“It takes an army — I remember taking on pretty much everything when starting this company. I was baking, delivering, managing payroll, calling on customers and working out the finances. This was largely due to the fact that I had a business degree and was the only one in my family that could speak English well, but I needed more assistance. After some trial and error, I found myself putting others in charge of specific tasks. I hired a professional baker to help perfect our products and sent my nephew to a local culinary school which really helped us to develop new products, hired sales people to call on customers so I could focus on growth.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Ly, President and CEO of Ly Brothers Corporation and Sugar Bowl Bakery. Started by the five Ly brothers in 1984, Sugar Bowl Bakery is one of the nation’s largest minority-owned bakery manufacturers yet continues to operate as a family-run business. Currently, Andrew serves as a Board Chair of the Asian Pacific Fund, a philanthropic non-profit dedicated to serving vulnerable API populations with a focus on community building, and as a board member of an insurance company.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
In 1979, my four brothers and I emigrated from Vietnam to start a new life in America. After years of working odd jobs and saving nearly every dollar we made, we finally had enough money to pool our savings and start our own business. We bought a local coffee shop named Sugar Bowl Bakery and loved the name so much we kept it. What made our shop so different was our pastries and the way we cared so much about serving customers — our customers began coming to our coffee shop for our treats! We listened to the demand for pastries and decided to expand our distribution. By 1986, we opened our second…