What You Didn't Know About Costco Co-Founder Jim Sinegal

Retail giant Costco's co-founder Jim Sinegal is a successful businessman who keeps a low profile. As per Business Insider, the CEO found his passion early on in life. At just the age of 18, his first gig in the industry was with American retailer Fed-Mart, according to The New York Times.  In fact, Sinegal was still with Fed-Mart when he graduated from San Diego University in 1959. He rose up the ranks to serve as the organization's executive vice president for merchandising before setting out on his individual journey in retail.

Sinegal opened the first Costco warehouse in 1983 with his co-founder, attorney Jeffrey H. Brotman. The brand grew rapidly over the years and became recognized as a mega-retailer. Sinegal stayed with Costco for a long time, serving as its guiding light and helping it grow from strength to strength. For Sinegal, it was crucial to keep the customers' interests in mind while working on Costco's strategy. "We're very good merchants, and we offer value," he told The New York Times. "The traditional retailer will say: 'I'm selling this for $10. I wonder whether I can get $10.50 or $11.' We say: 'We're selling it for $9. How do we get it down to $8?' We understand that our members don't come and shop with us because of the fancy window displays or the Santa Claus or the piano player. They come and shop with us because we offer great values."

Jim Sinegal is humble

As explained in a 2011 piece in The Washington Post, Sinegal never let success get the better of him. He was only making about a third of the salary that was claimed by most CEOS in the country: around $350,000. In 2010, his take-home pay was $3.5 million, which was much less than many CEOs made. He was also dedicated to his employees and made sure no one got let go from the company when the recession hit, with the exception of short-term staff.

He lived simply as well, working from a tiny office and picking up all calls meant for him without asking an assistant to help him out. From the sound of things, he had no airs about him. Sinegal officially retired from his remaining duties at Costco in 2018 with a heavy heart. According to The Seattle Times, the entrepreneur was emotional but optimistic and hopeful about Costco's future. "It's time... I've served for a long period of time, and I think that the company is in very good hands," he said. The company's CEO, Walter Craig Jelinek, an American businessman, who had taken over Sinegal's position in 2012 spoke about his thoughts on Sinegal's departure. "We love him dearly," Jelinek said. "I'd like to say that I'm going to miss him, but he's not going to be far away."