Business Club invites Costco Executive VP to Pierce

Commitment and dedication are keys of success from Jim Murphy, executive vice president of Costco’s International Division

James McCraw, Office Manager/Reporter

Pierce College Business Club continued their tradition of bringing distinguished guest speakers to the college with Jim Murphy, a Tacoma native, and Pierce College distinguished Alumni Award winner. Murphy is a Costco executive, who has over 40 years of retail experience. He talked to students and community members about the importance of dependability and hard work.

 Aladia Gan, Business Club president, said, “by bringing in successful community members to talk about their experiences, we open the door for students to make connections and see real life examples at work.”

Murphy talked about his humble beginnings working as a cart pusher and customer clerk at a grocery store while going through school. He worked his way up the corporate ladder for 15 years, until 1983, when his old friend, who would become the president of Costco, asked Murphy to join the growing business. In 1983, the company opened their first store, which happened to be located in Seattle. Costco would go on to open 729 warehouses worldwide, with 509 locations in the U.S. alone.

Costco currently has 3,800 items in their inventory. As part of their merchandise strategy, Murphy said, the company constantly keeps the number around that level year-round, switching out seasonal items to keep the products relevant. This strategy keeps the members prepared, and always with a knowledge of what they can expect from the warehouse.

Taking care of employees and customers is something that has kept Costco going throughout the years. Forbes magazine recently named Costco as the best large employer in the nation, and the employee turnover rate for employees who have worked for the company over a year is at a low 6 percent.

One of Costco’s biggest draws is the food court and the $1.50 hot dogs. Murphy told the audience about Gene and his hot dog stand in Portland. In the late 80s, when Murphy was one of the managers at the Portland location, Gene’s hot dog cart outside the location was making serious money. Murphy brought up the idea of a food court inside the store to administrators and today, Costco built a $35 million plant to distribute hot dogs directly to the warehouses.

“Most successful business people, that I have talked to, have a ‘success toolbox’ or ‘words of wisdom’ that they are happy to share with college students,”  Gan said. “They are also happy to help students reach their next steps, whatever they may be.  It is their way of giving back.”

Murphy, echoing Gan’s idea, told the audience that in order to be successful, they need to honor commitments. Costco has spent years building long-term relationships with suppliers. When a company respects their suppliers, they get to pass on the profits to employees and shareholders. On a personal level, Murphy believes a combination of mantras. He believes that if you want good things in life, you have to work for them. Give everything your all. He also believes that hard work, dedication, and attitude will get you far.

The Business Club’s next event, which is being held on June 2, is a tour of a local cafe, the Dolce Si Bakery and cafe on Point Ruston near the Tacoma Waterfront. That experience will include a tour of the bakery, as well as a talk with the owner, and a sampling of the bakery’s cuisine. Gan said that students will tour the facility with the business owner and will learn about how the business was started and what it takes to run it on a day to day basis. Gan is looking forward to the trip, saying that “We will then eat their yummy food, savory and bakery items! We will also be exposed to a bit of culture as the owner’s wife is from Sicily and all of their food items are authentic Sicilian recipes.”

Photo of Business Club President Aladia Gan and Costco Executive Vice President Jim  Murphy provided by the Pierce College Business Club

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James McCraw

Business Club invites Costco Executive VP to Pierce

by James McCraw time to read: 3 min