“Seidler’s family office roots and their patient, long-game approach to helping build great businesses made all the difference for my company.”
Ashley Edens
Founder and CEO

Meet the CEO

Ashley Edens

Minority partnership
Flexible time horizon
Debt-free transaction
Team and culture development
Global growth
M&A growth
Q & A

How did the Sunny Sky story begin?

I started my career in public accounting (Arthur Andersen) and operations (American Tower Corp). But, in my late twenties, I was looking to own a business, either by founding one myself or by buying into an existing one. So, the chance to lead the buyout of Sunny Sky Products – a regional beverage distributor at the time – came at the perfect time. This was back in 2002, when Sunny Sky Products had only six employees (we now have 200+). My vision was to bring professional management, strategic planning, and operational best practices to the business and build one of the most innovative, customer-centric beverage companies in the category.

Q & A

What were the early growth days like?

Over the next 10 years, I refined Sunny Sky’s strategy and executed my growth plan. We deepened our relationships with our convenience store customers and expanded into the Hispanic restaurant channel. We built out our product selection to include carbonated and uncarbonated cold and frozen beverages. We expanded from a regional business to a national business. We strategically developed manufacturing, marketing, and R&D capabilities in-house to better support our customers. We also acquired a few small businesses to expedite growth and product diversification.

Q & A

Why did you partner with Seidler?

About 10 years in, Seidler reached out to me, and we kept in touch for two years as Sunny Sky continued to grow. As I got to know the Seidler team, I realized the time could be right to take on a value-add partner. I was interested in giving my inactive shareholders a chance to monetize their equity stake. I also wanted to align with a capital partner who could help me identify, diligence, and finance future acquisitions and organic growth opportunities. When I partnered with Seidler, I remained the largest shareholder and retained control of both the business operations and the Board, while also adding a partner that understood my vision and was committed to rolling up their sleeves to help achieve my goals for Sunny Sky.

The Seidler team made a significant positive impact right from the start. Since we had a multi-year dialogue before I decided to take them on as a partner, we had a great working relationship and could hit the ground running together. The Seidler team understood my vision that add-on acquisitions could accelerate Sunny Sky’s growth into new categories, channels, and geographies. Their team helped expand the deal flow funnel for potential acquisition candidates and helped our team execute all the blocking and tackling required to run a successful and structured acquisition outreach, evaluation, due diligence, and integration program.

Q & A

What did the partnership accomplish?

Throughout our decade-long partnership, we completed six complementary acquisitions, including our two largest that closed seven and eight years into our partnership. Seidler also supported strategic investments to upgrade our Houston facility, which significantly increased production capacity and automation. Seidler team members also played a key role in evaluating our international opportunities.

SEP’s family office roots and patient, long-game approach made a big difference for me and my company. The Seidler team served as a sounding board for me as I evaluated key decisions, from acquisitions to leadership hires to capital allocation. And maybe more importantly, they stayed out of the way on day-to-day decisions, trusting me to run the business. I decided to weigh strategic alternatives in 2021. When searching for a partner for the third decade of Sunny Sky’s growth, I looked for a firm that would fit within the Sunny Sky culture and acted with a partnership approach like Seidler. The SEP team made invaluable contributions throughout that process, and we remain close friends today.