Quick Q&A with Jim Sinegal at the Seattle Business Forum

June 25th, 2013 · 2 Comments

Jim Sinegal, Costco Founder

Jim Sinegal, Costco Founder

If you’ve been missing Jim Sinegal since he’s stepped down as CEO of Costco, here’s a little interview for you.  Recently (okay, a few weeks ago), Jim Sinegal was the keynote speaker at the Western Washington University Foundation Seattle Business Forum.  Afterwards he answered a few questions about his college days, mentoring, and of course, Costco.  There’s only eight questions but they cover a really wide range of topics and his answers are really interesting.  Here are a couple that I really wanted to highlight:

Q: You spoke about the importance of paying a living wage to your employees, has this helped the success of Costco?
A: It is very simple; it is good business. If you hire good people and provide a good job, you will have better productivity and they don’t leave.

Q: What has been the most rewarding part of founding Costco?
A: I think being a part of people development. Watching a young person go from pushing shopping carts or schlepping boxes in the store and then watching them move up the company ladder, with some becoming executives, has been the most rewarding.

I think both answers speak a great deal about the kind of person and business leader Jim Sinegal is and why he is so respected.  Not to mention, both answers are a key to Costco’s success.

To read the whole Q&A session visit The Western Front site.

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2 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 Sarah // 2013.07.06 at 2:55 am

    I live in Issaquah, and I probably at the Issaquah Costco at least two times a week. Even though Jim is retired…I probably see him in there a couple times a month scoping everything out. He is incredibly nice. He says hi to every employee he sees by name, and they all say ‘Hi Jim’ back!

    The last time I was there, for whatever reason there was some black liquid in about 30% of the banana bags. Well, he saw this. I heard him walkie a bunch people to get there ASAP. I waited around to see what would happen! (The corporate offices are right across the street.) People in suits were rushing to the produce section; Jim no doubt was pissed…he told them very firmly that this was unacceptable and that every banana in the store– even the ones in the back– clean or not was absolutely not being sold. No excuses. He said don’t even send them back (for credit), just throw them out. And that the next shipment needed to be approved by the store manager before it could be put on the floor. It was really quite powerful to watch.

    One time I heard a customer ask him a return question and he said, “I don’t care if you ate the whole thing two months ago..if you were 100% satisfied you will get 100% of your money back. No questions asked.”

    I also think one of Costco’s strengths is that everyone is treated the same. I’ve seen the store manager bringing in carts and sweeping up garbage. I frequently see men from corporate bringing up spare boxes. Truly, no one is above doing any task.

  2. 2 sandy edelstein // 2013.06.25 at 12:18 pm

    Most companies pay their employees peanuts – and the people at the top make millions of dollars in wages, bonuses and stock. So unfair. That’s why Costco is my favorite place to shop. Mr. Sinegal’s family earned a living as blue collar workers – so he understands how to run a business and treat the staff. Congratulations to Mr. Sinegal on his retirement and being a “good” human being. By the way, I’m due to go to Costco today – I’m running out of food.

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