WINCHESTER, Ky. (Sept. 23, 2013) — Ellen McGeeney, the first ever female president/COO of Ale-8-One Bottling Co., starts today at the plant in Winchester with directives to expand the brand.
McGeeney, an eighth generation Kentuckian with an Ivy League education, was hired by fourth generation owner and now CEO Fielding Rogers to expand the distribution of Ale-8-One. The citrus and ginger flavored soft drink, developed in 1926 by Rogers’ great, great uncle G. L. Wainscott, has a strong presence and loyal following in central Kentucky, which the company hopes to develop throughout the commonwealth.
As Rogers put it with a smile on his face, “I’m still gonna steer the ship, but she’s (McGeeney) gonna shovel the coal.”
“She is experienced in growth strategy as well as operational management with knowledge of the food and beverage industry,” he said.
Most recently, McGeeney was with Rooibee Red Tea and will remain on its advisory board. Rooibee Red Tea is a rapidly growing ready-to-drink tea based out of Louisville, Ky., where McGeeney played a pivotal role in overseeing rapid, national growth.
As the first presidential hire outside of family, Rogers said he was looking for more than a president and chief operating officer, he was looking for a good match for the brand. The search, which took 11 months, was designed to find a candidate who understood the uniqueness of Ale-8-One, what it means to Kentucky and the potential it has for growth.
McGeeney landed the job not only for her credentials and experience (she holds a BA with Honors from Brown University and an MBA from Yale), but for her appreciation of Kentucky, her fondness of Ale-8-One and her commitment to family. McGeeney’s family owns a farm in Henderson County, and the traditions of agriculture made a lasting impression. In her spare time, she offers business consulting to family farmers throughout Kentucky.
“I am thrilled and honored to be part of such a well loved Kentucky institution steeped in family, fun and tradition, from the refreshing original recipe to the classic logo and long neck bottle,” she said. “Everyone I know has a fun memory of a fishing trip with Grandpa, a BBQ or a tailgate party that includes Ale-8-One.”
Rogers was the youngest president in company history when he took over the job from his father in October of 2009 at age 29. He will continue to mix up the closely guarded secret formula passed down to him. Eighty-seven years later, Rogers uses his Uncle Lee’s (G.L. Wainscott) handwritten notes to create the formula.