When Good Deeds Run Afoul

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Digital Library > Operations and Technology > Suppliers"When Good Deeds Run Afoul"

Ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry's has a reputation for being a socially responsible business. But it learned — the hard way — to proceed with caution when combining benevolence with business.

For example, co-founder Ben Cohen learned of a bakery that hired the homeless and used profits to provide transitional housing to these employees. Ben & Jerry's switched from an established supplier to this bakery for brownies used in the company's ice cream products. It quickly became apparent that the bakery owner had oversold his capabilities, and the good deed became a nightmare.

The new bakery could not match the previous supplier's quality for the quantity required. Dropping the bakery was not an option. The owner had borrowed $250,000 to prepare his facility for Ben & Jerry's orders; pulling out would bankrupt the very business Cohen wanted to help. A Ben & Jerry's executive finally developed a 10-point turnaround plan to get the bakery on track, while working with a bank to restructure its debt.

Source: "Ben & Jerry's: The Inside Scoop," by Fred Lager, Crown.

Writer: John Duggleby

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