PHOENIX, Jan. 21, 2024—The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) today recognized the remarkable leadership of Ricky Dickson, former CEO and president of Blue Bell Creameries, with the IDFA Laureate Award during the association’s annual Dairy Forum. Now in its fifth year, the IDFA Laureate Award is given to a leader in the dairy industry who has made significant, prolonged contributions to the development and growth of dairy. Candidates from across the dairy industry as well as suppliers and academics are eligible, and the awardee is chosen by a panel of industry professionals.
“Ricky Dickson is one of the genuinely nicest people you will ever meet,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “For more than 43 years, Ricky led a distinguished career with Blue Bell Creameries, one of America’s most beloved and iconic ice cream brands. He rose from a territory manager in 1981 to lead the entire business. If you love ice cream as much as I do, you know Blue Bell emphasizes the importance of family and celebration and community. How fortunate then for Blue Bell to have a dedicated community leader and family man at the helm, a loving father and husband, and a man of great faith and commitment. IDFA congratulates Ricky on his retirement and for all he has done for our dairy industry.”
“During his years at Blue Bell, Ricky had an opportunity to touch so many lives, including mine.” said Jimmy Lawhorn. “He is a man of great kindness, integrity, intelligence and humility. He invests so much of his time to help mentor others, and we are thankful for it. The company has benefited greatly under his direction. We would not be the Blue Bell we are today without his servant leadership and uplifting guidance.”
After more than 20 years with Blue Bell, Dickson was named general sales manager in 2003. In 2010, he was appointed vice president of sales and marketing, as well as to serve as a director on the Blue Bell Board of Directors. In 2017, he was promoted to president, and in 2019, he was elected CEO and president. During his seven years as CEO and president of Blue Bell, the company says Dickson helped lead the restructuring and expansion of the company’s food safety efforts, resulting in Blue Bell earning the prestigious BRCGS global food safety certifications at all three of their production facilities. Dickson 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. In addition to his service at Blue Bell, Dickson has also been active in his community. 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. Dickson 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 IDFA Ice Cream Board. Ricky and his wife Anita have five children and seven grandchildren.
Previous recipients of the IDFA Laureate Award are: Jim Sartori, chairman and CEO of Sartori Company (2023); Larry Webster, CEO of Upstate Niagara Cooperative (2023); Ed Mullins, senior executive officer of Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. (2022); Dan Zagzebski, president and CEO of Great Lakes Cheese (2022); Sue Taylor, vice president of dairy economics and policy for Leprino Foods Company (2021); and Andrei Mikhalevsky, former president and CEO of California Dairies, Inc. (2020).
A call for nominations for the 2025 IDFA Laureate Award will be released this summer. More information about the award can be found here.