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PROFILE: Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company impacts county

Crouch designed a new logo for PCBCL, which incorporated the older bottles and also recognized the community of Luverne.  (Photo by Beth Hyatt)

Crouch designed a new logo for PCBCL, which incorporated the older bottles and also recognized the community of Luverne. (Photo by Beth Hyatt)

The following article was part of the Profile 2016 special section of The Luverne Journal. The section in its entirety can be found in the March 31 edition of The Luverne Journal.

For over 100 years, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company Luverne (PCBCL) has served not only the citizens of Crenshaw County, but also those in eight other counties state wide. Its dedication to bringing quality services and products to the local businesses in Luverne and Crenshaw have only grown over the years, and according to Greg Crouch, president and chief executive officer for PCBCL, it will continue to grow for many years to come.

“Today, I think, there’s 80 something independent Pepsi bottlers left. So, we’re a rarity,” Crouch said. “The reason we’re still here today is because of the local business. It makes more sense to do it at a higher corporate and bigger level, but the relationships that we have around here are why companies like us exist.”
Crouch has served in this capacity for the past 11 years, and first became involved with PCBCL after he married his wife Robin, one of the company owners. PCBCL has remained in the same family since 1915 when the Turner family first founded it.
When the company first began, it manufactured 200 cases a day of Lime-Cola, Mil-Kay and NuGrape sodas for Crenshaw County.
After founder John Turner passed away in 1918, his two brothers and son took over the business and ran it until 1939. George Turner Sr., his son George Turner Jr. and W.O. Hornsby, brother-in-law to George Turner Sr., retained the bottling business after 1939.
At this time the company secured the franchise of Pepsi-Cola and began to expand their territory to the surrounding counties. The Turner family soon purchased all shares in the company, and began investing in new machinery that would help increase capacity. By 1952, the corporation was able to produce 2,500 cases a day.
“It started out in a horse and wagon, and I think it was just Crenshaw County where we were,” Crouch said. “Now we go to parts of eight counties. It’s grown over the years.”
In 1965 the company began construction on a new facility, and in 1968 they acquired the Dr. Pepper Bottling Co. of Opp.
After the death of George Turner Jr. in 1972, the company was taken over by his son-in-law Brent Springford, Crouch’s father-in-law. Springford made many contributions to the corporation, but one of the greatest investments was the acquisition of the Seven-Up Bottling Company of Andalusia. He was also instrumental in PCBCL joining up with 12 other bottling companies to form the Southeast Canners Inc., a canning co-op in Columbus, Ga.

Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Luverne wanted to bring back the look and feel of older advertising methods by decorating the sides of a few building along the main street of Luverne. (Photos by Beth Hyatt)

Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Luverne wanted to bring back the look and feel of older advertising methods by decorating the sides of a few building along the main street of Luverne. (Photos by Beth Hyatt)

In 2004, Springford and his wife both passed away, and Crouch then joined the family business.
According to Crouch, PCBCL is one of the largest employers in town. Currently, there are 90 employees; their case volumes number 1.5 million and they have roughly 50-60 vehicles on the road, which are relatively green. Crouch mentioned that the majority of trucks in their fleet run on liquefied petroleum gasoline (LPG). PCBCL is one of only two or three bottlers in the country that have a fleet like this, according to Crouch.
“That’s why we’re here. It’s a place to work. It’s good jobs, great benefits for our employees, and the ones that come here tend to stay,” Crouch said. “Over half of our employees have been here over 10 years. Once you’re here and once you get in and adopt our direction, you tend to stay.”
Crouch has enjoyed being part of the PCBCL family, and has been given opportunities throughout his career to grow his managerial experience and also incorporate his college degree of marketing and advertising into this position.
Crouch also works daily to ensure that PCBCL gives back to the community in multiple ways, whether it be through scholarship opportunities for local students, decorating areas of downtown with creative murals or assisting with the repair and building of parks and playgrounds. One of the most recent projects completed around town is the newest playground addition to E.L. Turner, Jr. Park in Luverne.
According to Crouch, PCBCL works hard to make sure to give as much back to the community as possible. The company has felt the support of the community so richly since its founding, and Crouch knows that the success of the company could not be achieved without community support.
“The reason we’re still in business is because of Luverne. After spending time here, it’s just kind of like a family,” Crouch said. “It’s still a profitable company that self-sustains itself. Our foundation goals are not just to make money but to improve the lives of our employees and the communities we’re in. I couldn’t even start to name all of the support we get.”
Crouch knows the key to success is to never stop growing, and that’s exactly what he plans to do as long as he serves in his leadership role.
“We’re kind of at our stride right now. We’ve grown 35 percent in 11 years,” Crouch said. “It’s really no slowing up. We plan to be here for another 100 years.”