Joseph Hardin Coulombe (June 3, 1930 – February 28, 2020) was an American entrepreneur. He was a graduate of Stanford Business School and was a member of Alpha Kappa Lambda. He founded the grocery store chain Trader Joe's in 1967.
1 Early life
3 Personal life
5 External links
Joseph Hardin Coulombe was born on June 3, 1930 in San Diego, California. He graduated from Stanford University in 1952 with a degree in Economics, and earned an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1954.
He started his career at Rexall. In 1958, he was asked to test the launch of Pronto Markets, a store brand to compete against 7-Eleven. After running six Pronto Markets in the Los Angeles area, Rexall asked Coulombe to close them down. Coulombe decided to buy them out instead.
After a decade of refining his strategy in a competitive environment, Coulombe renamed his venture from Pronto Markets to Trader Joe's in Pasadena in 1967. He led the chain to success and sold it to German billionaire Theo Albrecht in 1979. Coulombe continued with Trader Joe's as chief executive until retiring in 1988.
He served on the Boards of Directors of Cost Plus and True Religion Apparel.
He was married to Alice Steere Coulombe, who also graduated from Stanford University, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in Education in 1953 and 1954, respectively. Alice is a philanthropist. She served on the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Opera. Alice's parents taught at the University of Michigan and her father William was a director of the New York Botanical Garden, and they were devout Christians.
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