One Thousand Days Transformed - The Campaign for Cedarville

The Berry Story

With a convincing idea and a no-frills sales pitch, Loren M. Berry began a billion-dollar company. A pioneer in the business telephone directory industry, Berry earned the nickname “Mr. Yellow Pages,” and his business grew to become one of the largest Yellow Pages advertising agencies in the United States.

The lasting success of The Berry Company has enabled The Berry Family Foundation and those who carry on its the legacy to generously support and further the mission and vision of Cedarville University, for which we are grateful.

Loren Berry.

The Berry Company

At a rented desk in downtown Dayton, Loren M. Berry founded his company. The year was 1910, and Loren and his wife had just moved to Dayton. One year earlier, Loren had secured his first directory publication, selling advertising for the telephone directory in Marion, Indiana. Thousands of telephone companies existed in the early 1900s, and over time, Loren convinced them to outsource the selling and publishing of directory advertising to him.

Loren quickly realized the growth potential of the directories. In Dayton, his first contract was with the Dayton Home Telephone Company. In just two weeks, Loren more than doubled its revenue. After this tremendous success, he focused solely on the telephone directory business.

The Berry Company continued to grow until ultimately, it sold advertising and publishing for one of every four directories in the United States. In 1940, Loren’s son, John Berry Sr., joined the company while in college as a salesman, and he progressed to Chairman by 1973.

John Berry Sr. continued to steward substantial growth, and in 1966, he signed a joint venture agreement with ITT (International Telephone and Telegraph) Corporation to expand the directory sales and publishing business internationally. Operating in 17 countries and five continents, World Directories – the result of their partnership – quickly became the world’s largest international directory publisher.

By 1970, sales were $200 million, and the company was operating in over 30 states. John implemented standardized training to ensure all personnel who interfaced with customers were consistently delivering excellence. He also established marketing, sales planning, telephone sales units, and art departments to aid the growth and sophistication of the business.

In 1976, Loren received the Horatio Alger Award, which symbolizes personal initiative and perseverance, leadership, and commitment to excellence. He was a strong supporter of the free enterprise system and the importance of higher education, community service, and the preservation of a system of government that allowed all to achieve their full potential. Loren remained active in the company until his death in 1980.

Did You Know?

What Were the Yellow Pages?

The "original serach engine," the Yellow Pages connected buyers and sellers in communities across America for over 120 years. Every business was listed, and every household received one or more directories. At the industry's peak in the late 90s, over 350 million directories were delivered to virtually every consumer and business.

Why Were the Pages Yellow?

In the earliest days, telephone companies used different colored paper for the classified section to distinguish it from the telephone name and number listings. Over time they determined that black ink on yellow paper provided the most contrast for readability.

Loren Berry and John Berry Sr.

Berry Company sales were close to $1 billion by 1986, and with the industry changing, John made a strategic decision to sell the company to Bell South. While the company was now part of a much larger organization, it retained its identity, and John Berry Jr. was elected President until his retirement in 1994. The third-generation Berry to lead the company, John Jr. oversaw the orderly transition of The Berry Company to Bell South and navigated the ever-increasing competitive environment of the industry.

The Berry Family Foundation was founded in 1960 by Loren Berry and John Berry Sr. to further their vision of entrepreneurship and support a strong community.

Impact on Cedarville

Since its first gift in 1985, The Berry Family Foundation has granted nearly $2,000,000 to support the mission and vision of Cedarville University. These funds have provided for the construction or renovation of eight different buildings on campus, such as the Health Sciences Center, Stevens Student Center, Centennial Library, and Center for Biblical and Theological Studies. Most recently, The Berry Family Foundation and members of the Berry family contributed $1.25 million to the One Thousand Days Transformed Campaign for the construction of the new Scharnberg Business and Communication Center scheduled to open fall 2024.

Additionally, the family of the late John W. Berry Sr. donated $2.3 million to Cedarville University. These funds helped build the Dixon Ministry Center and establish the University’s only endowed chair. The Berry Chair for Free Enterprise has significantly enhanced academic opportunities for Cedarville students through the Robert W. Plaster School of Business and has bolstered the University’s firm standing for the defense of free markets from a Christian worldview.

We are immensely grateful for the longstanding relationship we have with the Berry Family. Their financial partnership continues to make a lasting impact on Cedarville students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Dixon Ministry Center.
Dixon Ministry Center
(Completed 1996)
Health Sciences Center building.
Health Sciences Center
(Completed 2012)
Scharnberg Business and Communication Center.
Scharnberg Business and Communication Center
(Completed 2024)