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Ben & Jerry's - The Men Behind the Ice

From Daniel Richards
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• food industry
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Ice cream is a sweet treat that few can resist. Although vanilla is the most popular flavor in the
U.S., there are a seemingly endless number of varieties and manufacturers. One of the best-
known purveyors is Ben & Jerry’s, the brand synonymous with funky flavors like Cherry Garcia
and Chunky Monkey and a groovy Vermont vibe.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were childhood friends born four days apart in Brooklyn, New
York, in 1951. You could say that ice cream runs in their veins. During his senior year of high
school, Ben drove an ice cream truck. After high school, he attended and dropped out of various
colleges in the Northeast, eventually leaving his studies altogether to teach pottery on a working
farm in New York's Adirondack region, where he also dabbled in ice cream-making.
Jerry started on a more traditional path. After graduating high school, he attended Oberlin
College to study medicine. Jerry worked as an ice cream scooper in the school’s cafeteria. Upon
graduating, Jerry returned to New York to work as a lab technician, while applying to medical
school without success. During his lab tech days, he shared a Manhattan apartment with Ben.
After moving to North Carolina for a few years, Jerry reunited with Ben in Saratoga Springs,
N.Y., and they decided to go into the food business together.
At first the pair thought about making bagels but decided the necessary equipment was too
expensive. Instead, they settled on ice cream. They decided Burlington, Vt., was an ideal location
for a scoop shop because it was a college town without an ice cream parlor. They took a $5
course on ice-cream making and in 1978 opened the first Ben & Jerry’s in a converted
Burlington gas station.
The original scoop shop became a community favorite thanks to its rich ice cream and creative
flavors. Ben and Jerry also made it a point to connect with the community, hosting a free film
festival and giving away free scoops on the first anniversary of the store, a tradition that still
continues. In 1980, the duo began making pints to sell to local grocers. In 1981, they expanded
this operation.
Business increased significantly. In 1983, the company opened its first non-Vermont franchise in
Maine, and signed a deal with a Boston distribution company. Signature flavors were unveiled
during the 1980s – including New York Super Fudge Chunk and Cherry Garcia – and by 1987
sales were at $32 million. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan named Ben and Jerry the U.S. Small
Business Persons of the Year, and by the year’s end the company was operating shops in 18
Creative Flavors:
One reason for the quick popularity of Ben & Jerry’s was its unique flavor combinations. All
new flavors were invented by Jerry, usually without any test marketing. Some 1980s flagship
flavors include Chunky Monkey, Rainforest Crunch and Economic Crunch, scoops of which Ben
& Jerry’s served up for free on Wall Street following the stock market crash of Oct. 19, 1987.
Growing Pains:
The company’s path hasn’t always been as smooth as its ice cream blends. Ben & Jerry’s faced
off with Häagen-Dazs over distribution rights, leading to lawsuits against Häagen-Dazs’ parent,
the Pillsbury Company, in the mid-1980s. As the company’s rapid growth continued, it became
obvious to the founders that they would need someone with more business acumen to keep the
business running. After allowing customers to apply for the job in the “Yo! I’m Your CEO”
contest, the company in 1995 selected Robert Holland, a veteran of McKinsey & Co. Ironically,
Holland was found by a search firm, not through the contest.
Holland’s hiring brought the company to a crossroads. Ben and Jerry had become the brand’s
icons. There was concern that the company would lose its informal hierarchy and unique culture
under Holland’s leadership. Ben & Jerry’s had always had a strict pay scale ratio for its
management, which it had to break when hiring Holland.
Furthermore, Ben & Jerry’s was going through a trying time in the marketplace. Although the
company had made its name with wacky flavors and chunky mix-ins, the most popular ice cream
flavor in America was – and remains – plain vanilla. The firm had released a line of “Smooth,
No Chunks!” flavors to capture that segment of the market that preferred less funky flavors.
While the super-premium ice cream market was growing, so was the competition. Häagen-Dazs
and Dreyer’s were major players. Ben & Jerry’s had outsourced some its production to Dreyer’s
in order to reach customers in the western U.S. Now that Dreyer’s was becoming more of a
competitor, Ben & Jerry’s had to worry about its dependence on a competitor for manufacturing
and distribution.
Holland stepped down in 1996. The following year, Perry Odak became the new CEO, and sales
that year were about $174 million. In late 1999, the firm announced it had received notice of
interest from other large firms, and in 2000 international food giant Unilever purchased the Ben
& Jerry’s brand for $326 million, although the deal called for Ben & Jerry’s to be operated
separately from Unilever’s other ice cream brands.
Social Mission: This unique arrangement allowed Ben & Jerry’s to continue to run its business
in a socially conscious manner, which had been a trademark of the brand since its inception.
Some examples of this mission include:
• An original scoop shop made of recycled materials
• Creation of a “Green Team” in 1989, focusing on environmental education throughout
the company
• A company bus equipped with solar panels
• The use of hormone-free milk in its products
• A commitment to reducing solid and dairy waste, recycling, and water and energy
conservation at the company’s facilities
To Learn More:
• Ben Cohen - Corporate Profile
• Jerry Greenfield - Corporate Profile
• Ben & Jerry's Foundation
urs.htm -
Elsewhere on the Web
• Ben Cohen - Corporate Profile
• Jerry Greenfield - Corporate Profile
• Ben & Jerry's Foundation
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• Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry's - Netlore Archive
• Ben & Jerry's Bush Ice Cream Flavors - Ben & Jerry Ice Cream Joke
• Jerry Greenfield

Jerry Greenfield was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1951, four

days before his partner, Ben Cohen. He grew up and went to
school in Merrick, Long Island. It was there that he met Ben, in
junior high school. Ben and Jerry both attended and graduated
from Calhoun High School in Merrick.
Jerry remembers that he and Ben were two of the widest students
in their school and actually came to know each other trying to run
the track in gym class. They also double-dated together in Ben's
convertible Camaro, complete with an 8-track cassette tape deck.
Jerry graduated from high school with a National Merit Scholarship
under his belt and enrolled in Oberlin College in Ohio to study pre-
At Oberlin, Jerry got his first taste of working in the ice cream
industry when he took a job as a scooper in the college cafeteria.
His favorite course, however, was "Carnival Techniques," where he
picked up several useful skills, including fire-swallowing. It was
the sledgehammer-and-brick trick, though,that was to become a
very important component at various Ben & Jerry's special events.
It involved suspending Ben, aka "Habeeni-Ben-Coheeni," between
2 chairs and placing a cinder-block on his ever-rounding bare
belly, whereupon a serious, pith-helmeted Jerry would raise a
sledgehammer and subsequently smash the cinder-block, without
harming Habeeni.
After graduating from Oberlin, Jerry applied to medical school but
wasn't accepted. He worked as a lab technician in New York,
performing experiments to analyze oxidative phosphorylation in
beef heart mitochondria. During this time, Jerry lived with Ben in
an apartment on East 10th St. After a year of mashing beef heart
morsels into test tubes, Jerry reapplied to medical school and was
once again rejected.
In 1974, Jerry moved to North Carolina with his wife-to-be,
Elizabeth. At this time, Jerry claimed that he took his 'first
retirement.' His retirement was more like a three-month sabbatical,
however, after which he returned to his former profession as a lab
Jerry moved back up north in 1976, and again moved in with Ben,
this time in Saratoga Springs, New York. There, they decided to
pursue their dream of starting a food business together. They
settled on ice cream and began researching the industry. After
receiving A's in a $5 Penn State correspondence course in ice
cream making, they set up their Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlor in
Burlington, Vermont, opening in May of 1978.
Jerry made all the ice cream for the busy shop, which quickly
became well known for its rich, unusual flavors and community
approach to business. As the small company grew and began to
add more employees, Jerry decided to accompany Elizabeth to
Arizona to provide moral support as she completed a Ph. D.
In 1985 Jerry and Elizabeth returned to Vermont, and he rejoined
the company as "Director of Mobile Promotions." During the
summer of 1986, Ben and Jerry traveled across the country
together in the Ben & Jerry's "Cowmobile," serving up free
samples of their ice cream in what they termed, a "cross-country
marketing drive." Unfortunately, the cowmobile caught fire and
burned to the ground outside Cleveland; luckily neither Ben nor
Jerry was hurt, but Ben was quoted in news stories across the
country, claiming the burning Cowmobile "looked like a giant
Baked Alaska."
Today, Jerry's official titles at the company include Vice-Chair of
the Board and Director of Mobile Promotions. He often joins Ben at
many speaking engagements and, along with Ben, is very active in
Businesses For Social Responsibility, a group that works to
promote an alternative business model based on socially
responsible business practices. Incidentally, it was Jerry's idea to
create the Ben & Jerry's Joy Gang: a group of employees
dedicated to bringing more joy into the workplace through fun
activities. He's now a sort of "Joy Pooh-Bah Emeritus," acting as a
sometimes consultant to Joy Gang initiatives.
In 1987, Jerry and Elizabeth married; their son Tyrone was born in
late 1988. In his spare time Jerry enjoys playing basketball and
volleyball and spending time with his family and friends. He still
swallows fire, but not as frequently as he used to; instead, he's
taken up the martial art known as "Samurai Pint-Slicing."

Kenneth Lay Andy Fastow Jeffrey Skilling

Mary Kay Ash - Most Outstanding Woman

in Business in the 20th Century
From Scott Allen, former About.com Guide
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Upset with the way she had been treated in the male-dominated business world,
Mary Kay Ash began to make a list of all the negative and positive things she’d seen
working for previous employers. She discovered after writing this down that she had
the perfect plan for a successful company.

Before Mary Kay Inc.:

Born Mary Kathlyn Wagner in 1918, at age 17 she married Ben Rogers and soon had
three children. While he served in WWII, she sold books door-to-door, selling an
amazing $25,000 in just six months. After her husband's return in 1938, they
divorced and she decided to change careers, going to work for Stanley Home
Products. Though one of the top sales directors, she was repeatedly refused
promotions and pay raises that the men were getting. After 25 years of hard work,
she retired in 1963.

Mary Kay Inc.:

With her life savings of $5,000 and the help of her 20-year-old son, Mary Kay
opened her first 500 sq. ft. store in Dallas in 1963. Mary Kay Inc. started with just
nine independent beauty consultants. She based the company’s philosophy strongly
on her Christian faith. She told her people to prioritize their life with God first, family
second, and work third. With this as her guiding practice she has encouraged
women and given them new opportunities for their own personal and financial


One of Mary Kay’s most effective strategies was incentives. In 1969, pink Cadillacs
were given to the top sales directors. Diamond bee pins were another incentive to
keep the women striving to do their best. With thirty-seven markets world wide, and
well over 350,000 consultants, Mary Kay Inc. now makes over $1 billion in sales in
nineteen different countries.

Recognition and Awards:

Fortune magazine recognized Mary Kay Inc. with inclusion in “The 100 best
companies to work for in America.” The company was also named one of the best
10 companies for women to work. Her most recent acknowledgements were the
“Equal Justice Award” from Legal Services of North Texas in 2001, and “Most
Outstanding Woman in Business in the 20th Century” from Lifetime Television in

Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation :

Mary Kay started the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation in 1996 after seeing her
most recent husband’s suffering and death from cancer in 1980. The organization is
a non-profit establishment that provides funding for the research of cancers
affecting women and is dedicated to putting an end to violence against women by
supporting women's shelters and educational programs.

Best-Selling Author:

Mary Kay is the author of three best-selling books. The first was her autobiography,
Mary Kay, which sold over 1 million copies. Her second book, Mary Kay on People
Management, was based on her business philosophy and has been included in
business courses at Harvard University. Her third book, You Can Have it All, was a
best-seller just a day after it was introduced.

Mary Kay Ash died in 2001. A Web site dedicated to her memory is located at

"Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go
as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember you can achieve."
"Do you know that within your power lies every step you ever dreamed of stepping
and within your power lies every joy you ever dreamed of seeing? Within yourself
lies everything you ever dreamed of being. Become everything that God wants you
to be. It is within your reach. Dare to grow into your dreams and claim this as your
motto: Let it be me."


Corporate Planning In An Era Of
Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. of Dallas, Texas, is an international manufacturer
and distributor of
skin care products, makeup items, toiletry items, accessories and hair care
products. Founded in
1963 by Mary Kay Ash, a highly motivated entrepreneur, the firm
experienced spectacular sales
growth in its early years. As a direct selling organization, much of its success
was based on
motivating and constantly replenishing its over 170,000 member sales force.
Mary Kay had
planned to become “the finest and largest skin care teaching organization in
the world.”
Senior management recognized in early 1989 that the firm was suffering
from some of the same
problems which were affecting the whole direct-sales industry. The company
was suddenly
having problems attracting new recruits who would become “Beauty
Consultants” and “Sales
Directors” as well as consumers of the firm’s product line. Management was
evaluating a
corporate strategy which had been developed by the firm’s founder. The
organization was
repositioning itself for future growth. The question was now, “What do we
need to do to get us
where we want to go, to reach the kind of customer we want to reach, to
recruit the kind of
consultant we want to recruit?”
Mary Kay Cosmetics was founded on September 13, 1963 in Dallas, Texas,
by Mary Kay (now
Mary Kay Ash). The company had an initial working capital of $5,000, the
right to use a skin
care formula that had been created by a hide tanner, and nine saleswomen.
The first
headquarters was a five-hundred-square-foot storefront in Exchange Park, a
large bank and
office-building complex in Dallas.
The first basic line of cosmetics was manufactured to specification under the
label of “Beauty by
Mary Kay” by another firm. It included what was called the “Basic Skin Care
Set.” It consisted
of a limited number of basic items which when used as the company
suggested provided a
balanced program of skin care. The firm also sold custom wigs. Wigs ware
styled at the
headquarters location and at skin care shows and were originally used as a
traffic generator.
They were discontinued in 1965. Management believed that it could achieve
corporate success
in direct sales by establishing a “dream company” which would be based on
the personal
philosophies of the founder.
This case was prepared by James W. Camerius of Northern Michigan
University and is intended
to be used as a basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either
effective or ineffective
handling of an administrative situation.
Presented to the Midwest Society for Case Research Workshop, 989.
All rights reserved to the author and to the Midwest Society for Case
Research, Copyright c 1989
by James W. Camerius.


Mary Kay Cosmetics is the largest skin care products company and the second-largest cosmetics
company. Mary Kay company in China has nine product lines, more than 200 products: basic
skin care products, added skin care products, cosmetics, care refers to products, hair care, bath
care products, sun care, men's skin care products and incense products.

Mary Kay brand is also the first U.S. sales of facial care products brand. Mary Kay product
research and development department is dermatology, biochemistry, toxicology, microbiology,
analytical chemistry, pharmacology, organic chemistry, processing and packaging technology
experts in the areas of science.

Mary Kay is the most successful female entrepreneurs, founder of Mary Kay Ash of Mary Kay,
Ms. made with the disease after 5 years of struggle on February 22, 2003 died in Dallas, age of

America's major media give her a high rating: "Mary Kay Ash is the world's very few of the
world form an important impact on business entrepreneurs, but also a great business woman

Mary Kay has not only successfully established its own business empire, and created their own
personal and career development of women's new world, their achievements comparable to any
leader of a rival women's liberation movement. "

September 13, 1963 on Friday, a Western that unlucky day, just lost her husband of Mary Kay
started a Dallas store in about 46 square meters started his dream journey.

Mary Kay with his new company name, the initial staff only she and her son Richard and nine
beauty consultants. Mary Kay direct sales of cosmetics from her own beautician bought from a
cosmetic formulation.

Mary Kay company's first-year sales reached 198 thousand U.S. dollars, up 1.3 million U.S.
dollars in 1996.

By 1999, Mary Kay 29 countries worldwide and has 500,000 beauty consultants, 2 more than 10
million consumers with a personalized beauty face to face counseling and services, sales of more
than 2 billion U.S. dollars, ranked the United States "Fortune" magazine ranks the nation's 500
largest companies, and became the "National 100 Best Companies to Work For employees" in
the list are the only direct selling companies and cosmetics companies.

Mary Kay skin care products and cosmetics all are used to blend the most advanced technology
to ensure product quality and customer satisfaction is its top priority.

Quality control is the responsibility of the mission of Mary Kay, the tight packaging material
testing, samples of microbial sampling technology, personnel and computer systems product line
simultaneously prosecution are to ensure quality standards.
Beauty consultant to give customers not only the skin and make-up knowledge, a chance to build
friendships with her customers. Customers will truly appreciate the professional beauty
consultant careful, thoughtful, perfect service. Mary Kay in the world now has more than 2,000
million loyal customers.

Per year worldwide more than 2000 million consumers to buy about 140 million Mary Kay
products. Mary Kay company invested 5 million U.S. dollars eachach year for product research
and developments


Year business began: 1963

Year opportunity offered: 1963
P.O. Box 799045 Phone: (800)627-9529
Dallas, TX 75379-9529 Fax: (972)687-1611

Number of employees at headquarters: 2000

Number of licensees: associates850,000+
Type of opportunity: Network marketing/Direct sales

Where seeking associates: Outside of the US - AFRICA, ASIA, AUSTRALIA/NEW

Included was the phrase, our independent sales force.” The sales force was
thought to “drive” the
objectives of the company.
There was no formal planning department at Mary Kay Cosmetics. The
emphasis was placed on
having a corporate mission that would be flexible and could be looked back
on from time to
time, as opposed to a strategy that said the firm was expected to reach
certain goals in a specific
year. Management felt that, as a basic strategy, a team of flexible, hard-
hitting, and adaptable
executives would be better able to handle the major changes that were
occurring in the external
environment. A recant appointment of Dr. Myra Barker as Senior Vice
President of Research &
Development/Quality Assurance and Chief Scientific Officer reflected this
strategy. “This
reflects our concern for being in harmony with what might hit us scientifically
in the cosmetic
marketing world,” indicated President Bartlett. “Good strategy is
implementation strategy –
where you don’t get off with a planning group and say, ‘This is where we’re
going to arrive at an
X time in the future.’ ...but you’re flexible enough, and you have the
intellectual muscle to adapt
to change.”
“I fear a rigidly in place plan” and “I fear formal planning departments” were
responses of
President Bartlett when asked in his Dallas office if Mary Kay Cosmetics had
a formal plan for
looking ahead. Bartlett had concluded that “we have a over-riding mission
which we can look
back on, and I’d rather view the mission we have, as opposed to a locked in
concrete strategy
that says we will come out at such and such a place in the year 2000.”
“While I say that, he
maintained, “there is no way that we can really anticipate all the major
changes coming at us
now, the geometric progression of information, governmental interference,
regulation and all the
myriad of factors that we have to face.”
Although there was not a formal strategic planning department at Mary Kay
Cosmetics the
product line was planned out five years. Each year key executives, such as
the president,
department heads, directors and all who might be involved in implementing
the strategy, would
meet to brainstorm sociological, consumer, industry and scientific trends.
Out of this meeting
would emerge a product plan. For three years out it was very detailed,
showing what the firm
was doing every month. President Bartlett felt that such planning was
necessary to anticipate the
changes that they knew were going to happen. “You gain flexibility by having
this type of plan,
suggested Ms. Curran Croskeys, Vice President of Product Marketing. “By
having a track to
follow you accomplish the plan in a routine way. You use brain power and
other resources to
change if you have to.”
One era ended and another began when Mary Kay Cosmetics experienced its
first sales decline
in 1984. The early era is a case study in entrepreneurship. The latter era is a
study in the efforts
of an established organization attempting to achieve its objectives in a
changed business
environment. Mary Kay’s initial objective was, to establish a company that
would give
unlimited opportunity to women. In the late 1980’s there was an increase in
full-time job
opportunities for women elsewhere. Not only were they not available to sell
the product, but
they were not at home to buy it.
Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. had for over twenty-five years focused on
celebrating the
achievements of its sales force. Much of the forward momentum in that sales
force had come
from the entrepreneurial spirit of Mary Kay Ash, the founder of the company.
Mary Kay had
been elevated to the position of Chairman Emeritus. A new management
team was in place.
The firm had repositioned itself to meet the challenges of a new decade. The
question was now,
could the firm accomplish its corporate mission and objectives in this
changing environment?
1. Evaluate and justify the personal selling strategy of Mary Kay Cosmetics.
What factors
should a manufacturer consider before choosing to include personal selling
as a form of
promotion in the marketing mix?
2. What evidence is there to conclude that the marketing concept is
understood and applied by
Mary Kay management?
3. Evaluate the strategies that Mary Kay management has introduced as part
of its positioning
strategy. How much impact will these strategies have in the competitive
environment as the
firm seeks profitable growth in the marketplace?
4. How important is a mission statement in giving direction to strategy
development in a
marketing orientated organization?
5. How much importance is placed on the planning function at Mary Kay
6. What conclusions can you draw from a review of the financial performance
of Mary Kay
Cosmetics, Inc. from the years 1975-1985?
7. Discuss the importance of changes in the external environment. How
much impact do they
have on strategic planning in organizations like Mary Kay Cosmetics?
8. How much impact is the “retirement” of Mary Kay Ash likely to have on
the forward
momentum of the organization? What decisions and actions should be
undertaken to continue
Mary Kay Ash’s formula for success?