production

The Rise of Dick Yuengling

In 1974, Dick Yuengling was fed up with his father’s refusal to modernize the floundering D.G. Yuengling & Son brewery. He walked away, spending 11 years in exile as a beer distributor. Finally, his ailing father agreed to sell him the business for $500,000.

Once in charge, he made the needed changes. Over the next three decades, production grew from 137,000 barrels to 2.8 million, putting his brewery in the nation’s top five. Yuengling himself is in the Forbes 400 of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.9 billion.

To put it mildly, Yuengling is a hands-on CEO. A self-styled “production nut”, he sometimes runs machinery himself. It’s a running joke at the brewery that everyone on the organization chart reports directly to him.

Yuengling’s lone-wolf approach to business comes with a possible downside: he’s 73 years old, and the brewery is becoming too big for him to manage himself. There’s another problem. Like King Lear, he has daughters and will eventually have to hand over control to one of them. Succession has proved the ruin of many family businesses.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Craft beer production in 2015: 24.5 million barrels.
  • Increase over 2014: 13 percent.
  • Craft beer’s share of the market, as measured by production: 12 percent.
  • Its market share, as measured by dollar value: 21 percent ($22.3 billion).
  • Percentage of under-30 adults who said beer was their favorite beverage in 1992-93: 70.
  • Percentage of under-30 adults who said beer was their favorite beverage 20 years later: 40.
  • “Pay-for-play” fine imposed on distributor Craft Brewers Guild by Massachusetts liquor regulators: $2.6 million.
  • Craft Brewers Guild’s payoffs to bars and other businesses: At least $120,000.
  • Dollar value of Heineken’s U.S. sales during the 52 weeks ending January 24, 2016: $730.7 million.
  • Increase over the previous year: 1.9 percent.
  • Heineken’s share of the imported beer market: 13.1 percent (down 1.2 percent from the year before).
  • Years since Guinness opened its brewery at St James’s Gate in Dublin: 257.
  • Years remaining on Guinness’s lease for the St James’s Gate brewery: 8,743.
  • Flavored beers’ share of new beer releases in 2010: 15 percent.
  • Flavored beers’ share in 2015: 27 percent.
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