Seattle: Costco

Today, my fellow Ramblers and I took our adventure to the Costco Wholesale Headquarters. Costco, which is an American multinational corporation that operates a chain of membership-only sales warehouses, has an ethical mission similar to that of the Jesuits with an immense ethical basis, focusing on being good people and staying true to their values. Their mission consists of five key parts: Obey the law, take care of their members, take care of their employees, respect their suppliers, and to reward their shareholders. They have about 746 warehouses internationally and are gaining approximately twenty to twenty-five warehouses per year. They focus on recognizing efficiencies that other stores may lack, their best efficiency being their employees and how they do their job. What differentiates them from other companies is that they commit to giving members the lowest possible price, while still ensuring good quality and ethical production.

Joe, Dennis, and Mark, the Costco employees who graciously hosted us on our trip today, started off the day with giving us a presentation involving Costco’s mission and their methods of implementing said mission. They then took us to one of their warehouse locations to show us their plan in action, and the implementation truly was just as efficient as they had worked it out to be. Following a quick lunch break, we met with two Costco employees in the big data department, Shrikant and Melody, who educated us on Costco’s data science and data engineering departments, and exactly how they sort through such massive amounts of data and return better service, products, and suggestions to their members. After learning from them, we met with Wayne and Venkat who taught us about Costco’s supply chain management team. Costco warehouses, on average, receive two to three full truck loads per day; Wayne and Venkat taught us how they’re able to manage such massive amounts of product in a quick, efficient way while maintaining their quality and ethical standards. We then met with Sheri who showed us Costco’s commitment to sustainability through their own sustainability responsibilities, which are to: take care of employees, support communities where employees live and work, operate efficiently and in an environmentally responsible way, and strategically source their merchandise in a sustainable manner. After Sheri, we met with our final speaker at Costco, Robert. Robert talked to us about the marketing portion of Costco’s business, and the methods by which they are able to stay relevant and compete with big businesses while spending so little on brand marketing and advertising or public relations. Overall, it was a very rich day in regard to educational value, and my fellow Ramblers and I are very grateful for the hospitality and eagerness all the Costco employees showed us during our time there.

After our long day at Costco, we went to eat our dinner at a restaurant called Farestart. Farestart is a non-profit organization that focuses on training previously homeless in the culinary arts through a sixteen to eighteen-week program. Approximately 60% of those who join the program graduate, and of those who graduate, about 94% are employed within the first ninety days. For our dinner, we had a beat salad, an ox tail entrée, and pineapple upside down cake for dessert. The food was spectacular, and after our meal, one of the volunteers at Farestart, Timothy, offered to take us on a tour of the space and talk more about their mission. The experience was both humbling and inspiring, showing just how somebody is able to “go forth and set the world on fire.


Justin Barry (BBA '21)