Thomas G. Stemberg, American businessman, Died at 66

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Thomas G. Stemberg was born on January 18, 1949, and passed away on October 23, 2015 from cancer.

Thomas was an American businessman, investor, and philanthropist.

He was a pioneer of the office supplies superstore industry, most notably for founding office supply retail chain Staples Inc. with Leo Kahn.

Thomas was born on January 18, 1949 in Orange, New Jersey, the son of immigrants from Vienna, Austria.

His father was a lawyer who became a restaurateur.

When Thomas was 13, his father died and he moved with his mother to Vienna.

He was a student at the American International School from 1962 to 1967.

Thomas later returned to the United States to attend Harvard College, graduating in 1971 with a B.S. in Physical Science.

At Harvard College, he headed on managerial roles at Harvard Student Agencies, a hands-on organization of campus businesses, and the Harvard Independent, a newly established student newspaper.

In 1973, Thomas graduated from the Harvard Business School receiving his M.B.A. as a George F. Baker Scholar.

Hailed as a retail pioneer and innovator, he developed and launched the first line of generic food sold in the US and revolutionized the office supply business by eliminating wholesalers and selling directly to customers through his warehouse-like superstores.

He adopted a simple objective that later became the foundation of Staples Inc.

He always emphasized that his “priority is saving people money.”

He started his career with the Jewel Company’s Star Markets where he became the vice president for the company’s sales and merchandising division. During his career at Jewel, he was then introduced with the first line of generic foods sold in the United States.

Concurrently, he learned the concept of warehouse specials. In 1982, Thomas served as the president of the Edwards-Finast division and then established the Edwards Food Warehouse chain.

It was also during this time, he began developing the concept of an office superstore, where a chain of discount stores that would serve businesses fewer than 100 employees by providing a broad selection of products sold at an average of 50 percent below the list purchase price, also known as no frills, deep discount marketing retailing.

Thomas previously had worked in the grocery store business at Star Markets.

Thomas noticed many retailers on Main Street selling ball point pens at $2 – $3 with a wholesale cost of just 30 cents and determined that the business could be profitable and reduce customer costs.

Thomas died on October 23, 2015 from gastric cancer. He was 66 years old.

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