Judy Herrell.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

NORTHAMPTON — Judy Herrell, the president and CEO of the legendary Herrell’s Ice Cream, was once again named Northampton’s Businessperson of the Year.

The election of Herrell comes after Alignable, the online networking platform for business owners, invited its almost nine million members to shout out local business leaders who have gone above and beyond guiding peers and supporting entire communities amid challenging economic conditions.

“In our local business community, we look out for each other to help make everyone in town as successful as possible,” said Herrell in a statement. “And the challenges we’re all encountering compels many of us to offer counsel to peers fighting to keep their businesses afloat. While I’m thrilled to receive this award, it’s really a testament to our entire Northampton business community.”

Herrell’s Ice Cream was founded by Steve Herrell in 1980, seven years after he founded Steve’s Ice Cream in Somerville. Steve Herrell is famous for creating the concept of super premium ice cream mix-ins, which revolutionized the ice cream industry and influenced the inception of Ben & Jerry’s.

Judy Herrell worked as a business partner with Steve Herrell in Herrell’s Ice Cream for a majority of the shop’s history, where they collaborated on different ice cream flavors and ran business operations. In 2014, Judy Herrell officially took over as the president and CEO of the shop once Steve Herrell retired.

Since its inception, Herrell’s has created hundreds of different flavors for patrons to enjoy. Judy Herrell told Reminder Publishing that she stopped counting once they got past 400 flavors.

When asked what keeps her inspired to make new flavors of ice cream, Judy Herrell named customers, employees and her experiences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she mentors food science students and judges an annual ice cream competition that students compete in.

In those particular competitions, students will learn how to make ice cream through a scientific lens, which is important to Judy Herrell because she grew up in a family of scientists and always looked at ice cream through that perspective.
Whatever the reason for finding a flavor, Judy Herrell makes sure to always maintain a level of enjoyment in what she does.

“Customers make suggestions that are good often, and my ice cream making staff and regular staff make suggestions that are wonderful,” Judy Herrell said. “It’s always fun. If it isn’t fun, why do it?”

Like many businesses, Herrell’s deals with the everyday struggles like supply chain challenges, inflation and the lingering after-effects of COVID-19. But through it all, Herrell’s longevity is a direct result of innovation and being a congenial member of the community.

“Communication is key,” Judy Herrell said. “We’ve had the same suppliers for 40 years. We’re good to them and they’re good to us.”

Judy Herrell also added that she maintains relationships with a lot of nearby business owners in the ice cream industry and always makes time to support new businesses that enter the fold in Northampton by visiting them and getting to know what they offer.

Aside from her experiences with the UMass competition, Judy Herrell also has a week-long curriculum that is typically taught to middle schoolers called the “Science of Ice Cream,” where students will learn all the different scientific factors that go into ice cream making.

A New Jersey native who has been in the Pioneer Valley since 1981, Judy Herrell said she has greatly enjoyed being a part of the Northampton community for all of these years.

“I love doing what I’m doing,” she said.

rfeyre@thereminder.com | + posts