Bill Courtney

NEW EXCLUSIVE
  • Football Coach and Subject of the Oscar-Winning Documentary, Undefeated
  • Founder, President and CEO, Classic American Hardwoods
  • Author of "Against the Grain"

Football coach and entrepreneur William B. Courtney is renowned for his inspirational lessons on teamwork and resiliency. 

Bill began volunteering at Memphis’ inner city Manassas High School in an effort to turn its underperforming football team around. When Bill started, the team had 19 players with a dismal 4-95, 10-year record. Within five years, the team’s record improved to 18-2, with 75 players. The story was so compelling that a Hollywood film—Undefeated—was produced about it. It won an Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary. Bill's book, Against the Grain: A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Loveshares his convictions on the fundamental tenets of character, commitment, service, leadership, civility, and others that, in his decades of success as an entrepreneur and educator, have proven to be the keys to a winning and meaningful life and career. 

Inducted into Bridge Builders for leadership in diversity, community, and justice, Bill is the recipient of numerous awards including the Liberty Bowl’s Harry Zinn Spirit of 1776 award for distinguished citizenship, the Carnival Memphis’ King’s award for outstanding achievement in Business and Industry, and the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Memphis chapter’s award winner for The Distinguished American for Contribution to Amateur Athletics. 

Bill is also the founder of Classic American Hardwoods, Inc. Today he serves as the company's President and CEO. The company employs 120 people with a 45 acre manufacturing facility and domestic sales offices in Memphis, TN and international sales offices in Shanghai, China, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. A winner of the Memphis Business Journal’s Small Business of the Year Award, Classic American Hardwoods is based on a commitment to community service.

 

 

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Rave Reviews About Bill Courtney
His success serves as a moving example of what can happen when people in authority care about others - not just about winning the next game or securing the next client.

A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted Bill Courtney
  • Brad Beacham, Executive Director and CEO, Sigma Nu Fraternity
  • National Wood Flooring Association
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes
  • FedEx Leadership Live Conference
  • St. Jude's Children's Hospital
Explore Bill Courtney's Talks
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Leadership: How to Go Against the Grain to Attain It

According to Courtney, football doesn't build character. It reveals character. When Bill Courtney began volunteering to coach a local losing football team, neither he nor the players knew how far they'd go, but their journey together became an inspiring lesson. The players soon realized that Courtne ...

According to Courtney, football doesn't build character. It reveals character. When Bill Courtney began volunteering to coach a local losing football team, neither he nor the players knew how far they'd go, but their journey together became an inspiring lesson. The players soon realized that Courtney would not let them slide when it came to the fundamentals. Not just of football, but of the actions that count in the real world: commitment, dedication, integrity. The same traits that Courtney encouraged of his players have proven themselves in his business success as well. Having started a lumber business from his living room, Courtney turned it into a $40 million enterprise that currently does business all over the world. Even when the recession hit, Courtney's business thrived. "Walking the talk" of hard work, integrity and dedication, he believes that if you do the right thing, profits will follow.

According to Courtney, to do the right thing, you need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone, Deserve Success, Serve Others and Out work Everyone Else. His discipline, combined with true caring, showed his team that true success isn't about trophies or awards on a shelf. It's about living life by a set of values one can be proud of long after their days on the field were over.

For Faith Based Groups

Bill Courtney volunteered as a football coach, but he became a father figure to the players as well. Most came from broken homes and having grown up without a father himself, Courtney could relate to their situation. His personal faith had always sustained him and as he grew and started his own fami ...

Bill Courtney volunteered as a football coach, but he became a father figure to the players as well. Most came from broken homes and having grown up without a father himself, Courtney could relate to their situation. His personal faith had always sustained him and as he grew and started his own family, it continued to be a cornerstone of the tools for living he successfully employs.

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Biography

William B. Courtney (Bill), a native Memphian, founded Classic American Hardwoods, Inc. in 2001. Today, it employs 120 people with a 45 acre manufacturing facility and domestic sales offices in Memphis, TN and international sales offices in Shanghai, China, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In 2007, Classic American Hardwoods, Inc. won the Memphis Business Journal’s Small Business of the Year Award based on its growth and commitment to community service.

In 2003, Bill began volunteering at Memphis’ inner city Manassas High School in an effort to turn its underperforming football team around. In 2003, the team had 19 players with a dismal 4-95, 10-year record. In the 2008 & 2009 seasons, the team’s record improved to 18-2, with 75 players. The story was so compelling that a Hollywood film—Undefeated—was produced about it. It won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary.

In 2011, Bill was inducted into Bridge Builders for leadership in diversity, community, and justice. He was the 2012 recipient of the Liberty Bowl’s Harry Zinn Spirit of 1776 award for distinguished citizenship, recipient of the Carnival Memphis’ King’s award for outstanding achievement in Business and Industry, and the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Memphis chapter’s award winner for The Distinguished American for Contribution to Amateur Athletics. In 2013, he was inducted into the prestigious Society of Entrepreneurs as a result of his success in business and community service.

Today, Bill still operates as the President and CEO of Classic American Hardwoods. He’s a public speaker at a variety of venues from the Para Olympics in Colorado Springs to Nike, PepsiCo, FedEx, and other nationally recognized companies, and also at churches, schools, and hospitals. His first book, Against the Grain was released in May of 2014. Courtney lives with his wife and four children in Memphis, Tennessee.