson KY to new facilities on Adams Street and Bob Posey Street in Henderson.
While much of Hercules’ work involves manufacturing custom truck bodies and trailers, with no engineer on staff, most of the design work fell to Banna, who described himself as an “engineer by experience rather than education.”
Equally important are the relationships Banna formed with customers, never promising anything he couldn’t deliver and correcting anything that didn’t meet expectations. He did business with a handshake and never had contracts.
Banna became partners with many of Hercules’ prime customers, including Borden Dairy in Dallas TX, the Summit Truck Group, which originated in Memphis TN, Truck & Transportation Equipment in New Orleans LA, and W&B Service Company, the largest Carrier Transicold dealer in the country based out of Dallas.
Upon his retirement in 2009, Jeffrey Caddick appointed Banna president emeritus, a role he filled until his death.
“It’s been a helluva ride,” Banna said after retiring. “We’ve had ups and downs. But overall it has been wonderful.”
Banna requested not to have a visitation or funeral. A private memorial service was expected to be held at a later date.
“Mr. Banna was a continuous and constant force and presence at Hercules for 49 years, and while the loss is painful and he will be sorely missed, the simple fact of the matter is that Joe’s life’s work will live on in everything we do here at Hercules for many, many years to come,” Jeffrey Caddick said.