Howard Schultz

“Dream more than others think practical. Expect more than others think possible. Care more than others think wise.” ~Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

Howard Schultz began his journey with Starbucks in 1982 as the director of marketing.  He was fascinated by the idea of great coffee and the care that went into roasting.  Appreciation for good coffee was a rare thing in the United States thirty years ago.  Schultz was inspired by a visit to Italy where shops on the street selling espresso were common. He had a vision that he could bring that passion and experience back home.  The Starbucks owners were not enthusiastic about the idea, and Schultz was forced to start his own company.  Within a year, he was able to purchase and merge with Starbucks for $3.8 million.  The company expanded wildly and espresso’s fate was sealed as part of everyday urban life.  Starbucks is now serving 15 million customers every week.

Aside from revolutionizing the way Americans think about coffee, Schultz is also a pioneer in low-wage employee benefits.  He wanted to create a company with soul, and was among the first retail companies to offer comprehensive health care and stock options, even for part time employees.  This year he went on record to say he supported Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage, although he has concerns it will keep employers from hiring.  Howard Schultz also uses his company to promote political issues that affect his workers, such as supporting same sex marriage and printing political action calls on Starbucks cups.  He also prohibits the company from making financial political contributions.

Although he might seem like a humanitarian, Schultz is also a savvy businessman, leading the company to record profits in 2012 after becoming the CEO for a second time during the recession.  The brand also continues to build with acquisitions such as Evolution Fresh and Teavanna, and even a coffee farm in Costa Rica.  Schultz says the farm will give the company the opportunity to create unique, premium coffees that are grown sustainably and provide a high end offering to customers.  Starbucks is also leading in social innovation and is currently the highest grossing retailer in mobile phone transactions.

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