PITTSBURG — Pittsburg State University has entered into a $1 million contract with Ozarks Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

Coca-Cola will have “pouring rights” across campus — including fountain dispensers in retail settings, campus vending machines and distribution at all athletic events.
The university will annually receive more than $100,000 in income over the length of the agreement.

PSU previously was a Pepsi campus through the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company.
“We knew this would be a difficult decision,” PSU’s Chief Financial Officer Doug Ball said in a release. “It’s why we put such a detailed bidding process into place. We’ve enjoyed our relationship with Pepsi and sincerely thank them for their partnership throughout the years.”

The university knew the choice would be difficult but the benefits for the university and its students and the difference in costs were the decision-makers. Pittsburg State University Associate Vice President for University Marketing and Communication/Spokesperson Chris Kelly said.

“We knew this would be a difficult decision as the old contract came to a close,” he said.

Kelly said it took nearly three months to decide which would best benefit the university and its students.

Both distributors sent in proposals and presented bids.

“We actively sought out proposals,”  PSU’s Director of Purchasing Jim Hughes said. “We know how competitive the market can be, and we wanted to make certain we gave vendors ample time to prepare. We were pleased with the presentations and level of detail provided by both vendors.”

Ultimately, the final decision came down to the financial benefits for the university and its students.

“The budgets are tough,” Kelly said. “We chose what would bring in the max revenue as much as possible.”

Over the life of the contract with Coca-Cola, there is a $245,000 difference in commissions between the two companies, with Pepsi bidding a total of $765,000 over 10 years to Coca-Cola’s $1,010,000.

According to Kelly and Ball, the new distributer would provide more income and scholarship revenue.

“In today’s budget climate, maximizing our return on contracts is essential,” Ball said in the release. “The new agreement will provide the university with a larger amount of annual income and provide opportunities for additional scholarship revenue, all while maintaining quality service for our campus community.”

On the university’s Facebook page, the community had mixed responses — most of the comments professed loyalty to Pepsi and keeping business local.

“Our preference is to go local wherever and whenever we can,” Kelly said. “This speaks to difficulty to decide, and why it took so much time.

“When we looked at the proposal in it’s totality, we considered the benefits to university and students, it became clear.”

Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company declined comment.

Kelly said in 10 years, businesses will have another opportunity to submit proposals.

“We hope to review great quality proposal just as we did this time,” he said.

 — Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.