Ocala’s Cone Distribution recognized as top place to work

JJ Jarrell, the human resources director, left, talks with Gavin Cruse, center, as Cruse loads beverages onto a pallet jack, while Shandon Montgomery, right, operates another a pallet jack to gather beverages in the warehouse at Team Cone in Ocala, Fla. on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.

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Posted December 17, 2021 | By Matthew R. Cretul


Raynard Brant loads sodas onto a pallet jack as he gathers beverages for an order in the warehouse at Team Cone in Ocala, Fla. on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.

For the third year in a row, Cone Distributing, Inc. of Ocala has been recognized as one of Florida’s top 25 large companies to work for by Florida Trend Magazine.

Doug Cone Jr. founded the company in Marion County in 1985 and is still president/CEO today.  In addition to its Marion County roots, the company has expanded over the years, and now boasts a presence in Tallahassee as well.

Cone said that while he was proud of the recognition, one specific aspect really stood out to him.

“One of the things that we’re most proud of is during those three years, we were the only Florida-based company to win the award. The others were all domiciled outside of the state of Florida.”

Jonathan “JJ” Jarrell, the director of human resources, said there was a concerted effort about four or five years ago to really focus on a positive workplace ethos, and the awards are simply a result of that.

“We got real, real pointed with what we wanted to improve on. And it was just a paradigm shift in how we treated our folks. [We got] more centered around treating people right, we took a holistic view of individuals. And that’s essentially what created our culture. We went back to our roots, which Mr. Cone established our core values years ago,” Jarrell pointed out.

In order to be considered for recognition in the large company category, a business must have at least 250 or more employees.  According to Jarrell, Cone currently has 306 employees between Ocala and Tallahassee.

Cone relayed that he looks at everyone at his company as more than simply employees, which is why he refers to it as Team Cone.

“From my perspective, and our leadership team’s perspective, you know, we feel like we have a responsibility to over 300 families. And that every family member is a member of Team Cone. And not only have we watched families grow up, but we actually have had and currently have two generations working here. And in one case, we have a third generation,” Cone said.

He pointed to the length of time employees spend with the company as a sign that he’s doing something right when it comes to establishing a positive culture.

“Over 41 percent of our employees have been with us for a minimum of 10 years. 26 percent have been with us for over 20 years. And we are very proud of that because I think it speaks volumes,” Cone noted.

Chaddrick Jenkins is one of those employees.  He’s worked with Cone Distribution for just over a year now as merchandising trainer at their Tallahassee location.  Jenkins said Cone stands out because of the actions behind their words.

“They care for you and have your back. Most people say it, but I feel it with Team Cone.  They care,” he said.

“Even if you’re faced with a bad day, Team Cone is a team, so they’ve got someone who can help.  There’s never a day where I feel I’m overwhelmed.”

Jenkins said he could really feel how much they value personal growth when Jarrell insisted on a particular stipulation during his interview.

“One of the conditions of getting the job I have now was finishing my Bachelors.  JJ made me promise him I’d do it,” Jenkins relayed.

Brett Polk has been a delivery driver with Cone for a little over two years.   He echoes Jenkins’ feelings on the work environment.

“The culture here is big on teams and teamwork. It’s designed that way.  If you’re having a heavy day, they’ll get someone out to help you out. They’re big on work-life balance too, they make sure we get home in time to our families, and that we aren’t working long days.”

Florida Trend has been published for over 60 years, and according to its website, “The magazine has reported on the people and issues that have defined Florida and shaped its future.”

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