A Roadtrip of Recognition: Celebrating CCSWB’s Fifth Anniversary in Style
Over 11,000 miles. Four states. More than 30 cities. After six months of travel, the Recognition Roadtrip has finally come to a conclusion, and the Anniversary Bottle is making its way to its final home at our Northpoint facility in Houston, Texas. The Bottle has had a tremendous journey, visiting CCSWB heroes who welcomed it like family when it came through their cities.
In late 2021, in celebration of the outstanding Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages team and the company’s fifth anniversary, the five-foot bottle embarked on a voyage across CCSWB’s territory. It met hundreds of associates and explored dozens of cities, from the plains of Oklahoma to the beaches of South Padre Island in South Texas. From the mecca of UFO theories in Roswell, NM to Texarkana, the town so nice they named it twice. At each stop, our local heroes left their mark with a custom sticker representing their city on the bottle.
“Although the Recognition Roadtrip has ended, our recognition and appreciation of our heroes will continue,” says Jean Claude Tissot, president of CCSWB. “This project has been an incredible representation of the true heart and spirit of Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages,” says Tissot. “The last five years have created a strong foundation for our future. It’s all thanks to our people and how everyone works together as a team, and I couldn’t be more grateful to work with each of them.”
The Recognition Roadtrip Bottle is a lasting reminder of the dedication and passion of the CCSWB team. Each individual plays a significant role in the CCSWB system, and we remain extremely appreciative of everyone. Congratulations to CCSWB on five years, and cheers to many more!
Cowtown and Beyond: Production and Distribution in the Fort Worth Area
In the early 1800s, the city of Fort Worth was known for railroads and cattle drives. Today, it’s known as the home of CCSWB’s Fossil Creek facility, which employs more than 800 people in sales and production.
Fossil Creek is a crucial player in the greater operations around the DFW Metroplex. The Fossil Creek facility serves 16 counties in and around Fort Worth, ranging from the bustling streets of downtown Fort Worth to smaller rural areas far beyond city limits. The team also partners with the Dallas-based Buckner and Equipment Fulfillment Center teams on a regular basis to keep operations running smoothly throughout DFW and the surrounding area. The team is close-knit, always willing to jump in where they are needed to get the job done.
“Everyone works well together to reach the end goal,” says Sean McElhenny, Plant Manager at Fossil Creek. “But it’s more than that. Everyone is trying to help everyone else achieve their goals. We’ve had multiple examples of people working outside their day-to-day job to step out of their comfort zone and help the greater Fossil team reach their goal.”
In addition to distribution, the Fossil Creek team serves as the only production center in the DFW Metroplex. The facility has all the materials necessary on-site to make each of the popular Coca-Cola brands for North Texas, from water and tea to energy drinks and soft drinks. Put simply, it’s no easy task.
“It’s an around-the-clock business,” says McElhenny. “To service more than 9,000 customers and put out that many cases in and around Fort Worth, you have to have a team that’s willing to overcome obstacles. The Fossil team embraces that challenge daily.”
Outside of sales, production and distribution responsibilities, the Fossil Creek team takes its commitment to the Fort Worth community very seriously. Not only are individual team members involved in organizations and nonprofits across the region, the entire Fossil Creek team also works together to give back. In Winter 2022, for example, the team gathered for a Polar Bear Plunge to benefit the Special Olympics. Clad in crazy costumes and big smiles, the team all faced the challenge head-on and jumped right into the freezing water.
Fossil Creek also has a long-standing partnership with local leaders to give back. In 2021, the team supported Tarrant County’s Back-to-School Roundup to give out hundreds of laptops to local high school students. “I’ve never seen bigger smiles,” reflects McElhenny.
Additionally, Fossil Creek steps in when the community needs a host location. For example, the team welcomes local congressional leaders who are visiting the area to coordinate positions in service academies. Fossil Creek serves as a base location for congressional leaders as they interview graduating students interested in attending a service academy – an initiative close to McElhenny’s heart as a West Point graduate himself.
With such a close-knit, caring team, it’s understandable that they also find ways to have fun both in and out of work. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t uncommon to see the team gathered at the facility to share BBQ and – of course – Coca-Cola. (They even had a bowling team several years ago!) They’re not shy about poking fun at each other and finding ways to enjoy their work. It makes projects like the Recognition Roadtrip even more exciting, as there’s no shortage of team members willing to jump in.
“Everyone tries to have fun across Fossil – it’s a good environment for friendship and collaboration,” says McElhenny. “Everybody understands that we spend a lot of time here, and we try to make it as enjoyable as possible while getting the work done too.”
City of Palms: Serving South Texas from Beach to Border
Walking into the McAllen facility, you get the immediate sense that the team’s secret to success is family. This team is close-knit, hard-working and determined to hit the goals they set by supporting one another and enjoying their time together. The 350-person team operates seamlessly to accomplish each task, whether they are putting together a company-wide Town Hall meeting or cleaning up part of the local highway.
“Our people make us special,” says Abel Garza, Sales Center Manager. “We have that culture of wanting to make sure that we do the right things, that we do it the right way – that we win. We do that every day.”
Johnny Salinas, District Sales Manager for the South Area, knew from his first day that the McAllen team was something special. “One of my favorite memories was my actual first day here,” recalls Salinas. “I walked in, and a few leaders were in the room. We all sat down, and they gave me a small Coca-Cola bottle. They had me open it and toasted with me, saying, ‘Cheers to you and your new career path.’ I still have that bottle.”
The McAllen CCSWB team covers a wide territory that stretches from Brownsville at the southernmost tip of Texas to Port Mansfield and Texas beach-side tourism gem, South Padre Island. Such a vast territory often means the CCSWB team faces unique challenges that require unique solutions that fit their clients, from the beach to the border.
“Long workdays, early mornings and late nights…through the highs and the lows, we have always been a team,” says Adalberto Garza, Plant Manager. “From the first day forward, I have made so many friends and acquaintances – too many to count.”
Overall, the team is thankful that Coca-Cola brands are an integral part of the city’s culture, particularly among its Hispanic population. Salinas notes that everyone he knows insists on having Coca-Cola (no off brands allowed!) at gatherings with family and friends. He even gets regular calls from his grandmother, asking “Are you going to bring me a Coke today?” It’s a daily treat she has indulged in for 86 years – and a generational tradition that Salinas and his associates at CCSWB will continue far into the future.
Cheers to the local community and culture in and around McAllen that is just as vibrant as the CCSWB facility and the team. The city is known as the “City of Palms,” and the “Jewel of the Valley Crown,” both representing its prosperity and beautiful setting in the Rio Grande Valley – and this team is thrilled to be a part of it!
The Equipment Fulfillment Center (EFC) Keeps Things Cool for CCSWB
We all love an ice-cold Coca-Cola, and CCSWB plays an integral role in making sure consumers can enjoy their chilled favorite brand when they want. But what about when it comes to keeping those drinks continuously cool and ready for cold consumption? Fortunately, CCSWB has a specialized team of experts who do just that: the Equipment Fulfillment Center (EFC) located in Mesquite, Texas.
The EFC is a small-but-mighty team of 50 employees servicing all cooling equipment across the entire CCSWB territory. The EFC is responsible for all the 288,000 pieces of equipment stationed in places like convenience stores, offices and schools across the region. Their work includes repairing old equipment, replacing parts and placing approximately 1,600 units a month.
“We’re responsible for all the strategic sourcing to support the entire market,” says Bridgett Forge, Senior Plant Manager, who oversees every part of the EFC’s operations. “We place coolers, vendors and fountain equipment in the market – North and South – and we actually refurbish equipment.”
As the only facility of its kind for the entire company, the EFC plays a crucial role in repairing and repurposing equipment – working on roughly 1,150 units each month. In theory, this can sound like a complex process, requiring a multitude of specialties and intricate knowledge of both the machinery and CCSWB’s market. In practice, the EFC’s skilled and close-knit team gets it done while making it look easy.
Relative to repairs, when a vendor’s cooler stops working, it is sent to the EFC team. Once received, it goes through a triage process – something Triage Technician Anthony Ruiz is highly familiar with. “As a Triage II Technician, I plug up the machines to see if they’re cooling or not cooling, or if they’re still in warranty or out of warranty,” says Ruiz.
Together, he and the CCSWB technicians determine what is wrong with the equipment and whether it can be repaired. From there, they complete repairs, then send the equipment out to staging until it’s ready to be put on the market – which is where Forklift Operator Lester Biggers comes in.
“I’m on the outbound team, so I’m responsible for on-time deliveries,” he says. “I make sure the locations are correct, going through each machine to check that they’re going out to the right vendor.”
The EFC team is proud of their vibrant culture and family feel. Not only do the team members work together to find new and innovative ways to improve the process of equipment repair and distribution – they enjoy spending time together outside of work. Before the pandemic, the EFC team could always find something to celebrate, sharing in their community with monthly birthday celebrations and cook-outs. The team also boasts active volunteers with any opportunities CCSWB or individual team members have available.
“This team is always willing and very helpful to do what it takes to support our cross-functional partners,” says Forge. “I really appreciate them and enjoy working with such a dedicated team.”
A Tale of Two States: CCSWB Serving Texas and Arkansas
Early this February, the Recognition Roadtrip Bottle visited Texarkana, where it spent time with the heroes who service areas of East Texas and parts of Arkansas. The heroes took the bottle all over the city, from its beautiful murals in Historic Downtown to the unique state line. In this instance the bottle could jump – in a matter of inches – from Texarkana, Texas, to its twin city across the state line, Texarkana, Arkansas.
In fact, the city’s name comes from its position at the intersection of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, sitting right on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Interestingly, Texarkana’s Federal Building is the only government building that sits across two state lines in the U.S., and it’s not uncommon to see visitors taking photos on the state line in front of the building.
This unique dual-state location also means CCSWB is perfectly positioned to service areas in both Texas and Arkansas. The company’s territory extends nearly 120 miles across from Mount Vernon, Texas to Prescott, Arkansas.
According to David Carter, Sales Execution Manager, “We cover about 33% of our territory in Arkansas. It’s a broad area to cover, and a lot of rural territory.”
Sales Center Manager Bo Coffman recently joined the Texarkana team. He quickly noticed the ‘all in good fun’ Texas-Arkansas rivalries – a mainstay for local residents. These rivalries extend from high school football games between Texas High and Arkansas High, to supporting either the University of Texas or the University of Arkansas when they compete against each other.
However, Coffman was excited to see that even despite the rivalries, the CCSWB community is very close-knit, and they thrive on giving back. “We have a donation partnership with Harvest Texarkana,” he says. “We’re proud of our close relationship, especially when we donate product so they can distribute it to people in need.”
Coffman isn’t the only one who has enjoyed the relaxed way-of-life in Texarkana. “It’s a laid back, quiet community,” says Cameron Hunt, Route Sales Manager. “If you want to take a drive down the back roads, let down the windows and listen to some music, you can do that. It’s a great community to be a part of.”
Bright Light in Del Rio
After traveling over 2,100 miles, the Recognition Roadtrip Bottle has arrived at the Mexico-U.S. border in Del Rio.
CCSWB has roots in Del Rio dating back 50 years. For several decades, the great heroes at the Del Rio facility have maintained a strong community presence in this border town. Over the years, Del Rio has introduced mentorship programs where CCSWB employees take local children fishing, and they have sponsored several fundraising marathons for local nonprofits and schools. Del Rio heroes also partnered with the local high school to hold an event called “Power your School,” where CCSWB provided Powerade coolers and products to the school and their students.
Last fall, Del Rio was thrust into the national spotlight due to a rush of immigrants crossing the border. State and federal government officials as well as local companies like CCSWB worked together to assist the Del Rio community.
Al Flores, Route Sales Manager at CCSWB, said, “Del Rio has a rich, family-oriented focus,” and CCSWB leaned into this focus, rallying around its community to aid federal, state and local organizations in providing beverages and support to address the needs.
“There was so much uncertainty,” said Flores. “Although we are a stone’s throw away from the border, we had never seen such a large influx of people into our town before. CCSWB was quick to act — ensuring our employees and the community needs were all taken care of.”
There are now two permanent campgrounds for the National Guard and federal agents supporting border officials, and CCSWB is working hand in hand with all government representatives to ensure everyone has the necessary supplies they need.
“We even coordinated with our clients to provide a Thanksgiving meal for officials and give them a sense of home,” Flores said. “It’s an honor to be a part of an organization that is constantly focused on helping other people.”
Up next: The Recognition Roadtrip Bottle is heading East towards Houston! Check out the interactive map to see the rich culture of Del Rio and the several other stops along the Recognition Roadtrip.
Holiday with a Purpose
During this holiday season, the Recognition Roadtrip Bottle is making its way into the Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages (CCSWB) central Texas facilities, and it is a busy time! Within a two-month window, the team will see a 15-20% spike in the number of cases moved. This is the time of year that our dedicated heroes are working around the clock filling orders, communicating with our customers and moving thousands of cases a week to ensure our communities all have the products they need for the season. But, even through the holiday surge to meet consumer demand – it won’t stop CCSWB from giving back to our communities in amazing ways.
“The holiday season is unlike any other time of the year for CCSWB,” Sean Whitehead, Sales Manager III at San Antonio and Del Rio, said. “While we have the large increase in demand, our team remains the same size, so it requires a lot of collaboration and problem solving to ensure products are out on the shelves. From our sales team to our warehouse team and drivers, everyone at CCSWB works tirelessly to deliver the best holiday season possible for our community.”
Concurrent with the holiday spike, CCSWB leads a “Holiday with a Purpose” initiative whereby each facility partners with a local nonprofit to give back to their respective communities during the holiday season. This year, the San Antonio and Del Rio facilities have partnered with Family Service, a local nonprofit focused on providing underserved families with the necessary education and supplies to help their families thrive.
“It’s an honor to be a part of a team that is exclusively ‘others-focused’ and I’m so glad the Recognition Roadtrip efforts allow us to shine a light on the great work our team does,” Whitehead said. “The environment we facilitate is unlike any other I’ve been a part of.”
Whitehead started working at CCSWB fifteen years ago as an Overnight Sideload Driver, and he says he has seen amazing growth in the culture of CCSWB throughout the years.
“It’s no shock that a lot has changed in our communities over the years, but at the core, CCSWB has remained focused on others,” Whitehead said. “It’s never a one-sided conversation. Our culture is built on the input and desires from team members at every level of our organization, and that makes CCSWB feel like family.”
CCSWB’s culture enables its associates to make a tangible impact in their community even during the holiday spike. Whether it’s delivering truckloads of product each week, providing each community with a fun holiday experience, partnering with local nonprofits, providing family fun days for CCSWB employees, or taking the 5-foot-tall Recognition Roadtrip Bottle around our communities, the incredible work CCSWB does all starts with our outstanding heroes.
“The obvious explanation behind our community impact is the amazing heroes CCSWB employs,” Whitehead said. “CCSWB’s collaboration makes everyone feel like we are a family, and that feeling allows us to do great things for both our clients and the communities we live in.”
Uncovering Mysteries on the Road to Roswell
After traveling over 1,300 miles, the Recognition Roadtrip Bottle has made its way to Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages’ most western facility in Roswell, New Mexico. Yes, THAT Roswell – the New Mexico city that became a mecca for UFO theories based on an event that happened in 1947 (read further for background*) and has gained popularity over the last five decades as the center of paranormal activity research.
CCSWB’s relationship with the Roswell community dates even further back than the alleged UFO sighting in 1947! CCSWB has served this mysterious town and its population of 48,000 since 1936 and currently has 30 amazing heroes that work every day from our double bottom facility to provide the community with Coca-Cola products.
Once the Recognition Roadtrip Bottle made its way to town, our Roswell team, led by Randy McCloud, Sales Execution Manager, took it along to further investigate the infamous UFO sighting of 1947 – they even brought a film crew to document their findings. Starting at the Roswell Visitor Center, the team traveled to the numerous sites highlighting the craze for paranormal activity. They even saw a few green aliens along their way! 😉
Although the verdict is still out regarding what happened on that warm summer night in 1947, our Roswell team and the Recognition Roadtrip Bottle escaped alien abduction and have a video that documents their experiences, which you can check below.
Up next: the Recognition Roadtrip Bottle is slated to head back into Texas as it continues to travel to every CCSWB facility. Check out https://cocacolaswb.com/roadtrip to see what’s in store for the Recognition Roadtrip!
*Roswell, NM background according to the Roswell Daily Record: Founded in 1891, Roswell grew as the United States military built bases in the town’s surrounding mountains. For many decades Roswell was a quiet community where the military would research new technology and train recruits. However, everything changed in 1947 when Roswell residents claimed to see flying saucers. After the first reports, metal debris from an unidentified flying object was found scattered across several miles of a New Mexico ranch. On July 8, 1947, the United States Air Force took control of the investigation. They obtained the debris of the UFO and claimed further tests determined the flying saucer was just in fact a weather balloon.
The Roswell incident faded from public view for 30 years, until the 1970s when books, TV shows and films depicted recreations of that infamous day in 1947. Uncertainty arose as the general public began to claim there were discrepancies surrounding the original investigators findings. Since then, Roswell became the center of paranormal activity research as millions have flooded the New Mexico town throughout the years to uncover the truth.
West Texas Celebrates CCSWB Family During Recognition Roadtrip
After traveling nearly 700 miles through Oklahoma and every CCSWB Oklahoma facility, the Recognition Roadtrip Bottle spent a week traveling through West Texas. First stop: Abilene, where the Abilene Distribution Center and Production Plant teams welcomed the bottle just in time for Family Fun Day!
Throughout CCSWB this month, all of our associates are participating in local family fun days. In Abilene, CCSWB employees and their families gathered at Denton Valley Farms to enjoy each other’s company. Featuring a pumpkin patch, corn maze, paintball shooting range and hayrides – people of all ages were able to unwind from their busy week while enjoying the beautiful weather.
Along with these fun Fall festivities, CCSWB employees and their families took part in the CCSWB 6-month Recognition Roadtrip. Abilene’s Family Fun Day is just one of many special occasions planned for the Recognition Roadtrip. It was a blast to see the wonderful CCSWB employees and families interact with the Recognition Roadtrip Bottle. Events like Abilene’s Family Fun Day help us celebrate our dedicated heroes who are the foundation of CCSWB. We have to note that we were relieved that the bottle thankfully didn’t find its way into the paintball shooting range!
Check out the wonderful pictures below from the Family Fun Fest! Also, make sure to check out the interactive map which allows you to track the route the Recognition Roadtrip Bottle has taken!
As we kick off the Recognition Roadtrip, it’s important to recognize that our success starts and stops with the CCSWB Private Fleet Transportation team.
Every day, our Private Fleet Transportation team moves Coca-Cola products back and forth between our distribution centers and production center facilities. The Transportation leadership team received Arca Continental’s 2021 Value Generation Cup for being people focused and driving employee engagement.
Now, they have an additional mission: ensuring the 5-ft Coke bottle safely makes it way to all our facilities over the next six months so all of our heroes can get the recognition they deserve.
Special events driver Mike Roadruck from Ft. Worth was the first driver to start the Recognition Roadtrip, moving the bottle from Dallas to Ft Worth, where Cade Lindsey and Hilda Velez put it on a trailer to Quapah driven by Michael Cowley. Adam Whitson and the S&R team in Quapah sent to Okmulgee, Oklahoma, the first stop along its route.
“The Recognition Roadtrip gives frontline heroes within CCSWB a fun opportunity to show off their beautiful and diverse towns,” said Clark Greer, private fleet transportation manager. “I’m beyond excited to see the creative ways our heroes will use this bottle to celebrate the great work they do.”
Greer notes that the fleet team’s motto is to “Move Coca-Cola products safely, effectively and efficiently from point A to point B.” CCSWB employs 178 transport drivers who expertly move Coca-Cola products to and from facilities across Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Although the bottle may be a little larger than their usual deliveries, the motto for the Recognition Roadtrip remains exactly the same.
“This company is relatively young,” Greer said. “However, the amazing people who are the foundation of CCSWB have created a culture unlike any other. Without each one of our heroes, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
The Recognition Roadtrip will end in Dallas/Fort Worth in April 2022 to celebrate the 5-year anniversary of CCSWB.
Be sure to keep an eye on social media and www.cocacolaswb.com/roadtrip to see the updated journey of the bottle through every CCSWB facility over the next six months.