Colorado Business Hall of Fame Laureates: Cannon family
The five laureates inducted into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame for 2015 represent the state’s most distinguished group of business leaders from past and present, selected for their professional contributions to the state as well as their community service.
Hugh Brown Cannon was one of the people responsible for Denver’s cow town status. Cannon arrived in Denver in 1885 and went to work for a dairy north of the city. Later Cannon founded the Windsor Farm Dairy, and in 1918 built the dairy’s processing plant on 1855 Blake Street. The Windsor Dairy Building still stands in LoDo today.
Cannon sold the dairy to Beatrice Foods in 1929, and then stayed with the company as a director. He also worked as the Colorado State Dairy Inspector, and as an Arapahoe County Commissioner. He was considered a pioneer dairyman and civic leader. “He continued to manage the business,” says James Cannon, an investment manager and H. Brown Cannon’s grandson. “During the Great Depression, his biggest challenge was to keep all of his workers employed as well as anonymously providing them food baskets from time to time. Times were tough.” The company eventually became Meadow Gold.
Cannon was also a major holder of real estate, and sold parcels of his land to the city of Denver to build a municipal air travel hub that later became Stapleton Airport, and ultimately the Stapleton neighborhood development.
Cannon was also involved in the community. He served on the Rotary Club, and in 1919 was on a committee of five Rotarians tasked with finding a solution to the “tramway troubles,” the lack of revenue the local transportation system faced due to citizens’ new interest in automobiles. (The challenge was insurmountable, as the tramway workers went on strike in 1920, and the system eventually collapsed as a means of transportation.)
Cannon’s two sons, Brown W. (pictured) and George, both graduated from Stanford University and served as U.S. Navy lieutenants during World War II. After the war, Brown and George returned to Denver. Brown became senior vice president of Beatrice Foods, where he directed the overseas chemical and manufacturing operations and helped grow the company.
George, James Cannon’s father, was one year younger than Brown. George worked in the trucking business before and after WWII. He was president of Gallagher Freightways, which he sold to Consolidated Freightways. He later was president of Bonanza Truck lines and Motor Cargo. Alongside partners, he formed Flexivan Corp. and took it to the New York Stock Exchange, ultimately selling that business as well.
The three Cannons are being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Through the years
1866 Hugh Brown Cannon is born in Michigan.
1888 H. Brown Cannon arrives in Denver.
1900 H. Brown Cannon starts Windsor Dairy.
1915 H. Brown Cannon marries Margaret Reynolds.
1916 Brown W. Cannon is born in Denver.
1917 George R. Cannon is born in Denver.
1918 H. Brown Cannon builds Windsor Dairy Processing Plant on Blake Street in Denver.
1929 H. Brown Cannon sells Windsor Dairy to Beatrice Foods.