Documents show that the first building used for Rock Hill Coca-Cola Bottling burned to the ground in 1908. Luther Snyder was able to sell William Mark Mauldin nothing but the rights to bottle and distribute Coca-Cola. Mark began his Coca-Cola career in a building on West Main Street on January 1, 1909.
A Lot of Hard Work
For two years Mark labored as hard as he had while living on the farm. The days were spent mixing the syrup, placing it in bottles, capping them with crowns, packing them into an ice chest on the mule drawn wagon so he could deliver Coca-Cola to employers in the textile mills, and to the farmers and merchants in York County.
The first production equipment was all manually operated. The bottles were washed by hand, filled and capped by a machine operated by foot power. Large blocks of ice cooled the water. Fifty cases of Coca-Cola were considered a good day’s output. The plant employed five persons. As the business expanded, a second wagon was added to take deliveries to the rural areas of Rock Hill.
Deliveries Across the Area
A branch office was established in York, South Carolina to service that area of the county. Shipments were made by rail service in special shipping crates to customers in Blacksburg. The branch plant was in operation until the road was paved and the motor truck was purchased in 1917.
Routes to Lancaster County were made by ferry. When reaching Lancaster, the hill was so steep that the wagon had to be emptied. Mark would have to hire young boys to carry the bottles up the hill and then reload the wagon. They would be paid with a bottle of the delicious beverage!
Even on Sundays
The work was hard and the hours were long. Many Sundays his customers called when they ran out of the beverage. Mark stopped what he was doing with his family, loaded up enough bottles to supply the customer’s needs and delivered them. He constantly developed growing relationships with merchants in the two counties and was the consummate salesman for his product.
The Coca-Cola Bottler’s Association
The Coca-Cola Bottler’s Association was a supportive group for the company. Mark attended the meetings, often in Atlanta, to network with other bottlers and to learn more about the business. Sons Cecil and Billy frequently attended these meetings with him.
Family Was a Top Priority
Family was a top priority for Mark. Daughter Ann Bruce describes her father as a humble man who never forgot his beginnings. He gave God the glory for his success. He was handsome and strong. Family and church were very important to him. His children and grandchildren called him tenderhearted. He let Mayme be the disciplinarian.
Mark and Mayme Loved to Travel
Travel was just one love of life that he and Mayme shared. The family traveled to various states in the U.S. to attend company conventions. They also participated in a Western Tour with friends from Rock Hill. Trips were also made to Cuba and Europe. Summers were spent in Myrtle Beach at the family’s beach house and three months of winter were spent in Lakeland, Florida, where Mark had invested in orange groves. Vero Beach was the desti- nation where Mayme and Mark would celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 1954.
Mark Loved Golf, Too
Golf was a passion for Mark. It all started with a gift of a set of golf clubs from his brother-in-law, Fred Williams. Fred had given Mark the clubs to encourage him to use them as an opportunity to develop business relationships in a relaxing and fun atmosphere. Mark set the clubs aside and did not touch them for over a year. Fred was coming for a visit. Mayme encouraged Mark to at least try out the clubs so he could be sincere in his gratitude when Fred asked about them. One day on the course was all it took. The sport became a passion for Mark. He played golf all over the country and always made the game a part of each business trip.
Civic involvement was important to Mark. The community deserved to know how appreciative Rock Hill Coca-Cola Bottling Company was of the support of the customers serviced by their territory. He was intentional in his service and his commitment to improve the quality of life for everyone touched by his business. Mark was a member of the Rotary Club and a faithful member of St. John’s Methodist Church. He served as one of the directors of the York County Fair Board and the Early Chamber of Commerce. Support was always given for the Tuberculosis Society and the American Red Cross, as well as the local school system.
Success Equals Satisfaction
Mark Mauldin received great satisfaction in the success of his business. He was gratified to know that the business had grown from humble beginnings to a beautiful plant with the latest technology and from a one-mule wagon that delivered the product to a large fleet of trucks. It was rewarding to see so many loyal employees working hard to provide a quality product for their customers. What would those naysayers say now about the risks of success or failure taken by a visionary young man from Flowery Branch Georgia?
William Mark Mauldin fulfilled his dream of being his own boss, of owning a business that would provide for his family and give him the opportunity to make the world a better place in which to live. When he died in 1958, Mark Mauldin was definitely considered a success. The example he set for future generations is one beyond description. The family members, the citizens of York County and the employees of Rock Hill Coca-Cola Bottling Company have all benefited from his business acumen, civic generosity, Christian faith and his love for mankind. All are eternally grateful for the presence of William Mark Mauldin in their lives.