Growing up in Lafayette, Louisiana, Troy Taylor saw and felt the community impact of Coca-Cola at an early age.
“I remember playing Little League baseball as a kid, hanging out at the Boys & Girls Club after school, and spending time with family and friends at church events,” he said. “You always saw the banners that read, ‘Brought to You by Your Local Coca-Cola Bottler’. I loved that.”
A few decades later, when Taylor was working as an investment banker for JP Morgan Chase, he continued to see those bright-red signs. And they continued to resonate with him, on an even deeper level.
“I was inspired by how involved local Coca-Cola bottlers were, and still are, in the local communities they serve,” he said. “I began to understand what it truly meant to be a Coca-Cola bottler, not only from the standpoint of creating jobs and fueling local economies, but in how they provided oxygen for employees to engage in the community. Not just donating money, but participating on a day-to-day basis – from Habitat for Humanity home builds, to beach cleanups, to fun runs benefiting the local chapter of the American Cancer Society. When the Coca-Cola name and script is on a sign – whether it’s sponsoring a community event or hosting a job fair or putting an ad in the paper – no one questions the legitimacy of that.”
Taylor was drawn to the local touch of Coke’s franchise bottling model and starting pondering a career move.
“The Coca-Cola system was where I knew I wanted to be,” he said. “It’s just a great business if you look at the system and how engaged the local bottlers are... how they serve both their customers and their communities. There’s nothing greater than that, and I knew it’s where I wanted to be.”
And it’s where he is today. Taylor is chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida (CCBF), one of the newest Coca-Cola bottlers in the U.S. The Tampa-based company began operation in 2015 when it acquired the Central Florida territory from The Coca-Cola Company, and has been investing in and growing its business ever since.
“We’ve created 350 jobs and invested about $100 million in Florida,” Taylor said. “And over the next three to five years, we will invest at least another $100 million – in facility improvements, network optimization and capital upgrades to be able to produce a greater range of packaging, like mini cans – and continue to add jobs.”
Four production facilities operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, producing a wide range of still and sparkling beverages for thirsty Floridians. CCBF currently employs 4,800 people, and the entire Coca-Cola system carries a combined annual payroll of more than $300 billion.
“We deliver $14 billion in annual economic impact to the state each year,” Taylor said, noting that CCBF hires local vendors, contractors, suppliers and service providers to fuel its growth and day-to-day operations – from architects, to distribution partners, to janitorial companies.
“That’s the story that doesn’t get told,” he said, humbly. “We create good-paying jobs, yes, but we also invest in local communities in Florida by spending money with small businesses and putting money back into the economy – while at the same time creating products that are right-sized to meet the evolving tastes and lifestyles of our consumers.”
As the “new guy” in the Coke system, Taylor says he’s inspired by his peer bottlers, many of whom have been in business for more than century. He’s motivated by their success, yes, but also by their holistic commitment to giving back.
“I can see the potential future of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida through the stories of bottlers like Consolidated or United,” Taylor said. “When you think about the independent – what I’d call ‘mom-and-pop’ – businesses that have been around 100 years or more, there are quite a few in our system. And that tells you how special this is, that they still have the passion and pride for this business. Many are third- or fourth-generation. That speaks to the strength of the Coca-Cola brand, its connectivity to the community, and the symbiotic relationship The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers share.
“It’s woven into the fabric of who we are as local bottlers. We’re just continuing a legacy. Because it’s what we do. It’s part of our DNA, and our associates know that.”