Mahaska Bottling Company has a long history that dates back to the late 1800’s.
1889 – The rich American tradition that is Mahaska begins with James WV. McKinley and U.S. Patent No. 418,469 dated December 31, 1889. McKinley was a forefather of the bottling industry with his hand-pump and barrel attachment representing one of the initial manufacturing innovations that coincided with the invention of the oldest carbonated soft-drink brands.
1916 – McKinley used his innovation to found Mahaska Bottling Works, producing Strawberry and Root Beer soft drink flavors under the Chief Mahaska Flavors brand. In 1912, McKinley took on a partner in U.G. Deck. In 1916, the passing of U.G. Deck afforded Harry Morgan the opportunity to purchase Mahaska Bottling Works. Harry Morgan was the first in the current line of Mahaska proprietors and was responsible for transforming Mahaska Bottling Works into the fully integrated manufacturing operation that was Mahaska Bottling Company—the first step in our transformation into the modern day Mahaska.
1922 – Under Morgan as President, Mahaska Bottling Company expanded its operations from Oskaloosa to Washington, Marshalltown, Ottumwa, Centerville, and Newton. In 1922, Arnold Muhl joined Morgan in the business after being wed to Morgan’s daughter Zayda. In 1928, Morgan & Muhl took an exclusive franchise appointment for a rapidly growing soft-drink brand called Pepsi-Cola invented by pharmacist Caleb Bradham in 1893 (originally named “Brad’s Drink”).
1947 – In 1947, Morgan passed and Arnold took over as President. Thereafter, John Muhl, who served as a United States Army Ranger in B Company in World War II, joins his father Arnold in the operation and further expansion of Mahaska Bottling Company. Between 1949 and 1958, Pepsi-Cola brand sales surged 167% nationally, and Arnold & John grew Mahaska Bottling Company significantly beyond mere Pepsi-Cola brand sales.
1961 – On Sept. 9, 1961, Mahaska Bottling Company opened a state-of -the-art bottling plant in Oskaloosa that was one of the most modern in the Midwest. The fully automated 26,000 square foot facility supplied over half a million cases per year at a production rate of 650 cases/hour. The facility produced several products that were the subject of Mahaska Bottling Company franchise appointments including Pepsi-Cola, Nesbit Orange, Grapette, Hires Root Beer, Bubble-Up, and Squirt in addition to brands sold under the Mahaska trademark.
1975 – Led by John Muhl and his son Brad (aptly named after Caleb Bradham’s invention), Mahaska Bottling Company acquired additional bottling facilities in Kansas (1975) and Nebraska (1981). These acquisitions were the first step in the transformation of Mahaska Bottling Company into the modern Mahaska.
1988 – In 1988, Mahaska became a shareholder of the bottling cooperative Wis-Pak (www.wis-pak.com), consolidating the manufacturing process for all locations, streamlining supply chain management, and achieving economies of scale. Today, Independent Bottlers account for almost 20% of North American volume where Wis-Pak handles 10% of the North American Pepsi Americas Beverages (PAB) volume and over 40% of independent volume.
1993 – In 1993, Brad Muhl purchased Mahaska Bottling Company from John Muhl, consolidating ownership under a sole proprietor for the first time since Harry Morgan. Brad fulfilled several brand company responsibilities which included the position of Chairman of the Pepsi-Cola Company Marketing Committee (MARCOM). One of his goals in that position was to preserve the independent bottling system and the rights of its franchisees all over the world. In addition, Brad grew the business aggressively—achieving an industry leading market share versus competitors as well as embarking on several business development ventures such as full-line vending and coffee that are a core part of the business and its future growth today.
2013 – In 2013 Brad’s son, Branden, became president and CEO of Mahaska continuing the tradition of consolidated ownership under a single leader. Branden is expanding upon Brad’s business development efforts including building an independently owned brand portfolio, engaging in more territorial expansion, and branding Mahaska.
2015 – Mahaska expanded into the alcoholic beverage arena, launching a greenfield microbrewery called NoCoast Beer Co. With 8 commercial brews, a regular rotation of one-offs, and a barrel aging program, NoCoast produces malt forward NoCoast branded beers as well as cold brew coffee. In addition, NoCoast performs product development and mobile canning services for the brewing industry, coffee companies, and even wineries. Combining Mahaska’s 125-year history in beverage bottling and distribution with NoCoast’s forward-thinking approach, NoCoast and Mahaska cooperate in furtherance of a mission to advance craft.
2016 – In 2016, the snack business opened its first Micro Market. Mahaska Micro Market programs are designed to offer hundreds of fresh food options, an unlimited variety of snacks and drinks, and healthy alternatives choices. Similar to a self-service convenience store located inside our customers breakrooms, it replaces vending machines with shelving and coolers that allows the employees to touch and feel the product before they make a purchase. Once a decision is made they make the purchase through a self service kiosk using credit/ debit cards (cashless) or cash.
Today – Today, Mahaska continues to embark on its transition into a fully integrated manufacturing and distribution platform offering a wide array of products and services. We honor our rich American history by continuing the forward motion that will ensure the enhancement of the Mahaska tradition for generations to come.