Claude Nielsen joined Coca‑Cola Bottling Company United, Inc. in 1979 and held a variety of operational and managerial positions until 1991 when he was appointed Chief Executive Officer. Under his direction as CEO, Coca‑Cola UNITED became the second largest privately held Coca‑Cola bottler in North America, the third largest bottler of Coca‑Cola products in the U.S., and one of the largest privately held companies in Alabama.
Coca-Cola UNITED has approximately 10,000 associates located in more than 60 facilities across six southeastern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee). These associates are based in 54 franchised Coca-Cola territories and nine production facilities. Among the franchises operated by Coca-Cola UNITED include Chattanooga, the world’s first Coca-Cola bottler, and Atlanta, headquarters of the worldwide Coca-Cola system.
A native of Evergreen, Alabama, Claude earned a BA in Economics from Sewanee: The University of the South in 1973 and received his Masters Degree in Business from The Colgate‑Darden School of Business at The University of Virginia in 1975.
Active in the business community, Claude has held many leadership positions within the Coca‑Cola System and soft drink industry, recently serving as Chairman of the American Beverage Association and The Coca‑Cola Scholars Foundation. Additionally, he is on the Board of Governors of The Coca‑Cola Bottlers’ Association.
Throughout his career, he has shared his energy and enthusiasm with numerous civic and charitable organizations, including the United Way of Central Alabama, the Birmingham Airport Authority Board, and the American Cancer Society. He is a member of the Birmingham Rotary Club and is currently serving on the Executive Committee of the Birmingham Business Alliance.
Claude and his wife, Kate, are parishioners of the Church of the Advent and have three children and six grandchildren.