Ben & Jerry's: The Inside Scoop: How Two Real Guys Built a Business with a Social Conscience and a Sense of Humor
Fred "Chico" Lager
While Ben & Jerry's is one of the leading innovative and socially responsible businesses, this tale is as much an example to young entrepreneurs of what not to do as it is a model of exactly what to do. Lager, former CEO of Ben & Jerry's, was one of the company's early players, leaving in the 1990s, and he writes a captivating story about the $200 million, publicly traded enterprise, which originated in a rehabbed gas station where its founding fathers once ate saltines and sardines and slept on freezer chests all winter to be able to open by spring. Ben Cohen's dedication, marketing brilliance, and creativity and Jerry Greenfield's burnout, resignation from the company, and return are all faithfully documented, along with the dedication of the production workers to the ideal that has characterized Ben & Jerry's. Lager captures the sense of humor that kept the company going through rough times, but that humor dissipates into whining when the author reaches the years when he and Ben were at ideological odds. Those few chapters aside, this business history will be an inspiration to those struggling with their own young businesses as well as a great read for those who just love ice cream.
half the class had copied it word for word right of out of the World Book Encyclopedia. Vic DeGuilio had also taken a historical approach to the assignment, and sat down rather quickly after adding one or two facts that the earlier speakers had overlooked. And then it was Ben’s turn. By this time, most people in the crowd were resigned to hearing about Marco Polo one more time. Ben began by noting that the ink on his napkin was still wet, which accounted for why he was the last one to speak. He
create an aura of authenticity, Richie set up a shell corporation in Sweden, and put a Stockholm address on the package. He also included the requisite map of Scandinavia and had much of the information printed on the container in both Swedish and English. Meanwhile, the ice cream was made in a Dairylea plant in Utica, New York. Reuben reacted to Frusen Glädjé as one might expect. He sued, claiming that Richie had ripped him off, all the way down to his umlauts. Reuben was of a mind that he had
determined that what they were doing was illegal, we knew it was immoral. If we could get the word out, we felt confident that other people would react the same way we had—with disbelief, followed quickly by a sense of outrage. We also knew that in the courts, Pillsbury’s financial resources and staying power gave them terrific leverage over us. In the media, the advantage was ours. We decided up front to cast ourselves in a fight against Pillsbury, not Häagen-Dazs. Häagen-Dazs versus Ben &
farmer in a file at the state environmental office. For grins, I had put in a clause that required that one of the pigs be named Ben, one Jerry, and a third Ed Stanak, after the state regulator whose office issued the permits we were trying to comply with. When the story broke, we printed up a limited-edition T-shirt, substituting black and white pigs for the trademark Holsteins on the front and the slogan “Vermont’s Swinest” on the back. * * * Shortly after moving to Waterbury in June of 1985,
management vacancies. The job most desperately in need of being filled was that of chief financial officer, a position we had only recently created when it became apparent that the skills of our existing accounting staff had been overtaxed by the company’s increased size. Although we were using a search firm and advertising the position aggressively, the compensation policies of the company made it difficult to find a qualified person. Under the five-to-one salary ratio, the highest salary we