Bacardi makes presence felt among 200 nearby multinationals
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
As the new multinational in town, Bacardi is making its presence known and offering rounds of support to its adopted Coral Gables.
The giant alcoholic beverage company consolidated about 300 employees from seven locations into its new headquarters at 2701 LeJeune Road last February. It joins close to 200 multinationals that call the City Beautiful home.
Since settling in, Bacardi USA, the import, sales and marketing arm of the leading wine and spirits producer, has been pouring sponsorship support for events and organizations in the city.
This year, the bat-marked brand was the lead sponsor of June's Coral Gables Restaurant Week, which brought together eateries to offer discounted three-course meals.
The event gave the company the opportunity to sponsor a popular, annual event and showcase its brands, said Joe Gerbino, Bacardi spokesman.
"They've been great partners, very community-minded," added Mari Gallet, executive director of the Gables' Business Improvement District, a self-taxing district that promotes area businesses and organized the restaurant event.
The city's extensive shopping and restaurant directory is a selling point for multinationals such as Bacardi.
"It's satisfying to know that the employees can walk into the streets and have a variety of restaurants and stores" to choose from, Ms. Gallet said.
The company's move to the Gables, she said, is a "vote of confidence for the area that this is the place to be."
The global corporation is also developing ties in the community by participating in and backing local organizations, Mr. Gerbino said, among them Actors' Playhouse, Coral Gables Cinemateque, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce and Coral Gables Community Foundation, of which Aura Reinhardt, Bacardi's vice president of corporate communications, is a board member.
Bacardi's corporate commitment to the Gables began about two years when it became a chamber member, said Mark Trowbridge, chamber president and chief executive officer.
That pledge has strengthened since they got a Gables corporate address, he said.
"While they are a worldwide brand, they see the importance of being a good corporate citizen," he said. "They've worked with us since they first moved in."
The 300-plus employees now based in the Gables are also boosting business for area stores and service providers.
For example, the dry cleaner across from its headquarters now opens extra hours to meet the added demand, Mr. Trowbridge noted. These executives are also shopping and dining at local boutiques and restaurants.
"It's helped the Gables' little economy at a time we really need it," Mr. Trowbridge said, adding it's an indicator of the company's "immediate impact and contribution to everyday services" provided in the city.
Bacardi also supports local business by holding business lunches and meetings and company cocktail hours in and around the Gables, Mr. Gerbino said.
The corporation's portfolio includes top-selling brands, such as Bacardi rum, Grey Goose vodka, Dewar's scotch whisky, Bombay Sapphire gin, Cazadores tequila and Martini vermouth.
The city is toasting to Bacardi's commitment and showing its appreciation.
After the inauguration of its headquarters, Gables Mayor Don Slesnick presented the company with a proclamation declaring Feb. 4 Bacardi Day.
The 230,000-square-foot office building, for which it's seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, houses its operations for Bacardi USA, Bacardi Latin America and Bacardi Americas Travel Retail.
"South Florida has been our home for more than forty years, and it's exciting to accomplish our goal of uniting all employees previously spread throughout seven different buildings under one roof," John P. Esposito, Bacardi USA's president and chief executive officer, said in statement. "Working out of this new location will further strengthen our collaboration, communications, cross-functionality and teamwork to continue to market the most recognized and top-selling spirits in the United States."