Richard Schulze – Founder of BEST BUY

Richard Schulze has devoted more than half of his life to the consumer electronics industry, awl he was the recipient of the 1999 National Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. His wide – ranging career encompasses technical experience, retail awl distributor sales, and management of the America’s leading retail chain, But Buy. It is currently the largest volume retailer of consumer electronics, personal computers, home office products, entertainment software and appliances.

Richard Schulze

With annual revenues of more than $10 billion, the company is ranked 195 on ill, Fortune 500 and was added to the Global 500 at number 441.

In fact, the visionary entrepreneur was not able to attend college. In 2000, Ii’ presented the University of St.Thomas with a gift of $50 million – the largest gift iii the school’s 115 – year history and largest donation ever reported by a Minnesota College or University. Schulze has a special liking for this university; because this is the university he wanted to go but could not!

Schulze, grew up in the St. Thomas neighborhood and attended Nativity of Our Lord School, about a mile from the campus. He had intended to enroll at St. Thomas after schooling, but service in the Minnesota Air National Guard and work for his father’s electronics distribution company derailed his plans. Schulze, an entrepreneur, used all his assets to follow his dream and opened a small audio – components store, Sound of Music, in 1966. It expanded and evolved into what we know as Best Buy that today employs more than 60,000 nationwide through 354 stores in 37 states. Meanwhile, St. Thomas University awarded him an honorary doctor of laws degree in December 1998. It is Minnesota’s largest private university, and enrolls some 10,000 students.gates_large

The company is spending an estimated $80 million a year on what it is calling “customer centricity,” a massive effort to identify and serve its most profitable shoppers by rebuilding stores, adding staff and upgrading wares. Best Buy has little choice. It also has some experience in navigating through the most treacherous storms.

lo 1966, Schulze opened the Sound of Music, an audio specialty store in St Paul, Minnesota. The company grew over the following years, expanding to nine locations by 1980. In 1981, Schulze’s most successful store was destroyed by a tornado. The tornado ripped through its largest store, in St. Paul, resulting in a $200,000 loss for the year and a near – brush with bankruptcy. “We’d forgotten to buy business – interruption insurance,” says Schulze. The water – damaged goods were sold at a “best buy” sale. Not only ‘BEST BUY’ became the company’s permanent name, similar ‘Tornado Sales’ became an annual Sound of Music event. Best Buy’s first superstore opened in 1984, a carbon copy of Circuit City Stores, which was then nearly 40 times its size. A year later Best Buy went public and began a climb that sent it past its chief rival in 1995; it has enjoyed the lead ever since.

Then came the next calamity – a 1989 price war with Highland Superstores, which hurt Best Buy’s bottom line and shoved Highland into bankruptcy. Emerging from this victorious, Best Buy remodeled its stories: open ceilings, concrete floors, fluorescent tube lighting. Staff on commission gave way to hourly employees who did their best to make themselves invisible to shoppers simply wanting cheap electronics. Best Buy grew rapidly from sales of $240 million in 1987 to $7.2 billion in 1996.Who knew the digital revolution could be such a rush? Best Buy did – and it’s selling more pricey gadgets and hook up services than anybody.

It operates retail stores and commercial Web sites under the various brand names, such as Best Buy, Future Shop, Magnolia Audio Video, and Geek Squad, as well as an outlet store on e-Bay. As of July 15, 2004, the company had 619 United States Best Buy stores, 22 Magnolia Audio Video stores in the United States, 109 Future Shop stores and 19 Canadian Best Buy stores internationally. The company is based in Richfield, Minnesota.

Richard Schulze – Founder of BEST BUY
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