Business Leaders: Dr Pepper Snapple’s Larry Young

Name: Larry Young Age: 58Company: Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.Position: CEO and presidentPrevious role: COO and president of the company's bottling divisionQuote: "I can remember my dad telling me, 'If you're a street cleaner, be the best street cleaner out there.'"

The president and CEO of Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. (NYSE:DPS) can't remember a time when he didn't work. Born and raised on a farm in Springfield, Mo., Young credits his father for his discipline and work ethic. Even now, as the head of one of the world's leading soft drink companies, he looks to his dad's values as a source of inspiration.

Along with hard work, Young emphasizes the importance of loving your job and finding the proper work-life balance in order to achieve success.

Young didn't start at a cushy job designed to prep him for future management positions. He started his 30-year career in the beverage industry as a truck driver for Pepsi-Cola General Bottlers. This was a job he was well prepared for because he occasionally helped his father as a route salesman for Highland Dairy. He didn't turn his nose up at the job. He took the opportunity and, following his father's wise words, became the best truck driver possible. He slowly started working his way up the ranks.

Eventually he became the COO and president of Pepsi-Cola General Bottlers, positions he would hold from 1997 to 2005. Rising from such a humble position to such a lofty one allowed Young to gain experience at every level of the beverage industry. These positions gave Young an insight into his business that few business leaders have.

"I've done every job that's in the business," Young explained. "And by being able to know how each piece of the business comes together, it's been helping us to really win quickly."

In the mid-2000s, he became CEO and president of Dr Pepper/Seven Up Bottling Group. The following year, Cadbury Schweppes purchased the Bottling Group, among other bottlers. In October 2007, Young was appointed CEO and president of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. Intending to go public, the beverage unit broke away from Cadbury Schweppes. Young led this spin-off.

"There could not have been a worse time to go public," explained Young, who said brand strength helped make the transition successful. Although Dr Pepper isn't as big as competitors Pepsi-Cola or Coca-Cola, Young doesn't feel he needs to be large to achieve success. "We generate a lot of cash and give it back to shareholders," he explained.

Rather than set his sights overseas since taking over at the helm, Young has maintained his focus on the American market, hoping to increase sales on the West Coast and the Northeast, where the company doesn't enjoy the same levels of success that it does in the heartland of America.

According to the Form 14A proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Young earned a total 2011 compensation of $8.7 million, up from $7.6 million in the previous year. This total is comprised of his $1.1 million base salary, $4.4 million in stock awards, $1.3 million in option awards, $1.5 million non-equity incentive plan compensation, non-qualified deferred compensation of $34,371 and $413,000 in other compensation, such as use of the company car and airplane.

In 2008, Young was appointed chairman of the American Beverage Association and inducted into the Beverage World Soft Drink Hall of Fame.