“I was considering the traditional MBA path when the opportunity to buy Sunny Sky arose.
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—came at the perfect time.
This was back in 2002, when Sunny Sky Products had only six employees (we now have 250+). At the time, we were exclusively a distributor of frozen uncarbonated beverages in the convenience store channel. 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.
Over the next 10 years, I refined Sunny Sky’s strategy and executed my growth plan.
We deepened our c-store relationships and grew into the Hispanic restaurant channel. We built out our product selection to include carbonated and uncarbonated frozen, cold and hot 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. Additionally, we acquired a few small businesses to expedite growth and product diversification.
Seidler reached out to me and kept in touch for two years as Sunny Sky continued to grow.
Having gotten to know the Seidler team over a two-year period, I realized the time could be right to take on a professional partner. I was interested in giving my inactive shareholders a chance to monetize their equity stake, since these individuals were approximately 10 years into their investment. I also wanted to align with a capital partner who could help me identify, diligence and finance future acquisitions and organic growth opportunities. In my deal 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 excited to roll up their sleeves to help achieve my goals for Sunny Sky.
Seidler made a significant, valuable impact right from the start.
Since we had a multi-year dialogue before I decided to take on an outside partner, we had a great working relationship and were able to hit the ground running by the time our partnership formally began. The Seidler team understood my vision that add-on acquisitions could accelerate Sunny Sky’s growth into new categories, channels and geographies. Their team put together a large funnel of potential targets and helped with the blocking and tackling in formulating a structured acquisition outreach, due diligence and evaluation program.
We have completed five complementary acquisitions, including our two largest that closed seven and eight years into our partnership. Additionally, Seidler has supported strategic investments to upgrade our Houston facility, which significantly increased production capacity and automation, and they’ve played a key role in evaluating our international opportunities. Clearly, Seidler’s family office roots and their “patient, long-game” approach to helping build great businesses has made the difference for my company.