Yesterday a CEO who I have been quoting for years handed over his Pike Place key to a successor. So today I am filling you in on a man I very much admire as an entrepreneur- with nothing but gratitude for the happiness his coffee empire has brought me. Let’s get to it…
Howard Shultz first started with Starbucks in 1982 as the head of retail and marketing operations. He had gone to Seattle to investigate this tiny coffee company who was buying an obscene amount of espresso machines. It was there that he met Gerald Baldwin and Gordon Bowker, the owners of the company, who asked him to join their new venture. I should mention that at the time Starbucks only sold products such as coffee beans, teas, and accessories- it wasn’t actually brewing coffee for customers unless they requested it.
One year later Shultz was in Italy and had an epiphany. He realized, while in Milan, just how important a coffee bar was to the neighborhood and the people within it. So when he got back to Seattle his goal was to go beyond the product and create a sense of community within the shops. However, the owners didn’t want to change direction and therefore Shultz left the company.
In 1986, Shultz opened his own espresso bar, which did very well. A year after that fate stepped in... Baldwin and Bowker were in the market to sell Starbucks. So once Shultz found an investor, he purchased their company and launched his dream. That dream included a new, welcoming environment filled with our favorite beverages- iced coffee, cappuccino, and café lattes. He also ensured that the baristas (that we all know and love) had the tools they needed to be successful- which included good benefits, product knowledge, and an extensive training program.
So now that you know how it all started, where are they today? The company’s annual revenue in 2016 was $21B, operating over 25,000 stores in 75 countries. And while we all know that every year hasn’t been easy, what matters to me is that Shultz never left. This has been his baby for the past 30 years. One that has impacted people all over the world- from his team and the stores to customers like you and me.
I could go on and on about why I love Starbucks, but I will try to keep it short and sweet. The bottom line is that it's been a constant in my life for over 16 years and for some reason that $3.19 venti iced coffee brings me nothing but joy. I can remember each location I was regular in- and that goes from New York and Ohio to Georgia and now Texas. Some retailer's just become a part of you, and the merchant in me couldn't be more grateful to this one.
So to Howard Shultz I say thank you. Thank you for creating this retail gem, that no matter where it goes from here, has brought pure happiness to so many people. From one dreamer to another, I wish you nothing but the best.