Few companies ever attain the level of brand recognition that becomes synonymous with American culture like motherhood, Chevrolet and apple pie, but all aspire to such greatness. One brand that has obviously attained this recognition is Coca-Cola. The product's history can be traced back to the late 1800s when John S. Pemberton formulated the drink and first served it at Jacob's Pharmacy in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Since then, it has become a world-wide consumer product, transcending the borders of countries and boundaries of cultures across the globe.
It's hard to imagine just how powerful this name has become, but the following example might provide some vivid mental imagery to convey its reach. For example, if all the Coca‑Cola ever produced were to cascade down Niagara Falls at its normal rate of 1.6 million gallons per second, it would flow for nearly 83 hours! In fact, the company cites documented research that marks the name "Coca-Cola" as the second-most widely understood term in the world, after "okay." With a consumer history of that magnitude, it's easier to understand why the company has the recognition they do.
That being said, having a product with such a powerful brand that is made right here in Abilene, Texas says a lot about the company's continued faith in doing business in our fair city. What may not be commonly known is that the company both manufacturers and provides the distribution warehouse of their product in Abilene. The manufacturing operation employs about 120 people and the warehouse distribution employs about 180 for an estimated total of 300 employees.
The manufacturing plant produces more than 20 million cases of product each year in the 116,000 square foot facility located just off Highway 351. Although the facility was built in 1974, the company's presence in Abilene actually dates back to 1904, not long after the product first started its rise to fame in 1886. That means the company has more than a 100 year history in our community, contributing to our local economy. Not many businesses can claim that to their credit.
It is estimated that the company generates $180.6 million in direct economic output each year. Spin-off businesses in the community will produce $60.3 million in economic output per year as a result of the local operations. In total, the company will support $240.9 million in economic output per year on average. Economic output is the value of goods and services produced in the economy and can be thought of as revenues for businesses.
To put it in more relative terms, the company pays more than $125,000 just in property taxes to local governing bodies. It would take an additional 35 households to equal that contribution and as a result, has provided a great deal of resources that would have otherwise been paid by the citizens of Abilene.
Coca-Cola isn't the only thing the plant manufacturers. The operation also makes a wide variety of other products under some 30 other labels including Sprite, Fuze Tea, TEY, Fanta, Dasani, Minute Maid, Fresca and NOS. Believe it or not, Dasani makes up a rather huge portion of the plant's production. In fact, the Abilene plant produces thousands of cases of the refreshing bottled water every year.
In addition to a wide range of labels, the plant handles a great deal of specialty packaging for the company on a nation-wide basis, not just the Abilene region. "One of the things that has helped position this plant as an integral part of Coca-Cola has been our ability to work with a lot of seasonal, specialty packaging," said plant manager, Buddy Moore. If you've ever seen the special cases that come out during the holiday season, you might just be looking at something that was filled in Abilene.
The reach of this facility is quite far when it comes to the seasonal packaging. The Abilene plant will fill and ship these seasonal products as far as California, Washington, North Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Tennessee and Louisiana. It speaks to the ability of both the local leadership and the workforce to make this one of Abilene’s trophy businesses. So the next time you feel thirsty, "Share a Coke with an Abilenian" and let them know it was made right here in Abilene, Texas.