Ricky Dickson, the CEO and president of Blue Bell Creameries, has announced his retirement after serving 43 years with the ice cream company. He will step down once a new CEO is chosen, according to a news release from the company.
A long and challenging career
Dickson joined Blue Bell in 1980 as a route sales manager in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He rose through the ranks and became the CEO and president in 2016, succeeding Paul Kruse, who is the grandson of the company’s founder E.F. Kruse.
Dickson took over the leadership role at a difficult time for the company, which was recovering from a massive listeria outbreak that left three people dead and forced a nationwide recall of its products in 2015. The company faced criminal charges, civil lawsuits, and regulatory actions as a result of the outbreak.
Dickson helped lead the restructuring and expansion of the company’s food safety efforts, resulting in Blue Bell earning the BRCGS global food safety certifications at all three production facilities. He also oversaw the renovation and expansion of the company’s production facilities, including the recent construction of a new truck shop and milk receiving bay.
A legacy of excellence and innovation
Dickson said in a statement that it has been an incredible honor to make and sell ice cream for people to celebrate the most important moments in their lives. “Blue Bell is a special place, and it has been a privilege to work with people who are dedicated to their jobs and love what they do. I look forward to working with my successor to ensure a seamless transition,” he said.
Jim Kruse, the board chairman of Blue Bell, praised Dickson’s leadership and contributions to the company. “In a company where history, tradition, and culture are vital to who we are, Ricky has done a masterful job of helping us evolve and grow while keeping us true to who we have always been,” he said.
Blue Bell is known for its high-quality ice cream products and its loyal customer base. The company produces over 250 different frozen products, including 66 flavors of ice cream. The company sells its products in 23 states across the South Central and Southern United States.
A search for a new leader
The Blue Bell board of directors is searching for the company’s next CEO and president. Dickson will continue in his role until the new CEO and president begins. The company did not provide a timeline or criteria for the search process.
Dickson has also been active in his community throughout his career. He served two terms on the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce board of directors. He has been a Rotary member since 1990 and past president of the Rotary Club in Washington County. He is past president of Faith Mission, a local ecumenical Christian-based non-profit organization created to assist the homeless and working poor in the community. He is a member and past board chair of the Dairy Products Institute of Texas and the current chairman of the board of the International Dairy Food Association Ice Cream Board.