The Container Store CEO Pays Salespeople $50K, Believes Women Make The Best Execs

October 20, 2014  |  


The 61-year-old chairman CEO of The Container Store, Kip Tindell, told Business Insider that, unlike many of his retail cohorts, he sees the value of offering much higher-than-average wages. And women, he says, make great executives.

Tindell founded The Container Store in 1978 with two friends and $35,000. Today, the Dallas-based chain employs 6,000 workers, has 68 locations in the U.S., and has annual sales of nearly $800 million. Tindell writes about his leadership methods in his new book, Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives.

According to Tindell, the company owes its success to a “few simple-yet-unexpected rules.” Among them, Tindell believes women make the best executives, business is personal, and companies have a moral obligation to their employees.

“Intellectual intelligence is really important, but what’s more important in a leader is high emotional intelligence. That’s why I think women make better executives than men,” says Tindell. “I’m glad to see the feminization of American business. Emotional intelligence is the key to being really successful. People who have it keep their egos in check; they’re comfortable with surrounding themselves with people better than them. They’re high on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They aren’t hungry or insecure. They’re calm and have self-awareness.

And Tindell practices what he preaches. About 70 percent of the top leadership positions at his company are held by women.

In addition to this, The Container Store sounds like a great place to work for another reason. In his book, Tindell writes that the average Container Store retail salesperson makes nearly $50,000 a year compared with what the Bureau of Labor Statistics says is a national average of just above $25,000. He gives annual raises up to eight percent of their salaries, based on their performance.

Because he pays well, he expects high productivity from his employees. He has something he calls “the 1=3 rule,” meaning that one great employee is as productive as three merely good workers. So Tindell gets three times the productivity of an average worker at just two times the cost.

“They win, you save money, the customers win, and all the employees win because they get to work with someone great,” he tells Business Insider.

Later this month, Tindell will be named chair of the National Retail Federation, an industry group. And he’s set to use his influence to shift the NRF opinion in favor of a minimum wage increase. That could be a win for many retail employees.

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