The Babe Ruth of Retailing

Jim Sinegal

Costco announced today that its longtime chief executive, Jim Sinegal, will step down on Jan. 1, and we felt compelled to add our good wishes to Jim as he charts his next chapter.

Jim was a key participant in the Drucker Institute’s 2009 CEO Forum, and he then chaired the 2011 event—one that he chose to frame around the theme of “How do we do right by our people in turbulent times?”

Praise has rushed in since Costco put out the word that Chief Operating Officer Craig Jelinek will succeed Jim. “I would compare it to the torch being passed to Lou Gehrig from Babe Ruth,” Brian Sozzi, an equities analyst for Wall Street Strategies, told Bloomberg. “This is a man who pioneered how we consume goods and services on a daily basis, bringing an entirely new retail model to life.” One investor described Sinegal as “basically the retail Steve Jobs.”

To all of that we would simply add, based on our experience, that Sinegal is sharp, generous and, above all, cares deeply about others—a most Drucker-like quality indeed.