May 01, 2004
Passing the torch in Brenham

Blue Bell Creameries has a new CEO, but it's still a family affair.

Befitting a company that sells its ice cream with bucolic images of contented cows grazing in fields of bluebonnets on the label, the approaching takeover of Paul Kruse is going down as smooth as a scoop of the company's Homemade Vanilla.

"It's kind of a nonevent around the office," said Kruse, who becomes chief executive on Monday.

Perhaps Blue Bell employees have gotten comfortable with the notion of a Kruse running things.

They have for nearly 85 years.

As Paul's grandfather E.F. Kruse used to say, "No one ever got lost on a straight road."

Paul Kruse will replace his uncle Howard Kruse as CEO and president of a company that took in $400 million last year, according to Forbes, and is the No. 3 ice cream in the United States behind Breyers and Dreyer's.

Like his own father, Ed Kruse CEO before his brother Howard Paul first refused to join the company. After all, Paul Kruse had a law practice in Brenham.

But after his father asked him three times, Paul signed on as Blue Bell's chief legal counsel in 1986.

Since then, he's had time to absorb the Blue Bell culture and says he doesn't plan to change it.

The whole story is a pretty nice little capsule history of Blue Bell, which didn't make its first batch of Homemade Vanilla until 1969. I confess, as a native Yankee, I still pine for Breyer's (and I can finally get it down here now), but you can't go wrong with Blue Bell either.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 01, 2004 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack

You really couldn't get Breyer's in Texas? I can't recall it ever being unavailable here, though the selection isn't always great. Didn't get Blue Bell until fairly recently.

Posted by: Mac Thomason on May 1, 2004 3:21 PM

It's only in recent years that I've seen Breyer's in Texas. Don't remember exactly when it showed up - for whatever reason, I've still never seen a Breyer's TV ad here - but I know it wasn't here when I first arrived.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on May 1, 2004 5:59 PM