Purdue News

November 16, 2005

Ben & Jerry's co-founder to discuss business, values, ice cream

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Jerry Greenfield, who with partner Ben Cohen built Ben & Jerry's into both corporate and socially conscious successes, will be the featured speaker on Nov. 29 as part of the Purdue Series on Corporate Citizenship and Ethics.

Jerry Greenfield
Download photo

The 7 p.m. talk in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall is free and open to the public. Greenfield's presentation is sponsored by the Krannert School of Management and the College of Education's James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship with support from the Purdue Employees Federal Credit Union.

Ben & Jerry's started out as a storefront Vermont ice cream parlor on an investment of $12,000. The company was unconventional from the start. Ben & Jerry's most popular ice cream flavor, Cherry Garcia, was named after Grateful Dead musician Jerry Garcia. Other musician-themed ice cream flavors include Phish Food and the Dave Matthews Band's Magic Brownies. New flavors and names are created, and old ones are sent to the "flavor graveyard."

Business, according to Greenfield and Cohen, should be socially conscious, environmentally responsible, managed creatively with respect for employees and – to top off this radical redefinition of how to succeed in business – it should be fun.

In 1988 the Council on Economic Priorities awarded Ben & Jerry's the Corporate Giving Award for donating 7.5 percent of the company's pretax profits to non-profit organizations. That same year, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognized Greenfield and Cohen as Small Business Persons of the Year in a White House ceremony with President Ronald Reagan.

Ben & Jerry's was acquired in 2000 for $326 million by Unilever, making both Greenfield and Cohen multimillionaires. But even the terms of the sale were unconventional. The company retained an independent board that allowed Ben & Jerry's to operate separately from Unilever and continue to pursue its social and environmental agenda, including fighting global warming and promoting the peace movement.

Greenfield wrote a national bestseller, "Ben & Jerry's Double-Dip: Lead with Your Values and Make Money."

Next semester's lecturer in the Purdue Series on Corporate Citizenship and Ethics is Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. His talk will take place April 6.

Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077, mlillich@purdue.edu

Source: Tim Newton, Krannert School director of external relations and communications, (765) 496-7271, tnewton@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


To the News Service home page

Newsroom Search Newsroom home Newsroom Archive