Saliba gauges business needs with tour


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Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba asked some variation of one question at some area businesses Friday morning: “What do you need from the City of Dothan and its partners?”

Saliba – along with area economic development leaders – toured Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Pepi Foods, and Harley-Davidson of Dothan to determine what businesses need to continue to grow. Saliba posed the question near the end of each tour since it was one of the focal points of each visit.

“We need people who are investing in our community to know we care about them, that we appreciate what they are doing,” he said. “If there’s any way the city, the chamber, Wallace College –all our team players –if there’s anything we can do, we want to hear about it.”

At Pepi Foods, the group learned how the Pemberton family started the company in Bainbridge, Georgia, and decided to relocate the headquarters to Dothan about eight years ago. While Pepi services more than 1,800 vending machines in the tri-state area, it also provides a variety of healthy food products and operates 10 cafes in businesses with large employee bases, vice president Donnie Pemberton said.

The business has also recently launched its Simply Fit line, where people can order pre-packaged healthy meals that are then delivered to certain locations for pickup. The meals stay fresh for a week.

Pemberton said the company, located on Technology Drive, receives its fresh ingredients early in the mornings. They are stored until needed for sandwiches, soups and other meals that are cooked and assembled by hand.

Because items are hand-prepped, cooks and chefs are needed from time to time, Pemberton said. Sometimes those positions can be hard to fill.

At Harley-Davidson, owner Bill Holland shared how his company recently completed a $ 2.5 million expansion to include a Can-Am dealership. While sales have been slacking in motorcycles in recent years, Holland said his business has grown due to the beautiful building and great staff.

The store has been in the top 5 percent of growth in the Harley-Davidson chain the last few years, Holland said.

“What you see when you get out in our community is we are a very entrepreneurial community,” Saliba said. “The people work hard to make a living, and this is an example of homegrown done right.”

Holland said that like many industries, he does have problems securing enough mechanics for his service department. Saliba said the tour group noted the importance of creating cooperative programs between businesses and schools.

“As much as anything, we are asking them to invest in our youth and connect with our schools and find ways with co-ops and mentorships,” Saliba said. “We want to press that, as well.”

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About Craig Ballantyne 24621 Articles
I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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