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Coca-Cola makes advances in sales, ordering

Jefferson City plant implements updated distribution process

Jake Vogel talks to delivery driver Jason Bittle as he moves one of the new trucks at Coca-Cola plant in Jefferson City, Mo. The company has updated their distribution process and will begin using some new trucks, including this camouflaged semi.

Jake Vogel talks to delivery driver Jason Bittle as he moves one of the new trucks at Coca-Cola plant in Jefferson City, Mo. The company has updated their distribution process and will begin using some new trucks, including this camouflaged semi. Photo by Julie Smith.

Since 1892, the Vogel family has been in business in Jefferson City. They have been selling Coca-Cola products almost as long, since 1905. Along the way many changes have been made. This year is no different, as the father/son duo and fourth and fifth generation owners, Carl and Jake Vogel, move the company into a new era of distribution.

“We’re 30 years stale,” Jake said of the current distribution system.

Right now, the local distributor is losing out on sales, and so are its customers. On Friday, however, the company goes live with its new pre-sell system. Coca-Cola has invested in salespeople and larger trucks to accommodate the system.

“The goal is to be more efficient for our customers and us as well,” Jake said.

The change has been in the making for several years. Because Coca-Cola offers a wide variety of products, the new system is necessary, Jake said.

Currently, Coca-Cola fills orders by loading their iconic logo trucks (primarily 12-bay side loaders) and visiting local retailers.

Essentially, when the truck gets loaded, Coca-Cola guestimates via their handheld computers on which items, and how much of each, its customers will need.

Starting Feb. 28, sales representatives will visit their customers and see what products they actually need. Those orders will then be sent back to Coca-Cola and the orders will be built accordingly. This will not only allow the customers to keep product fully stocked, but it will eliminate second-run deliveries and the possibility for products to become out-dated while sitting on the trucks.

“We’re more excited than nervous,” Jake said. “I tell my guys, ‘its better than the current system.’”

Jake said there will be little tweaks and hiccups as the system goes live, but the family will continue to sell soda as they have for more than 100 years.

Aside from changing day-to-day operations, the Vogels have made significant investments to make this switch.

Vehicles for the sales representatives were purchased, as well as two new 16-bay tractor trailers, allowing the local company to retire some 12-bay side loaders. A military-camouflage bulk delivery truck will hit the grocery stores daily.

“We wanted to make a statement,” Jake noted.

The truck may also be used in the community and to welcome home troops at the National Guard. Another truck sports a sleek black design featuring Coke Zero.

“To survive and grow in the Coca-Cola system, it’s something we had to do,” Jake said of making the changes. “This is a win-win for us and the customers. We’re trying to increase their sales and make it more efficient for us.”

Coca-Cola is an independent family-owned franchise, and is one of only 67 left in the United States. In the course of the past few years, Jake and Carl have been making subtle changes to the local company. They have evaluated personnel and benefits while also hiring a human resources director to open lines of communication. The company has also recently updated the 604 Jefferson Street office facilities.

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