In the Spirit of Sankofa,
J. Bruce Llewellyn, Pioneering Executive, Passes Away at 82
J. Bruce Llewellyn, who built the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. into one of the nation’s largest and most prosperous black-owned companies, died yesterday at the age of 82.
Llewellyn was the quintessential entrepreneur, with business interests all over the globe. A man of many accomplishments, he was a lawyer, onetime prosecutor in the New York District Attorney’s Office, and served in the administrations of both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
He became interested in soft drinks while owner of Fedco Foods Corp., of New York, and saw his chance to get into the field when the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH staged a boycott of Coca-Cola because it had so few black employees and distributors.
Llewellyn teamed up with legendary 76ers star Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Philadelphia entertainer Bill Cosby to buy the local company in 1983.
As chairman and CEO, Llewellyn ramped up revenues to more than $500 million annually and greatly increased the number of minority employees.
He sold the Fedco chain of stores for $20 million and in 1985 bought WKBW-TV, an ABC affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y., and four years later he and other investors purchased South Jersey Cable for more than $400 million.