Behind the Big Red Curtain: ‘I Work for Coke, and These Are Our Brands’
January 19 2018
“When a friends or family member goes into a store in Florida, there’s a good chance that someone on my team had a direct hand in making the Coca-Cola beverages they buy,” said Jamaal Medley. “There’s a sense of pride knowing that we put our hearts and souls into every bottle.”
Medley (pictured above) is the plant manager for Coca-Cola Beverages Florida (CCBF)’s Tampa production facility. During his 10-plus years with the Coca-Cola system, he has held several productions and quality assurance roles. Today, he oversees a team of 165 employees who produce 21 million cases of Coca-Cola beverages annually and load them onto trucks to be delivered to retailers across the state and parts of south Georgia.
While most of his time is dedicated to keeping a close eye on the plant’s daily output and other performance metrics, he hosts community groups and local business organizations who stop in for a plant tour. These visits are a favorite part of his job.
“Everyone who steps onto this floor is amazed at the state-of-the-art technology we have in place,” Medley said. “They’re in awe when they see our processes in action. Our facility is a model of what manufacturing should look like across the Coca-Cola system.”
Senior leadership in Atlanta agrees. Medley’s plant recently received the Presidential Award for Quality for the entire Coca-Cola North America bottling network.
“This honor speaks to the work our teams do inside the facility to put strong procedures and processes in place, and to how much we care about protecting and enhancing our brand,” Medley says. “It’s a recipe for success and a labor of love.”
He adds, “People are pleasantly surprised by the rigor that goes into making sure we produce safe, high-quality beverages. They see the number of people doing inspections, testing and verification to make sure every drink we make meets our quality promise and, ultimately, meets our consumers’ expectations. If you talk to anyone who works here, they will proudly say, ‘I work for Coke, and these are our brands’.
Self-discipline and attention to detail are in Medley’s DNA. He spent a decade in the Navy before taking his first civilian job at Coca-Cola. “Coming out of the Navy gave me foundational skills – like structure and standardization – I’ve been able to apply here at Coke,” he said.
Medley’s service to his country also gave him perspective. After spending so many years on a ship, he appreciates being able to go home to his family after a hard day’s work doing a job he loves. He also values being able to give back to his local community through his extended family at Coca-Cola Beverages Florida.
“One of the things I enjoy most about working here is having a platform to engage with the community,” Medley concludes. “We recently hosted an incredible group of middle school students who asked incredible questions about who we are and what we do, and all the work that goes into getting our products on the shelf. They see the red trucks and assume everyone who works here is either a driver or in sales. So it’s great to open their eyes to everything that goes on behind the big red curtain… that we have finance, legal, engineering and communications professionals working here. And that they, too, could work here one day.”