The Road to Palm Springs
Founder, President and CEO
Hamdi Ulukaya, founder, president and CEO of Chobani, is a modern-day shepherd. Growing up in Turkey and working on his family’s sheep farm, he moved to the US to learn English, study business and leave the dairy behind. However, during his career at the State University of New York – Albany he noticed a significant gap in the quality of the dairy products in the US.
In 2002, Hamdi founded Euphrates Feta in Johnstown, New York. Three years later in 2005, he purchased a distressed yogurt plant at a price “too good to be true,” and immediately hired four of the plant’s former employees. Together, they perfected a yogurt recipe that would go to market as Chobani, which is Turkish for “shepherd.”
During his first year in business, he worked seven days a week doing every job at the plant. He began selling his product in local stores in New England, then eventually to a large grocery store and in four years sales grew more than tenfold.
The company was a 2012 Olympics sponsor, and in celebration of its grass-roots origins a television advertisement aired during the Olympics featuring scenes of a rural community building a makeshift theater to watch the Games.
In July 2012, Chobani opened a brick-and-mortar retail location in New York City's SoHo neighborhood. The shop sells fresh sweet and savory yogurt options.
Hamdi founded the Shepherd’s Gift Foundation which supports many charitable efforts from Little League teams to United Nations famine relief efforts.