Yunker Industries was founded in Chicago in 1948 by Warren and Mary Helen Yunker, while the young couple lived above a grocery store owned by Warren Yunker’s uncle. Warren worked at the store during the day and hand-painted signs for grocery stores at night. Mary Helen delivered the signs, often with a baby in tow, during the day.
By the early 1950s, the Yunkers opened their business on a full-time basis in downtown Chicago. In 1975, Yunker Industries moved to Lake Geneva. Warren and Mary Helen and their 13 children also moved there.
Although Warren passed away on Sept. 17, Mary Helen remains chair of the company’s board of directors. Three of their children – Kent Yunker, Mary Yunker-Meyer and Teri Fistler – work in the company. Kari Yunker, president and chief executive officer of Yunker Industries, is married to one of the couple’s children who never worked in the business.
“I think Mary Helen (is) and Warren (would be) very pleased with the company’s performance over the last 16 months and the proactive changes we’ve been able to make,” Kari Yunker said. “They’ve supported everything we have done, and I know she feels that we have a very solid team in place and a strategy to move the company forward.”