This amazing and insightful article was written by Hilary Sheinbaum. Read on as they each share their best tips and advice when it comes to getting along with co-workers who are also family members.
Going to work and grabbing a beer with family sounds like a dream job. For the Yuenglings, it's reality.
Vice President of Operations Jennifer Yuengling, 46, Sales Administration and Pricing Manager Debbie Yuengling, 43, Chief Administrative Officer Wendy Yuengling, 42, and Order Services Sheryl Yuengling, 39, are sixth generation brewers, and, as their last names might indicate, they're sisters, too.
The ladies work together at America's No. 1 Craft Brewery and Oldest Brewery: D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc.
“We have grown up in the business, and it’s an exciting time to be at D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., as women, particularly in a male-dominated industry. But, this is a family owned-business, first and foremost," says Wendy Yuengling. "Everyday we’re inspired by the previous generations, their hard work and resiliency. But, as the next generation we’re focused and really excited about the future opportunities for our company.”
Beyond enjoying a chilled beverage, there's a lot that goes into running a company together. Yuengling, which was on Forbes'cover in 2016, is distributed in 22 states. Yuengling Traditional Lager accounts for 80-85% of all Yuengling sales. And while their dad,Dick, is still running the show, the 6th generation of Yuenglings has started to take on more responsibilities.
“We all came back to the business at different times, but we’ve all been here, working together since 2004," says Debbie Yuengling. "It’s great because we all have different strengths and skill sets, and roles to play in the business. It makes for great collaboration.”
In order to successfully collaborate, and communicate, each of the women approach the brand differently. Read on as they each share their best tips and advice when it comes to getting along with co-workers who are also family members.
- Listen and be respectful of others opinions. "My sisters and I have differing perspectives on things at times and have learned to challenge each other, in all facets of the business. But most importantly, we know when to listen to each other, to our employees who are like family, and to our loyal consumers," says Jennifer. "We are always observing and listening to what is happening in the brewing industry, and listening to our fans as they have the most curiosity for what is coming next from Yuengling. For example, we heard our fans in Arkansas and Kentucky and started distributing our products into those markets this past year. We also listened to one another and our fans and saw an opportunity to deliver a Yuengling beer in the refreshment category, which is why we created Yuengling Golden Pilsner. Hearing what is important to others is extremely crucial in all of our business decisions and family interactions."
- Learn from the past, focus on the future. "We have a rich history being America’s Oldest Brewery, but we stay mindful of what’s next and how to keep the business healthy for the generations after us to succeed," says Wendy. "Each previous generation of Yuengling Brewing has left their mark on the business, but also set up the next generation to succeed. We are doing that now with Yuengling Golden Pilsner while also staying focused on the future at all times. The industry is rapidly changing, so if we can stay disciplined and work to stay ahead, we intend to continue to be a successful family brewery."
- Work hard and be resilient. "It’s ok to work hard and love your work at the same time," says Debbie. "The beer industry is a fun business, but the amount of time, dedication and hard work we all put in is completely serious. We have been able to have such great success for almost 190 years because of the dedication of the owners before us, and we’ll continue to make our family members and employees proud and work hard."
- Keep family at the center of all you do. "It’s tough to sometimes leave our work at the brewery, but at the end of the day, family is the focus of everything. The brand is quite literally our family," says Sheryl. "Family is important, not only to our Yuengling family, but to the entire Yuengling brand. We are much more than just six generations of Yuenglings. We are generations of employees and the communities of Pottsville and Tampa. In fact, we even have second and third generations of families working at Yuengling!"
- Remember where you came from. Family goes beyond blood. "We wouldn’t be where we are today without the great support from our communities," says Debbie. "Brewing beer in Pottsville since 1829, and Tampa since 1999, we wouldn’t be where we are today without our employees, neighbors and communities. We try to give back as much as we can. Whether that’s as an employer, our ongoing support for veterans with our Lagers for Heroes program, our brewery tours in Pottsville, which 70,000 people visit annually. We are constantly looking for ways to work and support our surrounding communities."
- It’s ok to disagree. "Diversity of opinion is what keeps family businesses strong and spurs collaboration," says Jennifer. “As all families do, we have our share of disagreements. But, it’s how we deal with these friction points that makes a difference. We like to pride ourselves on growing and learning, not only from each other, but also from our dad. He’s been the fifth generation owner for 30-plus years and has been instrumental in leading our company through such a tremendous growth trajectory. He remains extremely active and hands-on at the brewery every day. So, after 189 years of experience, our family has certainly learned to weather such issues as internal family dynamics."
- Have fun. "It’s ok to laugh and smile," says Wendy. "If there is anything we have learned over the years, you have to be passionate and enjoy what you’re doing. We realize how blessed we are to be working together as a family and making great beer, and we certainly have fun doing it."
Hilary Sheinbaum is a freelance writer and the creative director at NYC's Liquor Lab.