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Hardy Beverages Selects SOMIC’s Automated Packaging System for Growth Phase

Carolyn Hardy's Hardy Beverages implements SOMIC case packer to meet ambitious sales goals for its hydrogen-infused water products.

Carolyn Hardy (in blue) and Bernadette Fuller, a University of Tennessee Solutions Consultant, discuss the day’s packaging run using the SOMIC 424 case packing system.
Carolyn Hardy (in blue) and Bernadette Fuller, a University of Tennessee Solutions Consultant, discuss the day’s packaging run using the SOMIC 424 case packing system.

This content was written and submitted by the supplier. It has only been modified to comply with this publication’s space and style.

One of the top business executives in Memphis, Carolyn Hardy’s years of packaging leadership and success has her family operated bottling company poised for a breakthrough year in 2024. By switching from hand packing product to installing an automated SOMIC Packaging wraparound case packer, she has ambitious goals for Hardy Beverages to reach this year.

“In the first two years of operation, Hardy Beverages expanded from one brand to three and from two SKUs to 18,” she said of the hydrogen-infused water bottling company. “Last year we presented our flagship brand, HTWO, to every retail sector in the United States and reached out to international prospects.

“This year, HTWO will extend sales to U.S. retailers in mass retail, pharmacies and hardware stores. We will begin international sales of HTWO starting in Kuwait next month, and plan to increase sales by 100% year-over-year for the next five years through strategic marketing programs and promotions.”

Success after success and ready for a new challenge

Hardy’s packaging experience began over 30 years ago. She joined the J.M. Smucker Company in Memphis after earning her MBA from the University of Memphis, and left her plant manager position for a bigger opportunity at Coors Brewing Company.

In 2005, when she was the Coors VP of Operations, leadership in Colorado disclosed plans to shut down the Memphis facility the next year. In an effort to keep her team motivated, she and her team devised a strategy and won Coors’ Environmental Health & Safety Award as the company’s most efficient facility that year.  Due to the merger with Molson Canada, Coors still sold the facility to Hardy. It allowed her to keep the plant open and save over 400 jobs.

She started Hardy Bottling in 2006. They produced non-alcoholic beverages for companies such as AriZona Beverages, Coca-Cola and 7-Eleven Select, as well as energy and organic products for Rockstar, FRS, Cintron, Apple & Eve and others. The facility and assets were sold for $30 million in 2011 to City Brewery of Lacrosse, Wis.

Hardy has since expanded her entrepreneurial interests. In addition to owning Henderson Transloading Services—an agri-logistics intrastate freight company—she is also an author and public speaker who supports many non-profit boards and is currently Chairman of the Eighth District Federal Reserve.

As CEO of Hardy Beverages, one of her goals is to create positive change and expand the Minority Business Enterprise and Women Business Enterprise presence in manufacturing and retail.

“I have worked at different companies for many years and been an advocate for the underserved my entire career,” said Hardy, whose beverage company is located about seven miles east of Memphis International Airport. Her husband, Marino, is the managing partner who runs operations at Hardy Beverages. Jeff Lightfoot, a former Coca-Cola manager, is the operating manager, and Carolyn’s sister, Doris Hardiman, serves as operations coordinator.

“This community has approximately 15% unemployment while the national unemployment rate is 3.8%, and like many communities in the United States, it needs manufacturing to lift people. I love being a role model for women and minority businesses in areas that are traditionally underrepresented.”

An automated system to meet today’s needs

Hardy learned of SOMIC Packaging in 2020 when her filler manufacturer from Germany introduced them.

“I have worked with many packer brands and wanted to avoid the problems I’ve experienced with them in the past. I was initially concerned with equipment built outside the U.S. due to a lack of parts availability and service,” she indicated. “When we did site visits to observe the machine in operation, we learned SOMIC has a dedicated team of service technicians here in the states. I felt confident they not only had a superior case packing system, but a technical team to support us.”

The SOMIC 424 case packer system was installed in October 2022 and Hardy immediately began running the machine.

“Before installing the SOMIC packer, we could only pack 100 units-per-minute (UPM) because we could not source enough temporary labor to hand pack at the filler’s capability,” she acknowledged. “Our filler is capable of over 180 UPMs, and this year we plan to run a ten hour shift, three days a week. As we reach our sales goals, I anticipate adding more shifts.”

The company has a state-of-the-art proprietary beverage process that allows them to produce hydrogen infused products. Flagship brand HWTO is a ready-to-drink beverage. Nightlyfe contains electrolytes to help performers and the late-night crowd to recover faster. Skhy combines hydrogen and CBD with vitamins and minerals for mental and physical well-being. And Rallie is an enhanced water solution exclusively for dogs.

In a changing marketplace that is more consumer driven, SOMIC Packaging CEO Peter Fox says the advantages of retail-ready automation with the 424 machine gives Hardy Beverages the flexibility to meet their unique challenges.

“Carolyn is very knowledgeable and her experience in the beverage world is impressive. She is an accomplished professional who has earned the respect of her peers and the Memphis business community,” commented Fox. He pointed out that SOMIC will begin manufacturing all new machines for North American installations once the company completes construction of its larger U.S. headquarters near Minneapolis later this year.

“Carolyn was very thorough in her equipment analysis and requirements. Her compact machine allows them to make the most of their floor space, and it can be adapted for any purpose.”

Hardy says her SOMIC 424 case packer provides advantages for today and the future.

“I’m very satisfied with the flexibility of our machine. We can produce many different package types in the 6, 12, 18 and 24-pack range,” she revealed about the 16.9 ounce bottles. “I also like its ease of operations and having the ability to source parts and receive technical support quickly when needed.”

Hardy tested those abilities last year and SOMIC passed with flying colors.

“Memphis is very humid in the summertime and last year was no different,” she recalled. “The trays tend to warp, especially if the bands in place are too tight. I called SOMIC and they recommended adding an extension roll-down arm to keep things in check. They did, and we were able to reduce our reject rate by 90%.”

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