Sugar Bowl is a fami-Ly business
by Shane Whitaker
The five Ly brothers own Sugar Bowl Bakery and have been part of its growth since pooling their money to purchase a retail bakery 28 years ago. The brothers — Tom, Binh, Andrew, Sam and Paul — know about struggles, hard work and perseverance. The brothers and their wives immigrated to the US from Vietnam in the late 1970s. They had to learn English and worked odd jobs.
But just as they built Sugar Bowl Bakery using hard work and perseverance, those values drove them when working kitchen jobs and delivering newspapers and to also save. In 1984, the brothers purchased the company’s original retail bakery for approximately $40,000.
Despite obstacles, they slowly and steadily grew their business, building a small chain of retail bakeries and then transitioning into a higher-volume wholesale bakery.
A graduate of San Francisco State University, Andrew serves as CEO, a position he assumed when the company incorporated in 1993. The oldest brother, Tom, acts as chairman, and all the brothers sit on the company’s board of directors.
Michael Ly, vice-president and general manager, is Binh’s son, and Sam’s son Kevin works as corporate chef overseeing R&D and equipment, and he played an integral role in purchasing equipment for the bakery’s new facilities.
While several other family members are also involved with Sugar Bowl Bakery, it’s not a requirement. Many of them have found successful careers outside the family business. However, Andrew also noted that everyone who works for the company is family — or at least that is how he and others like to treat them.