• Vale: Charles Hanna
    Vale: Charles Hanna

One of the country’s leading innovators in packaging printing and a giant of the local industry, Charles Hanna OAM, passed away over Christmas.

Hanna grew the Hannapak business from humble beginnings into a national powerhouse. It became the largest privately owned packaging printer in the country, printing carton packaging for a host of leading brands. It was sold five years ago to US global operator WestRock for $75m, with Charles’ son Sam moving with the deal to WestRock.

Together with his father, also named Charles, Hanna founded and built the business, starting out in 1957, initially making printed advertising balloons, then printing and making matches, before moving into folding cartons, a move turbo-charged when the company bought Boxton & Carr 40 years ago.

The business had moved out of its original Carlingford home and into new purpose-built premises on the outskirts of Sydney, giving it the space to grow, with Hanna, who took over the reins from his father 15 years prior to the Boxton & Carr acquisition, driving that growth. At one time it was one of the world’s biggest Roland 900 users, with a quartet of the behemoths pumping out print 24 hours a day, ensuring a bottle or two of the world’s finest wine arrived on Hanna's desk each Christmas from Offenbach.

When Hanna sold to WestRock the company had 220 staff operating in the 30,000sqm factory in North Richmond.

Following the sale to WestRock, Hanna put his energies into transforming the tiny NSW town of Willow Tree, population 305, into a foodie destination. Over the decade prior the family had bought the Willow Tree Inn, Graze Restaurant, Colly Creek Pastoral Company and The Plains Pantry.

The Hanna Pastoral Group had purchased the historic Willow Tree Inn in 2009, and opened a revamped hotel the following year, and won best Country Restaurant for four years running from 2014.

Hanna was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2018 for his services to business and charity.

He was the beneficiary of a world first trial with experimental drugs to combat advanced melanoma a year ago, but sadly it was only a temporary reprieve. Hanna passed away on Boxing Day, leaving behind two children and five grandchildren. He was married to Cheryl for more than 50 years.

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