Coca Cola Plant

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JT Rademaker and his son Joe
During the years of 1896 to 1986, John Theodore Rademaker was providing cold beverages to Grant County. This business was significant during the time periods of the U.S. and the rest of the world. It also impacted Grant County in several ways. The Coca-Cola plant was significant during its generation and continued to ours. The Coca-Cola plant was an influential business then and always will be.

History of the Plant

First Expansion
The plant was started by John Theodore Rademaker back in 1898. He first called the business called the business just Rademaker, and the later changed it to Rademaker & Son, the later it became to be Rademaker Brothers. In 1919, the company became a Coke franchise. J.T. Rademaker went down to Tennessee multiple times to get a franchise in Grant County. He succeeded by doing so by meeting with the owner’s of the Thomas Company. Unlike the other franchises, the distribution area for the plant in Marion was very minimal. Well, in 1935 J.T. died and never got to see the company he started prosper. So the company was passed down to his two sons. So in 1937, they took the plant from the alley of Washington Street, behind present day Malone’s, and moved it onto South Branson St. This became the first expansion of a company that would continue to grow.
Second Expansion
The company was moved off of Branson St. to 17th and Washington, where it would continue to grow. While continuing to grow as a company, the building was added on from its little area to one with more room. These add on allowed the business to hire more people and produce more coke products. During this first expansion, the plant was broken into and the safe was blown up.
Third Expansion
So while the company is continuing to grow, the plant was expanded for the third and final time. This time they added on a dock that allowed the trucks to get into the plant and have the coke loaded straight onto the truck. They called this add on a “drive thru,” because it allowed the truck to drive straight through the plant and get loaded and be on its way. After this expansion, the company was broken into once again. Again the safe was blown up for the second time.

Importance to the U.S

The plant was important to the U.S. at its time for several reasons. One reason was that it started up right after the Second Industrial Revolution. This was noteworthy to its time because it had new technology that allowed the making of beverages faster and easier. With new technology, came a greater industry. Another reason why it was so significant was that the business started before the Great Depression, and survived through it. Not very many companies lasted throughout the depression. The plant also went through World War I and World War II as well. The company continued to persist and stay in business through the Civil Rights Movement. Seeing many different worldly changes the business still served as a competitive figure during these economic and social struggles. It offered a sense of help to its community during the United States’ time of struggle. (Rademaker)

Impact on Grant County

The Coca-Cola plant had a considerable impact on Grant County and the surrounding areas. One reason was by providing cold beverages to the city at a low cost. Rademaker also bought all of their products from local businesses and factories not only supporting themselves but other struggling businesses in the area. For example, they bought glass from Owen’s Glass in Grant County. With many unfortunate people in Grant County, the plant provided jobs for the minorities, hearing impaired, mute, and poor class citizens.
Workers in the plant.jpg

During all the years of business, thousands of people were employed and supported through the company. Even though it was not a large plant, it was still able to provide a scholarship for a student at Mississinewa High School through the Community Foundation once a year. Like many other local businesses, it also sponsored a baseball team at The Marion Pal Club and Lincoln Field. Unlike other factories, Rademaker’s offered educational tours to all elementary, middle school, and high schools in Grant County. Along with all the other companies in Grant County at the time, the factory provided extremely competitive wages and benefits. Some of these benefits included being a part of the Union, a provided health insurance, and a pension program as well. These programs helped many people once they went into retirement with their finances. While offering many benefits, the company provided jobs year round, even though coke was only a summer demand for quite a long time. This helped many of the less fortunate people to get jobs and make money. With the growing poverty of Grant County, a plant provided much economic assistance during its time.

Impact on today

The Coca-Cola plant is also important to our modern times. One reason was that it helped set up an industry in not only Marion, but Grant County as well. The plant also showed the start of the fall of Grant County’s economy. Without the full support of their customers, the company could not afford to buy the new products that technology was demanded. New equipment needed to be purchased in order to stay competitive in their industry. As a result, this showed that the economy in Grant County was on the downfall. Thus, with the economy on the downfall, the lack of support showed that people were not very eager about the business founded in Marion to support Grant County anymore. During the economic crisis, the company could only support twenty employees through its final two years of business. These twenty employees were sadly enough preparing the factory for shut down. After it was ready, the Rademaker’s decided to sell the business in 1985. The business was sold in late 1985 and Tom Rademaker was the very last person to close the doors in May of 1986. He said, “This was a very sad thing, to see this company start with my great-great grandfather and end with me.” This company showed the sad turning point of the decline of the economic state of Grant County. (Rademaker)


The Coca-Cola plant was a prominent business at that time and always will be of that time. This business was noteworthy during the time periods of the U.S. and the rest of the world. It also impacted Grant County in several ways. The Coca-Cola plant was significant during its generation and continued to ours. Rademaker family’s business added much economic range from 1896 to 1986.