"I Have the Chops to Be a Great Bottler... We Must Serve As the Face of the Brands."
On Feb 21,
About Troy Taylor
Taylor is 43. He and his wife, Vonda, have two children. He holds a bachelor of business administration degree in finance/business law from Marshall University.
Interview with Troy Taylor
Troy, you've been an investment banker. What kinds of deals have you mainly done, what was your specialty?
"I focused on financings and strategic advisory transactions across a variety of sectors, but my specialty was consumer products deals. I was part of a team that focused on franchisees and suppliers mainly in the
You've done Coke system deals. Which are some of the bottlers you've represented and/or deals you've done?
"A lot of the deals that I was involved in were for bottlers who are no longer independent bottlers like Coke Southwest, Coke Sacramento, Coke Herb Chicago and Coke Ouachita. I also did deals for a few bottlers who are still in the system, including
With the growth headwinds and challenges facing the U.S. soft drink business, why become a Coke bottler now?
"There will always be headwinds and challenges in business, regardless of the industry you operate in. The soft drink business is not exempt from this. The question is how do you respond and adapt to these headwinds and challenges? First and foremost, Coke is the market leader. (Coke CEO) Muhtar Kent, Sandy Douglas and the rest of the team have the system focused on the right things -- making sure we have the products that people want, making sure we engage with customers and consumers in the right way, making sure we are focused on flawless execution on a daily basis, making sure we are fully engaged in the conversations around our products, and making sure the system is aligned, focused and working together towards the same goals. Because of our market leadership, strong brands and diverse portfolio, we are well-positioned to capture growth as the economy picks up. People trust our brands and enjoy our products. We have a fantastic portfolio, and we are well-positioned to win in a marketplace with changing demographics and consumer preferences. Everyone I have met in the system is passionate about the business, optimistic about the future, and focused on growing the business. I am confident that it will continue to grow in the U.S. and we will continue to be the market leader."
Banker to bottler? What do you think has prepared you to run a bottler, and not a small bottler at that?
"The most important thing that you must have to be a successful bottler is a passion for the business, and this starts with a passion for the brands and products. I grew up in Louisiana and drank Coke products every day. I cannot remember a day without a Coke experience. When I was a banker, I began to learn about bottlers and the system.
I was fortunate to have worked with several bottlers during my banking days, and I fell in love with the system. It quickly became clear to me that I wanted to be a Coke bottler, so I began to focus on learning as much as I could about bottler operations. And being a banker allowed me to have access to management, see the operations up close and go into the market where I really learned a lot about the business. I was also fortunate to have the chance to work closely with the company and some bottlers after leaving banking. This allowed me to get even closer to the operations and prove to people in the system that I have the chops to be a great bottler. Now it’s a matter of proving this as an owner/operator, which I fully intend to do."
Will you hire COO or GM with bottling experience? If so, what kind of person are you looking to hire?
"Yes, my plan is to hire a general manager who has proven experience in the system. My ideal candidate will have strong sales and operational experience. I want someone who can hit the ground running and immediately engage with customers and the people who love our brands -- someone who knows how to build volume and value share."
Though no one can predict the future, assuming all goes well with these Florida markets, would you like to acquire more territory over time, if that opportunity presented itself?
"I think if you surveyed all of the bottlers in the system, most would say that, given the opportunity, they would like to expand their territory. And I would say the same. However, my only order of business right now is making sure that the central Florida bottler is the very best it can be. Given the demographics and climate of the territory, we should be a leader in the system. This is what I am focused on. If we do this right, other opportunities may present themselves. But now is not the time to discuss or seek this. Winning and growing in central Florida is my only focus."
What are two or three of the most important things a bottler must focus on?
"The most important things a bottler must focus on at all times are meeting customer and consumer desires, and executing efficiently and effectively every day. Bottlers are on the front lines with customers and consumers, and we must pay close attention to their desires and take a lead in delivering the right products, packages and prices for all occasions. We must serve as the face of the brands and be closely connected to our communities, and then use this connection to drive growth in the business. This is how we will win as a system over the long-term. In terms of execution, bottlers must have laser focus on growth and operational excellence. We must also build organizations that are agile and adaptable. The customer and consumer landscape will continue to change and evolve, and bottlers have to be at the forefront of anticipating and executing through this. If bottlers are not financially and operationally strong, with a laser focus on execution, we cannot win as a system on a sustainable basis."
Q&A courtesy of March 14th issue of Beverage Digest.