Chip Bergh, Levi Strauss CEO: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Getty Chip Bergh

Chip Bergh is the president and chief executive officer of Levi Strauss. He has been with the company since 2011. On Tuesday, Bergh penned an op-ed for Fortune Magazine in which he vowed that Levi Strauss would partner with gun control advocates and work to end gun violence in America. You can read the Fortune essay here.

Here’s what you need to know about Chip Bergh:

1. Bergh Says Levi Will Donate More than One Million Dollars to Gun Safety Efforts and Will Partner With Bloomberg to Push for an End to Gun Violence

Bergh wrote in Fortune that Levi has established a fund called “Safer Tomorrow,” which, he says, will provide more than a million dollars to nonprofits and youth activists who are working to end gun violence. The million dollars will be distributed over the course of four years. He said Levi is also offering an employee donation match for Levi employees who donate to Safer Tomorrows.

Bergh also said that Levi will be “partnering” with Everytown for Gun Safety, a group of business leaders with a focus on gun safety. Former New York mayor and businessman Michael Bloomberg is connected to the group.

Bergh is a bit hazy about what, exactly, the partnership with Everytown will mean for Levi. He says, vaguely, “I encourage every CEO and business leader reading this to consider the impact we could make if we stood together alongside the broad coalition of concerned parents, youth, elders, veterans, and community and faith leaders who are committed to shaping a safer path forward.”

2. In 2016, Bergh Started Receiving Death Threats After Asking People Not to Bring Guns Into Levi Stores

Back in 2016, there was a near-tragedy in a Levi store: a customer shot and injured himself while he was trying on a pair of jeans. The injury wasn’t serious. But, Bergh says, it was a wake-up call: the bullet could have struck and killed the customer, an employee, or another customer in the store.

So Bergh wrote an open letter to all of his customers, asking them not to bring guns into his stores. You can read the full letter here.

Bergh wrote that he didn’t want to take a stance on the larger gun control debate, but that he was concerned about safety. He said, “while we understand the heartfelt and strongly-held opinions on both sides of the gun debate, it is with the safety and security of our employees and customers in mind that we respectfully ask people not to bring firearms into our stores, offices or facilities, even in states where it’s permitted by law. Of course, authorized members of law enforcement are an exception.”

Bergh says that after he published the letter, he received threats “to our stores, our business, and even on my life.” But there’s no record of any actual attack on a Levi store or employee since Bergh wrote that letter.

3. He Is a Former Officer in the US Army

Bergh graduated from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1979. He did ROTC and trained as a paratrooper, jumping out of five planes to earn his “jump wings.” He told Bloomberg News, “I loved ROTC. I got deeply involved: I was the commander of my unit and went to jump school, where I was trained as a paratrooper. I jumped out of airplanes—only five times—to get my jump wings.”

Bergh went on to join the US Army, where he served as second lieutenant, first lieutenant, and captain. He spent four years in the military.

Bergh grew up in Cross River, New York, graduating from John Jay High School in 1975. He is the oldest of three brothers.

4. He Takes Some Credit for the Invention of the Swiffer


Before joining Levi Strauss, Bergh spent 28 years working for Proctor and Gamble. He started working for the company after leaving the army, in 1983 — his first job for Proctor and Gamble was as an associate advertising manager. From there, Bergh worked his way up through the company, holding a number of positions including vice president for beverages and group president for global grooming.

Bergh was the general manager for hard-surface cleaners at Proctor and Gamble from 1995 to 1997 and — he bragged to Bloomberg — the company developed the famous Swiffer under his watch. He said, “Swiffer was developed under my watch. I remember saying, ‘We’ll know we’ve made it when somebody names a dog after this brand.’ And four months after the launch, somebody sent me a picture of their dog named Swiffer.”

In 2011, Bergh left Proctor and Gamble and went to work for Levi Strauss as their president and CEO.

5. Bergh’s Nine Year Old Daughter Speaks Fluent Mandarin

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Bergh gave an interview to Smart Business Online in which he set out his beliefs about time management, work-life balance, and leadership style. He likened leading a company to being a good parent, saying, “It’s knowing when to be tough and when to draw the line,” Bergh says. “Knowing how to make tough choices, whether it’s business choices or people choices, but at the same time, serving.”

Bergh said that he had a Chinese wife and a daughter (she was six at the time of the interview) who speaks fluent Mandarin as well as English. He said making time for his family was a priority for him and that, when he’s home, he does his best to “switch off” from work mode.

Bergh says he encourages his employees to exercise and live healthy lifestyles; he offers a subsidy for gym memberships and says he tries to “model” good behavior by going to the gym every day on his lunch break.