Charles W. Coker
Charles "Charlie" Westfield Coker (born May 10, 1933) is the former president and CEO of Sonoco Products Company of Hartsville, South Carolina, U.S.A.. He also serves as a director of Bank of America, HanesBrands Inc., Springs Industries, and Carolina Power & Light Company (now Progress Energy Inc.). He is chairman of the board of Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. He was a director of Sara Lee Corporation for several years, but retired from that position in October 2006. Along with being initiated into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame, Coker has been granted South Carolina's highest honor, the Order of the Palmetto.
Coker is the son of Charles W. and Elizabeth Howard Coker and the great-great-grandson of Business Hall of Fame honoree Major James Lide Coker, who founded Sonoco Products Company after the Coker plantation was destroyed in March 1865. Originally founded as a paper mill, Sonoco is now one of the world's major producers of different types of commercial and consumer product packaging. When Charlie Coker succeeded his father as president in 1970, Sonoco had annual sales of $125 million, there were 6,000 employees, and its operations totaled 61. By 1998, when he moved from chief executive officer and chairman of the board, Sonoco had annual sales of $2.56 billion and its 16,500 employees were stationed at more than 275 locations in 85 countries on five continents.
After attending Woodberry Forest School in Orange, Virginia, Coker received a bachelor of arts degree from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Coker is married to South Carolina civic leader Joan F. Sasser, and they have six children: Charles, Ellen, Howard, Carrie, Margaret, and Thomas, and 20 grandchildren.