It was 1947, and Kenneth Brown, a World War II veteran, was a route salesman for Coke of Chicago. There was only one package, a 6.5 oz bottle of Coke, available for Ken to sell on his route. From this humble beginning came what is known today as Brown Bottling Group, a distributor for Pepsi Cola and Dr Pepper Beverages with employees servicing more than 30 counties in central and southern Mississippi.
In 1950, taking advantage of the experience he had gained on the streets of Chicago, Ken was hired by the Pepsi Cola Company to be the advertising manager for the Central Division. Building on his experiences as a salesman, Ken developed eye-catching and sales-building merchandising techniques that were unique for the times. Understanding the need for brand recognition, Ken pioneered the use of window displays to gain exposure for his brand Pepsi. Insurance agencies to department stores became Ken’s stage for his display creations, incorporating Pepsi into the windows that overlooked the main streets of the towns and cities throughout the Central Division.
In 1966, Ken showed his entrepreneurial spirit. Using family loans as capital, Ken and two partners purchased the struggling Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Madison, Wisconsin. Under Ken’s leadership and strong sales ability, the company soon flourished and provided the funds for additional acquisitions. With an eye on the future and looking for greater opportunity, Ken turned his eyes south.
In 1971, Ken and his partners purchased the franchise rights for Dr Pepper, 7 UP, and Pepsi products for 29 counties, covering Jackson, Meridian, and Hattiesburg, Mississippi. At the time of the purchase, all three brands were under separate ownership and operated independent bottling operations for those brands. With the purchase, Ken and his partners merged the brands together and incorporated the new company as Southern Mississippi Bottling Company. Southern Mississippi Bottling Company operated a bottling and sales plant in Jackson and sales distribution centers in Meridian and Hattiesburg.
In 1980, Ken completed a stock swap with his partners in which he sold his shares in the Wisconsin operations to his partners and then purchased his partners' shares in the Mississippi operations. Times were hard in the beginning and profits were low, but with Ken and his team’s hard work and determination, the company began to grow. “Do it up Brown” became the rallying cry, the slogan representing Ken and his team’s dedication and commitment to being the Best of the Best.
That same year Bill Brown, Ken’s son, joined the company as Vice President. A graduate of the University of Mississippi, Bill had been uniquely prepared to join the company. During his high school and college summers, Bill had worked in all aspects of the business, learning it from the ground up. While others were enjoying the pleasures of a hot Mississippi summer, Bill was working in vending, loading trucks, sales, and production. After eight years of on the job training and improving his knowledge of the company and the industry, Ken Brown promoted Bill to President of the company in 1988. To better position the company for growth, Bill reorganized operations and changed the name of the company from Southern Mississippi Bottling Company to Brown Bottling Group. He continued the company’s expansion by establishing a corporate office.
Growth continued in 1989 when Brown Bottling Group purchased the franchise rights for McComb and Natchez, adding 16 more counties to the company’s service area. In 1998, Bill implemented a strategy to grow the business through a focus on sales and marketing and divested the company of its production facilities in Jackson.
Under Bill’s leadership, the company continued to grow and has undergone an unprecedented building and expansion plan. In December 2007, the Jackson area BBG Sales facility relocated to a state-of-the-art facility with more than 100,000 square feet of office and warehouse space located on 35 acres in Brandon. The warehouse is equipped with photosynthetic lights, interior walls are painted white and packaging is recycled. Brown Bottling is committed to being a good community partner and utilizes green techniques in all of its building projects. In addition to the new Jackson facility, Hattiesburg, McComb, Meridian, Natchez, and the corporate office have been completely remodeled or rebuilt. All locations have state-of-the-art technology and are designed to maximize productivity and efficiency.
In 2007 after receiving the Donald M. Kendall Bottler of the Year award, Bill built upon the company’s success by introducing the company to the principles of performance excellence.
We're proud to bottle our products in Hattiesburg and employ more than 400 Mississippians throughout our territory. When you purchase our products, you can take comfort in knowing your money is being reinvested in the community in which you live.