On April 20, 2016, The Coca-Cola Company announced that it had signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to grant territories to the Coca-Cola system’s newest bottling partner, Junior Bridgeman. This began the exciting journey of the Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company.
Junior Bridgeman’s relationship with Coca-Cola began over thirty years ago when he was playing basketball for the Milwaukee Bucks. During the off season he would volunteer at local basketball clinics sponsored by Coke. Giving back to the community has always been very important to him.
Bridgeman retired from the NBA in 1987 after 12 successful years in the league. He played in 711 games for the Bucks, still the most in franchise history. Junior then established his business interests by purchasing three Wendy’s franchises. He worked all facets of the business from flipping burgers to mopping the floors. He recognized very early that the key to a successful business was to take care of your people and your customers.
He went on to become the founder of a Louisville, Kentucky, company named Manna Inc., and grew his portfolio of businesses to become one of the largest restaurant franchise operators in the country. As you might expect, Junior’s restaurants were a great partner with Coca-Cola.
Junior took his relationship with Coca-Cola one step further with the formation of the Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company on February 25, 2017. The company services the Kansas, Missouri, and Southern Illinois territories.
Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company will continue the 100+ year traditions of the Coca-Cola Company while leveraging our heritage of putting people first, serving our local communities, and providing great brands.
Sandy Douglas, President of Coca-Cola North America, shares the announcement of Junior Bridgeman joining the Coca-Cola family