Costco Co-Founder Jeff Brotman Dies

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Costco Co-Founder Jeff Brotman Dies

By Randy Hofbauer, EnsembleIQ - 08/02/2017

Jeff Brotman, co-founder and chairman of Issaquah, Wash.-based club store chain Costco Wholesale Corp., died in the early morning on Aug. 1.  He was 74.

Brotman passed away in his sleep at his home in Medina, Wash. While no cause of death was reported, his brother, Michael, told The Seattle Times that he assumes Jeff’s “heart just stopped working.”

Along with Jim Sinegal, Brotman opened the first Costco warehouse club in Seattle in 1983, Costco said. Ten years later, the company merged with Price Club, a San Diego-based competitor, with the combined company generating $16 billion in annual sales at 206 clubs.

The chain grew dramatically in the years to come. In fiscal 2016, Costco reported $116 billion in sales. It currently operates 736 warehouses worldwide, including 511 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 97 in Canada, 37 in Mexico, 28 in the United Kingdom, and 63 more in Australia and various countries in Asia and Europe.

In addition to founding and growing Costco, Brotman supported other businesses. Perhaps the most noteworthy investment he made was an early one in Seattle-based Starbucks, supporting former CEO and current Executive Chairman Howard Schultz, who called Brotman “one of the earliest believers” in him and his business, the Times said.

Brotman, along with his wife, Susan, was also known for his philanthropy; the newspaper noted his contributions to educational, medical and cultural organizations.

Brotman is survived by his wife; brother, Justin; daughter, Amanda Brotman-Schetritt; and two grandchildren.