About Viking Coca-Cola
Viking Coca-Cola is a privately held company, owned by the Faber Family. Each Faber family member – Joe, Rose Ann and Michael – has been a part of leading Viking Coca-Cola during its successful journey. The Faber Family started with Joe Faber’s passion and dedication. Joe grew up on a farm in central Minnesota and was a truck driver after he graduated from high school. Joe always wanted to attend college, but it was never financially viable for him. His high school class voted him “Least Likely To Succeed,” however, Joe’s work ethic and ability to adapt proved them wrong.
After driving trucks for various companies, Joe joined Viking Coca-Cola as a sales delivery driver. This was the ideal role for Joe. He excelled at selling and delivering through the simple disciplines of building trust and relationships with customers. Joe was promoted to sales, then management and ultimately become Viking Coca-Cola’s General Manager. Shortly after Joe became General Manager, he had the opportunity to purchase a small part of the company if he could borrow the money. Joe discovered raising money was a daunting task because he didn’t have any assets to use as collateral and therefore no banks would borrow Joe the money he needed to buy into the company. Joe’s tenacity paid off, when he finally found a banker who would borrow him the money based on “character collateral.” The banker told Joe, “I know you don’t have any assets to back the loan, but you have a reputation and character that gives me confidence that we’ll see every cent paid back.” That was the pivotal point for Joe and the Faber Family owning, leveraging, and taking great risks that grew the company to what it is today, doing business in three states and three different industries.
Unfortunately, in 1992, Joe and the Faber Family experienced a life-changing event when Joe was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer. The prognosis was unwelcoming for Joe and the company was put up for sale at the request of the major shareholders. For two years Joe was battling cancer, he tried to sell the business to the shareholders, but was unsuccessful. Joe then made an extremely bold decision. He made an offer to buy out all of the shareholders. This time, Joe was successful at convincing the shareholders to sell the company… to him. In 1994, after growing up on a farm and driving trucks for a living, Joe achieved the unlikely dream of owning his own company. He pursued and achieved the American dream and for one year, he reveled in his success until later in 1995 his cancer returned with tenacity and even Joe could not overcome the grips of cancer. In October of 1995, Joe sadly passed away leaving behind his family, friends, team members and success.
Despite Joe’s passing, his legacy lived on through all of the employees and his family. Heroic efforts by the employees kept the business running. All of the foundational employees stayed with the company and carried on the passion and principles Joe instilled in them. Burdened with a tremendous amount of debt, the Faber Family and the Viking Coca-Cola team carried on and navigated through the high probabilities of failure. Every decision was a risk. Every case of soda critical. Every dollar mattered.
After Joe’s passing, Rose Ann Faber (Joe’s wife) actively took a leadership role along with their son Michael. Just prior to Joe’s passing, Michael moved to Colorado to join a CPA firm and obtain some experience outside of Viking Coca-Cola where he had worked during the summers throughout high school and college. Michael balanced working at the CPA firm and Viking Coca-Cola with the support of the team and Rose Ann. After a few years of working as a CPA, Michael returned to Viking Coca-Cola and transitioned into the President role and ultimately the main leadership role of CEO.
Shortly after Michael’s return, Viking Coca-Cola purchased the Fergus Falls, Minnesota Coca-Cola territory in 1998, adding further to the tremendous debt load that Viking Coca-Cola carried. After refinancing and paying down some debt, Viking Coca-Cola augmented its production capabilities through the addition of a can line in 2003. Viking Coca-Cola had bottled product since the 1980’s, so canning soft drinks was a natural complement to its production capabilities. 2005 then proved to be an active year for Viking Coca-Cola as it acquired the Coca-Cola distribution territories of Red Wing, Minnesota and River Falls, Wisconsin. A month later in 2005, the Faber Family ventured into the beer business by acquiring a Coors distributor that covered St. Cloud, Hutchinson and Willmar, Minnesota. Acquiring other beverages distributors was not the only activity at Viking Coca-Cola. In 2008, Michael created the Armada Coffee brand and in 2010 Warrior Energy drink and Avalanche Ice slushy. After a series of years of acquisitions and entrepreneurial brand growth, Viking Coca-Cola focused on paying down its debt in order to grow in the future, which proved to be a wise decision because in 2016 Viking purchased the Coca-Cola territories of Virginia, Minnesota, Duluth, Minnesota and Ashland, Wisconsin and in 2017 and 2018 Viking Coca-Cola purchased the Monster Energy drink brand from 15 different Anheuser-Busch beer distributors.
The Faber Family continues to own and operate the businesses of Viking Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Beverages of Duluth, its beer business under Viking beverages and its food and vending business under First Choice Food & Beverage Solutions. The entrepreneurial spirit that Joe Faber possessed transcended down to his son Michael and the Faber Family continues to focus on growth for the long term viability and growth for the benefit of consumers, customers and team members the Faber Family serves. The family has always focused on establishing and nurturing the relationships with its customers and team members, never forgetting where they came from and perpetuating the work ethic, risk taking and entrepreneurial spirit that originated with Joe Faber.