PHOENIX — Ricky Dickson, former chief executive officer and president of Blue Bell Creameries, received the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) Laureate Award for his leadership within the dairy industry.

Recognized during Dairy Forum, Dickson became president of the company in 2017 and was elected president in 2019. He recently retired, after 43 years with Blue Bell, during which he also worked as a general sales manager, vice president of sales and marketing, and member of the board of directors.

While leading the business, Dickson’s achievements included the restructuring and expansion of Blue Bell’s food safety efforts and overseeing the renovation and expansion of the company’s production facilities.

Newly named Blue Bell president Jimmy Lawhorn said Dickson also had an impact on many people over the years.

“He is a man of great kindness, integrity, intelligence and humility,” Lawhorn said of Dickson. “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.”

Along with various community endeavors, Dickson also is a member and past board chair of the Dairy Products Institute of Texas and the current chairman of IDFA’s ice cream board.

IDFA president and CEO Michael Dykes praised Dickson for a distinguished career.

“He rose from a territory manager in 1981 to lead the entire business,” Dykes said. “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.”

Per IDFA, the Laureate Award goes to a dairy industry leader who has “made significant, prolonged contributions to the development and growth of dairy.” The organization noted candidates from throughout the industry, as well as suppliers and those working in the academic field, are eligible for the award.

Past Laureate Award winners 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).