Fruit 66 Acquired by AZ Juice Maker

Two years of 100 percent growth can be a boon to some companies, but for Fruit 66, it became a pain in the neck –especially as out-of-stocks started to cost the company sales.

“Selling through faster than you thought you would isn’t easy,” said CEO Bill Hargis. “I kept telling the board that the out-of-stocks were costing us sales and that was why we had to go forward.”

Fruit 66 CEO Bill Hargis

That’s why, after searching for investors for a cash infusion, Hargis said he and his investors eventually settled on what he called a strategically-aligned decision to sell Fruit 66 to Tempe, Ariz.-based Sun Orchard. The juice maker, which has deep roots in supplying food service operations like hotels and schools with private-label juices, juice drinks and mixers, calls itself “America’s Independent Micro-Juicery.”

The sale, which will allow Hargis and his sales team to remain on the job via a new company, 1Epic LLC, will result in the movement of most of Fruit 66’s back office operations to Sun Orchard.

Fruit 66 launched Epic, a line of carbonated 100 percent juice drinks designed for school vending machines, last year. They’ve come to replace the 75 percent juice sparklers that comprised the original Fruit 66 line. Another non-carbonated 100 percent juice line is sold to schools for cafeteria distribution.

The brand is working on restructuring its co-packing operation to accommodate growth and its new ownership, Hargis said. Currently, the brand is co-packed in Wisconsin, Memphis, and Portland, Ore.

Sale terms were not disclosed.