Teall Investments, a private equity company based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and San Francisco, California, recently acquired a majority stake in Sunshine Beverages, also based in Winston-Salem. Sunshine Beverages produces, markets and sells a “better-for-you” energy beverage, branded Sunshine, which is expanding across the Southeast in three flavors: Ginger Berry, Blueberry Lemonade and Clementine Twist.
Sunshine was created by ad agency The Variable, where its founder and CEO Keith Vest continues to serve as chairman.
“Teall’s investment in Sunshine allowed our company to no longer be a side business of The Variable,” Vest said. “Since the investment a few months ago, Sunshine has grown from zero to eight full-time employees and rapidly accelerated our footprint from North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad region to all parts of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia.”
Sunshine recently added Lizzie Ward to its management team as president of the company. Previously, she was with Teall Investments, working directly with Teall Investments Chairman Ben C. Sutton Jr. on acquisitions and corporate development. Ward, a Wake Forest graduate, received her MBA from Emory University Goizueta Business School and spent a year with The Coca-Cola Co. before joining Teall Investments in 2016. As part of Sunshine’s leadership team, Ward is focused on sales and marketing.
Vest said Sunshine’s projected growth is changing by the week, and he expects the drink to be available at more than 1,500 grocery stores and 800 convenience stores, independent retailers, craft breweries and other locations by early 2018. This represents a ten-fold increase in distribution since Teall made its initial investment. He credits the brand’s recent growth to strong retailer relationships built over time by Sunshine’s founders, adding corporate staff to focus on marketing and operations, and hiring sales managers in each of its key markets to build the business at a local level.
“When we created Sunshine and launched it in the Piedmont Triad, it was available only at select locations of Lowes Foods grocers and Quality Mart convenience stores,” Vest said. “Teall’s investment has enabled us to activate our growth strategy in the South, and our products are now found on the shelves at Food Lion, Ingles and Harris Teeter, with other retailers to be announced in January of next year.”
“Sunshine is the perfect complement to Teall’s other high-growth investments, which include Tailgate Guys and Riddle & Bloom. Much like those investments, Sunshine is a lifestyle brand with broad appeal to consumers,” Sutton said. “Millennials’, and even Gen Zs’, personality traits, which are much more attentive to their health and well-being, perfectly line up with Sunshine’s attributes. In fact, I first learned of Sunshine from my own kids who are both quite health-conscious.”
“In addition to its appeal to the younger consumers, Sunshine has a particularly strong following among women. The energy drink category, which traditionally has been dominated by male consumers, is being pioneered by Sunshine among female consumers,” Ward said. “Both men and women are looking for healthy, less extreme energy drink options, and we believe Sunshine fits the bill and is well positioned for a high growth track product.”