Dave Stever, who started at Ben & Jerry’s as a tour guide in 1988, was named CEO of the quirky, socially responsible ice cream company, a business unit of Unilever. He replaces Matthew McCarthy, who recently retired after five years at the helm.
While it's not uncommon for a corporate employee at Ben & Jerry's to have begun their career as a scooper and then move onto a corporate position, this is the first time since cofounder Ben Cohen stepped down as CEO in 1994 that a staff member has been promoted from within to the CEO position.
The lifelong Vermonter started as a tour guide in 1988 at the company's Waterbury factory, which is the state's top tour attraction. Stever swiftly established himself in marketing and management and over the past 12 years has been chief marketing officer. He also earned a master of science in administration degree from St. Michael’s College.
The company said he played roles in partnerships with Dave Matthews Band, Stephen Colbert, Willie Nelson, Sir Elton John, Jimmy Fallon, Colin Kaepernick, Netflix, Chance the Rapper, Tony's Chocolonely and Ava DuVernay.
"Ben and I have known Dave for over three decades and we are absolutely thrilled that he will be leading Ben & Jerry's into the next chapter of our company's history," said cofounder Jerry Greenfield. Added Cohen, "He knows Ben & Jerry's inside and out. He lives it and breathes it. We are psyched to have someone with Dave's talent, passion and demonstrated ability as our CEO."
Not all has been cookies & cream at B&J lately. In 2021, the company got in a spat with its owner, Unilever, when it refused to supply its Israeli distributor to protest Israel’s settlements in the West Bank. Unilever thwarted that effort by selling its Israeli business to the local distributor. Then both sides sued each other.
And last month (April), ice cream scoopers at the Vermont flagship store notified management they plan to unionize. They’re seeking to join Workers United, a union that recently won elections at about 300 Starbucks coffee shops.