Coca-Cola makes plans to enlarge Craig distribution center

A recent acquisition of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Vernal, Utah, means the operating facility in Craig will become a larger distribution hub. It's also a move that should create a handful of jobs in the area, officials of the new company said.

Craig will be considered one site of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northern Colorado. Granby is the company's other new site. Both were part of the Vernal company's operation.

The change comes on the heels of an acquisition of the Vernal company's assets by the Coca Cola Bottling Co., High Country in Rapid City, S.D.

Distributing products to Colorado cities from Vernal, Utah was a logistical challenge, said Bruce Baker, the division manager of Coca-Cola's new Northern Colorado division.

"We are a very young and aggressive company," Baker said. "We're very excited to do business in the community."

Baker said the Northern Colorado Coca-Cola branch has already hired about six new positions. He predicts the company may hire up to four more positions in the next year according to how rapidly the company grows.

Craig's Coca-Cola office is near the Loaf-N-Jug on West Victory Way. Baker said the company is seeking a new, larger facility in Craig.

High Country's president and chief operating officer, M. Trevor Messinger, said the acquisition fits into the company's long-term strategy of serving rural contiguous markets while building on customer service and community relationships.

High Country Coca-Cola has neighboring facilities in the Wyoming cities of Casper, Rawlins, Rock Springs and Jackson.

"Our company will focus on implementing our operating culture and training our new employee group so that we can better serve the needs of our customers and build the Coca-Cola business in these markets," he said. "We believe that our decentralized operating philosophies will help us become much more involved in the communities we serve."

Baker said Coca-Cola already contributes to local fund-raising efforts and the company will continue that trend.

Coca-Cola will continue to manufacture most of the carbonated soft drinks products within its existing manufacturing facility in Rapid City, Messinger said.

The company produces a variety of non-alcoholic carbonated and non-carbonated drinks.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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