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Grounds For Success

Coffee talk with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

This story appears in the May 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Everyone knows Starbucks, the ubiquitous retail chain that sells coffee beverages, beans and accessories, but few know Howard Schultz, the self-effacing chairman, CEO and mastermind behind Starbucks' astonishing growth.

A child of Brooklyn's Bayview Projects, Schultz earned a bachelor's degree in communications, worked as a salesman for Xerox, and eventually became vice president of U.S. operations for a Swedish housewares manufacturer. It was there that he noticed a four-store retailer in Seattle was ordering a large number of his company's drip coffee makers. He decided to find out why, and he scheduled a sales trip to Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spice in 1981. Schultz was so impressed with the then-10-year-old company's dedication to providing customers with quality imported coffee beans, he signed on as director of Starbucks' retail operations and marketing the following year.

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