Birmingham-based Buffalo Rock company announced Monday that its board of directors has voted to endorse Matthew Dent as the company’s CEO. This makes Dent the first CEO in the company’s 120-year history who is not a member of the Lee family.
Former CEO Jimmy Lee III will continue to serve as executive chairman of Buffalo Rock on a daily basis, according to a statement. He would be involved at a strategic level in the operations of the company, while Dent will lead and be responsible for the overall day-to-day performance of the company.
Buffalo rock is an independent Pepsi bottler based in Birmingham. Founded in 1901, the company owns in various markets the territorial rights to Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Sunkist, Aquafina, Sobe Lifewater, ONE, Propel, Gatorade, G2, Amp, Rockstar, Hawaiian Punch, Ocean Spray, Sobe, Fruit Shoot, Starbucks, Canada Dry, Lipton Teas and Maxwell House products.
In addition, the company has its own core brands: Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale, Grapico, Sunfresh and Dr. Wham, which are sold in territories in which Buffalo Rock does not have the rights to Dr. Pepper.
“Today is a very exciting day for the Buffalo Rock family and for the future of our business,” said Lee, a fourth generation member of the company. “This year we are celebrating the 120th anniversary of my family’s founding of our business here in Birmingham and we have come a long way since that time thanks to our employee-partners. Matthew has demonstrated the skills to lead the company into the future and I have complete confidence in his leadership. He knows and practices the culture that defines and makes our company a great success.
As of 2019, Buffalo Rock was rated in Alabama 29th tallest privately held, with annual sales of around $ 450 million in 2018. The company is already the largest independent, single-shareholder-owned bottler in the United States, as well as the third for Sunkist, the sixth for Dr Pepper and the 10th for Dr Pepper. for Canada Dry. An impressive 85% of everything Buffalo Rock sells is made in Birmingham, and about 10% of the company’s employee-partners are veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
The company recently announcement a historic expansion of its Magic City footprint.
Dent began working as an intern 25 years ago in the Tuscaloosa Division of Buffalo Rock when he was a student at the University of Alabama. Since joining the company he has been involved in all facets of the business. Dent previously served as President for 10 years and was also COO for many years. He will retain the title of president in addition to his new title of CEO.
“For more than half of my life I have worked in Buffalo Rock. The people I work with here are family and I couldn’t be more proud to lead such a talented, motivated and engaged group, ”Dent said in a statement. “I am honored to be named CEO and I am committed to continuing to lead with passion and integrity, working every day to create circular success for both the company and individual employee-partners. “
In addition to its expansion in Birmingham, Buffalo Rock announced in December that it had purchased and built a $ 20 million facility in west Huntsville.
“We are delighted and extremely supportive of these leadership appointments from Buffalo Rock Company, a 70-year partner of PepsiCo,” commented Kirk Tanner, CEO of PepsiCo Beverages North America. “Jimmy Lee, III has built a great business and has always brought a mindset of growth to the business and talent development, while constantly seeking to invest in the future. Matthew Dent has also been an exceptional leader who has been instrumental in modernizing the Buffalo Rock business while selflessly donating their time and energy to help grow the beverage industry at large. We could not be more enthusiastic about these two leaders and Buffalo Rock and we look forward to strengthening our strategic partnership for the future.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn