Founded in 1922 by Charles D. Little and Joe S. Foster, Double Cola has kept generations of Chattanooga families quenched and refreshed thanks to beverages like Ski, Brewski, Jumbo, and their signature Double Cola, per the company’s website.
The company has operated in Chattanooga since 1924 and has offered their original Double Cola recipe since 1933 — named after the 12 oz. bottles the beverage came in which were twice the size of their competitors.
Since then, Double Cola has served countless customers throughout the country with a wide variety of sodas, tonics and beer.
Trend spoke with Gina Dhanani, COO and CMO, Double Cola Company to learn more about the 100-year celebration, Double Cola’s offerings and how the family-held company continues to innovate.
TREND: How are customers responding to Double Cola after 100 years?
Dhanani: We have a loyal following in the mid–west and south–east, not to mention our international division. Ski especially has a big following. We have people driving from Ohio and Illinois just to say hi. They’re very fanatical and see [Double Cola] as an extension of themselves. It’s something I can’t explain, but people will call and talk for 30 minutes; they’re so excited! It’s good; it’s refreshing; and it’s nice to see that people love your products that much.
Just yesterday we had two — maybe three — guys show up at our office and I could hear the conversation about how much they love our products. They had driven from another state just to see us.
TREND: Their passion for Double Cola seems to go a long way.
Dhanani: It really does. We recently had to switch production facilities and there was a short period of time when we were out of plastic bottles. Our supporters were starting campaigns because they thought we were discontinuing the product altogether. They were all rallying behind it, but it was just a supply chain issue of getting that new production facility started.
TREND: It must feel great to have such loyal customers. How do you keep them excited about new offerings?
Dhanani: We regularly interact with consumers and our distributors to learn about what they’d like to see from us. And, that’s exactly how we started Brewski. People were so fanatical about Ski that we started to think about what else they were drinking. Well, they’re drinking water, they’re drinking tea and they’re drinking beer. That’s why we ended up going into beer. What better way than to put Ski in the beer? We came out with flavors that mimic the Ski flavors like blood orange, strawberry lemonade and tropical.
You may not know it, but Ski gets its name from skiing on Chickamauga Lake. It’s perfect for being out on the water when it’s hot outside.
TREND: Double Cola is celebrating its centennial with 100 Days of Double Cola — culminating with Double Cola’s Will This Float pitch competition at Startup Week Chattanooga. What advice would you give to those competing in this event?
Dhanani: It sounds cliché, but you don’t know what you don’t know. Talking to people who have been there and done that is helpful. Not just big companies or small companies, you need a wide array because each is so different. Our company is different from competitors. Our business models are similar, but we have different challenges than they do. So, get advice from similar businesses across the spectrum.
Something else that people usually miss is the financial piece of starting a new project. Costs are never what you think they are going to be. Costs change all the time, so planning for the worst-case scenario is the best thing you can do. Who would’ve thought that prices were going to go up so much? And you must know how to pass that along. I think about those things a year ahead of time and on a regular basis.
Lastly, if you don’t show a lot of enthusiasm and passion for your products— though all your numbers are right and everything makes sense — you’re not going to be able to sell it. You can have an excellent product but if you’re not good at selling it, no one is going to buy it. Bring energy to the room!
TREND: What else would you like our readers to know about Double Cola?
Dhanani: Many people we work with in Chattanooga know we are a local company, but the biggest thing to know about us is that we are family and community oriented.
We have been blessed so much in our business and personally, we must give back. We encourage all of our employees to give and do volunteer work. We do our own volunteer work once a quarter and also as part of the 100 Years, 100 Hours of Service program. Giving back and having the family aspect of our business is the most important thing for us. People want to work for someone who not just cares about themselves but their employees and their community.
Read another Double Cola story, here.
Learn more about Startup Week Chattanooga, here.
Bookmark Double Cola’s centennial celebration events, here.