The August 5, 1940 edition of the Kingsport Times News reported that the Nesbitt-Fleenor Bottling Company, located at 312 East Sullivan Street, began operations with William M. Fleenor listed as manager.(2) Fleenor is from Coeburn, VA and already had four years in the bottling business at the writing of that article. Of course this experience was with the Dr. Pepper Bottling Company of Coeburn which started in 1936. Six men were employed at the plant and they had three trucks which distributed their products.

These products include Nesbitts Orange which was produced by the Nesbitt Fruit Products Company of Los Angeles, California. The Squirt Company of Beverly Hills, California granted them the franchise to bottle their Squirt brand grapefruit soda. They also bottled their own flavor line named Fleenor’s Finest Flavors. In June 1941 Bob Poole held a “Battle of the Bottlers” on his radio program “What Do you Know?” in the early days of radio station WKPT. This bottler battle featured a team of five men from both The Holston Bottling Company and The Nesbitt-Fleenor Bottling Company. These two teams would match wits under a barrage of questions from Mr. Poole. No clue who won, but it is apparent that Bob Poole, originally from Stoneville, NC, went on to have a long career in broadcasting.

In September 1942 William M. Fleenor leased the plant to the partnership of Robert A. Wellons, and I. W. Stewart who rename it the Kingsport Bottling Company.(2) William M. Fleenor moves back to Coeburn, VA where he appears to have been operating the Dr. Pepper Bottling Company there. By 1948 he takes over the former Beverages Incorporated Bottling Company in Kingsport, TN, and starts up the Nesbitts Bottling Company which he operates until selling by 1953.

This is 312 East Sullivan Street the location of Nesbitt-Fleenor Bottling Company

10oz Nesbitts Orange Drink bottle dated 1940

Nesbitts California Orange ad from August 11, 1940

From the collection of Richard Begley, photo by Joseph Lee
7oz Squirt bottle dated 1941

Squirt ad from July 24, 1941

10oz Fleenor's Fine Flavors bottle dated 1941

Nesbitts California Orange ad from August 4, 1942

10oz Nesbitts Orange Drink bottle dated 1941

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(1) Baldwin's Kingsport, Tenn City Directory 1939-1951

(2) The Kingsport Times News August 5, 1940, March 9, 1944