Mueller Yurgae Associates
Fred Mueller and Phil Yurgae founded Mueller-Yurgae Associates (MYA) in 1975 with the goal of filling a niche in candy and snack brokerage. The partners worked for Brach Candy for several years together before striking out on their own. MYA operated largely as a candy and confection broker for the first 20 years of business. Over time, the business has diversified to broaden its customer base to new sectors and geographic areas.
Fred and Phil are both retired; therefore, Phil’s son, Jeff Yurgae, has been serving president since October 2013. “When I started here 15 years ago, I was doing sales,” Jeff recalls. “It was exciting. We now have a regional brokerage firm covering the center of the country. Now, my focus is to make sure I am steering the company in the right direction.”
Jeff works alongside his younger brother, as well as Fred’s two sons, Bob Gostomski and Justin Heidenreich, keeping the business family-owned and -operated while developing a leading market edge.
Independent family ownership offers major benefits for MYA. “We can make quick decisions without a lot of red tape,” Jeff explains. “We are large enough to work with major national brands, but small enough to represent smaller lines and regional brands. We have resources all over the country and we can help manufacturers and distributors cover more ground. We have 150 employees serving grocery and convenience markets throughout our territory.”
Diverse services and products
MYA deals products for a broad range of manufacturers with major brands that include: Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, Blue Diamond Almonds and Living Essentials (5-Hour Energy), among others. “It is really the small to medium manufacturers that we have seen grow quickly in recent years,” Jeff explains. “Jack Links, Blue Diamond and 5-Hour Energy started out small. Regardless of the size of these brands, no one line represents more than 10 percent of our overall business.”
While the business is headquartered in Iowa, the team operates from offices in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska, as well. MYA has also partnered with companies in Missouri and Wisconsin to help spread out business even further. Jeff and his team are able to serve most of the central states, with coverage always expanding. MYA serves clients of all different sizes, from a $12 billion corporation all the way down to $2 million operations.
The business also has a small warehouse as part of subsidiary Diversified Distributing that Phil started in 1984. “Our warehousing operation is a value-added piece of our business,” Jeff explains. “We don’t want to step on any of our customers’ toes, but we are always going after opportunities. If our customers can’t do something, we try to address that by providing additional services.”
The business also offers Internet order fulfillment through website: yourfoodstore.com. Established in 2004, the online fulfillment center offers a wide array of consumer products. The site allows existing consumers to shop for hard-to-find products without the hassle of calling around to manufacturers or looking for products at retail locations. Searching the database and purchasing items is easy to do, and many consumers utilize the site on a weekly basis.
MYA is on a consistent track of growth, a trend Jeff is carrying over into the current generation of ownership. The team is constantly working to broaden markets and reach new manufacturers and customers across the country. The result has been organic, controlled growth, based on the needs of the manufacturers that MYA represents. Currently, the team is focused on expansion into Texas, which has proven challenging but worthwhile.
Jeff is also working to expand the company’s warehouse operations. While MYA currently operates 35,000 square feet of warehouse space, the business has the opportunity to do more in that arena that will help customers. While most of the represented manufacturers ship directly to clients, there is still a need for product storage that will add value to the company’s existing services without butting customers out of the market.
Value has become a steady mantra for the business, and one that the entire team embraces. “We have one of the best teams out there,” Jeff notes. “We have employees who have been here for more than 30 years and they are a huge part of our success. We do everything we can to treat our staff fairly and that makes MYA an enjoyable place to come to work.”
Jeff is quick to note that is not all the companies get out of a well-established and well-oiled relationship. “In turn,” he adds, “They help us maintain the relationships we need to succeed as a business. We have 30-day contracts with all of our manufacturers, which means they can sever that relationship after a month. We want to provide the best service we can so they will continue to work with us.”
As the company grows, Jeff and his team continue to strive to offer value. Mueller Yurgae Associates provides service that is well-worth the investment and will continue to build on that foundation.