Kip Tindell and Sharon Tindell, the husband-and-wife duo that helped found The Container Store and run the company for nearly 40 years, are retiring in August 2019. Kip will step down as Chairman, with CEO Melissa Reiff taking his place. Reiff took the CEO reins from Tindell when he relinquished the position in July 2016.
Sharon will retire from her role as President and Chief Merchandising Officer; she had been President since 2016 and Chief Merchandising Officer since 2006.John Gehre, EVP of Merchandising and Planning, will succeed Sharon. Gehre joined the company in July 2018, coming from grocer H-E-B.
Kip founded The Container Store in 1978 in Dallas along with Garrett Boone and architect John Mullen, with Sharon joining the company as a merchant shortly after its foundation. Sharon is credited with being the visionary behind the retailer’s product mix — and keeping its focus on staying devoted solely to storage and organization products.
Under the Tindells’ leadership, The Container Store developed its signature employee-first culture, which has put it on numerous “best places to work” lists, recently reaching #93 on the “100 Best Companies to Work For in 2017” from Fortune.
The retailer has gone above and beyond to pay its employees more than its industry contemporaries. While some retailers offer an average salary that barely surpasses the minimum wage, Kip Tindell revealed in an interview with Business Insider in 2014 that in-store clerks and associates made an average salary of $48,000 per year.
Kip even wrote a best-selling 2014 book detailing the company culture, Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built A Business Where Everyone Thrives. The retailer also rewarded loyalty: employees who stay at The Container Store for 20 years receive two airline tickets to anywhere in the U.S., along with an additional $1,000 in spending money.
Beyond the culture, the retailer has built the company based on enterprise-wide communication. Voice-controlled wearable technology facilitates real-time interactions between employees in-store as well as between stores and the corporate office via Theatro. The addition was designed to improve employee-to-employee communication across all stores, boost efficiency and foster a “heads up” customer service experience, emphasizing eye contact between the associate and the customer.
“The Container Store is legendary for how they engage the staff,” said Kevin Graff, President of retail management consulting firm Graff Retail in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They stopped taking a look at staff as an expense, and they look at staff as an asset that they have to invest in. We’re not just talking about money, we’re talking about time, resources, training programs and better scheduling practices.”
Upon stepping down, Kip and Sharon will become Chairman Emeritus and President Emeritus, respectively.