When Rob Price began working at Coke in Australia there was no internet, television was black and white, and no one had made it to the moon. The year was 1962, and Coca-Cola seemed like the right place for a young accountant to forge a career.

In 2014, as Coke celebrates its 75th year of operations in South Australia, Rob Price is now the company’s longest-serving employee, and remains delighted with his decision to join the company all those years ago.

A Man for All Seasons

“I started on the 8th of January 1962, it was a day that I can remember as clear as a bell,” Rob said. Five decades and four Coke careers later Rob has had a chance to become familiar with just about every facet of the companies’ operations in Australia. From his first job on the accounting team, he moved into sales, then later into the vending machine business. Next, he took on warehousing and distribution, and finally moved into national logistics. 

Over the course of his career, Rob witnessed massive growth in the Coca-Cola business. “When I started out annual volume was about 125000 cases of the original bottle of Coke. That’s all we produced,” he recalled. “Now we can produce that in one day.”

From Small Beginnings

Coke began bottling drinks in Adelaide in the late 1930s. The bottling operation was one of the company’s first ventures outside the US, and it was very much a learning experience for everyone involved.

“They had one American that was based here in Adelaide and he’d go out and sell about 50 bottles for the day to various businesses,” explained Rob

After World War II local businessman (Sir) Bill Hayward acquired the franchise after noticing how popular the drink was with American soldiers. In 1950 he founded Coca-Cola Bottlers (Adelaide) Pty Ltd with the help of other local businessmen, and remained chairman until 1983.

South Australia, 75 Years On

Coca-Cola plants in South Australia are still an important source of product, contributing around 16 percent of the company’s overall offering. In particular, Coke SA specialises in bottling Powerade products, which are manufactured using an innovative ‘hot-fill’ method so they don’t require any preservatives. 

Rob believes that Coke SA has always had a knack for recognising and nurturing talent. “Coke has always had a thirst for people with the right attitude,” said Rob. “For anybody who came in with the right attitude Coca-Cola would give you the ability. So they were very good at training people and developing them.”

For his part, as Rob heads into his 54th year with the company, he’s still looking for chances to discover new skills and abilities: “I still learn something every day.”