Chairman and former president and chief executive officer, Coca-Cola Enterprises
Born: 1940, in Loudon, Tennessee.
Education: University of Tennessee, BA, 1962; JD, 1965.
Family: Son of James Franklin Kline; married Jane (maiden name unknown); children: three.
Career: Miller and Martin, 1970–1995, attorney and partner; 1981–1991, general counsel for Johnston Coca-Cola Bottling Group; 1991–1995, general counselor for Coca-Cola Enterprises; Coca-Cola Enterprises, 1996–1997, senior vice president and general counsel; 1997–1999, executive vice president and general counsel; 1999–2001, executive vice president and chief administrative officer; 2000–2002, vice chairman; 2001–2002, vice chairman and chief executive officer; 2002–2003, chairman and chief executive officer; 2003–, executive chairman of the board.
Awards: Named one of the Best Lawyers in America in Business Litigation, Best Lawyers in America , 1995–1996; named a fellow of the Chattanooga Bar Foundation, 1996.
Address: Coca-Cola Enterprises, 2500 Windy Ridge Parkway SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30339-5677; http://www.cokecce.com.
■ Lowry F. Kline served as chief executive officer (CEO) and chairman of Coca-Cola Enterprises, the world's largest marketer, distributor, and producer of bottled and canned nonalcoholic beverages. Kline was known as a shrewd businessman and tactician whose logic and reasoning skills made him an effective and successful CEO. At Coca-Cola Enterprises, Kline developed a strong marketing and leadership team that was able to think of creative ways to increase profits as the company expanded further into the international market and introduced new products in the United States.
Lowry Kline began his career as a lawyer in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, law firm of Miller and Martin, where he learned to weigh facts judiciously and make decisions. Kline also gained practical experience in leadership as a partner in Miller and Martin, president of the Chattanooga Bar Association, president of the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, and chairman of the Tennessee Bar Foundation. In 1981 Kline became general counsel for Johnston Coca-Cola Bottling group and began his work with Coca-Cola. As general counsel of the bottling group, Kline developed a wide base of knowledge about the legal issues, trends, and events surrounding the bottling industry. In 1991 he worked with Coca-Cola Enterprises in the position of general counsel. In 1995 Kline successfully defended Coca-Cola Enterprises against charges of bribing workers to halt a union-organizing campaign. In 1996, based on his intelligence, good judgment, and excellent people skills, Kline was moved from the law team into executive roles that culminated in his selection as CEO in 2001. Upon becoming CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Kline stated that the transition from lawyer to executive was a reasonable move since business lawyers are "directly involved in a lot of the events, developments, and trends in the businesses they represent" ( Beverage Digest , April 31, 2001).
As CEO, Kline faced three major challenges: consumer tastes were moving beyond the core carbonated-beverage market, Coca-Cola Enterprises needed to increase the marketing of core carbonated beverages such as Coca-Cola and Sprite in the United States and Europe, and the relationship between Coca-Cola Enterprises and the Coca-Cola Company, the producer of Coca-Cola, was troubled. Kline confronted changing consumer tastes by introducing a line of noncarbonated Minute Maid lemonade products. The lemonade proved to be a successful drink and was later expanded to include pink and diet lemonades. In the carbonated-beverage market, Kline led the introduction of Vanilla Coke, Diet Vanilla Coke, and Sprite Remix. He smoothed the relationship with the Coca-Cola Company by working closely with the other company to decrease the impact of various external issues on the partnership. Kline came into the CEO position aware of the largest issues and ready to meet the challenge of the position.
By the third quarter of Kline's second year as CEO, Coca-Cola Enterprises reported a net income growth of 35.6 percent with a net income of $259 million on $4.7 billion in revenue. In 2003 Coca-Cola Enterprises showed successful management in Europe with a 10 percent volume increase due to the successful introductions of Vanilla Coke and Diet Vanilla Coke and local marketing campaigns. By 2003 third-quarter profits were up 36 percent in Europe.
By 2002 Kline felt he was not doing enough to increase efficiency and cut costs, and he led the formation of a new company, Coca-Cola Bottler Sales and Service Company, as a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Enterprises. The new company combined 80 North American bottlers into one entity in an effort to centralize procurement and seek quicker routes to market new products. The creation of a single bargaining entity also increased buying power of materials such as aluminum and brought the individual bottlers together to work as a team. The hope was that the combined company would reduce overall costs significantly. By 2004 the Coca-Cola Bottler Sales and Service Company was considered a model of how to consolidate and create a one-bottler purchasing system.
In 2003 Kline turned over the CEO role and the executive and administrative functions of Coca-Cola Enterprises to John Alm, the president and chief operating officer of the company. During his two years as CEO, Kline built a strong leadership team and with that team deployed several innovative ideas that improved profitability and efficiency. Kline continued as executive chairman of the board of directors to help develop strategic business plans for the company.
See also entry on Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. in International Directory of Company Histories .
"CCE Profit Jumps 35.6 Percent," Atlanta Business Chronicle , October 17, 2003.
"Former General Counsel Become CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises," Beverage Digest , April 13, 2001, p. 2.
Leith, Scott, "Coca-Cola Enterprises: Operating Chief Takes No. 1 Job at Bottler; Changeover No Surprise," Atlanta Journal-Constitution , December 17, 2003.
—Dawn Jacob Laney