Every December since 1990 Chain Store Age has celebrated the success of American enterprise by featuring the retail winners of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) competition. This annual exercise spotlights men and women from public and private companies who have invested in their respective visions to create legacies of success. This year is no different. From Tom Campion, founder and chairman of Zumiez, who relishes the risks of entrepreneurship, to the quirky style of Tom Dickson, an inventor who stars in outrageously campy videos for Blendtec, this year’s crop of award recipients continues the tradition of eclecticism that has been the hallmark of the EOY program.
One of the most successful entrepreneurs of the last two decades is Tom Stemberg, founder of Staples. He is credited with creating the office-supply superstore concept when he launched Staples in 1986. Today, the company is global, with more than 1,960 stores, served by more than 74,000 employees. Sales will exceed $18 billion this year.
Like many entrepreneurs, Stemberg has not been content to restrict his talents and interests to just one endeavor. He was a venture investor in PetSmart and has served as a director since the opening of its second store. PetSmart is now a $4 billion enterprise. Stemberg also founded ZOOTS, one of the country’s leading dry-cleaning companies, as well as Olly Shoes, a leading children’s shoe retailer.
Today, Stemberg is a managing general partner of the Highland Consumer Fund. He focuses on retail and consumer-services companies, and sits on the boards of Blue Tulip, CarMax, Guitar Center, lululemon athletica, Pharmaca and The NASDAQ Stock Market.
Stemberg will be a featured speaker at the second annual Main & Wall conference, Feb. 11-13 at the Mayfair Hotel & Spa, Coconut Grove, Fla. Main & Wall is jointly produced by Chain Store Age and David N. Deutsch & Co.
A boutique conference for C-level executives of growth-minded middle-market companies, Main & Wall fosters one-on-one interaction among attendees on such timely topics as mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, real estate and human capital strategies. Attendees also will hear from Randy Lewis, senior VP, distribution and logistics, Walgreens. Lewis will address the issue of social responsibility and superior results. He will chronicle how hiring disabled workers at its distribution centers boosted Walgreens’ performance and productivity.
In many ways, the entrepreneurs profiled in this issue lived through many of the seminars planned for Main & Wall 2008. For example, one session at Main & Wall will cover management succession and exit strategies. Brothers David and Stephen Sorbaro took over Mavis Discount Tire of Mount Kisco, N.Y., from their father, while James Gipson, chairman and CEO of Houchens Industries, became the first non-family member to lead the Kentucky-based supermarket retailer.
The “Managing for Growth” session at Main & Wall will analyze tactics, such as acquisitions, that a company may employ during an economic slowdown. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com has used acquisitions, customer service and expansion into narrow segments, such as Running.Zappos.com, as drivers to push the $800 million company to surpass the billion-dollar level.
Main & Wall will be an educational forum growth-oriented companies cannot afford to miss. For more information, visit