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Pepsi Cola Ogdensburg Bottlers up for Pepsi’s top honor

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When Bonnie A. Wright addressed employees at this year’s company Christmas dinner she shared with them her wish to be nominated for the Donald M. Kendall Bottler Of The Year award.

“Just to be nominated for bottler of the year would be my dream, but it will probably never happen,” she recalled telling her employees.

Mr. Wright, who is the company’s president and CEO has been involved in the business for as long as she can remember. Her father, Richard E. Winter founded Pepsi Cola Ogdensburg Bottlers in 1943.

“Next year will be our 70th anniversary and we’ve never been nominated before,” she said. “This is very big. It almost seems unbelievable.”

Pepsi Cola Ogdensburg Bottlers is a family-owned business that has included three generations of the Wright-Winter family. Dick Wright, Mrs. Wright’s husband is the general manager and their son, Scott is the sales supervisor and will one day take over operations from his parents.

“That’s why Pepsi is still here, because Scott is involved and very dedicated.”

Mr. and Mrs. Wright found out about the honor earlier this week and shared it with the public via the company’s Facebook page.

“Just being named as a finalist is an honor we are extremely proud of,” she said in the posting dated June 11.

When asked what her father would think of the honor, Mrs. Wright replied, “He never thought we could get it. He always thought we were too small and the bigger ones always got it,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons why it’s so unbelievable.”

The Wrights will find out on Aug. 15 at the annual Pepsi convention in Las Vegas whether they’ll take home the honor that has long eluded them.

“This is the one award that he wanted, but never got,” Mr. Wright said, referring to Mr. Winter, who passed away in 2004.

Neither Mr. or Mrs. Wright know who nominated them, admitting they actually don’t know a whole lot about the nomination process.

“It’s not the kind of thing we get an email for,” Mrs. Wright said, adding she does know the criteria used to determine the winner.

Among the things judges will be looking at is their alignment with Pepsi and doing things the “Pepsi way,” their per capital distribution and their involvement in the community.

Mr. Wright explained per capita consumption of Pepsi products in St. Lawrence County is 40, eight ounce bottles per year.”

“Everything is converted into eight ounce bottles,” Mrs. Wright said, explaining that figure includes cans, bottles and even syrup sold for inclusion in fountain drinks.”

As for community involvement, the Winter-Wright family has long been known as one of the most generous, giving families in the region, as evidenced by the cancer treatment center in Ogdensburg bearing Mr. Winter’s name.

“We have been involved in the community for almost 70 years,” she said, adding they’ve selected three charities to highlight as part of their presentation, The Ogdensburg Boys & Girls Club, Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center and Gouverneuer Businesswomen’s Walk.

A film crew hired by Pepsi will be in Ogdensburg next week to create a mini-documentary about Pepsi Cola Ogdensburg Bottlers.

“They’ll be filming on Thursday and Friday” Mrs. Wright said, including during the lunch hour at Phillip’s Diner on Thursday.

“Mr. Phillips and my dad were great friends,” she said.

Filming in Ogdensburg will also include a stop at the cancer treatment center.

Other sites for filming will include Price Chopper in Gouverneur and Al Smith’s Superette in Norfolk.

“He was a customer of my dad’s,” she said.

“We could have filmed in a million places,” she said, but with a limited amount of time available recording everywhere simply isn’t possible.

“We have a lot of wonderful customers who have supported us over the years,” Mr. Wright said.

Mrs. Wright added, “That’s a lot of the reason we’re getting this, that and our employees.”

The film, which will be approximately 15 to 20 minutes in length, will also include interviews with several community members and employees, Mr. Wright said, adding their average employee has been with them for nearly 20 years.

That’s going to be a big deal,” he said referring to the film. “They do an amazing job with those documentaries, each of which will be aired at the convention prior to Pepsi announcing which bottler has been named the winner.

“It’s pretty emotional,” he said. “Every video you watch makes you feel like you live there.”

The contest’s other finalists are Dresser, Wisc. and PBV Eastern Carolina.

Mr. and Mrs. Wright said they’re looking forward to the convention, where they will be joined by several other members of their management team.

Pepsi Cola Ogdensburg Bottlers is one of approximately 100 bottlers located in the U.S. and Canada that compete for the award each year.

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