In a bit of a break from Politics As Usual in Harrisburg, beer baron Dick Yuengling Jr. spoke to the Pennsylvania Press Club Monday afternoon, a departure from the typical parade of politicos who normally speak at the monthly luncheons.
Mr. Yuengling, who is the fifth generation to lead Yuengling, outlined a brief history of America's Oldest Brewery.
During Prohibition, the company survived by brewing "near beer" and opening a dairy that sold milk and ice cream, he said. The dairy closed in 1985.
The company's beer is now distributed in 14 states.
Two daughters now are also part of the family business.
"This thing can go on for another couple generations," he said.
Mr. Yuengling also weighed in on a few hot topics in state politics:
- Regarding alcohol privatization and changing the state's laws around beer sales: Mr. Yuengling said he would like to see grocery stores be able to sell beer, but doesn't want to see beer distributors, often small mom-and-pop businesses shuttered. "They [distributors] made our business in the state of Pennsylvania and I don't want to see them get hurt," he said.
- Mr. Yuengling said he would like to see Pennsylvania as Right to Work state (which makes it more difficult for unions to organize). Workers at his brewery left the Teamsters union several years ago. Some workers say they were given an ultimatum from the company to get rid of the union, but the National Labor Relations Board found the company had not used undue pressure on workers. "There's nothing wrong with some of the unions," he said Monday. "Some of them will work with you....When I had a local business agent, I never had an issue. As soon as they came out of Philadelphia, I had an issue."