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Maple Bacon Coffee Porters, Floridian Hefeweizens helped seal Funky Buddha's sale

By: South Florida Business Journal - Date: 08/11/2017

The deal began to brew when Constellation Brands Inc. contacted Funky Buddha Brewery at the start of the summer.

Owners Ryan and K.C. Sentz weren't marketing the business for sale at the time. But a financial advisor in the deal said he's sure their phones were ringing with potential buyers over the years. This time, the brewers were ready to answer, and on Thursday announced they were acquired by Fortune 500 Constellation Brands.

"They loved what we did and they didn't want to change that," Ryan Sentz said. "This just seemed like a great opportunity for us."

Funky Buddha needed Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ) for its next big step. Since its founding in 2010, the Oakland Park-based business had become the largest brewery in the tri-county area with 27,000 barrels of beer produced in 2016, according to the South Florida Business Journal's research. Its warehousing space was recently expanded to handle even more barrels.

"They were at an inflection point in their business and they were actively planning on expanding their brewery," said Holland & Knight Partner Marc Druckman, whose firm represented Funky Buddha in the sale. "They had to choose whether they wanted to do that on their own or supercharge their growth with a company like Constellation."

With goals to take their beers national, Ryan and K.C. in late May met with representatives of Constellation, Druckman and Craig Farlie, managing director of Farlie Turner & Co., the Fort Lauderdale-based financial advisor in the deal.

Farlie and Druckman, whose favorite Funky Buddha brews are the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter and the Floridian Hefeweizen, respectively, said the initial talk with all parties went down at the brewery with plenty of beers at the table.

"It was obvious from day one that there was great chemistry," Farlie said. "That chemistry was shown at the negotiation table and at the bar afterward." 

More meetings would follow. And calls. Talks continued even on Memorial Day, Father's Day and July 4. "We joked that it better not go to Labor Day because I have other plans," Farlie said.

Ryan Sentz said meeting with a company that had built brands like Corona was nerve-wracking at first, like "trying to date a supermodel." 

K.C. Sentz called the experience "very humbling" and said "it probably took a few years off our lives."

But it would all come together on a Aug. 9 closing call. None of the parties are revealing the terms of the deal, but Funky Buddha's new capital and partnership with Constellation will allow the company to more widely distribute beers that locals have made popular across the state and nation. Maybe even better lab equipment is on the way. But "absolutely no changes in our recipes," Ryan Sentz told the South Florida Business Journal. "We still want to be a local business that supports local businesses and local people," said K.C. Sentz.

Although a Fortune 500 company now owns Funky Buddha, the brothers aren't outsourcing their day-to-day operations. They will remain in Oakland Park and expand their number of local employees, which currently includes about 130 people who they call their "family."

"This is our home," Ryan Sentz said. "Oakland Park has been great to us from the very beginning. Leaving was never an option for us. Whether we're going to grow in other areas, we're not going to leave South Florida."

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