I recently spoke with Barbara Anderson, one of the first employees and a leader at the The Container Store for over thirty years. This company has been a favorite for a long time, partly because they invest 263 hours for each full-time employee's education. This was my first conversation with a founding exec, and I thought I’d write it up.
Check out the wikipedia overview if you don’t know them. The Container Store, which invented a retail category, opened in 1978 and has grown steadily at 22.4%+ annual compounded growth rate to 63 stores today. Barbara told one story that underscored their success. After selling to retail-focused PE Leonard Green in 2007, The Container Store was the only portfolio company to stay in the black and not downsize during the Great Recession. They are a great proof point in the power of investing in people as a competitive advantage.
The conversation underscored a few business design principles I believe in: