Ulysses L.Bridgeman, Jr.
Owner and Chief Executive Officer
Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company
Ulysses L. Bridgeman Jr. is the owner and chief executive officer of Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company, LLC, a Kansas limited liability company which owns and operates a Coca-Cola production/manufacturing facility in Lenexa, Kansas, and 17 Coca-Cola distribution facilities sprinkled across the USA’s heartland, including Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.
Mr. Bridgeman is also part owner of Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited with Larry Tanenbaum, a prominent Canadian businessman and philanthropist. Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited employs approximately 5,800 associates and operates five production facilities and over 50 sales and distribution centers. Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited conducts business in all 10 Canadian provinces and three territories.
Mr. Bridgeman acquired the Heartland manufacturing and bottling territories from Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, LLC in late February 2017. The Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited acquisition was completed in October 2018, and both transactions made Mr. Bridgeman one of the Coca-Cola system’s newest independent bottlers.
Prior to acquisition of the Heartland and Canadian bottling operations, Mr. Bridgeman was the owner and chief executive officer of various companies operating over 450 restaurants in 20 states, including 263 Wendy’s restaurants and 123 Chili’s restaurants. His companies received several prestigious awards during his tenure including the Diamond Award (most effective neighborhood marketer), the Wendy Award (exemplary performance by a franchisee), the Founder’s Award (recognizing operational excellence by a franchisee), the Jim Near Legacy Award (for employer of choice) and the Hall of Fame Award (for overall achievement) from Wendy’s International, and the Franchisee of the Year Award (2012) and the Chili’s Sales Award (2015) from Brinker International.
Mr. Bridgeman attended the University of Louisville where he graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. He was a three-year letter winner and starter on the University’s basketball team, receiving All American honors as a senior. From 1975 to 1983 and from 1986 to 1987, Mr. Bridgeman played professional basketball with the Milwaukee Bucks. During the interim period of 1983 to 1986, he played for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Mr. Bridgeman currently serves on the Board of Directors of Meijer, Inc., Churchill Downs, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the James Graham Brown Foundation, Simmons College, and the West End School. He served as past chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Louisville.
Mr. Bridgeman has personally received many awards, including the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame; Volunteers of America Tribute Award for Outstanding Service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky; John Thompson Foundation Outstanding Achievement Award; Coach John Wooden Key to Life Award and the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.