What has been the biggest challenge in your soft drink
“I guess you’d have to say the most
significant change has been the merger with American Bottling Co. in 1999.
We did a lot of add-on acquisitions prior to that, which made us a much
stronger company, but the real culture change occurred in ’99 when we
did the merger with American Bottling.”
What has made you successful as a soft drink bottler?
“One of the key factors is clearly articulating
to all members of our team what our strategic goals are, how they need to
execute against them, and getting them to buy into that by keeping it very
achievable and somewhat easy to execute.
“I’m also a very competitive person, so I
don’t like to be second and I’m always working to improve our
position. I think I’m a strong leader and a demanding leader, but I
try to raise the bar of performance for our whole team and show them where
they can be much better than they are.”
What accomplishments are you proudest of?
“Any time you ask me what I’m proudest of,
I say my family. They have been my support
group during a lot of trying times and difficult times in the business. But
I’m also proud of the financial rewards that many of our employees
have benefited from due to the stock appreciation back in the ’80s
and also in the late ’90s. That makes me feel good that they’ve
not only had steady employment, but many of our employees also benefited
from the appreciation in our stock.
“The other thing that I’m very proud of is
the maturity and development of our employees. I’ve seen a real
maturing and development of people who have blossomed into managers and
middle managers, not just top management.”
What kind of legacy would you like to leave your
“First of all, I would like for everyone to
think that I was a very strong and dedicated family man. I think
that’s very important.
“The other legacy is that I would be viewed as a
tough competitor who made a difference for the good of bottlers in the
industry, and a person who had a positive impact on the lives of employees.
If I could walk away from this business with that legacy, I’ll feel
like I’ve accomplished something.”
What are you going to miss?
“I will miss the relationships I have developed
with employees, customers and suppliers, many of whom I have known for over
25 years. Some of these relationships have developed into my best
What will you not miss?
“What I will not miss are the five- to six-day
travel weeks and the 14-hour days, starting at 4:30 in the morning.”
What are your plans?
“I don’t have any firm plans because
I’ve still got a full-time job to make sure this company stays on
track during this transition period… I probably
will stay involved in the industry in some way.”
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The January 2016 issue of Beverage Industry includes a cover story on our Bottler of the Year, as well as articles about juice smoothies, RTD cold-brew coffee, and supermarket growth. Check it out today!