Chobani Chief on 60 Minutes
Hamdi Ulukaya came from Turkey to upstate New York with no money in his pocket, no family or friends and unable to speak the English language. 23 years later he's a billionaire who runs Chobani Yogurt.
Hamdi appeared on 60 Minutes to tell his fairy tale story that started on a dairy farm, where he worked until he saw an add for a yogurt plant for sale. Two years after purchasing the factory, the first case of Chobani yogurt went to a Long Island grocery store in 2007. "The store manager called me and said, “I don’t know what you’re putting into these cups. I cannot keep it on shelf." At that moment, I knew this was-- like, three months in, this was not going to be about if I could sell it. It was going to be about can I make enough," Hamdi tells Steve Kroft.
In a few short years, Hamdi went from the original 150 cases to 2 million a week, a billion dollars in revenue and 600 employees. Some of those employees came from the refugee resettlement center in Utica. "They are the most loyal, hard, working people along with everyone else right now in our plant in here," says Hamdi. "We have 19 different nationalities, 16 different translators."
There are several master tasters at Chobani but Hamdi says he's still the Chief Taster. "There's no yogurt cup or new product that will be launched without me tasting. Not only tasting but I'm very much involved in product development from beginning to end."
Hamdi is also very much involved with his workers. Last year he spread the wealth by giving stock to employees. "It’s not a gift. It’s not a, “Oh look how nice I am.” It’s a recognition," Hamdi tells Kroft. "It’s the right thing to do. It is something that belongs to them that I recognize. That’s how I see it."