Birmingham-based Pepsi bottler Buffalo Rock Co. has named its President and Chief Operating Officer Matthew Dent its new CEO. Dent will replace Jimmy Lee III and end a succession of family ownership and operation that spanned four generations.

The bottling company was founded in 1901, and has since grown into one of the largest family-owned Pepsi bottlers in the United States. Buffalo Rock Co. operates 14 distribution centers in the southeast, including locations in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

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"This year we are celebrating the 120-year anniversary of when my family started our company right here in Birmingham and we have come a long way since that time thanks to our employee-partners," Lee said. "Matthew has shown the necessary skills to lead the company into the future and I have complete confidence in his leadership. He knows and practices the culture that defines and makes our company a great success."

Buffalo Rock began operating a division in Tuscaloosa in 1986 before expanding the line and acquiring the franchise rights to Dr. Pepper two years later. Their Druid City distribution center serves nearly a quarter-million people in and around Tuscaloosa County.

Dent started at the Tuscaloosa plant 25 years ago while he was still a student at the University of Alabama. He worked his way up the chain until he eventually became president, and served in that position for ten years, and also served as the COO.

A company press release said Lee will stay on as executive chairman, which will allow him to be involved at a strategic level with Buffalo Rock's operations. Dent, meanwhile, will manage day-to-day performance.

"For well over half my life I have worked at Buffalo Rock. The people I work with here are family, and I could not be prouder to lead such a talented, driven and committed group," Dent said. "I am honored to be named CEO and I am committed to continue leading with passion and integrity, working every day toward creating circular success for both the company and the individual employee-partners."

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