EDGE The Brand: Chattanooga, Coke town, Tennessee

EDGE The Brand: Chattanooga, Coke town, Tennessee

Chattanooga's 117-year history of bottling Coca-Cola, revamped with new $67 million facility

April 1st, 2016 by Alex Green in EDGE
A variety of commemorative Coke bottles are displayed as the Choo Choo Chapter of the Coca-Cola Collectors Club meets at the Chattanooga Choo Choo on Nov. 14, 2015.

A variety of commemorative Coke bottles are displayed...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

* History: Chattanooga, in 1899, became the site of the first ever Coca-Cola bottling facility, forever changing the business model of the world-famous Atlanta soda brand, which at the time was available only as a fountain beverage. The modern independent bottling and distribution infrastructure of Coca-Cola dates back to Chattanooga. Chattanooga's Coke bottling and distribution facilities operate today under Birmingham, Alabama-based Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED.

* Location: Coke UNITED's new Tennessee Valley Division headquarters opened March 1 at 2111 W. Shepherd Rd., in Chattanooga. The Tennessee Valley Division is over Coke distribution in Scottsboro, Alabama, Dalton, Georgia, and the Chattanooga area. The facility serves 12 counties total between the three states, as well as sales for Chattanooga and Dalton. The new, roughly 300,000-square-foot facility employs 259 people. Combined with the production plant on Amnicola Highway, Coke UNITED now operates more than 600,000-square-feet of facilities in Chattanooga, and employs more than 550 people.

* Leadership: Darren Hodges, director of the Tennessee Valley Division, is a Chattanooga native and UTC graduate, who oversees operations in the 12-county area served by the new Chattanooga regional headquarters. Coke UNITED is headed by Chairman and CEO Claude Nielsen.

* Products: The new Chattanooga Coke distribution facility handles more than 680 products, including various products and packaging, and moves 11 million cases of product a year. With the help of state-of-the-art, automated warehouse picking technology, the Shepherd facility will move an average of 25,000 to 60,000 products a night at a rate of 5,600 cases an hour.

* Territory: The Tennessee Valley Division of Coke United is responsible for sales and distribution in Hamilton, Marion and Grundy Counties in Tennessee; Catoosa, Walker, Chattooga, Dade, Whitfield and Murray Counties in Georgia; and Marshall, DeKalb and Jackson Counties in Alabama. In that territory, the Chattanooga-based division services more than 944,000 consumers and 6,400 retail customers.