The 2016 Executive Excellence Awards: Richard Galanti
EVP & CFO, Costco Wholesale Corporation
January 28, 2016
Costcos top financial executive was practically raised in the supermarket business. As the son and nephew of grocery store operators in the South, Richard Galanti recalls bagging groceries and cleaning floors from the age of 12. What it taught him, he says, was the importance of gaining the trust of your customer.
When he was a young investment banker helping the nascent Costco raise its Series A round of funding, founders Jim Sinegal and Jeff Brotman asked him to join their team. It seemed a natural fit, though Galanti admits, I never thought it would be any more than a successful regional chain.
More than 30 years later, Galanti has helped build Costco into the largest membership warehouse club in the country, with 81.3 million cardholders driving $112 billion in annual sales.
One might expect Galanti to resist Costcos above-market wages and benefits and below-market pricing, including its ever-popular rotisserie chickens at a constant $4.99. But Galanti embraces these choices, preferring to invest for the long term. If the company can buy better at lower cost, Galanti reasons, giving most of it back to the customer keeps competitors from catching up. Thats how we keep increasing the competitive moat around ourselves, he says, gaining the loyalty and trust of our customers and members.