At the Helm: Dick Yuengling

By Patricia Olsen

A few minutes with the CEO of D.G. Yuengling & Son, Pottsville, Pa.

Generation of family ownership: Fifth.

About the company: We're in 17 states, and in 2013 we sold 2,700,000 barrels. We have 1.2% of the U.S. beer market.

Number of employees: Between 290 and 300.

Years with the company: Probably 50 years, but not consecutively. For 11 years I worked in the beer distributing business, at another company.

First job at this company: Stamping numbers on beer cases in an old warehouse as a summer job, at age 15. We were switching from 8-ounce to 7-ounce bottles. I had to blot out the "8" and stamp a "7."

Most memorable thing I learned from my mother and father: Humility. We were almost out of business in the 1950s and 1960s, like a number of breweries our size. I'm very fortunate. We've been lucky.

One of our greatest successes: Even with the growth of the microbreweries, our growth has been phenomenal.

Best advice I ever got: Stay small and stay out of the way of the big brewers. I can't say I followed it.

Quote from our company's mission statement: We don't have a formal statement. I don't set goals, other than we want to grow every year.

On my wall: Portraits of the previous generations in this company that helped make it what it is.

One of my greatest accomplishments: What I've been able to provide to our employees. We have the best-paying jobs in the area, with benefits that include hospitalization and a pension plan.

Best thing about working in a family business: You're your own boss. You can do what you think is best, and you're not under scrutiny as in a publicly held company.

Worst thing about working in a family business: It's all on your shoulders. You have to be committed.

My advice for other family business leaders: If you're a manufacturer, stay with your product. Whatever you do, do it well and do it right. Watch your expenses and hire good people.

On a day off I like to . . .  play golf on a weekend when possible. I own a home in Florida, and every year I enjoy a couple of weeks there.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: Through our foundation, we donate a lot to local churches, fire companies and other charitable organizations. At some point we'll sponsor a scholarship at the local high school.

Books I think every family business leader should read: Band of Brothers, because it teaches you to stick with a difficult situation.

I realized I had emerged from the previous generation's shadow when . . .  I bought the company. I walked into the office and just sat there with appreciation for what the previous owners did.

Future succession plans: All four of my children are with me today and have committed to staying in the company. We don't know yet which one will run it.

Words I live by: Get up early, go to work, do the right thing and repeat it the next day.

Copyright 2015 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

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Issue: 
January/February 2015

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