Beyond Beverages, the Impact of Dr Pepper Snapple
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
A number of national corporations have chosen Ottumwa as a location for their production facilities. A big investment like this has the obvious impact of helping to grow the area’s economy. Such companies typically have ripple effects on the community too.
The Dr Pepper Snapple Group opened a production facility in Ottumwa nearly two decades ago. It’s one of 22 of the company’s manufacturing plants in North America. The local plant produces popular carbonated soft drinks such as Dr Pepper, 7UP, Canada Dry, A&W and Sunkist. It’s also one of the city’s major employers, supporting a local workforce of about 250 people.
The Ottumwa facility produces 329 different items, which make their way to customers via a nearby distribution center that carries an even larger array of products made by the company and its allied brand partners. The center distributes to retail customers in and around Ottumwa, as well as nine surrounding states.
Dr Pepper Snapple is a publicly traded, Fortune 500 company. In addition to items produced at the Ottumwa plant, the company is responsible for recognized household brands such as Mott’s applesauce, Mr and Mrs T drink mixers and Hawaiian Punch.
Chris Barnes, director of corporate communications, says the company is striving to help customers make healthier choices. Dr Pepper Snapple joined with other beverage companies and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in the Balanced Calories Initiative, which has the goal of reducing calories consumed from its beverages 20 percent by 2025.
It’s tackling this goal through a combination of methods, including new products, smaller portion sizes and retail emphasis on no and low calorie options. The company recently acquired Bai, which contains only 5 calories per serving. In recent years, the company has substantially reduced the sugar content in old favorites like Hawaiian Punch. It also introduced Mott’s unsweetened apple sauce.
Matt Rose, Ottumwa’s branch manager and a native of the area, says the company makes an effort to build community relationships. It has exclusive partnerships with local businesses and organizations, such as the Ottumwa school system. Dr Pepper Snapple products are sold in machines throughout the schools and at local football and basketball games.
Barnes points out that Dr Pepper Snapple has a robust tradition of philanthropy. “We’re a company that cares a lot about our communities. Embedded within our culture are platforms for making the world better around us,” says Barnes.
Part of its philanthropy is dedicated to promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. Barnes points out that kids have diminishing opportunities to play and learn habits of a healthy lifestyle.
Based on this premise, the company launched a national initiative called “Let’s Play” in 2011 to help kids and families be active. As part of this effort, Dr Pepper Snapple has committed more than $38 million towards playground construction and sports equipment grants.
The City of Ottumwa won a grant in 2014 and partnered with the company to build a playground at Wildwood Park. With the help of volunteers, they built it from start to finish in one day, from pouring the concrete to finishing it with wood chips. Local Dr Pepper Snapple employees were joined by team members from Des Moines and other company operations in the region.
“It was a great opportunity to engage our teams and get them excited, by investing sweat equity into something that’s lasting for the community,” says Barnes.
Rose says it’s a good example of how Dr Pepper Snapple has had a positive influence on the community. “People were touched by that, they realize their kids and grandkids will be playing on that equipment,” says Rose. “That’s how thriving communities operate and how thriving partnerships work, we build things together.”