Class of 2016
Dan Mueller, known to his friends as Opie, was born July 3, 1955, in Evanston, IL. His father, Frederick started work at Brach Candy Co. in 1954, so Dan notes: “You can say my entire life has been connected to the candy industry.”
Brought up alongside siblings Bob, Kevin, Nancy Ann and Ellen Marie, he attended high school in West Des Moines before winning a college football scholarship and earning a degree in Political Science.
Thinking he wanted to be a lawyer, he changed his mind because of the dedication of his father and mother, Dolores, in forming, developing and growing the family brokerage business. He says the drive of the small band of founders of Mueller Yurgae Associates (MYA) made him want to be part of the business, and he began work there the very first Monday after college graduation in May 1977.
At that time, selling such candy lines as Smarties and Switzer licorice in Omaha, NE, came under the training of the company’s Tom Devereux, who handed Dan a price book and a customer list and said: ”Go sell something.”
During the years that followed, Dan says his leadership role with the MYA board was primarily building consensus as they expanded and diversified the business from a startup candy brokerage to a regional food brokerage with a separate distribution company, an Internet fulfillment house and a large logistics 3PL company.
In 2009, when the company was named Hy-Vee’s Broker of the Year, Dan said it affirmed that the “little candy broker we were perceived to be in the 1980s was now recognized as the best grocery broker in the local market.”
He says one of the highlights of his career was when MYA was appointed to represent Ferrara Candy Co., Inc., in 2012, which allowed Dan to sell the Brach’s brand, and follow in his Dad’s footsteps.
Dan says he met his wife Barbara at a disco and admits that she was so impressed with his dancing, “she wanted to leave with a friend of mine.” Nevertheless, they married in 1980 in Luverne, MN, and have three children, Aaron, Christine and Paul, and one grandchild.
Dan believes one of his most valuable assets is the loving support of Barbara, along with the mentoring, loyalty and support he received from company co-founder Phil Yurgae and his own brother, Bob.
Today serving as Vice-President of Sales, Dan will become the first 40-year employee of the company in May 2017, and he attributes his success in both business and life to his service to others.
Within the industry, he was President of the Des Moines Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, away from work he has been active in his church, along with leading a regional business leaders group. As a big sports fan, he coached and refereed youth soccer and basketball. He also admits to being a recovering Jimmy Buffet “parrot head,” and he once reluctantly rappelled off of a building for charity.