Dean's Lecture Series Welcomes Garrett Boone, Founder and Chairman of the Board, The Container Store, April 10
HOUSTON, March 7, 2006—Garrett Boone, chairman of the board, The Container Store, will speak at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management, Rice University’s Dean’s Lecture Series on Monday, April 10, on “Leading by Values and Examples.” Boone’s lecture will be from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. in the Shell Oil Foundation Auditorium, Janice and Robert McNair Hall, Rice University.
The Dean’s Lecture Series, which has been in place since 1997, is complemented by a new series begun this year, the Executive Lecture Series. Both lecture series bring exemplary business leaders to speak to the Rice MBA and MBA for Executives students. The Houston business community is invited to attend these lectures without charge.
On March 24, Mark A. Wallace, president, and chief executive officer of Texas Children's Hospital, will speak in the Executive Lecture Series at 1:00 p.m.
On April 10, Garrett Boone, chairman of the board, The Container Store, will speak in the Dean’s Lecture Series at 10:30 a.m.
On May 5, Lynn Elsenhans, executive vice president, Manufacturing, Shell Oil Company, will speak in the Executive Lecture Series at 1:00 p.m.
About Garrett Boone
Garrett Boone never considered a career in retailing. Instead, he grew up aspiring to become an architect, later opting for a bachelor’s degree in European history from Rice University and a master’s degree in history from the University of Texas at Austin. But he was bit by the retailing bug soon after returning home from college, and that bug would later develop into a business venture that would spark a new retail category.
In 1969, a year after embarking on a doctorate degree at UT, Boone moved back to his hometown of Dallas. However, finding a job related to history proved difficult. Reverting to his skills as a commercial painter, he secured a job as manager of Montgomery Ward’s paint department.
Boone left Montgomery Ward in 1972 to become Dallas store manager at Storehouse, a chain of lifestyle furniture stores. Two years later, Boone became a regional manager for the furniture chain.
By 1976, Boone, an avid woodworker as well, was determined to start his own business. Leaving his job, Boone and two friends, Dallas architect John Mullen, and Kip Tindell (CEO), a colleague from Montgomery Ward and Storehouse, discussed the idea of opening a handmade furniture store. After two years of creating furniture prototypes, preparing cost analyses and investigating companion products, they scrapped this home furnishings idea for an original retail concept: a store devoted entirely to storage and organization products for the home. The idea came to Boone following a visit to a home improvement show in Dallas in January, 1978, which unveiled “this incredible modular shelving system” called Lundia.
With an initial cash investment of $35,000 provided by Garrett, his father, and John Mullen, who were founding directors, officers, and shareholders of the company, they plunged headfirst into stocking a 1,600-square foot store with boxes, shelves, baskets, containers, crates, trash bins, and a variety of unconventional and mostly commercial grade storage and organization products. Before the store was opened, the initial name “Basics” was changed to a more suitable and exciting name for their unique venture – The Container Store. The store opened on July 1, 1978.
One of the biggest challenges for The Container Store was to find products to sell. They often had to persuade manufacturers to supply them with retail merchandise. Initially, almost all of the products Boone wanted to sell were developed for commercial use only and were not available to consumers.
With the unique and innovative products selected, The Container Store’s first location at Preston Road and Forest Lane in North Dallas was unveiled. Mason’s tool bags as overnight bags, egg baskets as carryalls, and wire leaf burners as toy barrels, were just a few of the original products that debuted. The store outgrew its space within a year, and by 1980 had expanded twice. Eventually, the company’s first store would have to move across the street to find room for an ever-increasing inventory.
More than 28 years later, The Container Store has 36 stores across the country. Stores currently average 25,000 square feet. And, with 2006 sales projected at $500 million, the originators of the storage and organization category of retailing remain the leaders in an industry that continues to thrive. Retail analysts cite the company’s devotion to the original concept as the formula for its success, noting that other retailers haven’t focused on an inventory mix solely devoted to storage and organization products like The Container Store.
Boone’s love for retailing remains true today. That bug that bit him in 1969 is still apparent. He frequently visits the company’s stores to work the sales floor and to interact with customers and employees. His commitment to maintaining the company’s unique culture has played a vital role in The Container Store being selected by FORTUNE magazine as the “Best Company to Work For” seven years in a row. In early 2006, along with Kip and Sharon Tindell (Chief Merchandising Officer), Garrett was inducted into the Retailing Hall of Fame.
At age 62, Boone and his wife Cecilia have three children. He sits on the board of the Dallas Metropolitan YMCA, the Dallas Museum of Art, the advisory board for JP Morgan Chase, and the advisory council for The Dallas Women’s Foundation. He still loves woodworking, enjoys fly-fishing, music and any activities with his family.