“Fill the other guy’s basket to the brim, then making money becomes an easy proposition.”
Kip Tindell began shaping his philosophy toward business as a student at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas. And it was while he was in high school that he would begin shaping a flair for retailing that would later turn an industry on its ear with the opening of The Container Store’s first location in Dallas in 1978. With Tindell at its helm for 34 years, Dallas-based The Container Store, the original storage and organization store, has 58 stores across the country. Stores average 25,000 square feet and are merchandised with more than 10,000 products designed to save space and time. Privately held, the retailer has posted a compounded annual growth rate of 24% since its inception. With 2012 fiscal year sales projected to reach $750 million, the originators of the storage and organization category of retailing remain the leaders in an industry that thrives. Retail analysts cite the company’s devotion to its employees and focus on its original concept and inventory mix as the formula for its success. But for Tindell, the goal never has been growth for growth’s sake. Rather, it is to adhere to the company’s values-based Foundation Principles™, which center around an employee-first culture, superior customer service and strict merchandising.
Tindell created the company’s Foundation Principles™ in 1988 following the opening of the company’s Houston store. With higher than expected sales and an overwhelmed staff, he referred back to his “philosophy epistle file” started years prior, from which he pulled various anecdotes, musings and philosophical phrases that he felt would clearly communicate the company’s culture so that all employees would act and make decisions using the same set of values and knowledge. These sentiments and philosophies would become the company’s seven Foundation Principles™ that to this day guide decisions for The Container Store’s entire interdependent set of stakeholders, starting with employees and also including customers, vendors, the community and shareholders.
With his focus on employees first, Tindell has nurtured a fierce loyalty to the company, which has an incredible number of employees who might never have dreamed of a career in retail. In fact, that employee-first culture has landed The Container Store on FORTUNE magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” 14 years in a row. In 2007, Tindell lead the process to sell a majority stake of The Container Store while ensuring management retained full control, the company’s financial health and future were protected and more than 200 employees received stock. The process and transaction that resulted with Los Angeles-based firm Leonard Green & Partners was heralded by the industry as groundbreaking. Since its inception, The Container Store has remained a company full of heart and soul with what Tindell likes to call a “yummy” culture – a culture he remains even more steadfast in protecting in the face of recent unprecedented economic conditions. He continues to lead The Container Store in striving for excellence, to be special, to be different and more than just another retail store.
Tindell enjoys spending time with Sharon at their ranch in Colorado, traveling, fly fishing and golf. He is actively involved in the community as a member of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming children’s futures by serving at-risk families in the Greater Dallas area, and is a member of the Dallas Arboretum CEO Advisory Council. He was presented with Ernst & Young’s prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1991 and is a recipient of the National Retail Federation’s 1998 Innovator of the Year Award. In 2006, along with wife Sharon Tindell (Chief Merchandising Officer) and Garrett Boone (Chairman Emeritus), Tindell was inducted into the Retailing Hall of Fame and he is a 2009 Junior Achievement of Dallas Business Hall of Fame inductee.
Tindell received the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Gold Medal Award, the most coveted award in retail, given to individuals who have served the industry with distinction and achieved a national reputation for excellence. The recipients have also displayed inspirational leadership and have won the respect of fellow merchants for devotion to the retail craft. Tindell serves on the board of Whole Foods Market (WFMI) and as the First Vice Chairman of the Board, Chairman of the Finance Committee and Treasurer of the National Retail Federation. He is a leader and passionately involved in Conscious Capitalism, Inc., a community of like-minded business, thought and academic leaders working to elevate humanity through a conscious approach to business.