An Interview with Yuengling’s COO

Yuengling BreweryThis my friends, is not another sneaky prank about Yuengling coming to Indiana. I had the opportunity to ask Dave Casinelli, Yuengling’s COO of 25 years, a few questions about the brewery, himself, and when can we expect to see Yuengling in our stores. I can’t thank Stephanie Hemmann enough for her help and Mr. Casinelli for taking the time to answer these question. These questions come from myself, a few Hoosiers, and a few followers of Hoosiers For Yuengling.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing the brewing industry?
A: There are over 4000 breweries in the USA now and approx. 1.5 new ones are opening each and every day. That’s a wonderful thing for beer and consumers but we’re all competing for limited retail shelf space and access to consumers. The wholesalers’ side is consolidating as brands and companies increase significantly so building brands and getting share of mind to get your products on the shelves and in front of consumers is becoming more complex each and every day. Additionally the Mega Brewers still control the lion share of volume in the US and they have scale and resources to dominate in the retail environment. Our industry is also capital intensive to grow and invest in capacity for production and expansion. That coupled with heavy government regulation can be a deterrent to many small brewers who want to grow.

Q: How has social media helped to expand the Yuengling brand, if at all?
A: It’s given us another effective medium to reach all consumers and share our story and history. We find it to be extremely effective in getting our messaging out there. We also have some fun with it as well interacting with consumers.

Q: How many barrels are produced each year between Tampa and Pottsville?
A: In total we produced approx. 2.9 million barrels last year. About a million barrels was produced in Tampa and the rest of the volume came out of our PA breweries.

Q: Do you self-distribute at all?
A: Technically now we do not. The only place we touch on that is in our home county in PA, Schuylkill where we allow our local Distributors in this county to pick up from the brewery but this is for Off-Premise only. We do not self-distribute on premise anywhere.

Q: How did you get your start in the brewing business?
A: I started in the mid-eighties working for an Importing Company then called All Brand Importers. We distributed brands such as Moosehead, Fosters, DosXX, Pilsner Urquell, Whitbread Ale and others. In 1990 our successful company was bought by the Guinness Company and I declined an offer to go with that company. After several interviews including one at Yuengling I knew in my heart I wanted to work for this guy named Dick Yuengling. Its 25 years later and still going strong. I made the right choice for sure!

Q: What do you enjoy most about being the COO of Yuengling?
A: Working very closely each and every day with Dick. I also enjoy being around our employees and our industry partners. Relationships are very important to me and I take a lot of pride in building special connections. Nothing comes easy here but I love being given the opportunity to be hands on and get involved in so many aspects of our business. Dick has given me a lot of latitude to be me.

Q: Outside of running the operations for America’s oldest brewery what do you like to do?
A: I love being outdoors and doing anything in that environment. We grew up around water so I really enjoy the beach and traveling. I used to play some golf but my beer career killed that so I’m hoping to resurrect that one day soon and find a new release from work.

Q: Dogs, Cats, or no animal?
A: I’m an animal guy and we have an animal loving family. We own a dog and no cats. Over the years with the kids we did the fish, turtles, rabbits and probably some other animals I forgot about.

Q: If you could be a superhero who would you be and why?
A: Great question and I’m not sure as I would have to give than some more thought. Super heroes are cool because of their mission to help or serve others in need. I watched them all as a kid.

Q: Do you plan on expanding your line of beers to include more seasonal or one off beers?
A: We are not driven by innovation and new product introduction like most breweries today. We have a disciplined business model. We’ve produced three seasonal beers for limited release periods so far including, Bock, Oktoberfest and Summer Wheat, our Belgium style wheat beer. In the 4th quarter of this year we will introduce our newest family member in our seasonal line up; an IPL.

Q: Is Yuengilng currently working on an expansion into the Midwest?
A: It is a subject of constant conversation and consideration all the time. I think you know it’s NOT from a lack of desire or interest by wholesalers, consumers or retailers. We do have a finite amount of actual production capacity in our existing facilities that doesn’t allow us constantly drive expansion. Limited capacity and the cost of shipping and logistics to make beer and ship it a long way are the main issues we face with expansion considerations. There are still a few markets we believe are within our reach from our current breweries so the discussion continues.

Q: Do you plan to expand by adding additional breweries? If so, what location(s) do you see as the best prospect?
A: Again a great question and I wish I had a crystal ball. We never close our mind to reasonable opportunities and it’s certainly possible. For us to continue to look at markets in the mid-west and further on the west coast we would absolutely have to have additional manufacturing capacity somewhere within those regions. We looked at a facility several years ago in Memphis but it didn’t work out. There’s not a lot of breweries in our size and capacity needs to buy so most likely a new facility would have to be built of the only other consideration is a co-packing relationship with someone who has capacity.

Q: Indiana allows a brewery to produce up to 30,000 barrels (soon to be increased to 90,000) in a year and still self distribute across the state without affecting out of state distributions. What are your thoughts on Yuengling opening another brewery in Indiana?
A: Nothing is out of the question is you have access to lots of good water, rail access, great highway systems for transportation and just as important, access to a good labor force. We also might look at states that are supportive and friendly towards manufacturing business and have a good track record in their state for job creation and opportunities.

Q: Will Yuengling be in Indiana within 12 months? If not, what is the possibility of it being in the state within the next 3 years?
A: Again I wish I had my crystal ball. If your local wholesalers had their way we’d be working on that right now. Not out of the question but 12 months might be a bit aggressive. 3 years is certainly more realistic but anything can change very quickly. Indiana is on that fringe distance to shipping economically allowing us to stay competitive within our current business models in most markets.

Q: What is one thing most people don’t know about your company and/or product that you think they should know?
A: Dick Yuengling is extremely hands on in his business each and every day. He has a great passion to protect the culture his company earned over 186 years of operation and he mandates we keep that culture intact and not become a corporate company. Additionally our company is very accommodating to small brewers and startups offering them help and support if they need our facility or expertise to get through issues or challenges. Dick takes a lot of pride with industry comradery.

So there you go Hoosiers… We’ll get to see a new IPL from Yuengling towards the end of the year this year One day we’ll have Yuengling, just not sure when. Until then, who’s up for a drive to Harrison, OH?!?!

A few things to checkout
Follow Yuengling on Twitter
Yuengling’s Story
Yuengling’s brewing process