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Jeff Brotman (1942 - 2017)

AP Photo / Ralph Radford, File

Jeff Brotman (1942 - 2017)

Jeff Brotman, the co-founder of warehouse retailer Costco and chairman of its board, died Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, according to The Seattle Times. He was 74.

The first Costco store opened in 1983 in Seattle. Since then, the company has expanded to more than 500 stores in the United States and more than 700 worldwide, making it the world’s second largest retail chain. Costco Wholesale Corp.’s headquarters are still located in the Seattle area.

Brotman’s business partner since the company’s founding was Jim Sinegal. Early funding was provided by venture capitalist Fred Paulsell, whom Brotman had met by chance on a flight to Seattle several months before opening the first store. While Sinegal primarily oversaw operations, Brotman’s expertise in choosing the right locations for new stores proved essential in building the chain. Despite its success, Costco has retained a reputation for treating both employees and customers ethically and humanely.

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Brotman, Sinegal said, was “not just a business partner but a confidante, a great friend. I’m not exaggerating for a second when I say I loved the guy.”

Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz called Brotman “a dear friend, mentor, and a brother,” noting that “he was one of the earliest believers and investors in Starbucks and in me.”

Brotman also was known for philanthropy along with his wife, Susan, especially in Washington state, having lent support to his alma mater, the University of Washington; Seattle Children’s Hospital; the Seattle Art Museum; Pacific Northwest Ballet; Temple Beth El in Tacoma, Washington; and other organizations and causes.

Significant donors to the Democratic Party, the Brotmans hosted fundraisers for the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Jeff Brotman is survived by his wife, Susan Brotman; his brother, Michel Brotman; two children, Justin Brotman and Amanda Brotman-Schetritt; and two grandchildren.

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