With Lessons Learned, Chobani Founder Looks for New CEO or COO

Hamdi Ulukaya, the billionaire founder of Chobani Inc., is planning to step aside as chief executive officer. Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya practically personified the American dream as an entrepreneur who came to this country from Turkey for college and then started his own Greek yogurt business, creating a craze that made him a billionaire.

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that he is planning to step aside from the role of chief executive officer, although he will remain chairman as he hands over the company to another as-yet-unnamed leader as part of a deal that he worked out with private-equity firm TPG a year ago. A likely candidate may be TPG’s Kevin Burns, who is Chobani’s interim president and chief operating officer, but no one is confirming that.

Today, a company spokesperson tells Upstart Business Journal that what Ulukaya for is looking for is a "partner" with whom to run the company. "It could be a CEO, it could be a COO (or some other title). Nothing is imminent and nothing is determined," the spokesperson said.

Ulukaya is acknowledging that the company, which has a factory in New Berlin, N.Y., and sales offices in New York City, has grown beyond his ability to run it, He also admits making a series of blunders that began in 2013 and that ultimately cost the company both sales and market share and led the company to get a $750 million investment from TPG amid losses.

From the Journal:
The company almost single-handedly set off a craze for Greek-style yogurt, growing explosively in the process. But it was in over its head: losing money, and building the world’s largest yogurt factory had saddled it with debt. Chobani’s operations were scattered, purchasing was inefficient and it lacked an adequate quality-control team—a deficiency that surfaced dramatically when Chobani had to recall yogurt from the new factory in 2013. (Teresa Novellino, Upstart Business Journal Entrepreneurs & Enterprises Editor - bizjournals.com)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07