By Brenna Eller
Editor In Chief
The dominating soft drink companies, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, have been rivals for decades.
Whether you notice the local pop machines on campus or not, you might have been upset or confused as to why there are only certain options in the vending machines to choose from. That is due to a contract Hutchinson Community College has with Pepsi that states that the company has exclusive product availability rights.
A copy of the contract with the college was obtained from Julie Blanton, Vice President of Finance and Operations at HutchCC. When explaining the contents of the contract, Blanton said, “The Pepsi agreement is actually between the Educational Facilities Authority of Reno County, HutchCC, USD 308, and Pepsi Beverage Company.”
Blanton said the contract term is from Feb. 1, 2016 to April 30, 2024, an eight-year contract.
“No competitive products can be sold, dispensed, served or made available at our facilities except in very limited situations, i.e. our daycare facility can buy milk and bottled water elsewhere,” Blanton said. “The college and all affiliated organizations which sell beverages at our facilities must purchase all products, cups, lids, etc. from Pepsi Beverage Company.”
How does the college benefit from this contract? In return for buying its products, Pepsi has agreed to pay a sponsorship fee of $231,000 over eight years to HutchCC and gives the college free products for the athletic department, and because the college sells Pepsi products, the college receive 25 percent commission.
Since the students are only at HutchCC for a few years, the college faculty was the subject in question.
According to the RFP Beverage Dispensing Equipment Lease provided by Blanton, both Pepsi and Coke presented bids to HutchCC. Pepsi happened to have more to give in terms of commission and athletic sponsorship. However, Coca-Cola presented a reward system where students would use a Coca-Cola card/mobile wallet before purchasing a drink which would eventually add up to students earning a free drink every now and then.
While Coca-Cola’s bid only extended to five years, Pepsi agreed to eight years, paying the college more.
After going over the bids, the HutchCC and USD 308 representatives, HutchCC president. Carter File, former USD 308 superintendent Shelly Kiblinger, and HutchCC chairman of the board of trustees Darrell Pankratz agreed to the lease with Pepsi, and the rest is history.
John Pendergrass, HutchCC Specialist, Technical Training and head of Skills USA, prefers Pepsi over Coke.
“Coke is just too strong. I use it to clean batteries,” Pendergrass jokingly said, referring to the acidity of Coca Cola.
Pendergrass was unaware of the contract with Pepsi, but doesn’t mind Pepsi products, and for the most part doesn’t even use the vending machines often, and said water is much healthier anyways.
If the position were in reverse and only Coke products were sold on campus, Pendergrass said, “If I did want pop, I would bring my own from home.”