Local company turns to the past to house the future

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One DeRidder company is returning to its roots while embracing the future.

Bardin Vending Service has expanded its operations to include automated, micro-market vending, and will be moving its operations into the old DeRidder Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, which is currently being restored.

Micro-market vending includes fresh food kiosks with self-shopping and checkout. You may have seen these new automated options in places like airports and hospitals. Many work places are starting to offer convenient micro-market vending so employees can get fresh food without having to leave their work place. 

“We’ve really turned into more than a vending company. We will have fresh food in May,” said Hunter Bardin, Bardin Vending manager. “You grab, shop and check out. Micro-markets have been a big thing as far as new business opportunities and being able to offer our customers a lot more.”

An old Coca-Cola Bottling Plant photo. Front man, unknown; Ken Kern and a man named Van Dewey Brown.

When the Bardins were looking at ways to implement the new automation, they began eyeing their old downtown space. The work at the old bottling plant is projected to take at least a couple more years, however, a lot of work has already been done.

The old bottling plant on East First Street in downtown DeRidder, which is being restored.

The family has been associated with DeRidder since 1916. Kade Bardin, company owner and Hunter’s father, said his uncle, Clebert Cyprien “C.C.” Kern bought the bottling business just before World War I.

The franchise in DeRidder had been started by the Christian brothers and the original plant operated on East First at a nearby, but different location.

Leonce Cyprian “L.C.” Kern, Kade’s grandfather, came to DeRidder after World War I to help his brother with the new business. 

The Kerns came from the Donaldsonville/Napoleonville area, but the family ultimately originates from Alsace-Lorraine and were French-speaking.

“My grandfather didn’t speak English until age 12,” Kade said.

Together, in 1926, brothers C.C. and L.C. founded Dixie Maid Ice Cream, an addition to their successful soda bottling business.

In July 1927, C.C. Kern was struck by a car and injured. He died a few days later in the hospital of pneumonia at age 43.

At that time, L.C. Kern and C.C.’s widow, Leocadie Naquin Kern, took over the business.

The building that is being restored for the current vending business was constructed in 1936.

Many locals remember watching through the large glass window in the front as soda was bottled.

In 1980, the family sold the bottling part of the business, and Dixie Maid continued until the 2010s.

In 1981, Kade and wife, Sunshine, started Bardin Vending Service at 134 East First Street.

Hunter said the decision to restore the old building was an easy one. He said the space provides enough room to house their automation system and for operations now, and in the future.

“For decades, this has been the nucleus of our business here. It keeps the same family that was operating in it, operating once again and it restores a downtown historic site,” he said. 

“I think it will be really cool once the windows are redone and you can see inside the old Coke plant and the operation going. The goal is to within the next three years, be completely moved in there,” he continued.

Kade said you cannot construct a building such as the old plant in current times, and for the same price.

“This is a concrete building,” he said. “This is better than a brand new building.”

Bardin Vending serves Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas. For more information, visit http://bardinvending.com.

𝑊𝑒’𝑟𝑒 𝑐ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑖𝑐𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝑖𝑛 𝑎 𝑠𝑝𝑒𝑐𝑖𝑎𝑙 𝑓𝑒𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒 𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝐹𝑎𝑐𝑒𝑏𝑜𝑜𝑘 𝑝𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑐𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑒𝑑 “𝐻𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡𝑜𝑤𝑛 𝐻𝑒𝑎𝑑𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑠.” 𝐸𝑚𝑎𝑖𝑙 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑖𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑒𝑤𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑛@𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦𝑜𝑓𝑑𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑑𝑑𝑒𝑟.𝑜𝑟𝑔. #deridder

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