About Pepsi MidAmerica
Pepsi MidAmerica (PMA), located in Marion, Illinois, has proudly distributed quality beverages throughout portions of Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee since 1936. Under the leadership of three generations of the Crisp family, the company has grown into one of the largest privately-owned Pepsi Bottler in the United States.
Today, PMA produces millions of products allowing every man, woman, and child in their territory to consume one of their products everyday. PMA products are available at Walmart, Kroger, Casey’s General Store, Dollar General, CVS, independent retailers, schools, major event venues and vending machines across their 5 state region.
In addition to providing numerous jobs, PMA supports the community through many philanthropic endeavors.
Three Generations of Leadership
Click each name below to learn about the three generations of the Crisp family who have built Pepsi MidAmerica.
Marion Pepsi-Cola, as Pepsi MidAmerica was first known, was founded by an entrepreneur in 1935 named Harry Crisp.
Mr. Crisp began applying America’s formula for success to his business life at the age of 24, when he opened a hatchery and poultry business in the Williamson and Franklin counties area. He was able to see early that there was strength in diversifying his business activities and opportunity for the soft drink industry to grow. He developed a line of flavored soft drink products and Crisp Flavors, which he delivered to consumers on his poultry trucks. This initial venture into the soft drink business ultimately was the cornerstone for his success.
The founder of Marion Pepsi had the qualities it takes to be successful; he could see an opportunity and shoulder the risks involved. In 1935 he bought the franchise rights for a struggling soft drink company based in New York — Pepsi-Cola. There were approximately 40 competitors in the Southern Illinois area and cola products had only a small share of most markets. Pepsi was the “New Kid on the Block,” and only a few staunch believers would predict that one day Pepsi would be the number one soft drink in America. Marion Pepsi began with five employees. Their dedication and hard work built the foundation for the company’s future expansion and growth.
As Pepsi grew, so did Mr. Crisp’s belief that long term success depended on a healthy community and county. He became involved in civic and government affairs ranging from membership in various civic organizations to running for political office. He had been successfully elected as a Marion City Commissioner in 1931, and in 1935 he was elected Mayor of Marion and served three consecutive terms in this capacity. He worked hard to get medical facilities located in Marion in the form of the Veteran’s Hospital and raised funds for the completion of the Marion Memorial Hospital. He lobbied for the Federal Correctional Center to be located in Marion as well as the need for multiple access to Marion business centers from Route 57. Success in achieving these goals opened the door for continued community growth in all directions.
Harry Crisp passed away in 1975, leaving behind him a legacy of success and foundations for future success. He had successfully applied the American formula for success, hard work and dedication to his business life, and helped guide his community down the same road.
Harry L. Crisp II is Chief Executive Officer of Pepsi MidAmerica. He took the helm of the company in 1975 after spending many years learning the business. Harry L. Crisp, Sr. believed there was no substitute for hard work and knowledge, and that was the basis of the training program he set up for Marion Pepsi’s current President.
Mr. Crisp received his formal schooling in the Marion School System, Culver Military Academy, University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University. He entered the U.S. Marine Corps in 1956 and received the high honor of being named the outstanding Marine in boot training from among 5,000 other Marines. He was honorably discharged in 1958.
Following his discharge, Harry L., as employees often refer to the C.E.O., began his official career with Pepsi in earnest. He had been around the business all his life learning every aspect of the business. He sorted bottles, drove trucks and delivered product as a route salesman. He operated bottle washers, case packers and fillers in the production department and the knowledge he gained was acquired over several years, not a week or month.
He learned advertising and the importance of presenting quality products to the public as well as sales, which to this day he says was the best job he ever had. As a salesman he became familiar with what store managers expected; good service and knowledge of the products he sold.
The changes in the industry and in Marion Pepsi have been tremendous. The company has grown into the largest individually owned Pepsi Bottler in the United States. The plant, which was the newest in the world in 1969, has upgraded all bottling lines in the last six years. The number of jobs have increased three times over what there were in 1975.
Soft drinks are Mr. Crisp’s primary business, however, he finds time to serve on the E.I.U. Foundation Board and the Murray State Foundation Board of Trustees.
He has received an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters from Milikin University and a Doctorate of Law, Honoris Causa from Murray State University.
Harry Lee Crisp III, or Lee as he is commonly referred to, is currently President and Chief Operating Officer of Pepsi MidAmerica and President and Chief Executive Officer of Crisp Container Corporation. Pepsi MidAmerica’s diverse food and beverage products include Starbucks coffee, Gatorade, and Frito Lay. In this capacity, he is responsible for one of the largest privately held Pepsi franchises in the nation.
Lee attended Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana and earned the Boy Scout’s Eagle Scout and Roman Catholic Ad Alteri Dei awards while there.
He went on to graduate at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Upon graduation, he entered the Marine Corps. Lee was then stationed at Camp Pendleton, California where he was the Officer-in-Charge of the Command Information Center, a state of the art logistics command and coordination center which he founded. Based on his service, he was promoted to the rank of Captain one year early and received the Meritorious Service Medal. Lee completed his service with the Marines in October, 1996 and returned to the beverage industry.
Nationally, Lee serves as a Founder, director and Treasurer of the United States Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. In this capacity, he oversees the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. Additional positions include Principle Benefactor of the Mayo Clinic and Founding Member of the Smithsonian Council for American History.
Internationally, he is a Patron of the Arts at the Vatican Museums which funds restorations of the Vatican’s art collection.
Additionally, Lee has 44 United States Patents issued or pending related to fluid dynamics and beverage dispensing including:
- GE Appliances’ SmartDispenseTM technology which was Popular Science Magazine’s “Best of What’s New” award as one of the 100 best inventions in 2005.
- Coca-Cola’s FreeStyle and PepsiCo’s Spire units. This technology was awarded the Gold Award at the 2011 Edison Awards’ Best New Product Awards.
In 2006, Lee was inducted into the Southern Illinois University College of Business Hall of Fame. On July 2, 2010, for his service to the United States and the Marine Corps, the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps held an Evening Parade at Marine Corps Barracks, Washington, DC.
Lee resides in Marion, Illinois with his wife Stacie, daughter Hallie, and sons Harry and Isaiah.