“Honor God In All That We Do.” That’s the highest principle of Coca-Cola High Country, a family-owned business built on over ninety years of hard work and servant leadership. That highest principle is not just a nice idea - it is put into practice across every aspect of the business. Built on this foundation, Coca-Cola High Country has become a key part of its local communities in some of our country’s most beautiful states.

L.E. “Mike” Messinger had been working for the beverage industry for almost twenty-nine years when in 1956 he bought a 50 percent share in the 7-Up Bottling Company of Rapid City, South Dakota. The company started working out of a gas station with only a handful of employees, but over the decades it grew steadily. In 1970, L.E.’s son Michael started managing the company, which was then known as Coca-Cola Bottling Company of the Black Hills.

High Country Founder L.E. Messinger poses with a beverage cooler from the 1950's.

Now, a third generation of Messingers have taken up the family business. Three of L.E.’s grandchildren run it together; Trevor Messinger, President and CEO, Tura Synhorst, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Trask Messinger, Chief Culture and Commercial Officer. The siblings oversaw an extended period of growth starting in 2000, as they expanded their territory to include parts of Wyoming and then in later years expanding into Colorado, Utah, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota. The expansion led to another change in the company name, this time to Coca-Cola Bottling Company High Country to better reflect its expanded geographical territory. As for the highest principle, Tura and her brothers introduced that, too. “We believe in the dignity and worth of every person,” says Tura “We want people to become more effective and productive in life and at work.” Their highest principle is a reminder for employees at all levels that their work has dignity and their actions matter.

The highest principle goes hand in hand with the company’s four foundational values: honesty, integrity, trust, and respect. The leadership at Coca-Cola High Country instills these values in their employees, helping them grow and develop as servant leaders who set a good example. The company focuses on its relationships with customers, continually aiming to help them grow their businesses.  

Emphasizing relationships and values has helped Coca-Cola High Country succeed in a fast-paced and changing industry. When asked what trends in the beverage industry excite her, Tura points to innovation: “There is a diversity of consumer taste that we’ve never seen before, and consumers get excited about new products.” She marvels at the impact that the digital space, including social media and online shopping, has had on the industry. These changes have increased the pace at which new products come out and the ways people receive their favorite beverages. Things have certainly changed a lot since her grandfather started out in the 50’s, but Tura thinks the future is bright.

The team at Coca-Cola High Country views giving back to the community as essential to having a good business. The staff often participates in service projects together. Pictured below, some staff members volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Billings, Montana.

The company also supports countless charitable organizations across its territory, with a special focus on youth and youth activities. High Country team members give to youth and family service organizations, homeless shelters, food banks, the Boys and Girls Club and youth sports organizations – just to name a few. “We want to enrich the lives of the people who allow us to be successful,” says Tura. “For us to be able to do that and give back over time has been one of the most amazing parts of our business.”

It’s refreshing to see a company that supports its employees, customers and community so much, while also building a strong business. Coca-Cola High Country is one of the many ABA member companies that prioritize service and leadership. We are proud to shine a spotlight on them and to have them as part of the ABA family.