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Pottsville Republican from Pottsville, Pennsylvania • 8

Location:
Pottsville, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
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8
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POTTSVILLE (PA.) REPUBLICAN EVENING HERALD SATURDAY-SUNDAY, MAY 9-10, 1998 Yuengling America's newest brewery New brewery geared for high production Mill Creek location will give Yuengling space it needs to expand into other markets BY PATRICIA A. HIPPLER Staff Writer E-mail address: pottsville.infi.net Don't expect the new D.G. Yuengling Son brewery to look much like the one on Mahantongo Street. "We have the historic brewery," James L. Helmke, vice president of operations, said of the red-brick building in Pottsville.

"This is largely a production facility." To be built with cement blocks and steel, the brewery will sit on a 16-acre site owned by the Schuylkill Economic Development Corp. (SEDCO) south of Mill Creek Avenue at the corner of the Port CarbonSaint Clair Highway. Although it lacks the rail service that owner Richard L. Yuengling Jr. wanted, it HELMKE has easy road access via Mill HELMKE Creek Avenue to Route 61, sewerage from the Greater Pottsville Area Sewer Authority and a consistent water supply from the Schuylkill County Municipal Authority.

"The water is excellent. It's the same as we use now, and that's an important factor," Yuengling said. Since beer is 96 percent water, it has a major impact on the taste of the final product. "It's a nice flat site (and) easy to build on," added Helmke, who is in charge of planning and design for the new brewery. Brewery's key people Richard L.

Yuengling Jr. Owner Working in the family business since age 15, he took over as fifthgeneration owner at America's Oldest Brewery in 1985. He succeeded his father, Richard L. Yuengling who run the business at Fifth and Mahantongo streets for more than 20 years. Yuengling attended Lycoming College, Williamsport, and was in the wholesale distributing business for 12 years before assuming the top role at D.G.

Yuengling Son. Yuengling's daughters Sixth Generation Jennifer L. YuenglingFranquet, 26, works in the brewery's bottling shop, handling scheduling and human resources issues. Dick Yuengling's oldest daughter also earned a brewing technology certificate after spending 10 weeks at the Siebel Institute in Chicago. Deborah M.

Yuengling, 23, works in the brewery's office, handing financial matters such as paying bills. She plans to stay in the finance end of the business as she prepares to pursue becoming a Certified Public Accountant. Wendy 22, and Sheryl 19, the two younger daughters, also plan to join the family business in the future. David A. Casinelli Executive Vice President Casinelli joined the Yuengling team eight years ago after his last employer, All Brand Importers, was bought out by Guiness.

He has complete oversight of the sales and marketing functions and is also involved in long-term strategic planning. Casinelli graduated from Villanova University in 1982 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. He lives in Worcester Township, Montgomery County, with his wife, Joanne and their three children: Nicole David A. and Noelle 2. James L.

Helmke Vice President of Operations Working as a senior instructor at the Siebel Institute in Chicago one of nation's foremost brewing schools Helmke was invited to conduct a three-day audit Yuengling's operations before joining the business almost two years ago. He is in charge of all operational aspects of making and bottling beer, including making sure Yuengling's quality standards are met. Helmke previously worked at Labatt of Canada, leaving in 1992 to do consulting for breweries in Third World countries. He lives in Pottsville with his wife, Bronwyn A. Tulloch, a brewmaster at Yuengling, and the coupie's 4-month-old daughter, Abigail Jane.

machine shop where parts for brewery equipment can be made, and the central refrigeration system. The system will pump cold propylene glycol to storage vessels that cool the beer. Following that is a area where the beer will be packaged for sale to Yuengling's network of distributors. Not every beer comes in every package. Because of their upscale image, Porter and Chesterfield Ale aren't packaged in cans, Casinelli said.

Other packages, like 16-ounce returnables, were discontinued because of the lack of production capacity, he added. Two packaging lines one for cans and one for bottles, each completing 1,000 a minute will operate independently but share a conveyor system and pasteurizer. The final stop is a warehouse and distribution center at the Mill Creek Avenue end of the site, much welcome, Helmke said, because of the "very, very, very small amount of warehouse space" 10,000 square feet in Pottsville. Although it will not be a fully automated warehouse no bar codes or laser guns inventory will continue to be tracked by computer. Forklift drivers will then transfer the product onto trucks parked at loading docks lining that end of the building for transport to distributors throughout Pennsylvania and beyond.

Daughters' commitment led I to investment Dick Yuengling could have just sat back and enjoyed the overwhelming success of America's Oldest Brewery. In 1990, he sold 125,000 barrels of Premium, Porter, Chesterfield Ale, Amber Lager and Light. Black Tan was added to the mix in 1992. This year, he expects to sell more than 600,000, an increase of close to 400 percent. "We could say we're just going to remain small and operate here," Richard L.

Yuengling Jr. said in an interview. "But my feeling is, sooner or later, it would all start to slip away." As a businessman and fifthgeneration brewery owner, he could never let that happen, especially if the next generation was interested in taking over. Heart-to-heart talk So four years ago, Yuengling, now 55, had a heart-to-heart talk with his four daughters. Business was growing at a furious pace, he told them.

If the company was to take advantage of beer drinkers' willingness to try something new, Yuengling would have to expand. But no matter how he did it buying an old brewery or building a new one it would be a major investment. For him to make a decision about the future, he needed to know: Did they plan to join the family business or not? "It's OK if you don't, but tell me now," he recalled telling Jennifer, Debbie, Wendy and Sheryl. Anheuser-Busch and Miller were interested in buying the brewery or at least entering into a joint venture but Yuengling was resistant. "I didn't think it was fair to the four previous generations to just build it up and sell it," he said.

As it happens, each of his daughters said "yes" to carrying on the tradition of family ownership at D.G. Yuengling Son. Founded in 1829 by David G. Yuengling, a young immigrant from Wurtemberg, Germany, the brewery first operated on Pottsville's North Centre Street, where City Hall now stands. A fire two years later led to the construction of the current building at Fifth and Mahan- A Yuengling Chronology 1829 David G.

Yuengling, 23, establishes the Eagle Brewery in Pottsville where City Hall is today. 1831 Fire de- DAVID stroys the first plant and the brewery we know today is built on Mahantongo Street; cool caves under Sharp Mountain provide natural refrigeration. 1873 Name changed to D.G. Yuengling Son as Frederick becomes a partner with his father. 1876 Age 70, the founder dies.

1895 The first bottling equipment is installed. ANDY The 16-acre site offers flat land and easy access for the new Yuengling brewery. Although the new brewery's full capacity will be 1 million barrels per year twice the amount the Mahantongo Street site will produce this year it will likely open at 500,000 to 700,000 barrels until Yuengling builds its reputation in expanded markets, said Executive Vice President David A. Casinelli. Overall, an estimated 100 jobs will be created at the new brewery.

The positions range from forklift drivers and maintenance people to machine operators; wages will vary according to position. Full-time employees are earning between $10 and $14.50 per hour, Helmke said. BY PATRICIA A. HIPPLER Staff Writer E-mail address: Part-time employees at the Pottsville brewery will have the first shot at the new full-time jobs, Casinelli said. Other new hires will be trained as necessary, but hiring will not begin for at least a year, Helmke said.

The brewing process begins in a brewhouse at the Port Carbon end of the new building where sugars are extracted from the grain and malts, and hops added to create "wort," basically unfermented beer. Next, the wort is fermented through the addition of yeast in another room. Next, the brew will be JENNIFER DEBORAH JENNIFER DEBORAH SHERYL tongo streets in 1831. Business went well, facing no significant challenge until Prohibition. "It was difficult to operate selling near-beer," Dick Yuengling said.

But with three types of nearbeer Juvo, Por-Tor and Yuengling Special as well as a dairy that opened across the street, the family business survived to see the end of the ban on alcoholic beverages in 1933. Competition mounts The next challenge came during the 1950s and 1960s, when small regional brewers Kaier's in Mahanoy City, Columbia in Shenandoah and Mount Carbon among them faced strong competition from national brewers like Anheuser-Busch. "We were barely making payroll," Dick Yuengling said. His father, Richard L. Yuengling and uncle, F.

Dohrman Yuengling, bought the brewery from their father in 1963 and kept it going through those lean years. "They kept it alive, giving us the opportunity to do what we're doing today," he said. Yuengling never expected to see the growth that his brewery has experienced in the 1990s, leading to the million brewery announced Friday by far the company's largest single investment ever. It follows "a couple of million dollars" spent for the two-story storage building on Howard Avenue and Fifth Street, coupled pumped and filtered into between 30 and 40 storage tanks the equivalent of 13,500 cases in a three-story stock house, where it will be aged. Although the exact capacity is not yet known, the stock house with 32,250 square feet per floor will be at least twice the size of the one at the Mahantongo Street brewery.

Next is a bottling cellar that holds a twoday supply of beer, ready to be bottled or canned, then stored and ready to be shipped out the door. An adjacent utility room will house boilers, a Richard BEN Photo his brewery's success during a ing technology certificate at Siebel Institute in Chicago. She now handles scheduling in the brewery's bottling shop. I Debbie's focus: Finances Debbie also plans to go to Siebel, but not for the same 10-week program Jennifer went through. A two-week, program will allow her to understand the brewing process while she pursues her strong interest in the financial end of the business.

She handles a lot of book work and pays the company's bills now. Late this summer, she'll begin a two-year effort to become a certified public accountant (CPA). She earned an accounting degree at Moravian College, Bethlehem, in 1996. "I have a lot of confidence in the people who made the decision. They know the industry and the demands," Debbie said.

"They're making a wise decision." Both say the pressure of carrying on the Yuengling tradition comes not from their father but from within. "You don't want to be the one to screw it up," Jennifer said. As they continue to learn the ins and outs of the brewing business, they're also gaining an appreciation for what their ancestors have been able to achieve. "There were struggles at times, and I'm seeing what they went through," Jennifer said. "When I was younger, I took it for granted.

Now it's really something to be proud of." FREDERICK FRANK 1899 Frederick Yuengling dies at 51; his only son, Frank D. Yuengling, though only 22, assumes the helm. 1919 The 18th Amendment is ratified, making Prohibition the law of the land. To survive, Yuengling begins making near-beer. 1920 In hopes of making up some of the lost beer revenues, the Yuengling Dairy is built across the street from the brewery.

1929 The brewery reaches its 100th anniversary. 1933 Prohibition ends; overnight, the brewery rushes a truckload of "Winner Beer" to the White House for the enjoyment of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 1936 The brewery's novel rathskeller is built, the end point of today's tours. 1960 N.

Ray Norbert becomes brewmaster. Richard L. Yuengling Jr. talks about History Channel segment last year. with renovations of the old facility.

That increased annual capacity to 250,000 barrels, said Executive Vice President David A. Casinelli, but it was already spoken for by the time the expansion was complete in 1993. Word that a new brewery was under consideration first surfaced in 1995, but efforts to lure it to a site on the Pottsville-Palo Alto line failed and, in 1996, Yuengling decided to rent vat space in the Stroh's Brewery at Fogelsville instead. Making the significant investment announced Friday easier was the next generation's commitment to the business. "We're in this for years and years to come," Dick Yuengling said.

I Older daughters return While his younger daughters are out of state 22, working a marketing job at Information Resources Inc. in New Jersey, and Sheryl, 10, attending the University of Alabama the two older ones, Jennifer, 26, and Deborah, 23, are already in the business. After earning a business degree at Bucknell University in 1993 and a master's in psychology from Lehigh in 1996, Jennifer returned home to join her father. "We'll be able to produce more beer, and that's what we need to do," said the eldest daughter, who lives in Pottsville with husband Dale Franquet. Last fall, she earned a brew- RICHARD SR.

F. DOHRMAN 1963 After 64 years as president and chairman of the board, Frank D. Yuengling dies at 86. His sons, Richard L. Sr.

and F. Dohrman, take over. 1976 During the nation's Bicentennial, the brewery is recognized as "America's Oldest," is placed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a state historic site. 1979 The brewery celebrates its 150th anniversary. 1985 Today's owner, Richard L.

Yuengling buys the company from his father and becomes president. 1987 Amber Lager introduced and the local brewery begins to benefit from the aging Baby Boomers' new love affair with specialty brews. 1992 Black Tan is introduced, the latest specialty brew. 1993 The brewery completes the largest expansion in its 167- year history, a $2 million expansion on the brewery's Howard Avenue side that increases capacity to 250,000 barrels a year. 1995 Dick Yuengling reveals he is considering building a new brewery and is offered sites throughout eastern Pennsylvania.

The following year, he decides to rent vat space at Stroh's Brewery near Allentown for the time being. 1996 The sixth generation, Jennifer and Debbie Yuengling, join their father in the business. Two younger daughters, Wendy and Sheryl, also express interest in keeping the brewery in the family. 1998 Plans are announced for a new $50 million brewery on 16 acres in East Norwegian Township at the corner of Mill Creek Avenue and the Port Carbon-Saint Clair Highway. Its million-barrel-a-year capacity is more than double the current brewery capacity..

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