Clement Pappas WG09 acknowledges that his office on the second floor of his Philadelphia distillery has total “man cave” vibes, with a comfy couch, a stockpile of alcoholic beverages, and a framed poster that captures the simple secret to his success, in bold red type: “Nobody Cares, Work Harder.”

A hard work ethic has driven Pappas to follow in his father’s footsteps as a business owner while raising two sons himself. His sense of loyalty and his philanthropy have built his vodka brand, Stateside, into a nationwide presence, and the company recently debuted Surfside, a “ready to drink” alcoholic beverage that Forbes has called the “fastest-growing canned cocktail.” Last year, roughly 2.5 cases of Surfside were sold every minute.

Clement Pappas with his wife Lauren and sons Paul (right) and Joey (left).

Pappas with his wife Lauren and sons Paul (right) and Joey (left).

Ambition was a key ingredient to keeping the family juice business afloat for three generations. Clement Pappas & Co. was started during the 1940s in southern New Jersey as a fruit and vegetable cannery. As a kid, Pappas watched his father turn cranberries and tomatoes into delicious juices. “Everything was fresh off the trees,” he remembers. After his father took over his grandfather’s company, it was natural the junior Pappas would be next in line. He mapped out his life accordingly: consulting for a few years, moving to the West Coast to expand the company, and earning an MBA from Wharton. But Pappas’s father’s unexpected death threw a wrench in the plans. Clement Pappas & Co. was sold in 2011, and Pappas decided to put his own twist on the beverage business with Stateside Vodka.

The name was sparked when Pappas and his partner, Matthew Quigley, resolved to craft a “super-premium” American vodka back in 2013. More than 10 years later, the brand has spread to major supermarket chains across the country, including Florida’s Publix. Surfside canned cocktails are now available in 48 states, up from only seven last year. And the brand has made a lasting impression in its home market, with Stateside’s signature embossed glass containers pouring in bars and fine dining establishments around Philadelphia. Customers at the distillery can taste vodka flavors such as Roasted Poblano and Marshmallow or Surfside’s summery lemonade and iced-tea flavors. “We’ll continue to remain relevant locally,” says Pappas. “The great thing about Philly is, Philly loves its own brands.”

Pappas sponsors Major League Baseball teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves, and donates to up to 10 local charity events a week. But the most personal way in which he gives back is through the Peter Joseph Pappas Fund, a research-grant fund named for his first son, whom the family lost to complications from HELLP syndrome, a severe form of preeclampsia. When Pappas’s wife, Lauren, was pregnant with Peter in June 2015, she started having unusual pain. By Fourth of July weekend, she was rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section. Peter was born nearly three months premature.

“That was just such a hard tragedy to bear,” says Pappas. “But what we chose to do was say, ‘How can we make a difference here? How can we envision a world where no one has to go through what we went through?’”

Pappas partnered with the Preeclampsia Foundation to set up the fund, which awards multiple grants totaling up to $200,000 each year. “It’s a way to honor Peter,” he says. “We continue to keep his memory alive.”

Today, Lauren and Clement’s sons Paul and Joey are five and seven. He hopes to pass along the same values his father taught him and his brother about hard work and integrity, in the same way: through leading by example and sharing wisdom such as, “You’ve got to pick yourself up off the ground and keep going.”

“It is a lot to juggle, but you find a way — and you’ll be happy that you did it,” says Clement Pappas WG09 of Wharton’s Executive MBA program.

Balancing the business and fatherhood keeps Pappas busier than ever, but the time he spent pursuing Wharton’s Executive MBA program was invaluable despite the crush, he says: “Somehow, over the generations, everyone has young kids, and somehow, everybody comes out just fine. Same thing for people going through WEMBA. They come out loving the experience. It is a lot to juggle, but you find a way — and you’ll be happy that you did it.”

As for whether Stateside will be passed down to his sons, Pappas says it’s still too early to tell. So far, the boys are just excited to wear Surfside t-shirts — outside of school, of course.

“We didn’t build this to be a multi-generational business, but I wouldn’t rule it out, either,” he says. “I loved my family business, but it also felt like my grandfather’s company, my father’s company. This feels like our company.”