Mahaska Bottling History Oskaloosa Herald

Mahaska – A Long History of Community

The Oskaloosa Herald did a fantastic feature on Mahaska recently all about our rich family-owned history, generations of change and innovation, and community involvement. Says the Oskaloosa herald:

“No company could stand the test of time if it weren’t for the dedicated team members that Mahaska has been able to attract over the years. They all understand that any product that is sold is nothing if the service isn’t there when it is needed. They have gone above and beyond to make sure their customers and their communities are taken care. For that they would like to thank all of their team members for their years of service and look forward to many more!”

For the full article, click here or continue reading below:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 4:34 pm, by the Oskaloosa Herald

A lot has changed since James McKinley bottled his first beverage 125 years ago. Little did he know that his invention would be the beginning of a long line of innovation, change and community involvement that would continue through to the current day.

Starting in 1889 with McKinley’s hand-pump and barrel attachment until the present day, a tradition of hard work and family moved the Company from one generation to the next. In 1916 Harry Morgan, the Great Great Grandfather of current owner Branden Muhl, purchased Mahaska Bottling Works. Marrying into the family, Arnold Muhl joined Harry in the bottling business in 1922 taking on a hot new beverage called Pepsi-Cola. Their business continued to expand and in 1947 Arnold’s son John joined the operation continuing their expansion and in 1961 they opened their new, state of the art bottling facility at its current location at 17th Avenue East. Keeping the tradition of the family business going, Brad Muhl joined his father John in 1975 and the two of them proceeded to expand the business by purchasing bottling facilities in Salina, Kansas (1975) and Norfolk, Nebraska (1981).

In 1990, Brad felt Mahaska Bottling was much more than a production facility, that the Company’s real strength was in the service that was being provided through their direct store delivery (DSD) system. Part of the DSD service pertained to beverage vending machines. He thought if they could provide beverages through vending, why couldn’t they provide other vending items that consumers love? So the first snack vendor was placed and Snack Express was born. The full service vending company has since spread to their other locations in Kansas and Nebraska. In addition, Brad oversaw expansion into diverse lines of business such as logistics and media.

Then in 1993 Brad purchased Mahaska Bottling Company from his father John, setting the stage for the family business to continue into the next generation. 20 years later Branden Muhl joined his father to move the business into the future by driving innovation and the expansion of their DSD operations outside of historical distribution territories and into a more diverse range of products & services. In order to encompass all the changes that have taken place and position the Company for future growth Branden took the Company through a branding process transitioning Mahaska Bottling Company to “Mahaska.”

When Mahaska talks of family, it is composed of much more than a blood line. The family at Mahaska is composed of individuals that have helped the Company grow from one generation to the next. Mahaska is proud that they still have so many team members that remember the history because they lived, worked, and wrote it.

Ray Boomershine has spanned 4 generations. He was first hired under Arnold Muhl as a vending technician. Today, he manages the vending department and has for many years. Currently there are 15 team members that have spanned 3 generations helping to guide Mahaska into a promising future while paying deference to the past.

Mahaska has always felt that in order to be successful they must give back to their team members, and the communities in which they do business. In 2009 the John Bennet Scholarship was developed in honor of a long term team member that died unexpectedly. This scholarship is available to all team members’ high school graduates that are pursuing a higher education and is based on years of service. Last year, $24,500 was contributed to this worthy cause.

They also feel a sense of responsibility to support the communities by purchasing as much locally as possible. All of the goods and services to support their recent corporate branding were sourced locally, including printing, signage, contracting, uniforms, and much more. They support Oskaloosa Chamber’s “Osky Cash” program by purchasing over $15,000 annually to use as incentives for team members, which circulates back into the community and stimulates the local economy. The “Dew It for Your School” program contributes over $100,000 annually to the schools in which Mahaska does business. What is the best way to touch as many people as possible in all communities? Mahaska believes the school system touches everyone. Every Parent, Grandparent, Brother, Sister, Aunt or Uncle has someone that is or has attended one of their schools. Also by contributing to the schools Mahaska feels it helps the education system better prepare all young people for the world in which they live and to become productive members of their communities.

Drawing from a wide area, Mahaska encourages its team members to be involved in their communities as well. They boast a broad range of talents that help not only Oskaloosa but the surrounding communities with numerous volunteer hours. From coaching opportunities, team sponsorships, helping with school boards and activities, fundraisers, charitable organizations, civic organization, and simply helping promote a positive community in which they all live. From the Sweet Corn Serenade to the Lighted Christmas Parade, you will find someone from Mahaska digging in to help make central Iowa a better place.

No company could stand the test of time if it weren’t for the dedicated team members that Mahaska has been able to attract over the years. They all understand that any product that is sold is nothing if the service isn’t there when it is needed. They have gone above and beyond to make sure their customers and their communities are taken care. For that they would like to thank all of their team members for their years of service and look forward to many more!