The Container Store – America’s Top Workplace

As a schoolboy, CEO Kip Tindell kept a file - a collection of anecdotes, philosophical thoughts and ideas he’d read and liked. Even as a kid, he knew that it pays to be organized.

src: CBS News

The file went with him to college where it grew into a set of business principles. By 1978, the file had become the guiding principles of a shop full of other files… and boxes and bags and wallets - The Container Store was established.

“You sell empty boxes?”

“When you’re selling empty boxes, you’d better have good people” - Kip Tindell, CEO

Ten years later and despite the initial raised eyebrows, The Container Store was on the verge of expansion and Tindell formalized his file into Foundation Principles™. Every store operates to this standard: ‘Employees First’- even ahead of the customer. Not what you usually hear, but it certainly works for them. The company is privately owned with a private equity company owning a majority stake. Often we see private equity struggling to create compelling working environments, not here.

Ninja Training

One of the Foundation Principles™ states: “Intuition doesn’t come to an unprepared mind, you must train before it happens.” It reads like a Kung-Fu master‘s last words. The Container Store’s staff training process is a Ninja-scale regime: “more than 263 hours of formal training for full-time employees in their first year” (compared to 8 on average elsewhere) and that’s after the 9 interviews you have to get through to get to the training program.

Once you’re in, people in the sales division don’t work on commission, but are salaried or have an hourly rate - both are considerably higher than industry norm. What this breeds is enormous buy-in and some impressive numbers. In the last 5 years, where many receded, The Container Store grew.