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2013 Power 50: Muhtar Kent, No. 5 in Suppliers

Muhtar Kent
Muhtar Kent

Coca-Cola Co. met or exceeded its annual long-term revenue, volume and profit targets in 2012, earned the No. 4 spot on Fortune’s “Most Admired Companies” list, and returned $9.1 billion to shareholders in 2012.

With results like these, it’s logical that Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent would be content with Coca-Cola’s progress.

But Kent says nothing could be further from the truth.

“We have never been more constructively discontented as we are now,” Kent said in April at the company’s 2013 annual shareholders meeting. “We know there’s so much more we can do.”

The company is constantly thinking of new ways to “refine, retool, reinvent and refresh” its business in all 207 of its global markets, said Kent.

“This is a never-ending and exciting journey,” he said.

This mindset is the reason why Coca-Cola Co. signed an agreement in April to create a franchised business partnership model with five of its bottlers.

Under the new model, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Swire Coca-Cola USA, Coca-Cola Bottling Company High Country and Corinth Coca-Cola Bottling Works will get expanded and exclusive territory rights in the sale of distribution assets with cold drink equipment.


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“The new structure will allow us to improve service to customers, and our supply chain and operations,” said Kent.

Community development is another way the company is refining its operations. The company has teamed with DEKA Research and Development Corp. to bring “Slingshot,” a low-energy water purification system, to global communities in need.

“We know our business can only be as strong as the communities we serve,” Kent said.

One Slingshot unit can purify up to 300,000 liters of water each year — enough for about 300 people. The system consumes less than 1 kilowatt of electricity, comparable to the amount of power needed to run a hair dryer.

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“This breakthrough could change the economic imprint of disadvantaged communities,” Kent said.

Coca-Cola’s goal is to make Slingshot part of an “Eco Center,” a kiosk-style hub where disadvantaged community members can gather to power up cell phones,  and get Internet access, store vaccines, and food and beverages.

Eco Centers are already being piloted in Paraguay and, soon, Mexico and South Africa. Coca-Cola plans to open thousands more by the end of 2014.

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