Mahaska in the News

Mahaska is honored to be be featured in this year’s Norfolk Daily News Insight edition. Check out the article below!

Owners and/or operators and their background:

Recently celebrating its 125th anniversary, Mahaska was founded in 1889 by James W.V. McKinley on the back of his U.S. Patent No. 418,469 for a hand pump and barrel attachment, which was one of the original pieces of bottling innovation that pre-dated the invention of several major carbonated soft drink brands, including Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola.

Mahaska garners its namesake from the chief of the Iowa tribe who was a nationally renowned 19th century folk hero, warrior and political figure.

Chief Mahaska presided over an empire that encompassed
a large part of the Midwest stretching into southern Canada, which led to his invitation to the White House and negotiation of key treaties that assured peaceful U.S. Native American relations in the region from 1824 on.

The company, which is fifth generation, family-owned and has been in business seven generations overall, acquired Hayes Brothers Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. in 1981 to establish its presence in Norfolk. Mahaska headquarters is in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Mahaska affiliates also are engaged in industries spanning food, beverage, hospitality and media.

Predominantly in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and other parts of the upper Midwest, the company is a bottler, or manufacturer and distributor, of PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and a variety of other products from global brand companies, including some that are proprietary to Mahaska and its partners.

Number employed:

Mahaska employs 40 people in Norfolk and hundreds more in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota and Texas. Mahaska is also a major shareholder and member of Wis-Pak Inc., which employs more than 100 in Nor- folk and thousands across the country.

Hours of operation:

6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

How do you describe your business to others?

“We are a bottler of beverage products and distributor of food products with ancillary businesses in alcohol, vending, trucking and media,” said general manager Bob Boeckman.

In the past six months, Mahaska and its affiliates launched a fully integrated craft brewery, taproom and alcohol distribution. In addition, it also operates a vending, over-the-road trucking, and digital and terrestrial media businesses.

Why did Mahaska expand?

“We decided to expand our building to accommodate the increasing demand for new products that we distribute and the broader geographic area that we offer them in as well as our expansion into craft beer and vending. In addition, we needed to expand our office area as our workforce has grown by over 30 percent in the last three years,” Boeckman said.

The expansion involved 10,000 square feet of ware- house space, as well as nearly 5,000 square feet of office space in Norfolk alone.

 What makes Mahaska distinctive?

“We are the bottler of PepsiCo products in our ex- clusive franchise area centered around Norfolk, Humboldt and O’Neill, so every bottle, can or fountain drink in the PepsiCo product portfolio is distributed to retail stores and other ac- counts by Mahaska.

We are also the exclusive bottler of PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and other local, national and global products in select areas of Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska,” Boeckman said. “As an independent franchi-
sor, we take great pride in the protecting and continuing to develop the independent franchise model, which is the foundation of so many important American businesses from restaurants to auto dealerships.”

What do you plan to emphasize with your business in the coming year?

Mahaska plans on emphasizing its beer, vending and coffee businesses and also expanding on its new product distribution in the Omaha, Lincoln and Sioux Falls areas.

What’s been the most pleasant surprise since Mahaska opened?

“We have consistently been faced with competitive and other challenges over 125 years, particularly in the past 30 years, but we have reliably innovated and adapted our business as needed to survive,” he said.

“We honor our historic roots but have never allowed ourselves to become wed to antiquated business models that threaten our ability to continue to honor our rich tradition by continuing future growth and success. As a result, we continue to post a track record of steady growth, increasing employment and investment in the advancement of the economy in Nebraska as well as other areas of the Midwest.”

What are the keys to success?

“Loyal customers, hard-working and dedicated employees, the reputation we have built over the years of taking care of the needs of customers and employees, and the ability to adapt and evolve with a rapidly changing environment. We pride ourselves on being an ‘old dog’ that has shown the ability to learn new tricks throughout the generations,” he said.

Source: Jake Wragge | Norfolk Daily News | 2017