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Ogdensburg Pepsi wins national award at PepsiCo convention

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Pepsi-Cola Ogdensburg Bottlers won national recognition Tuesday with the Donald M. Kendall Bottler of the Year Award at PepsiCo’s annual convention in Las Vegas, Nev.

It is recognition that seemed out of reach, said Bonita A. “Bonnie” Wright, the Ogdensburg company’s president and CEO. The company was one of three finalists nationwide for the honor.

“It was something that my father and we always thought we were too small for,” Mrs. Wright said Wednesday. “We are probably one of the smaller bottlers who have ever won the award.”

Mrs. Wright’s father, Richard E. Winter, started the Ogdensburg bottling plant in 1943. Mrs. Wright operates the company with her husband, Richard L., who is general manager. Their son, Scott M., is route supervisor and represents the third generation of the family in the business.

“Just to be nominated was amazing,” Mrs. Wright said. “I don’t even know if it’s sunk in yet.”

The Donald M. Kendall Bottler of the Year award honors bottlers in the United States and Canada for outstanding volume and per capita growth, retail and food service execution, customer service, quality standards and community support. The award comes with a $5,000 grant, which will be given to the Ogdensburg Boys and Girls Club.

“I’m still kind of in shock,” Scott Wright said Wednesday. “We’re one of the smaller bottlers, so it was a lot tougher to achieve it.”

A film crew in June shot a documentary about the business that was shown at the convention. Mrs. Wright said the documentary demonstrated how passionate her family and her employees are about their business.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after they showed our film,” she said. “We told the whole story of what my father went through and how we continue his legacy. And now the entire Pepsi family knows what it’s all about.”

Mr. Winter opened the bottling plant on Isabella Street and later moved to larger headquarters at Rensselaer and Lincoln avenues, in the former Sayer Bakery building. The company opened its current location at 1001 Mansion Ave. in 1962.

In addition to serving and heading multiple community groups, Mr. Winter helped establish the Ogdensburg Boys and Girls Club. A donation by Mr. Winter funded the Richard E. Winter Cancer Center at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center. He died in 2003.

“There is not one organization I can think of in Ogdensburg that has not benefited from the generosity of the Winter-Wright family and Ogdensburg Pepsi,” said city Mayor William D. Nelson. “It’s not just Ogdensburg. How many athletic fields and gymnasiums across St. Lawrence County have a scoreboard donated by Pepsi? Look at how many events are sponsored by them. It started with Richard Winter and has gone right up through to Bonnie and Dick and their children. They’re just so deserving of this award.”

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