From forklift driver to CEO, thanks to Costco’s culture of opportunity

Oct 26, 2023
Written by WR Communications


Costco, a retail giant known for nurturing talent from within, is witnessing another exemplary career journey as Ron Vachris is set to become its next CEO. With a tenure spanning over four decades at the company, Vachris’s ascent to the top is a testament to the many career opportunities that Costco offers.

Starting humbly as a forklift driver, Vachris’s dedication saw him rise through various leadership positions. He served significant stints as the executive vice president of merchandising, senior vice president of real estate development, and as the general manager of the Northwest Region. Each role reflected Costco’s faith in Vachris’s capabilities and ability to handle diverse portfolios.

Vachris will be succeeding Craig Jelinek, the current CEO, who has a 39-year journey with Costco, starting as a store manager. Jelinek’s era saw phenomenal growth, with the company’s warehouse count soaring from 617 to 861 and revenues more than doubling from $99 billion in 2012 to a staggering $242.3 billion in the recent fiscal year.

Jelinek’s trust in Vachris is evident. “I have total confidence in Ron,” Jelinek commented, emphasizing the caliber of leadership Vachris brings to the table.

The tale of Vachris and Jelinek encapsulates Costco’s culture of internal growth. It is a company where dedication and hard work can see one rise from the grassroots to the highest echelons. This tradition began when James Sinegal, Costco’s co-founder and CEO, passed the torch to Jelinek in 2012, and it continues with Vachris’s incoming leadership.


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