A fast-rising food company shares the wealth with resettled refugees.
At a time when immigration continues to be a hot-button topic, Chobani and its founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, have doubled down on their efforts to help immigrants and refugees integrate into U.S. life—even as the company has weathered physical threats and the specter of boycotts. Some 30% of the yogurt juggernaut’s 2,000-employee workforce in Idaho and upstate New York was born abroad, and of those, several hundred are resettled refugees. Ulukaya’s efforts go beyond his adopted home country; the Turkish-born entrepreneur has also pumped $5 million into a program to encourage startups in his native land.
The Chobani brand, meanwhile, hasn’t been hurt by the attention: Annual sales are now running at about $2 billion, and it’s now the No. 1 Greek yogurt brand in the U.S. and the No. 2 yogurt maker overall. Ulukaya has thanked his employees in a very specific way: Last year, he pledged to give away 10% of the company’s shares in the event of an IPO or a sale, a windfall potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars at current valuations.
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