A pair of Coca‑Cola bottlers on opposite sides of the country are marking milestones this summer. Chattanooga Coca‑Cola turned 120 years old on July 15, and Coca‑Cola Bottling Company Santa Fe celebrated its centennial five days later.
Chattanooga Coca‑Cola became the world’s first Coca‑Cola bottler in 1899, when attorneys Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead signed an agreement with Asa Candler, president of The Coca‑Cola Company, for exclusive rights to bottle the soft drink throughout most of the United States. Fellow Chattanooga attorney John T. Lupton stepped in as the third partner to help finance the first bottling plant in Chattanooga.
A weeklong series of events celebrated the deep ties between the city of Chattanooga, its cultural venues like Ruby Falls, Rock City and the Tennessee Aquarium, and the iconic Coca‑Cola brand and 750 employees of the Tennessee Valley Division of Coca‑Cola UNITED.
“Our 120th birthday events are first and foremost a celebration of our people and their families, since they are the foundation and the drivers of what we do each and every day to serve our customers, their consumers and our communities,” said Darren Hodges, Tennessee Valley division director for Coca‑Cola UNITED, who has been with the company for more than three decades. “We are blessed with the best associates, excellent business partners and customers, and local government and community leaders who have supported our success for more than a century.”
James A. Hart purchased the Coke franchise in December 1919 and started bottling Coke in Santa Fe in early 1920. Four generations of the Hart Family have helped grow the company by blending tradition and innovation, while supporting northern New Mexicans’ tastes and community needs.
As the second largest private employer in northern New Mexico, the company distributes more than 400 products via a 65,000-sq.-ft. facility in the heart of Santa Fe.
Four generations of the Hart family came together, led by Clarabelle Hart-Remeta, the oldest living member of the family at 87 (pictured in yellow), to celebrate the milestone at a special concert featuring Mark Chestnutt.
“One of the most satisfying aspects of our business is giving back to the community that has given so much to our business over the years,” said Richard Remeta, chairman of the board, Coca‑Cola Bottling Company Santa Fe. “We are so honored to be a part of the incredible Coca‑Cola family of bottlers. We share such rich history and look forward to many more years of representing such great brands in the communities we serve.”