WKU Herald: Ben & Jerry's co-founder emphasizes spirituality in business

March 19th, 2012

WKU Herald
Marcdh 19, 2012
By, Shelby Rogers

Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Jerry Greenfield, spoke on the spiritual and humanistic sides of business during his presentation Monday night.

“Spirituality in business isn’t your normal business rap,” Greenfield said. “Ben & Jerry’s seeks to redefine the bottom line of business.”

Greenfield spoke to a crowd of around 200 WKU students, faculty, and community members in Van Meter Hall at 7:30 p.m.

David Lee, dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters, introduced Greenfield, calling the Ben & Jerry’s corporation “one of the least conventional success stories” of our time.

Greenfield opened his presentation with the background story on how the company got started. He spoke about meeting his business partner, Ben Cohen, for the first time in a junior high gym class, and the evolution of their friendship.

By the time post-college living rolled around, “Ben and I were essentially failing at everything we tried to do,” Greenfield said.

The two men decided that they would go into business together, picking ice cream because they both loved food. They learned ice-cream making from a $5 correspondence course offered by Penn State.

“We finally found an education type suited to our unique learning styles,” Greenfield laughed.

After settling on Burlington, Vt., as their store’s location, Ben & Jerry’s slowly took off, thanks to some of Cohen’s promotional tactics. Greenfield and Cohen’s business became so popular that the Haagen-Dazs ice cream company began threatening to pull their product from distributors if distributors continued to carry Ben & Jerry’s product, Greenfield said.

Thus began the company’s first foray into activism.

“We just knew that what they were doing had to be illegal,” Greenfield said.

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