A diversified portfolio combined with a passionate and knowledgeable staff has led Admiral Beverage to experience continued growth through the years — even during tough economic times, commodity price fluctuations and other industry changes.
For any bottler, one of the biggest challenges right now is commodity costs, Clay says. Bottlers are reliant on raw commodities such as aluminum, PET resin and high fructose corn syrup. Because prices are high, bottlers must find ways to become more efficient without passing the cost on to the consumer because they’re already strapped for cash and making strategic purchases, he says.
Admiral Beverage’s location in Worland, Wyo., significantly helped the company to decrease cost from its supply chain by sourcing cans from a Crown plant just three blocks away and sugar from the Wyoming Sugar Co., which refines beet sugar in Worland. Admiral Beverage uses granulated sugar in its heritage Dr Pepper and Pepsi Throwback beverages, which are offered year-round.
Even more notable, the company not only blow-molds its own bottles in both of its production facilities, but its Ogden, Utah, facility has two injection blow-molding lines that make preforms for the company’s entire supply.
Becoming as vertically integrated as possible has enabled the company to save money and be more sustainable, it says. Admiral Beverage recycles all of its materials and ships them out to be reused by other companies. Furthermore, any virgin plastic bottles that have been molded but not labeled are grinded down and used as resin for new preforms, notes Dave Willard, vice president of production for the Worland plant. Not one plastic bottle is sent to a landfill, he adds.
Additionally, the company has seen its industry change as PepsiCo and other major beverage manufacturers began purchasing many of their bottlers within the last few years.
“You’re dealing with a different landscape that is changed because you don’t have a traditional bottling system in a lot of areas and that changes how you have to operate,” Clay explains. “We’ve seen it change dramatically this way with the growth of some of the larger chains and how they go to market. … They’ve become more centralized, so that’s where your local relationships become more important today than they were five years ago, because if you don’t have that local relationship and if you don’t know that manager at the Smiths store, the manager at the Albertsons store, and have a relationship with them, they’re being directed so much from their central corporate offices that any local relationship just puts the icing on the cake in those programs.”
Clay also formed the Independent Bottlers Association with Barbara Parish, president of Wis-Pak Inc., Watertown, Wis., and Bradley Burnett, president of Carolina Canners Inc., Cheraw, S.C., to elicit open communication with the independent PepsiCo bottlers. As a result, the independent bottlers have developed a better relationship with PepsiCo, he says. Clay currently is serving a two-year term as the association’s chairman.
It also helps that PepsiCo, DPS and MillerCoors have excellent leaders to further their working relationships, Clay says. And great corporate marketing plans don’t hurt either.
“The marketing and media [MillerCoors has] on tap for 2012 is some of the best we’ve ever seen,” Clay says. “So we’re excited about our [corporate partners]. They’ve got the right people in the right places at the right time, and I think there are good times ahead.”
Brands remain central to the company’s future, Taylor notes.
“Our focus to continue to grow and diversify is at the forefront of our future,” he says. “Our commitment to our brands is as high as it’s ever been, and we certainly think organic growth, innovation and acquisitions are the three pieces that’ll help us grow as a corporation.”