GREENWICH, CONN. — Donald M. Kendall, longtime chief executive officer of Pepsi-Cola and PepsiCo, Inc., died Sept. 19. He was 99 years old.
Born in Sequim, Wash., Mr. Kendall grew up on a dairy farm about 50 miles northwest of Seattle. In 1941 he enlisted in the US Navy as a pilot, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses and three Air Medals in World War II.
Following the war, Mr. Kendall joined Pepsi-Cola in 1947 working on a bottling line. He later worked as a route truck driver before being promoted to positions of increasing responsibility.
In 1957, he was named president of Pepsi-Cola International, and six years later he would become president and CEO of Pepsi-Cola Co. Upon becoming CEO, Mr. Kendall made immediate changes to the management team to improve relationships with Pepsi bottlers. Less than two years later, he, along with Herman Lay, led the merger with the Frito-Lay snacks business, a transaction that has led many to consider him the co-founder of the modern PepsiCo.
During his tenure as CEO, which lasted from 1963-86, revenues at PepsiCo increased almost 40-fold, to $7.6 billion from $200 million.
“Don was the architect of the PepsiCo family,” said Ramon L. Laguarta, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. “He was relentless about growing our business, a fearless leader, and the ultimate salesman. He believed in business as a way to build bridges between cultures, laying the foundation of our commitment to ‘Winning with Purpose’ and defining the values that we refer to today as ‘The PepsiCo Way.’ In many ways, he was the man who made PepsiCo, PepsiCo.
“Don was an inspiration to all of us leaders at PepsiCo, from his endless passion to live and make a difference in the world; to his creativity and entrepreneurship; his belief in building bridges between cultures through business; his capacity to connect people and build relationships; his respect for diversity; and his support for the less privileged.”
Survivors include his wife, Bim, four children and 10 grandchildren.