Chobani has come a long way since the days of one buyer, five employees and the remains of a shuttered yogurt plant in New York.
The Small Business Administration on Tuesday announced that the enormously popular Greek yogurt maker will take home its national Entrepreneurial Success of the Year Award for 2012. Now the top yogurt seller in the country, Chobani was recognized for its dramatic growth in sales and employees as well as its charitable contributions to its surrounding communities.
The Chobani story dates back to August 2005, when founder Hamdi Ulukaya purchased an old Kraft Foods plant in New Berlin, N.Y., using an SBA 504 loan secured through KeyBank and the Empire State Certified Development Corporation. More than two years later, after developing a yogurt product with a starkly different taste, Ulukaya sold his first batch of five flavors to a single grocery store in Long Island.
“We aimed at people who never liked yogurt,” Ulukaya said in a statement released by the SBA. “We couldn’t blame them because what was available was not what the rest of the world was eating.”