Howard Schultz was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1953. With little money, both parents worked long hours to support the family. To escape being “poor” young Howard turned to sports and played football, baseball, and basketball. He went to Canarsie High School, from which he graduated in 1971. He did so well in high school that he was awarded an athletic scholarship to Northern Michigan University. When he left New York to go to college, Shultz’s father was a broken man. He had never gotten ahead in any of his low-paying jobs and was rarely shown any respect by his employers. Because of his family’s financial troubles, Schultz made the most of his college days, both athletically and academically. He received a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing in 1975, proud to be the first member of his family to attend college. In 1981, Howard Schultz, vice president and general manager of U.S. operations for Hammarplast—a Swedish maker of stylish kitchen equipment and housewares—noticed that Starbucks was placing larger orders than Macy’s was for a certain type of drip coffeemaker.
Howard Schultz joins Starbucks in 1982. While on a business trip in Italy, he visits Milan’s famous espresso bars. Impressed with their popularity and culture, he sees their potential in Seattle. He’s right – after trying lattes and mochas, Seattle quickly becomes coffee-crazy.But back in Seattle, the Starbucks owners resisted Schultz’s plans to serve coffee in the stores, saying they didn’t want to get into the restaurant business. Frustrated, Schultz quit and started his own coffee-bar business, called Il Giornale. It was successful, and a year later Schultz bought Starbucks for $3.8 million. In 1998 Howard Schultz had ample reason to be proud of what Starbucks had accomplished during his past 11 years as the company’s CEO. The company had enjoyed phenomenal growth and become one of the great retailing stories of recent history by making exceptional coffee drinks and selling dark-roasted coffee beans and coffee-making equipment that would allow customers to brew an exceptional cup of coffee at home.
The Starbucks brand was regarded as one of the best known and most potent brand names in America and the company had firmly established itself as the dominant retailer, roaster, and brand of specialty coffee in North America. It already had over 1,500 stores in North America and the Pacific Rim and was opening new ones at a rate of more than one per day. Sales in fiscal year 1997 were a record $967 million and profits reached an all-time high of $57.4 million. The company’s closest competitor had fewer than 300 retail locations. And since going public in 1992, Starbucks has seen its stock price increase nearly nine fold. He is best known as the chairman and CEO of Starbucks and a former owner of the Seattle SuperSonics. Schultz co-founded Maveron, an investment group, in 1998 with Dan Levitan. In 2012, Forbes magazine ranked Schultz as the 354th richest person in the United States, with a net worth of $1.5 billion.
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