Costco cofounder at Democratic convention: ‘Costco’s story is the American story’
September 6, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 10 a.m. Sept. 6, 2012
Costco cofounder and former CEO Jim Sinegal offered a forceful defense of President Barack Obama’s economic policies Wednesday in a speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Sinegal said Obama is more likely to create a hospitable climate for job creation than Republican rival Mitt Romney. The former leader of Issaquah-based Costco also countered GOP criticism of Obama’s “you didn’t build that” line.
“We built our company in a place where anyone can make it with hard work, a little luck and a little help from their neighbors and their country,” Sinegal said to delegates and attendees at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. “I’m here tonight because Costco’s story is the American story.”
Sinegal’s speech came as Democrats sought to burnish business credentials. Costco, founded in 1983 by Sinegal and cofounder Jeffrey Brotman, operates 608 warehouses around the globe.
Sinegal said the company created more than 116,000 jobs in the United States and expects to add 7,000 more in the year ahead. Costco is the largest employer in Issaquah.
“We’re proud that Costco pays the highest wages among our peers, that we provide benefit and health care plans that are second to none, that we’ve grown our business by promoting from within,” he said. “So we’re not just giving Costco people jobs, we’re empowering them to build careers and support middle-class families.”
The company cofounder also used the speech to look back at Costco’s roots.
“Three decades ago, a friend and I had a big idea for a small business: a wholesale store that would provide our members with great products at low prices while treating our employees fairly,” Sinegal said. “Today, our small company has been blessed with success—in bulk. Costco is the fifth-largest retailer in the U.S., the seventh-largest in the world.”
Sinegal acknowledged the widespread support for Romney among the business community, but said Obama’s plan to invest in education, infrastructure and research makes better sense for business.
“Business needs a president who has covered businesses’ backs,” Sinegal said. “A president who understands what the private sector needs to succeed. A president who takes the long view and makes the tough decisions.”
Sinegal endorsed Obama for re-election July 23. Obama attended a campaign fundraiser the next day at Sinegal’s Hunts Point home.