A Revolutionary Employee-First Philosophy The Container Store CEO Speaks to Darden MBA Students

19 February 2013

As a kick-off to the Business in Society conference at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, Kip Tindell, chairman and CEO of The Container Store, revealed what makes his company successful. Tindell’s speech was part of the Darden Leadership Speaker Series and was sponsored by the Darden research center of excellence, the Initiative for Business in Society.

For more than 34 years, Tindell has held the position of CEO of The Container Store, a private company based in Dallas that sells storage and organizational products. Tindell is also involved in Conscious Capitalism Inc., a community of business people and academics that emphasizes a conscious approach to business.

Tindell explained that he has always believed in a conscious approach to running a company. His company runs by the seven Foundation Principles which help stores around the world operate with the same values.

The Container Store has long been known for its employee-first philosophy. Tindell emphasized that happy employees are the most productive employees, and that it trickles down to the customers. Fortune magazine has named the company to the list of “100 Best Companies to Work for” 13 years in a row.

Tindell waxed about how he instills management through love rather than fear. On 14 February, the company held “National We Love Our Employees Day.” The Container Store works to build emotional connections with its employees and its customers.

“If you myopically only focus on the shareholder, [then] the magic isn’t there,” said Tindell as he elaborated on the company’s stakeholders. Using Stakeholder Theory, developed by Darden Professor R. Edward Freeman, Tindell aims to create more synergies with his vendors and suppliers by “creatively crafting a relationship to do mutually beneficial business.”

When asked by a student if his values were ever in conflict with economic decisions, such as the decision to lay off employees during the recession, Texan Tindell replied, “You can’t wimp out. It’s important to know what you stand for.”

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Sophie Zunz
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia