Jim Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco Wholesale Corporation, led the company from 1983-2011, embedding a humanitarian business approach learned from his mentor, Sol Price.
Born in 1936 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sinegal graduated from San Diego State University in 1959.
Beginning his career as a grocery bagger at FedMart in 1955, he climbed the corporate ladder, reaching executive positions at several companies before co-founding Costco with Jeff Brotman.
Sinegal’s influence transformed Costco, pioneering the inclusion of fresh food, pharmacies and gas stations.
Under his leadership, Costco emphasized employee welfare, offering better compensation and benefits compared to industry standards.
After navigating corporate challenges, including a partial merger, Sinegal retired as CEO in 2012.
In personal life, he’s a Democrat, hosted President Barack Obama and his son David runs a winery in California.
I have selected the top quotes by James Sinegal.
Best James Sinegal Quotes
1. “Paying your employees well is not only the right thing to do but it makes for good business.” ~ (James Sinegal).
2. “When employees are happy, they are your very best ambassadors.” ~ (James Sinegal).
3. “Paying good wages is not in opposition to good productivity.” ~ (James Sinegal).
4. “You destroy the initiative of the working people if they don’t feel they have a fighting chance to be a part of the American Dream.” ~ (James Sinegal).
5. “You take an educated gamble. If you don’t occasionally make a mistake, you’re not doing your job.” ~ (James Sinegal).
6. “Our attitude is that if you hire good people and pay them a fair wage, then good things will happen for the company.” ~ (James Sinegal).
Popular James Sinegal Quotes
7. “I think that most of the people running companies today are motivated and pay is a small portion of the motivation.” ~ (James Sinegal).
8. “Technology helps us become more efficient and productive but our business still has a lot of art as opposed to strictly science.” ~ (James Sinegal).
9. “When you hire good people, and you provide good jobs and good wages and a career, good things are going to happen.” ~ (James Sinegal).
10. “You could raise the price of, say, a bottle of ketchup to $1.03 instead of $1, and no one would know. Raising prices just 3% per product would add 50% to your pretax income. Why not do it? It’s like heroin: You do a little and you want a little bit more. Raising prices is the easy way.” ~ (James Sinegal).
11. “We’ve always been in favor of improved wages for workers. When you have a strong middle class, they want to buy more stuff at Costco.” ~ (James Sinegal).
12. “It doesn’t do much good to have a quality image, whether it’s with the facility or whether it’s with the merchandise, if you don’t have real quality people taking care of your customers.” ~ (James Sinegal).
13. “It doesn’t do Costco any good if nobody can afford to buy anything.” ~ (James Sinegal).
14. “You just can’t get too focused on worrying about what’s going to happen in the next quarter. You have to worry about where the business is headed long-term.” ~ (James Sinegal).
Top James Sinegal Quotes
15. “There was a proposal in California that would keep out Wal-Mart but allow Costco. You opposed it. Are you nuts? That’s true: I always oppose these kinds of things. Competition makes us better. Some of our best stores have a Sam’s Club next door.” ~ (James Sinegal).
16. “I think the biggest single thing that causes difficulty in the business world is the short-term view. We become obsessed with it. But it forces bad decisions.” ~ (James Sinegal).
17. “If you’re going to say to all the people that you’re working with, ‘We want you to treat the customers honestly; don’t lie and don’t cheat,’ it is somewhat hypocritical if you’re not following the same rules.” ~ (James Sinegal).
18. “I say at our management conferences that the amount Wal-Mart grows in just one year is the equivalent of Costco’s size.” ~ (James Sinegal).
19. “Obscene salaries send the wrong message through a company. The message is that all brilliance emanates from the top; that the worker on the floor of the store or the factory is insignificant.” ~ (James Sinegal).
20. “You have to worry about where the business is headed long-term.” ~ (James Sinegal).
21. “If you’ve got to work for the rest of your life, you’d better do something you’ll enjoy.” ~ (James Sinegal).
Famous James Sinegal Quotes
22. “In the final analysis, you get what you pay for.” ~ (James Sinegal).
23. “If we take care of the business and keep our eye on the goal line, the stock price will take care of itself.” ~ (James Sinegal).
24. “Obscene salaries send the wrong message through a company.” ~ (James Sinegal).
25. “You don’t have a very motivated working class, it starts to affect the dynamics of the economy. If workers are disenchanted and disenfranchised, productivity losses will go along with that.” ~ (James Sinegal).
26. “It’s like heroin: You do a little and you want a little bit more. Raising prices is the easy way.” ~ (James Sinegal).