Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Davenport, Iowa, hopes to find business growth in a geographic area that has seen very little growth of its own in the last 20 years. “One of our biggest challenges is trying to find growth in an area with a stagnant population,” Vice President and General Manager Todd Johnson says. “Trying to manage our number of SKUs these days has become quite the challenge.”
While a large influx of new accounts isn’t necessarily in the immediate offing for the distributor, it continues to look for opportunities to expand its product reach in other ways.
One way the company retains and grows its business is through adding new products. Pepsi Bottling Co. of Davenport recently started distributing O.N.E. Coconut Water, a flavored, natural beverage. O.N.E. was established in Brazil in 2005 and has been distributed by Pepsi Co. since 2009.
The company’s Pepsi portfolio includes Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Pepsi One, Citrus Blast, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, Tropicana Twister, Izze Natural Soda and Ocean Spray.
Additionally, the Davenport distributor also carries two coffee brands developed and owned by Wis-Pak, a bottle cooperative of which it is a member. Wis-Pak operates eight manufacturing facilities throughout the Midwest.
Another goal for the company is to support PepsiCo’s continuing push for new packaging options, such as 7.5, 16 and 24-ounce can sizes in addition to the standard 12-ounce can. “There’s more of a company focus now on expanding the packages of existing flavors rather than introducing brand-new flavors,” Johnson notes.
Johnson’s grandfather established Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Davenport in 1955. The distributorship’s origins date back to the 1930s, when the region was part of the area covered by the A.D. Huesing Bottling Works in Rock Island, Ill. The independent, family owned Pepsi franchise serves roughly 2,000 retail and vending customers in Iowa’s Scott, Clinton and Muscatine counties and enjoys a more than 70 percent market share in its region.
Johnson attributes his company’s success to its service levels, most notably its ability to keep its products in stock and customer displays filled. Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Davenport also practices competitive pricing and believes in treating all accounts equally, regardless of their size.
“We’ve always had a strong commitment to service, and along with that comes strong relationships with our accounts, which has allowed us to build our marketshare,” Johnson says. “We will go out of our way to meet the needs of our customers – when they run out of something, we are right there to serve them.”
The company balances its need to keep its customers stocked with its own need for a manageable inventory. It doubled its warehouse capacity seven years ago and continues to implement inventory management methods such as a software system implemented last year, he adds.
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Davenport also achieves operational efficiencies through its sales staff’s use of computers in the field. “This really helps them track their sales and sales fluctuations and helps them service more accounts,” Johnson explains. “They used to have to turn in all of their sales orders in our office at the end of the day; now they can do that in the field all day long.”
The company also regularly reviews its routes to ensure none overlap and works to minimize the distance between stops.
Johnson describes his management style as being participatory yet non-micromanaging. “I pretty much interact with my management team and try to give them the leeway to do their own jobs,” he says.
The company enjoys a low job turnover rate, which Johnson attributes both to this management philosophy as well as its family oriented atmosphere. “We treat our employees very well, and as a result, we have many long-term employees,” Johnson says. “We go out of our way to promote from within; our people know that when they start here, they have a good chance of moving up.”