Coke celebrates 100 years in business today

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; The product is the same but the company, Natchez Coca-Cola, has changed in the 100 years since the William Kendall family founded it in 1906.

Today, Moe LeBlanc, sales center manager, will host an invitation-only reception to celebrate the anniversary at the plant on D&8217;Evereux Drive.

&8220;It&8217;s been a rewarding venture to work for the Miss-Lou for 100 years,&8221; LeBlanc said. &8220;We have a group of very dedicated employees.&8221;

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The business began as a bottling company, with the franchise family owned.

Today it is a sales center, one of many owned by Coca-Cola Enterprises based in Atlanta.

&8220;When it was a bottling operation, it had more than 100 employees,&8221; LeBlanc said. &8220;Today we staff 42 employees, and they are all like family.&8221;

Coca-Cola Enterprises sells 80 percent of the soft drinks sold in the United States. &8220;We&8217;re home based in Atlanta, just like the Coca-Cola company itself, where the secret formula is hidden,&8221; LeBlanc said.

On the CCE Web site, the company mission states a design to remain local in its nature despite the fact that it operates 431 facilities and claims revenues of about $18 billion each year.

&8220;Though Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. is less than 20 years old as a company, our roots span the more than 100 years of the Coca-Cola bottling business,&8221; the company goal states.

The Natchez company first opened in a building at 222 Main St., then moved across the street, he said. The next home for the business was at the corner of Wall and Monroe streets.

&8220;We&8217;ve been at this location since the mid 1960s,&8221; he said.