CLARKSVILLE, Tenn.-Charles Hand, chairman and CEO of Hand Family Companies and long-time supporter of Austin Peay State University's athletics programs, will be inducted into the Red Coat Society, Saturday.
The Red Coat Society, now in its 10th year, serves as a Hall of Fame of service for the Governors Club, APSU's Athletics booster club. This year's ceremony will take place during halftime of the Governors' 7:30 p.m. basketball game with Eastern Illinois.
Hand has been in the wholesale beverage business since 1961 and has continued to grow the family business, originally founded in 1947 in Clarksville as Ideal Distributing Company by his father, Raymond C. Hand. Hand now operates beverage distributorships in Clarksville, Cookeville, Chattanooga, and Memphis in Tennessee and in Hopkinsville and Owensboro in Kentucky in partnership with his brother, Ray; his son, JR; and his daughters, Aim-ee Jo and Charlsie.
Hand has been an active University supporter through both service and contributions. His Austin Peay involvement includes membership in the Governors Club, the Tower Club, the Heritage Club and the Alumni Association. He was the underwriter of Beatrice Hand Village, an APSU student housing complex named in memory of his mother, which opened in 2004. Hand also is an Honorary Chairperson of the APSU Legacy Capital Campaign. In 2010, he received the Regents Award of Excellence in Philanthropy from the Tennessee Board of Regents.
His support of Governors baseball helped catapult that program to its current Ohio Valley Conference prominence. In the mid-1990s, Hand's contributions made it possible to install state-of-the-art lights and seating at the ball field, and in 1993 the facility was renamed Raymond C. Hand Park to honor his father. The next phase of upgrades, with Hand's backing, is expected to begin this summer.
Among the University's early corporate partners, Hand and his family have served as sponsors of the Governors Golf Classic, the basketball fundraiser and the past concert series. He has contributed use of the Hand Family Farm and its event facility, known to many as the "Bud Barn," for many activities benefitting APSU.
The Hand family's love of athletics also prompted Hand Family Companies to become part of the ownership group of the Memphis Grizzlies late last summer.
A graduate of Clarksville High School and of Castle Heights Military Academy's Class of 1958, Hand attended the University of Tennessee and Austin Peay State University. However, before he was able to graduate, Hand left school to lead the family business due to his father's death.
In May 2007 Hand received an honorary Masters of Science and Business degree from Austin Peay, the first honorary degree ever awarded there, in recognition of his dedicated support of the University and its programs.
Hand has been recognized by multiple professional and community organizations for his contributions and leadership. In 1995, he was voted Small Businessman of the Year by the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2000, he was the recipient of the National Award for Community Involvement by the National Beer Wholesalers Association. In 2004 he was awarded the William O. Beach Award as Citizen of the Year for Montgomery County, and in 2006 Hand was presented the Gracey Award for outstanding service to the Custom House Museum.
Hand's company became affiliated with Anheuser-Busch Inc. in 1956, and in 2006 he and the company were recognized by Anheuser-Busch for 50 years of service as an Anheuser-Busch wholesaler. The company has been recognized as the Anheuser-Busch Tennessee Wholesaler of the Year five times (1985, 1991, 1996, 1998, and 1999). Hand Family Companies has been awarded the AB INBEV Ambassador of Excellence Award multiple times, most recently in 2012, and has been recognized as a Key Wholesaler by AB INBEV.
Hand Family Companies also distributes products of D. G. Yuengling & Son Inc., Crown Imports LLC, New Belgium Brewing Company, Sweetwater Brewing Company, Monster Energy Company (formerly Hansen Beverage Company) and Nestle USA, and many other national suppliers.
To be eligible for the Red Coat Society, an individual must be a member in good standing of the Governors Club for at least five years, must have supported the athletic programs at Austin Peay through financial contributions or participation in Governors Club fundraisers and other events, must have supported more than one sport both at home and away whenever possible and must be recognized within the APSU community for his association with Austin Peay athletics.