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DFW-based BuzzBallz Acquired by Alcohol Giant Sazerac

Plus: Snaps Clothing Co. secures $1.65 million in seed funding, the Chickasaw Nation establishes a Dallas private capital investment firm, and more.
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Merrilee Kick, the founder and CEO of BuzzBallz/Southern Champion
Merrilee Kick, the founder and CEO of BuzzBallz/Southern Champion, at her Carrollton headquarters and production facility. Sean Berry

Massive alcoholic beverage company Sazerac, the parent company of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, has acquired Carrollton-based BuzzBallz, a ready-to drink beverage maker. Led by Merrilee Kick, the BuzzBallz executive team hopes to increase the company’s domestic and international consumer base through the sale.

“As a trailblazer in the ready-to-drink space, we have received many inquiries to acquire the company, however, Sazerac matched our innovative culture and spirit best,” Kick said. “They are a partner we can continue to grow with internationally, as well as expand our existing distribution footprint in the USA. We are excited about our future growth opportunities from the synergies we will create together.” 

BuzzBallz launched in 2009 and was born out of Kick’s master’s degree thesis project. The company’s products include BIGGIES, Uptown Cocktails, Sip Sip Hooray, and Texas Craft. 

Sazerac is one of the world’s largest distilled spirits companies and is currently in the fourth generation of family ownership. Sazerac’s portfolio includes more than 500 brands, including: Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Eagle Rare, Weller, The Last Drop Distillers, and Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. Sazerac owns many international distilleries in countries like India France, Canada, England, Australia, and more. 

“Merrilee and the team at BuzzBallz have created incredible brands and we are both honored and excited to partner together to take them to the next level,” Sazerac CEO and President Jake Wenz said. “Merrilee’s creativity, commitment to quality and drive is inspiring. BuzzBallz is truly one-of-a-kind, and we can’t wait to help spread the products to more consumers all over the world.” 

Chickasaw Nation Launches Private Capital Investment Firm Pennington Creek Capital in Dallas

The Chickasaw Nation has established a Dallas-based private capital investment firm Pennington Creek Capital, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sovereign Native Holdco. The firm was created to expand its reach and accelerate the firm’s strategy of investing in middle-market companies. Dan Boren, chairman of Pennington Creek Capital and secretary of commerce for the Chickasaw Nation, reported plans to open an investment office in Dallas. The office will be led by Curt Crofford, Hicks Equity Partners managing director.  

“I am thrilled to join Pennington Creek Capital and be part of a seasoned and respected organization focused on investing with greater purpose, namely, to enhance the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people,” said Crofford. “Additionally, I have admired the Chickasaw Nation’s business acumen for many years, and I have profound respect for the leadership of Governor Anoatubby and Secretary Boren. I am looking forward to this next chapter of my career. I believe strongly that the patient, long-term capital of the Chickasaw Nation is a compelling alternative to the increasingly short hold periods of institutional private equity firms.” 

The Chickasaw Nation is a democratic republic with executive, legislative, and judicial departments, elected by its population of more than 80,000 citizens. The treaty territory of the tribe includes 7,648 square miles of south-central Oklahoma and encompasses all or parts of 13 Oklahoma counties. The tribe contributes billions to the Oklahoma economy annually and employs nearly 14,000 workers. Business revenues are the primary source for funding more than 200 tribal programs and services, such as healthcare, housing, and education. 

Snaps Clothing Co. Secures $1.65 Million in Seed Funding From Morrison Seger Venture Capital

Men’s clothing company Snaps Clothing secured $1.65 million in new seed funding from venture capital fund Morrison Seger Venture Capital Partners. The financing will be used to accelerate product innovation and brand exposure. 

This is the first funding round for Snaps Clothing and will be used for a new high-touch partnership, which will be announced later this spring. Some of the strategic investors partnering with Morrison Seger and Snaps are Jay Demarcus from Rascal Flatts, former ‘Bachelor’ franchise host Chris Harrison, country music artist Sammy Kershaw, MMA legend Chuck Liddell, TV host Chet Garner, actor Corey Brooks, MLB player Johnny Damon, and founder of J. Hilburn Veeral Rathod.

 “Snaps Clothing has become one of the most exciting brands our team has had the pleasure of working with,” Rogers Healy, founder of Morrison Seger, said. “We continue to partner with extremely hands-on and strategic investors that understand the potential in this company. We are proud to have raised an oversubscribed round for the team.”  

Snap Clothing was founded by Edgar Baronne and Patrick Lynn. The clothing company combines traditional western wear and modern menswear market with a new contemporary line of pearl snap shirts. Morrison Seger has raised more than $20 million across multiple industries within its first year of operations. 

Dallas Afterschool Awarded $1 Million from MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving Open Call

MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving Open Call announced Dallas Afterschool as one of this year’s recipients of a $1 million award. The Yield Giving Open Call was launched in March 2023 by billionaire MacKenzie Scott and focuses specifically on community-led and community-focused organizations who promote the well-being of individuals and families through foundational resources. The Open Call gives 250 awards of $1 million each and received 6,353 applications in the fall of 2023. 

“Dallas Afterschool is proud to be a recipient of the MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving Open Call award,” said Marjorie Murat, CEO of Dallas Afterschool. “It is an honor to be recognized amongst so many worthy organizations doing such meaningful work from across the nation. Currently, there are more than 100,000 children in Dallas County who need a quality afterschool program. This gift will help expand our services, curriculum development and reach to ensure all children have safe and equitable access to out-of-school time care and instruction.”  

Dallas Afterschool was founded in 2007 with the goal to provide access to afterschool and summer programs in Dallas County. The organization currently has 1,700 staff members at 232 sites throughout Dallas, with programs that reach a total of 17,000 K-12 students. Through their impact, 95 percent of students maintained or improved their reading skills, and 80 percent of students improved their mental well-being.

So far, Yield’s network of staff and advisors has awarded over $16.5 billion to more than 1,90 nonprofits. 

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Celie Price

Celie Price

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