After more than 80 years, the Sacramento Coca-Cola Bottling Co. is joining the soft drink giant's home office.
The local operation, billed as the sixth-largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the United States, announced Wednesday that it has been acquired by the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co.
Financial details were not disclosed.
The parties, however, said the sale price is the equivalent of nine times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
"We are proud of our 85-year legacy of service to the community and have come to the decision that the time is right to transition the business to the Coca-Cola Co.," said Rob Siebers, president and CEO of the local bottling company. "We believe this is the right action to ensure the continued success of Coca-Cola in Northern California."
Sacramento Coca-Cola distributes Coca-Cola products in nine California counties: Sacramento, Yolo, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Stanislaus, Sutter, Solano and Tuolumne.
It employs about 500 people in the Central Valley. Its general offices and distribution center are at 4101 Gateway Park Blvd. in Sacramento, and its production facility is at 2200 Stockton Blvd.
It also has offices and a distribution center in Modesto.
Sacramento Coca-Cola Bottling Co. was founded in 1927 when Nathan Sellers acquired the rights to sell Coca-Cola in most of Northern California, north of San Francisco. Until Wednesday, the Sellers family maintained ownership.
"We appreciate all that the Sellers family has done to build our brands and look forward to carrying on their legacy of service to the people of Northern California," said Glen Walter, president and CEO of Coca-Cola Refreshments.
In 2007, day-to-day management of the local operation was turned over to Siebers. Stephen Sellers was elected as chairman of the board, and Jack Sellers Jr. was named chairman emeritus.
Bob Brown, who served as executive vice president and chief financial officer, said he and Siebers are now under consulting contracts with the Coca-Cola Co.
David Ethridge with Coca-Cola Refreshments now assumes the lead role in the transition and management of the Sacramento bottler, Coca-Cola said.
Brown said operations will remain "as usual" for the time being.
Asked why the transaction occurred now, Brown said that the Sellers family, given the "uncertain economy decided that this is the time to make a change for the long-term good of the company."
Brown said he did not know Coca-Cola's long-term plans for the local bottling operations.
Corby Casler, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Refreshments, said: "We're all about growth, so our full intention is to grow this business."
Casler added, however, that Coca-Cola officials will take their time evaluating all aspects of the bottling operations, a process that could last into midyear.
"It's going to be awhile before we make any full decisions," she said.
While analysts have noted that small drink-bottling businesses face a tough road, including high overhead costs and competition from larger players, Casler said the Coca-Cola Co. has not been snapping up independent bottlers left and right.
Casler characterized the Sacramento deal as a byproduct of "just the right circumstances" for an individual transaction.
The original Sacramento Coca-Cola facilities were in the 3400 block of what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. In 1936, a new plant opened at its current site. At that time, the only product coming off the line was Coca-Cola in a green glass, 6.5-ounce bottle.
The Coca-Cola Co. bills itself as the world's largest beverage company, with more than 500 brands, including the multiple Coke labels, Sprite, Powerade and Minute Maid. Coke says daily worldwide consumption of its products amounts to 1.8 billion servings in 200 countries.