Better Brands buys facility, will keep, add jobs

ALBANY -- Better Brands of South Georgia delivered an early Christmas present to Albany and Dougherty County's economy Monday morning.

The Albany-Dougherty Payroll Development Authority gathered for a special called meeting Monday to approve an agreement in principle to sell the former Albany Bedding Co. facility at the county's industrial park off Newton Road across from the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport to Better Brands for $2 million.

The beverage distributor, which primarily distributes MillerCoors products, completed the purchase of Flint Beverage Co. in Albany 30 days ago and plans to add 30,000 square feet to the 70,000-square-foot former Albany Bedding facility, according to General Manager Larry Pearson.

"We're working out of our facility and out of the (former) Flint Beverage facility right now because neither is big enough for all our employees," Pearson said. "We needed a large enough facility for our 50 employees and the 50 to 55 that were with Flint Beverage. This is one of those situations where everybody stays employed.

"Finding that excellent building, which is only eight years old, in that great location will make for an easy transition as we meet our additional distribution demands."

In addition to MillerCoors products, Better Brands also distributes Red Bull and other energy drinks. The purchase of Flint Beverage added a number of non-alcoholic beverages -- RC Cola, EverFresh juices and Snapple -- to Better Brands' product line. Heineken and Corona beers were also part of the Flint line.

"We intend to add all of Flint's product line (to Better Brands' distribution line)," Pearson said.

Sinyard said after the PDA meeting the announcement by Better Brands is a huge economic boost for Albany and Dougherty County.

"First of all, Better Brands will retain its 50 to 55 jobs in the county," the PDA and Dougherty County Commission chairman said. "And the company will grow by another 50-55 jobs. They will remain a viable taxpayer in the county and will continue to grow and strengthen the Albany/Dougherty County tax base.

"Plus, I think Better Brands' commitment to our community demonstrates that it's good to do business in Albany and Dougherty County. This is a huge positive for our community."

Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission President Ted Clem said the state/taxpayer investment in the former Albany Bedding facility at the industrial park, which was built utilizing a Payroll Development Authority recovery grant and special-purpose local-option sales tax funding, turned out to be a good one.

"The facility was built specifically to meet Albany Bedding's needs, but unfortunately the jobs that were supposed to follow never materialized," Clem said. "But now we have a quality company moving in that we think will fulfill the destiny of that building.

"Better Brands is an exceptional company and could have built anywhere in South Georgia. That they chose to stay here and keep more than 100 jobs in the county makes it a great day for our community."

Clem said the PDA had executed a letter of intent Friday to finalize the deal between the PDA and Better Brands but that the company's attorneys still had due diligence to complete before the agreement is finalized. Sinyard said he expects the agreement to be finalized as quickly as the next four to five days.

PDA Attorney Jay Reynolds said he expects things to move quickly now that the two sides have agreed in principle to the sale.

"Unless there's something unforeseen that comes up, the Better Brands folks have indicated that they want to move pretty quickly," he said Monday. "The contract that was signed provides for a period of due diligence, but from talking with their counsel I don't see anything that would keep us from closing before this year ends."