GSU and Coca-Cola celebrate 100 years

by Jessieca Carr | Ruston Daily Leader

GRAMBLING, La. –  October 13, 2021 – There are very few times when two entities can remain together for a century. However, in the case of business partnerships, it is truly a testament to dedication when two institutions can join forces to improve the lives of many generations. Grambling State University and Coca-Cola have pulled off that feat.

“To know that at the sunset of this partnership will mark almost 100 years, that says something,” said Tisha Arnold, university director of communications for GSU.

“How many times can you say that an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) has partnered with an organization like Coca-Cola for nearly a century?”

The 120-year-old university and the popular beverage company started their partnership when the Biedenharn family founded the Monroe Bottling Company. The company began in 1912 and was owned and operated by the Biedenharn family, UNITED Coca-Cola bought the company. Somewhere in the transition from the company’s inception to 1920 when the soda drink enterprise took over, Grambling State became a major partner.

“You just do not get the gratitude that comes from Grambling at other places,” said Keith Biedenharn, Sales Center Manager for The Coca-Cola Company. “I want to thank Grambling for that. I want to thank Coca-Cola team in Atlanta, North America and Michael and his team for putting this together. It was a lot of work behind the scenes. Investing in Grambling is an investment in the kids, staff, school, and brand. It is also an investment in the future.”

The partnership has been beneficial to GSU as it has been able to provide opportunities for students to obtain internships, job opportunities, and support for the university’s 13 intercollegiate athletic programs. Inaugural Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Trayveon Scott spoke about how the partnership has paid dividends to the student-athletes and his department. He also talked about the help and dedication that the university has received from Michael Braxton, senior manager for Multicultural Marketing/HBCU at The Coca-Cola Company.

“I’m very excited and privileged to thank Coke for all of your efforts and commitment, not only to Grambling State University as an institution but Grambling State University athletics,” said Scott. “Mr. Braxton’s commitment to branding that Coca-Cola emblem and that ‘G’ is something that I appreciate thoroughly in our relationship.”

After he was introduced, Braxton said the beverage behemoth was happy to be continuing its partnership with the storied institution.
He also said they were excited about the things that were going to be happening soon as the partners begin to make more plans. Student Government Association President Cameron T. Jackson shed light on the academic and material benefits that the campus gained because of the partnership. Jackson said Grambling students loved the products, and it was one of the biggest things that the student body took pride in.

“We just had our new Coke facilities that were built on behalf of athletics,” said Jackson. “Building that speak numbers and that really puts so much energy into our students and our student body.”

Gallot said GSU’s relationship with Coca-Cola is extremely meaningful.