A Conversation With. . . Gina McCommon and Mitch Reed

 

Gina McCommon                       Mitch Reed

 

Regional soft drink brands have always held a special place in the hearts of many Americans. One such brand is Double Cola, whose roots actually go way back to 1922 when The Good Grape Company was founded by Charles D. Little and Joe S. Foster in Chattanooga, Tenn. A couple of years later Little created Marvel Cola, which would go on to eventually be renamed Double-Cola in 1933. The name was chosen because its 12-ounce bottle was twice the size of other soda bottles being sold at the time. The company’s roster today includes the brands Ski, Chaser, Jumbo and Oranta, and it recently added a new energy drink called QUAD, and a coconut water named Minoku. It also continues to expand its territory, announcing new distribution into northwest Georgia. The result is this family-owned company’s revenue was up 17 percent last year, during a time when many soft drink companies are facing significant headwinds. Beverage World sat down with the company’s vice president, Gina McCommon, and director of sales, Mitch Reed, to find out more about this historic and yet continuingly vibrant beverage company.
 

Beverage World: It seems like there’s been a lot of new things coming out of Double Cola lately. What’s behind all the innovation?
Gina McCommon:
Well, we’ve been doing things for a while but it just so happens that this year we’re doing a lot more press than we have in the past. For instance, we’ve continued to work on our CSD brands prior to this year. We’re constantly introducing new flavors. But we did decide to look at outside products from our CSDs simply because we wanted to expand our portfolio and be able to offer our bottlers and distributors additional products that there was a need for, or products that we think have the potential to grow.
 

BW: How would you describe your new energy drink QUAD?
McCommon:
We wanted something that tasted different than traditional energy drinks. So our focus was on coming up with flavors that were unique and didn’t leave that traditional energy drink taste. It tastes more like we’d expect a soft drink to taste like.
 

BW: What would you say has been the most significant recent development with the company?
Mitch Reed:
The recent rebranding we’ve done with the Double Cola brand has probably been a major change for us as far as current products.

McCommon: It’s definitely been the most impactful change that we’ve experienced simply from the rebranding with the new graphics and the new feel and new personality. It’s made a tremendous difference on that brand alone. It’s helped us to get new distribution.
 

BW: How would you say the company is different today compared with its early days?
McCommon
: I think today we’re a lot more responsive to the needs of our bottlers and distributors.

Reed: And because we’re a small company we’re able to adapt to the needs of our different various markets and capitalize on opportunities in those individual markets.
 

BW: Do you remain optimistic about the future of soft drinks given the struggles other companies are having?
McCommon:
CSDs are such a big part of the beverage world, that they might continue to decline slowly but I think it’s going to come to a point fairly soon where it levels off because everyone drinks soft drinks and it’s such a part of America’s lifestyle. I just can’t see it going away. It’s just such a big piece of the pie. We all want to be healthy, I think I’m a fairly healthy person, but I have to have my Double, ok?

Reed: And I have to have my Ski.

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