Coos Bay, Ore.

By Ed Glazar/ News Record Photographer

Six hours. That’s about how long it took sales manager Ron Sawyer to stack about 750 cases of Pepsi products Thursday with the help of Tamara Duran.

But the pair from Admiral Beverage were hardly dragging their feet.

With each row of colored soda boxes Sawyer stacked and taped against a wall, a figure took shape: The silhouette of a soldier saluting a U.S. flag, the whole display about 9-feet-tall.

Sawyer has been with the Worland-based company for about 26 years. He began getting crafty with his cans on a NASCAR-themed display about 16 years ago that earned him two photographs of his work autographed by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The process starts, he said, by finding an image he wants to recreate, then pitching it to a store. In this case, the image was an easy sell to Albertsons.

”What a great idea for Memorial Day,” store manager David Diamond said of Sawyer’s display as he worked in the produce aisle.

The image is transferred to graph paper and used as a map.

”Each square is the end of a 12-pack,” Sawyer explained, as customers shuffled past the towering display.

The over-the-top displays became possible when Pepsi changed the shape of the cases, Sawyer said. Since then, he’s created numerous displays in Gillette, including a Denver Broncos’ helmet and the Wyoming bucking horse.

Despite the creativity that goes into each piece, Sawyer makes no claims of being an artist.

”I just found it fun to be able to figure it out,” he said.

But Sawyer doesn’t figure it out alone. Graphic designer Angela Pitman created a banner as well as vinyl highlights and stars to complete the design.

Duran has worked alongside Sawyer for 13 years.

”I fired her a couple of times but she never left,” he said.

Duran is indeed in it for the long haul. She carried cases of soda and other supplies to Sawyer as he worked on a ladder throughout the day. At 9 months pregnant, she carried some of the cases on her belly.

”That’s what it’s there for,” she said.

Sales manager Ron Sawyer pulls a vinyl star from Tamara Duran’s finger Thursday as they work on a 750-case soda display at Albertsons in Gillette.
Tamara Duran hands a case of soda to Ron Sawyer Thursday as he adds another layer to a 750-case soda display at Albertsons in Gillette.
Jace Ramirez, 16 months, drives his mother Erica Shumacher past a saluting soldier Pepsi product display Thursday completed by Admiral Beverage salesman Ron Sawyer just minutes before the pair arrived to shop at Albertsons in Gillette
Ron Sawyer apples hot glue to an empty box end Thursday as he works on a soda display at Albertsons. Sawyer’s designs are created with with full cases of soda, as well as ends cut from empty boxes.
Sales manager Ron Sawyer with Admiral Beverage takes a call from a local store manager as he works Thursday on a 750-case saluting soldier soda display at Albertsons in Gillette.