I was thrilled yesterday to visit a Coca-Cola bottling plant for the first time in my 6 1/2 years with the Company, and go on a “market visit” as well. What a treat it was to see the process from the onset of the pre-form bottles (in some cases) traveling down the filling line until the moment the final product is sealed for delivery, and ultimately returned, recycled and repeated (in other cases). My gracious host for the day was Coca-Cola Shanduka Beverages in Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa.
Once we left the plant, our Coca-Cola market representatives took us to a “Strategic Distribution Center”, a mini-warehouse which was run by two women, where local shop owners were stopping by to pick up orders of Coca-Cola to take to their local “tuck” shops to sell to consumers. Most of the product they picked up was in red crates like the ones I am surrounded by in the picture at the top (Yes, I agree that the hairnet is a good look). Two local shop owners drove off in a car with a man sitting in the trunk riding along because of all of the Coca-Cola in the small car. He was also holding on to a crate – I should have had my camera ready to capture that moment!
Then, we went to several typical “tuck” shops probably not unlike one that those very shop owners might have been heading to. (By the way, maybe someone from South Africa can drop me a line in comments to let me know why they are called “tuck” shops??) There we met local families, individuals, neighbors, enterprising businessmen and women alike who warmly welcomed us in to see how their business is run, and what makes Coca-Cola an essential part of it. Just as this ad from Johannesburg in 1952, which states that the local Coca-Cola bottling plants are “truly local enterprises forming an integral part of the community in which they are situated. Local capital-local labour and localy produced good are fully utilised to the benefit of the community”, I can truly say I witnessed this in action yesterday around Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa, even 60 years later.
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Jamal Booker is the Processing Archivist at The Coca-Cola Company.