The interview: Sharad Chadha

Sharad Chadha
Sharad Chadha Credit: Jake Hill

Sprecher Brewing Co. Inc. announced recently that its founder and owner Randy Sprecher has sold the business to a local investment group. The group that purchased the company is led by Sharad Chadha, a former executive at GE Healthcare, Samsung Electronics, ABB and Electrolux.

Chadha and his business partners, some of whom are members of Wauwatosa-based angel investment group Silicon Pastures, have ambitious plans for growing Sprecher, including a larger distribution footprint, new products and an additional local location in a highly-visible area. BizTimes reporter Brandon Anderegg recently spoke with Chadha about his background and plans for the business.

What drove you to purchase Sprecher Brewing?

“I’ve always dabbled in entrepreneurial ventures as an angel investor and otherwise. I’m originally from India and my great grandfather had a soda bottling plant, distribution and retail in British India. This was in the early 1900s. He died before I was born, but I had always heard stories about this Banta bottle. That’s just the style of bottle. It’s a little marble on the top and you push it down and the gas comes and you can drink it. It’s a pretty cool looking bottle. All glass. My father was in the military and I never did any of that. I was an executive at different companies but always dabbled in angel investing and entrepreneurial little things. This is the greatest opportunity. It’s like an American dream coming true. This is my American dream coming true.”

How did the deal come together with Randy Sprecher?

“I’ve known Randy for about 12 years now. I was going back and forth from New Jersey working for Samsung, and this was back in June. We just chatted when I was visiting here and he said, ‘I’m ready to retire.’  I said, ‘I’m going to help buy it, put a deal together with investors. I’m going to put everything I’ve got, all my savings, mortgage my house to buy the company.’ That’s how it happened. I’ve been working on it for the last eight months.”

How do you plan to grow the company in such a competitive industry?

“In all honesty, our beer sales are not growing because the craft beer industry is tough. But our mainstay (includes) our soda, which continues to grow. Our root beer, our craft soda, our new water and hard seltzer – those are categories that are growing extremely fast.”

How will you help the company evolve?

“(Sprecher Brewing has) not focused as much on sales and marketing and I think that’s where (the new ownership group) can help. Myself and the leadership team and some of the board members, with our experience, we’re going to focus on marketing, sales and national distribution. Play with our distributors and be good with our retail partners and not just believe in the old mantra, ‘if you build it, they’ll come.’ Of course, that happens, it’s a good product, but you gotta sell it too. It’s available, but we’re not actively pursuing and selling.”

Where do you see the business five or 10 years from now?

“We’ve got to be much, much bigger than we are today. We’ve got to be nationally distributed and sold and recognized as a craft beverage. But our roots are always going to be premium craft, local, good quality ingredients. But we want to be national, if not international. We’re going to try to go international as well.”

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