Advice and Whiskey with Sally Hargis

Sally Hargis hasn’t come up with a personal motto; the vice president/chairman of the board of Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Co. is too busy growing her 103-year-old family business.

by Michael Stevens

May 2023

Sally Hargis
Photo by Brandon AlmsSally Hargis and Michael Stevens met up at Maso Pizza Bar. Purchase Photo

On her aspirations growing up

“My mom was a homemaker and was really good at it. I loved being in the home with her. I loved cooking. I loved needlework, and yet I really had this draw to business.”

“Business was always discussed. I knew I wasn’t going to be a homemaker but wanted to be the best I could at that and still be able to be in business.”

On her path before joining the family business, Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Co.

“I had a friend—really a mentor—Larry Dixon, who was just starting an AM daytime radio station: KBUG. He got me interested in selling advertising. I would go out and sell and come back and sit with him at the end of the day, and he would give me pointers. I went from there to work at KY3 for 10 years. In 1990, I had my second baby and just started to spend more time with Dad [Edwin “Cookie” Rice]. I thought, ‘What in the world am I doing not being involved in our family business? It’s right here—I live and breathe it.’ I made the decision to make that move.”

On Ozarks Coca Cola’s commitment to not implement layoffs

“We still haven’t [laid people off]. It was a commitment that my grandfather made and that we’ve continued. In March of 2020 [when the COVID-19 pandemic hit], we sat around in the office and asked, ‘How are we going to do this?’ Everyone looked at each other and said, ‘We have to do it.’ So we got creative, because you are responsible for those families. These aren’t just employees; these are families.”

Words of Wisdom

“Here’s the thing: It’s not about me and what my accomplishments are. I am just a caretaker. I am just here to move this business forward to the next generation. And to inspire that next generation to continue to do the same thing. I am not an owner, just a caretaker.”