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200 jobs to be created by Pepsi center in Fargo

Pepsi and plaudits flowed freely Wednesday as PepsiAmericas officials formally announced plans for a new customer sales and support center in Fargo. "The work ethic of our people really sold their people," George Haugo, vice president and general...

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Pepsi and plaudits flowed freely Wednesday as PepsiAmericas officials formally announced plans for a new customer sales and support center in Fargo.

"The work ethic of our people really sold their people," George Haugo, vice president and general manager of PepsiAmericas' Northwest Division said at a press conference announcing 200 professional-level jobs for the Fargo-Moorhead community.

The addition will bring to 350 the number of PepsiAmericas jobs in the community. PepsiAmericas, with its Northwest Division headquarters at 901 40th St. S.W., also operates a transportation division, bottling plant and sales and distribution center in Fargo.

PepsiAmericas is the world's second-largest Pepsi-Cola bottler and distributor. Though the company is publicly traded, 39 percent of the company is held by PepsiCo Inc.

North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven, who traveled from Bismarck to attend the press conference, praised the efforts of Haugo and the staff of the Fargo Cass County Economic Development Corp. in landing the new center.

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"This is an opportunity to keep our citizens here and attract others from other parts of the country," Hoeven said.

Landing the center resulted from hard work on the part of individuals, he said. "This is how it happens," Hoeven said. "There's no panacea. No formula. No magic bullet.

"If we can get our foot in the door, we can compete and win."

Hoeven said the North Dakota Department of Economic Development presented an incentive package to PepsiAmerica officials in Chicago, within 24 hours of learning of an opportunity for the center through Haugo.

Brian Walters, president of the FCCEDC, said PepsiAmericas has been offered the prospect of a five-year property tax exemption as well as an interest-rate buy down through the PACE program. He said his agency and the state can't act on those incentives until PepsiAmericas settles on a site.

Charles Poynter, who will move from Columbus, Ohio, to become vice president and general manager of the new center, said PepsiAmericas needs a building with at least 30,000 square feet of space.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Gerry Gilmour at (701) 241-5560

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He said he has viewed a number of available buildings in Fargo and West Fargo and also has visited with a number of contractors. "We need to make a decision in the next 30 days," he said.

Poynter said PepsiAmericas will be in a permanent new location no later than the first quarter of 2004.

Jim Roers, president of Roers Construction Inc., said he has presented PepsiAmericas with two pieces of land for consideration.

PepsiAmericas officials are actively recruiting the first wave of employees for the center. The center will combine the functions of eight regional sales and support centers throughout the 17 states in the company's central United States territory. PepsiAmericas also has operations in the Caribbean and Europe.

By the end of this year, Poynter said, 80 people, from "front-line" employees to senior managers, will be working in Fargo. Job pay will range from $9.50 an hour and up to "six-figures" -- salaries for managers at the center. All will receive full benefits packages, including health insurance and 401K plans with an employer match up to 6 percent of income.

The center will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Employees will not make cold-calls, but rather maintain contact with representatives of established accounts, making sure they are adequately served and stocked with existing and new Pepsi-Cola products, Poynter said.

Poynter said the center will employ 200 by the end of 2004. Prospective employees can apply for jobs at the center at www.pepsiamericas.com .

Walters said the center will generate $85 million in payroll over the next 10 years.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Gerry Gilmour at (701) 241-5560

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