MONTPELIER, Vt. - One hundred words and a lid of ice cream later, Ben & Jerry's has found its CEO.
A Fortune 100 business consultant, Robert Holland Jr., was appointed today as president and chief executive officer of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc.
The unconventional ice-cream company used a decidedly unconventional search to find a replacement for co-founder and chief executive officer Ben Cohen.
In a contest titled "Yo! I Want to be CEO!", applicants were told to submit a 100-word essay and the lid of their favorite Ben & Jerry's flavor.
Holland, who lives in suburban New York City, is chairman and CEO of a family-owned business that buys troubled companies, turns them around and sells them. He'll have his work scooped out for him since Ben & Jerry's expects its first loss ever later this year.
Cohen announced in June that he was stepping aside from day-to-day management of the $150 million company. He and co-founder Jerry Greenfield will remain on the board of directors.
Ben & Jerry's hedged their bets by hiring an executive-search firm to recruit candidates. Holland was among those recruited, but executives said that finalists from the essay contest were considered.
Holland wrote a poem describing a longing for "the ice cream place on Main - swivel stools, cozy booths and sweet, sweet smells, with no sitting place for all of some of us."
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More than 20,000 people from around the world applied.
-- Jack Ross Williams of Santa Barbara, Calif., sent in a Superman suit and wrote, "Due to recent layoffs at a major metropolitan newspaper I am looking to replace my day job. After-hours I spend my time fighting to protect truth, justice and the American Way. . . . I seek a position which allows me the opportunity to provide super premium ice cream products with maximum value and satisfaction to a deserving planet."
-- "Help! I'm stuck with `Mr. and Mrs. Fast Track' in California," one toddler crayoned on the back of a poster-size photograph of himself next to a Holstein cow. "They need new careers and I need a real back yard."
-- Harold French of Warren, N.H., made a wood sculpture in the shape and size of a Ben & Jerry's pint. The label reads: "Harold French Fudged Resume. Packed with CEO." The essay tucked inside read, "I spent a number of years milking cows, feeding them and cleaning their stalls and I feel I am ready to move into the `udder' end of the industry - that being the ice cream business."