One on One With Jim Turner
What has been the biggest challenge in your soft drink career?
“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 company?
“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 friendships.”
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.”