Charles C. Anderson, Sr., named a Horatio Alger Award winner
TNT Fireworks founder Charles C. Anderson, Sr., was selected to join the prestigious Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans in 2015. The Horatio Alger Award, established in 1947, recognizes outstanding achievements in business and community leadership by Americans who have succeeded in spite of adversity—just like the heroes of the novels by the 19th-century author for which the award is named. Previous winners of the Horatio Alger Award include Buzz Aldrin, Carol Burnett, Quincy Jones, Waylon Jennings and Condoleeza Rice.
Charles Anderson’s own rags-to-riches story began in Florence, Alabama, where his father started a makeshift newsstand in 1917. At 9, Anderson was helping out with the family business by delivering papers. After attending the University of North Alabama, Anderson returned to Florence to work at the newsstand full-time, adding books, magazines and even fireworks to the small original storefront and opening more locations. The success of the fireworks business in his stores inspired Anderson to launch a side business importing fireworks from China; today, that company is TNT Fireworks, of the four companies Anderson shaped from those tiny North Alabama newsstand. Today, Anderson’s four sons run the four businesses—TNT Fireworks, Books-A-Million, Anderson Press and Anderson Media—and he serves as chairman emeritus of the Anderson Companies. The president and CEO of the Alger Award Association, Tony Novelly, calls Anderson’s success “incomparable” and an example of the American Dream. “Mr. Anderson’s accomplishments, work ethic and vision for his family’s business deeply reflect the principles of Horatio Alger,” says Novelly.
Anderson was given the award at a ceremony in April 2015; upon accepting, he called himself “deeply humbled” to be “welcomed into an association that supports the pursuit of education, which I feel so strongly about.” He and the other members of the Association administer a privately funded, need-based scholarship program for students in the United States and Canada. More than 100 students benefit for this program each year.