Marion Pepsi-Cola 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.