TIFTON — Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc. (UNITED) plans to build a 300,000 square-feet sales center and warehouse in Tifton.
The second largest privately held Coca-Cola bottler in North America and based in Birmingham, Ala., UNITED will invest approximately $60 million in a state-of-the-art facility that will employ approximately 200 people and distribute roughly 4.5 million cases of non-alcoholic beverages to customers annually once the facility opens in late 2021, according to Linda Sewell, vice president of public affairs and communication.
“We’re the third largest bottling company in the U.S.,” Sewell said. “We’re going to build a new state-of-the-art sales center in Tifton. That’s pretty big news for us and for the community.”
She said that the facility will have “the latest automation for [a] sales and distribution center in the beverage industry.”
“The automation is great on a lot of levels,” she said. “It will benefit the employees that work in the facility. It will help us to better serve our customers not only in the community but throughout south Georgia and the Florida panhandle that will be serviced from this facility.”
Sewell said that they plan on closing on the 88 acre property, located near Lamb Loop Road and U.S. Highway 41, in late October and will begin site preparation and construction of 20 acres in the first quarter of 2020.
“When you’re making an investment like this you have the opportunity to look at where you need such a facility strategically and you look at various locations,” she said. “What we found in Tifton was the best strategic location and really great partnerships in the local community that we felt could be our partners for the long term.”
The facility, which will be clearly visible from I-75, is expected to be completed and operational by the end of 2021.
“Great things are happening in Tifton, Georgia, and we are excited to welcome Coca-Cola UNITED to Tifton as our newest corporate partner,” said Brian Marlowe, president and CEO of the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce and the Tift County Development Authority. “Coca-Cola is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and the company’s decision to build a state-of-the-art facility in Tifton speaks volumes about our pro-business environment and strategic location.”
Marlowe said that the bottling and distribution facility locating in Tifton would not have happened if not for the efforts of the Tift County Development Authority.
“They’re the unsung heroes,” he said. “They make the decisions that allow us to recruit businesses to the area.”
Marlowe said that getting the facility took approximately two years of work and that he is looking forward to seeing the facility going up.
“As one of our most beloved and deeply-rooted brands, any time the Coca-Cola system expands, it’s good news for the State of Georgia,” said Governor Brian P. Kemp. “I want to congratulate Coca-Cola UNITED on its plans to build this new, state-of-the-art facility. I am confident that our unrivaled workforce and expansive logistics network will ensure their continued success as they distribute Coca-Cola products throughout the Southeast from this new center in Tifton.”
Sewell said that Coca-Cola UNITED has had a presence in Georgia for decades.
“We acquired more than a dozen additional sales centers and two production facilities in the state in 2017 and 2018,” she said. “In 2017 we also acquired the Atlanta market, which was pretty significant since it was the hometown of Coca-Cola. Now we have the entire state of Georgia as our sales territory.”
She said that Georgia is critical to Coca-Cola UNITED and that the company has invested $80 million in a new sales center in Union City, which serves south metro Atlanta. UNITED has also invested approximately $25 million in equipment, facilities and its delivery fleet in Atlanta.
“We are thrilled about our plans to build a new facility in Tifton as it will allow us to optimize our distribution network and better serve our customers for decades to come,” said John Sherman, president and CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED. “This decision is part of our company’s broader strategy to invest in our expanded footprint — which has more than tripled since 2014 — to benefit our associates, our customers and our communities.”
“In Tifton, we have found great partners in the economic development and community leaders, and we look forward to building a strong presence and deeper relationships here in the future,” said Mike Suco, vice president of Coca-Cola UNITED’s East Region. “Our investments in Georgia continue to grow, which shows the depth of our commitment to the State, our customers, our communities and, of course, our associates.”
Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc., founded in 1902 and headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, is the second largest privately held Coca-Cola bottler in North America and the third largest bottler of Coca-Cola products in the U.S. Coca-Cola UNITED has approximately 10,000 associates located in more than 60 facilities across six southeastern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee).
In 2017 and 2018, the company acquired 12 sales centers and two production facilities in Georgia, giving Coca-Cola UNITED the entire state as part of its bottling territory.
Historically significant franchises within the Coca-Cola UNITED family include Chattanooga, the world’s first Coca-Cola bottler; Atlanta, home of the worldwide Coca-Cola System; and Columbus, Georgia, development site of the original Coca-Cola formula.