Young’s Market Company was founded in 1888 and is one of the oldest continuously operating companies in the United States. In the 68 years since Young’s Market Company decided to engage exclusively in the sale and distribution of wine and spirits, it has grown from a relatively small local distributor servicing Southern California to the fourth largest wine and spirits distributor in the United States. Young’s currently has operations in California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Montana and Wyoming.
Initially, the company was engaged in the retail grocery trade and was one of the nation’s first chain markets, owning and operating 60 neighborhood stores in Southern California at its peak in 1937. In 1940, Young’s discontinued its retail operations and engaged exclusively in the wholesale distribution of wine, spirits, meat, seafood and gourmet items. In 1963, Vernon O. Underwood Sr. was named President of Young’s and in 1964, the company acquired two established wholesale distributors in Hawaii and commenced doing business there as “Better Brands”.
In 1975, Vernon O. Underwood Sr. was named Chairman of Young’s Market Company and his son, Vernon O. Underwood Jr., was elected President of Young’s. In the mid 1980’s, Young’s acquired two wine and spirit wholesale distributors in Northern California, Rathjen Wines and Spirits and Berberian Brothers, Inc., to become the first statewide wholesale distributor of alcoholic beverages in the state of California.
1990 was a sad, but important year in the history of Young’s Market Company. The year started with the Underwood family acquiring all of the shares of stock in the company that they did not then already own. Shortly thereafter, Young’s discontinued its distribution of meat, seafood and gourmet items so that it could focus entirely on the growing business of beverage distribution. Finally, the year concluded with the death of Vernon O. Underwood Sr., one of the industry’s most respected leaders, and the company’s mentor and guiding light for almost four decades.
In 1997, Young’s Holdings, Inc., the parent company of Young’s Market Company, purchased Wilson Daniels, Ltd., an importer and marketer of fine wines and spirits headquartered in St. Helena, California. Shortly thereafter in 1999, Holdings acquired a majority interest in K&L Beverage Company, a distributor of wine and spirits in Alaska, and a broker of wine and spirits in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Montana.
In 2002, Holdings acquired 50% interest in Young’s-Columbia of Oregon and Young’s-Columbia of Washington, wholesale distributor of wine in those respective states. In 2005, Holdings formed Young’s Market Company of Arizona, LLC, a wine and spirits distributor in Arizona, and commenced operations in that state.
Christopher Underwood was named Chief Operating Officer of Young’s Market Company in 2007. Chris is responsible for all aspects of the company’s distribution and brokerage business in all markets, which include California, Hawaii, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Montana. Chris plays a vital role in operating the business, thus ensuring the continuation of the Underwood family presence at the helm of the company for many years into the future.
In 2008, Young’s Market Company acquired 75% of Hayden Beverage in Idaho. It will now be known as Young’s-Hayden of Idaho. Young’s Market Company acquired 100% interest in Young’s-Columbia of Oregon, LLC and Young’s-Columbia of Washington, LLC in 2011. These two entities are the largest distributors of wine in both Oregon and Washington, with over $500 million in revenue annually. This acquisition is a further demonstration of Young’s absolute and unconditional commitment to the alcohol beverage distribution business in the Western United States.
Maintaining focus on its mission and the “Spirit of Young’s” is fundamental in realizing the corporate vision: to deliver performance through integrity. As a family-owned and operated enterprise, Young’s has maintained the unique character and corporate culture it enjoys today.
Integral to its culture are the abiding values of integrity, family, quality and entrepreneurial spirit. Teamwork is also part of the cultural focus in all area of Young’s Market Company, not only within Young’s but extending to customers, supplier partners and strategic trade relationships.