Question for Kevin–If Howard (Schultz) had stayed at Xerox, would Starbucks have come to be? In other words was a company like Starbucks inevitable to some degree?
Answer – Without a doubt Starbucks would have remained regional without Howard. I had a conversation with Jerry Baldwin after the buyout and his move down to Peet’s about the ideal size of Starbucks or any other chain and he basically said “you’re too big when it’s not bicycle or bus distance between stores, when all your store managers don’t know each other, when you can’t all meet for a picnic or a company celebration in one place.” He believed in human scale and put the product, not money, on a pedestal.
That said, one or more national chains was certainly inevitable and Starbucks set the bar for product quality and progressive employee culture very, very high. Jerry Baldwin, Jim Reynolds and Gordon Bowker – along with Mr. Peet – deserve the credit for the product quality, while Howard deserves all the credit in the world for the culture and the ambition and changing American coffee at scale for the better.
TRIPIO EXCERPT “Like everyone else in the audience I sat in silence and listened intently. It was mostly all great news. The Cosmodemonic is just getting started and not taking any prisoners. HS didn’t put in those terms but that’s how I remember it. And I very clearly remember HS saying that “They are going to write books about the Cosmodemonic, people.” That stuck in my head: write & books. The reasons are obvious. The reason I don’t’ remember much of the rest is that a few minutes after the speech was over, HS called some partners to the stage for recognition. I was one of them. He called my name about halfway through the presentation (he mispronounced the last name and I politely corrected him), handed me a Cosmo Bravo Award and shook my hand. It was for the “exceptional customer service experience” demonstrated to the Midas guy who bought a half pound of everything. Recognition in front of everyone. From HS himself.”