Paul Kruse, who shepherded Blue Bell Creameries through good times and some very bad times, announced in February he is retiring. His replacement is the first person from outside the Kruse family to lead the company in nearly a century, notes the Houston Chronicle.
Kruse is stepping down as president and chairman but will remain on the board of directors. He joined Blue Bell in 1986 and became president and CEO in 2004, taking over the role from his uncle Howard Kruse. His replacement as president will be Ricky Dickson, who has 36 yeas with the company in a variety of roles, most recently as Blue Bell’s vice president of sales and marketing. The company also made several other management changes.
Kruse led the Brenham, Texas, ice cream company through a period of fast growth, which came to an abrupt halt in early 2015 when listeria was found in several of the company's products – and later at most of the company's plants. The company completely shut down and its ice cream was removed from the market for half a year, although Blue Bell successfully re-entered many markets.
In addition to Dickson's promotion to president, there were other leadership appointments. Jim Kruse, the son of Howard Kruse, has been named chairman. He currently serves as Bank of Brenham’s president and previously spent 20 years at Blue Bell, where he served as controller and vice president of information technology.
Greg Bridges was promoted to executive vice president of plant operations. He’s worked for Blue Bell for 32 years, during which time he’s served as vice president of operations, production manager and assistant production manager.