Executive tells how Coke saw the real thing in Dorsey for new syrup plant HOWARD COUNTY BUSINESS

April 01, 1993|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Staff Writer

A photo caption in yesterday's Howard County edition incorrectly identified Neil Shpritz. Mr. Shpritz is the executive director for the BWI Business Partnership Inc.

The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

Coca-Cola Enterprises and Coca-Cola USA chose Dorsey for a state-of-the-art syrup manufacturing and distribution plant because the county has an ideal transportation network, top-drawer amenities for employees and a location in the center of the Mid-Atlantic sales market, area business leaders were told yesterday.

"This is the ultimate location for us," said Rick Almquist, vice president and general manager for the Capitol Division of Coca-Cola Enterprises Northeast, based in Columbia.


Mr. Almquist told area business leaders at a breakfast meeting ++ yesterday that the attitude of county and state government officials also made a difference in the two sister companies' decision to locate in Howard County.

"There's an attitude of cooperation here that I can tell you doesn't exist in many other states," said Mr. Almquist.

Coca-Cola Enterprises is partly owned by Coca-Cola USA and holds a license to bottle and distribute Coca-Cola products. Coca-Cola USA manufactures the syrup concentrates; Coca-Cola Enterprises bottles and distributes the products.

The two sister companies announced March 18 that they would join a new syrup production plant and a distribution plant at the Howard County site. Coca-Cola USA had been mulling locating the syrup plant in either Harford or Howard counties.

The site in the Parkway Corporate Center, said Mr. Almquist, "provides quick access to new Route 100, Interstate 95 and Interstate 295. Also, a rail line comes right up to the door. That was a very important consideration that made us choose the location."

Mr. Almquist, who will be among the executives heading up the (( new plant, was the guest speaker at a breakfast meeting of the BWI Business Partnership, Inc. The association assists business and government on transportation and economic development issues in the Baltimore-Washington International Airport area.

About 80 business leaders and several government officials from Howard County and Anne Arundel County attended.

The CSX rail line near the site was important, Mr. Almquist told the group, because it will allow the company to have containers full of sweeteners for its products shipped to the plant on boxcars, rather than by tractor-trailers.

Shipping sweeteners by rail should reduce the company's transportation costs, explained Katherine E. Whiting, regional director for public affairs for the company. The company estimates that 20 to 30 rail containers will visit the plant weekly.

Mr. Almquist said the 122-acre site for the new, $150 million facility also was selected because it provides a central location in the market to be served by the plant.

The plant will serve all of Maryland, except the far western end, central Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, Delaware and Northern Virginia.

Soft drinks will be manufactured and bottled at the plant and then shipped directly to vendors. The plant will allow for significant streamlining of the current production and distribution PTC system in the area, said Mr. Almquist.

Currently, soft drink syrups are made at three area plants and then trucked to 10 sales and distribution centers where they are bottled and stored for later shipment to vendors.

"What we're trying to do with this plant is eliminate the additional step of manufacturing the product, then shipping it to warehouses where it is later shipped to the customer," Mr. Almquist told the breakfast group.

"This will be a totally automated warehouse where orders will be taken directly from the field, the product produced, packaged and then shipped straight from the facility."

Such plants are called "market service centers" by Coca-Cola Enterprises.

One such facility is already in operation in Cincinnati, said Mr. Almquist. The Dorsey plant will be much larger than the Ohio plant, he said, and may serve as a model for similar consolidated plants in the U.S. and Europe in the future, he said.

He noted there are no immediate plans for other market service centers because of the substantial investment planned for the Howard County plant -- a 900,000-square-foot facility where about 750 people will be employed.

Mr. Almquist said another key factor in the decision to locate the manufacturing and syrup plant in Howard County was the "excellent" quality of life amenities the area would offer employees.

"The schools and housing are very good. We wanted to select an area that would offer a good life for our employees. It's a way of reinvesting in your employee," he said.

While automation at the new facility, scheduled to open in the fall of 1994, will result in the elimination of some warehouse jobs at area Coca-Cola plants, workers affected by the move will be retrained for posts at the new plant, said Mr. Almquist.

A Coca-Cola warehouse in Annapolis will serve as the training site, he said.

"We believe in reinvesting in our employees. We'll move employees into jobs that will help drive our profits," he said.

The company has already begun hiring some new workers for the new plant, Mr. Almquist told the breakfast group. Those hires have mostly been in sales posts, said Ms. Whiting.

She said that within the next month or so the company expects to hire another 100 people, mostly for sales jobs.

She said that those interested in information about job openings should call: (410) 312-5320.

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