Vale: Charles Hanna, Hannapak founder and a lover of the land

Charles Hanna, who founded what was Australia’s biggest independent folding carton printer, Hannapak, before it was sold to US giant WestRock for $75 million in 2017, has been remembered as a great friend, a gentleman and someone who cared deeply about the communities he worked in.

After a three-year battle with melanoma cancer, Charles passed away at the age of 78 on December 26, 2021, leaving behind his beloved wife of 50 years, Cheryl, and an adoring family.

His funeral was held on January 11 at the Macquarie Park Crematorium with a “One for the Road” celebration afterwards at Woolloomooloo Wharf.

A number of printing industry members spoke, including Bob McMillan who was a close friend of Charles’ for 50 years.

“He was a very good businessperson and a great salesperson. He also did a lot for the community as well and that is why he got his OAM,” Bob told Sprinter.

“When he moved to North Richmond years ago, he transformed it and he gave the North Richmond Park to the community and then after he retired, he did the same thing up at Willow Tree where he had his hotel and his other businesses. He transformed Willow Tree as well.

“Hannapak went to North Richmond in 1967 and there was nothing out there then. He employed a lot of people in that area and there was not much employment out there in those days.

“He was a friend of mine for 50 years and a very nice guy. Very well respected.”

Charles Hanna at the North Richmond Park opening in 1994

Hanna Group was founded in 1957 by Charles and his father Charles Alfred Stuart Hanna Senior. It started out as a business printing advertising balloons from a backyard workshop in Carlingford.

In 1967, the Hannas moved it to North Richmond and into a purpose-built factory where it printed advertising matches, under the name Hanna Match Group.

Charles Hanna with a selection of products in the 1980s

Two years later, in 1969 Charles took over the full running off the business and went on to purchase folding carton company Boxton & Carr in 1984 with further growth as time went by.

Over the course of the next 50 years the business continued to experience rapid organic growth which saw it expand further into neighbouring sites.

ProPrint front cover from August 2002 with first Roland 600 in Australia

Charles was an early adopter of technology and was the first in Australia to invest in almost every new technology available to the print and folding carton industry. He featured on the front cover of various issues of both ProPrint and Australian Printer over the years with stories of his investments and business success.

Australian Printer cover in 1989 with first Roland 600 press in Australia
Australian Printer front cover 1993 with First Man Roland 700 in Australia

In 1989 he purchased the first Roland 600 press in Australia, and followed this up with being the first to buy a Man Roland 700 in 1993 and later in 2002 the first Man Roland 900.

As time went by the company became Australia’s largest folding carton printer and was converting approximately 30,000 tonnes of paperboard into folding cartons. For 18 years Hannapak handled the beverage packaging needs for WestRock which it was eventually sold to in 2018.

Around 15 years before the sale of Hannapak, Charles had begun to realise a long-held dream of owning a farm. In 2005 he and Cheryl purchased a property at Colly Creek, located just outside the tiny NSW town of Willow Tree, which sits between Scone and Tamworth.

Charles & Sam receiving a book on the history of Hanna Group put together by employees in 2018

It was around this time Charles’ son, Sam Hanna, stepped up to take over the running of Hannapak.

“He was a bit of a frustrated farmer and for many years he wanted to own a country property. So, he got into it with a commercial focus and built up some strong brands along the way. We have our own beef and lamb product now which is available through our restaurants and butcher shop,” Sam told Sprinter.

After buying the property, Charles and Cheryl transformed it into a successful cattle farm which now runs nearly 2000 head of Angus cattle. But their agriculture exploits did not stop there with another property near Quirindi, which runs 5000 head of sheep and lambs, later added.

Not long after he and Cheryl arrived at Colly Creek, Charles discovered the local pub in Willow Tree was quite run down and only really used by local tradies. So, he decided to buy it and turn it around and make it more family-oriented so the whole community could enjoy it.

Charles’ integral role in transforming the town of Willow Tree earned him recognition in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours with the awarding of an Order of Australia Medal (OAM).

In 2011 the Willow Tree Inn opened featuring the Graze restaurant and Grain Store bistro and boutique accommodation.

During the last three years, Charles battled melanoma tumours and undertook various surgeries and clinical trials.

In January 2021 he took part in an unconventional treatment usually used for breast and ovarian cancer which did have some success in shrinking his advancing tumours.

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4 thoughts on “Vale: Charles Hanna, Hannapak founder and a lover of the land

  1. Charles & Cheryl’s garden at Dural was one of 2 great private gardens in the Castle Hill garden competition. He was also an exceptional salesman and entrepreneur who is remembered fondly by many in our industry

  2. Charles was a very valued supplier to Cerebos, nothing was a problem ever ready to help. Enjoyed every visit to the North Richmond.

  3. Charles was the type of owner that had an ongoing relationship and respect of the teams that installed his Roland 700s. We all admired his drive and ambition

  4. As a 20yo I was employed by Charles at Nth Richmond as a plant engineer;
    having graduated from Containers Ltd
    with 2 trades and a QUT degree from
    Ultimo. Charles thought I was a 30yo
    and as I was married with a daughter,
    and owned a new home in Richmond
    my age did not matter, especially as I reduced the product reject rate from
    30%+ to 0.62%within a year. I went on
    to become founder of WBF Industries
    with 27 retail outlets & over 300 staff.
    By 1985 the largest manufacturer of
    waterbeds in Southern Hemisphere;
    – I thanks Charles for his inspiration!
    My wife of 52yrs and I live on Gold Coast waterfront now; the best news
    is our GRANDkids, 7 boys! BobMc
    VALE Charles! Bless you Mrs Hanna.

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