I’m sure you have all heard the news by now (I figured I should mention it anyway): there is talk of succession planning at Costco. Just over two weeks ago, on February 1, the Board of Directors for Costco announced that it was appointing Craig Jelinek as Chief Operating Officer and President. Prior to this, Jelinek was the Executive Vice President in charge of merchandising; a position he had held since 2004. Jelinek has been with Costco in a variety of management positions in warehouse operations for more than 20 years though, so he’s got plenty of Costco time under his belt. Here’s what Jim Sinegal had to say about the announcement of Jelinek’s new position:
“We are excited about Craig’s elevation to his new role. He is a highly seasoned retail executive, with over twenty-five years’ experience at our Company and over thirty-five years’ experience in the industry. We look forward to his participation in a broader range of decisions as we move the Company forward.”
For now, Jim Sinegal will continue as CEO but there are some changes there too. Sinegal, along with three others – Chairman of the Board Jeff Brotman, Senior Executive Vice President Dick DiCerchio, Craig Jelinek – will form the Office of the President. In the future, the Office of the President team will work together to deal with major company issues. And that definitely sounds like they are trying to prepare for the inevitable transition to a new CEO.
We all knew that Jim Sinegal couldn’t stick around forever as the Costco CEO, but hopefully they will handle the transition plan well enough that the new guy will be more than prepared for a seamless transition to CEO. More importantly, I’m sure we all hope that the future change in CEO will not result in changes to all the things that make Costco so great; customer service, chief amongst them.