The Truth About Costco Founder Jim Sinegal's Mentor

Costco is a giant name in the retail industry that has garnered a huge fan following across the U.S. in the past several decades. As noted on the official website, there are more than 100 million members that are a part of the company and support its mission. The brand's co-founder and former CEO, Jim Sinegal, is a perceptive man who knew exactly what he was getting into when he helped launch the first stores up until his retirement in 2011, according to Georgetown University. As he told students at GU's School of Business, "Selling merchandise at low prices is something that anybody can do. The secret is to do that and make a profit."

The entrepreneur also told the Motley Fool in an interview that Costco's approach has always been rather deliberate. For example, the company doesn't bite off more than it can chew and stays loyal to its team members. Sinegal said, "All of the people that are running the Costcos today are people who have been with us 10 and 12 and 15 years prior to becoming a warehouse manager."

But the journey hasn't been a bed of roses. It took time, patience, and a lot of hard work to make Costco the successful enterprise that it is today. And the successful entrepreneur didn't do it alone.

The man who inspired the idea for Costco was named Sol Price

According to a piece by Good Housekeeping, Jim Sinegal was motivated by the late entrepreneur Sol Price — literally Mr. Price (we can't make this up) — who started the original prototype for a goods warehouse called Price Club in 1976. Sinegal trained under Price and learned as much as he could from his mentor before opening Costco in 1983 in Seattle. As per the Seattle Times, Sinegal once said that it's crucial for aspiring business leaders to find great mentors who can offer them solid advice and guide them. Clearly he is speaking from experience.

Undoubtedly, Sol Price definitely had a great impact on Sinegal who was inspired enough to merge Price Club and Costco in 1993 to become the conglomerate we know and love today. Here's an interesting anecdote: When Sinegal first met Price, he was 18 and holding down a job at a FedMart outlet in California (via the Los Angeles Times.) Price was the one who had started the FedMart chain originally but decided to leave the company after a dispute and went on to invent the warehouse club concept. Price Club did very well in its time and had 94 outlets by 1992.

One thing is clear — being mentored by Price changed everything for Jim Sinegal who called him "the smartest man" he'd ever come across.