Leaders of Buffalo Rock Company on Monday joined Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and other local officials to announce a historic expansion of its operations in the Magic City.
Buffalo Rock is an independent Pepsi bottler based in Birmingham. Founded in 1901, the company in various markets has the territorial rights to Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Sunkist, Aquafina, Sobe Lifewater, O.N.E., Propel, Gatorade, G2, Amp, Rockstar, Hawaiian Punch, Ocean Spray, Sobe, Fruit Shoot, Starbucks, Canada Dry, Lipton Teas and Maxwell House products.
Additionally, the company has its own staple brands: Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale, Grapico, Sunfresh and Dr. Wham, which is sold in territories that Buffalo Rock does not have the rights to Dr. Pepper.
As of 2019, Buffalo Rock was estimated to be Alabama’s 29th-largest private company, with annual sales of about $450 million in 2018.
Monday’s announcement detailed that the company has purchased more than a million square feet of new warehouse and office space in Birmingham; according to a release, Buffalo Rock’s plans include investing $75 million in new technologies, renovations and as many as 50 new jobs.
“This is the largest infrastructure investment in our company’s history, and we are proud to make it in Birmingham,” stated Jimmy Lee, chairman of the board and CEO of Buffalo Rock Company.
The company was formed by his family, and Lee is a fourth generation member of Buffalo Rock.
“We’ve been in business in Birmingham since 1901, and today’s announcement is a reflection of our ongoing commitment to this community,” he continued. “We are grateful for the hard work of all our employee-partners and for local elected officials whose support sustains our continued success.”
Buffalo Rock reportedly purchased an estimated 895,000-square-foot warehouse and an approximately 120,000-square-foot office building, both inside Birmingham city limits. The warehouse at 400 Industrial Drive and office building at 800 Lakeshore Drive together span almost 77 acres.
The warehouse will serve as Buffalo Rock’s central distribution center, while the office building will house the central distribution office. Buffalo Rock’s unprecedented investment in the facilities will include state-of-the-art technology that will integrate a high-speed automated warehouse. Between 25 and 50 new jobs will be created just in the initial phase of the project, the release advised.
The company is already the largest independent single shareholder owned Pepsi Bottler in the United States, as well as the third largest for Sunkist, the sixth largest for Dr. Pepper and the 10th largest for Canada Dry. An impressive 85% of everything Buffalo Rock sells is manufactured in Birmingham, and about 10% of the company’s employee-partners are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
“Buffalo Rock has been a great corporate partner to the City of Birmingham for well more than a century,” Woodfin said. “We are grateful for the company’s investments that create jobs in our community, as well as the Lee family’s significant contributions over all these years to support education, workforce development and other city initiatives. Jimmy, the Lee family, and Buffalo Rock have demonstrated unwavering commitment to our city.”
The warehouse property sits on about 64 acres and includes a 780,000-square-foot dry storage warehouse, a shallow bay warehouse that is 70,000 square feet and out-buildings (cross dock/fleet) totaling 45,000 square feet. The office building and its parking lots make up the remaining almost 13 acres.
“Renovating these sites represents a significant investment for our company, and the scale of these projects will give us additional capacity to expand our operations as we continue to grow into the future,” added Matthew Dent, Buffalo Rock’s president and COO. “This investment will also enhance our ability to serve our customers with excellence. Today is a very exciting day for our employees and the entire Buffalo Rock family.”
Birmingham-based Hoar Program Management has already started pre-construction planning and work on the properties will reportedly begin immediately. JH Berry & Gilbert represented Buffalo Rock on the transaction, PNC Bank handled the financing and Burr Foreman provided legal support.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn