Davidson’s Karen Toney Named Ben and Jerry’s Manager of the Year
The Ben & Jerry’s ice cream empire has once again recognized Davidson’s Karen Toney as a top scooper. At the firm’s annual Global Franchise Community Gathering, Toney received one of just four “Manager of the Year” awards, distinguishing her among the company’s 242 stores nationwide. The five-day event was held this year in New Orleans.
Karen’s award recognized the many ways she upholds founder Ben Cohen’s mantra — “Business has a responsibility to give back to the community.” Karen’s shop hosts a number of benefit events to raise both money and awareness for deserving organizations. This past fall, she teamed up with Solace for the Children, an organization focused on bringing peace and human rights to children around the globe. She has worked with Community School of Davidson’s Exceptional Children’s Program, and her most recent initiative is establishment of a week-long half-day summer camp that introduces children to downtown businesses and community organizations. She has also hosted quarterly blood drives since 1999, collecting more than 1,200 lifesaving pints.
In addition to supporting local events, Karen was cited for having a positive impact on the lives of many local young people by giving them their first job and teaching them valuable life skills. She has developed unique ways of training her staff that create a culture of fun, while building best-in-class skills across her team. Her commitment to that youth development has led her to write a book titled “Forever 16: The Real Scoop on 20 Years of Raising High School Staff.”
Karen was also recognized as creator of the company’s “Scooper Olympics,” which gathers staff from regional stores in competitions where scoopers show off their skills in events like “Speed Cake Decorating,” “Ben & Jerry’s Trivia,” and “Sundae Building Relay Race.”
One of her most popular initiatives is the annual “Free Cone Day,” which last year attracted more than 2,600 appreciative friends to line up for no-cost cones and cups. The results of Karen’s staff and community efforts in 2018 led to an increase in both number of transactions and average check amount that helped the shop grow sales by 20 percent.
Karen joined the Davidson store staff in 1993 and became manager four years later. She had assumed her life would be focused on animals. She earned a degree in veterinary technology at Fairmont State College and worked for Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina. Then she moved to Mooresville in 1993 to take another veterinary job and began working part-time for Ben & Jerry’s in Davidson. She found she loved the constant contact with people and has been scooping ice cream ever since.
“It was always the relational part I loved,” she said. “People are the best and worst aspects of every job and dealing with people is my passion.” Karen said the recent honor brought her “warm fuzzies” and a plaque for the wall of her store, but no monetary reward. Given that situation, she said she welcomes invitations to breakfast and lunch!
Bill Giduz was the son who followed his father’s footsteps into journalism. He has been involved his entire life with news and photography in schools he attended and jobs he’s held. He believes now that he’s got a few good years left to devote to The News of Davidson.