Meet Costco’s multimillionaire cofounder Jim Sinegal, a Democrat megadonor who was only paid a third of the average CEO’s salary during his time leading the wholesale retailer

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After discovering a passion for retail in college, Jim Sinegal cofounded Costco and built it into one of the largest retailers on the globe, while largely staying out of the limelight himself.

Before he retired from Costco’s top post in 2012, Sinegal defined nearly every aspect that makes the beloved warehouse retailer what it is today, from its low prices to its barebones decor. During his time at the company, he took a relatively low salary for an executive of his influence.

A representative for Sinegal at Costco did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the former CEO’s tenure at the company, net worth, political activities, or philanthropy.

Keep reading to learn more about Costco cofounder Jim Sinegal.

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James Sinegal, 84, first entered the grocery business while still in college.

Sinegal was born into a working class family in Pittsburgh. His father was a coal miner and a steelworker, The New York Times reported.

When Sinegal was 18, he took on what he thought would be a one-day job unloading mattresses at Fed-Mart, one of America’s first warehouse retailers, according to The Times.

Sinegal went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University in 1959, while still working at Fed-Mart as a bagger. He eventually rose to become the company’s executive vice president for merchandising, before leaving Fed-Mart alongside its founder Sol Price (who was ousted after selling the company to a German retailer) to launch another warehouse store called Price Club in 1976 that only sold memberships to small businesses, per The Times.

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According to Costco’s website, Sinegal served as Price Club’s executive vice-president of merchandising, distribution, and marketing and “was instrumental in fine-tuning the merchandise and marketing strategies.”

Sinegal opened the first Costco warehouse location in Seattle in 1983.

Costco’s other cofounder, Jeff Brotman, was an attorney by trade but was inspired to enter the wholesale retail space after seeing a similar store during a trip to France, Business Insider previously reported. Despite not knowing one another, Brotman cold-called Sinegal and proposed that they go into business together.

Sinegal was 46 years old at the time, per San Diego State University.

According to Sinegal, the “crowds weren’t overwhelming” when Costco first opened, but “business built up” gradually. Within a year, the company opened secondary locations in other parts of Washington state.

Costco merged with rival Price Club in 1993 to form the chain we know today, Business Insider previously reported.

During his 35-year career at Costco, Sinegal was known for being frugal and going out of his way to help his employees.

Washington Post’s Jena McGregor wrote ahead of Sinegal’s retirement in 2011 that it was “hard to imagine anyone with less pretense, more discipline or more integrity …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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