Late Costco co-founder Jeff Brotman remembered for his innovation, humility

Jeff Brotman in the Q13 News studio.

A week after the sudden death of Costco co-founder and chairman Jeff Brotman, business leaders are remembering Brotman for his contributions and humbleness.

Brotman died suddenly at age 74 on August 1st in Medina, Washington. The cause of death has not been released.

Brotman launched the first Costco warehouse in Seattle in 1983 with Jim Sinegal, who served as Costco’s CEO until 2012. Brotman had served as chairman of the company since 1994. Costco, which is headquartered in Issaquah, Washington, operates more than 700 wholesale warehouses across 11 countries. It’s the third largest retailer in the world by sales, behind only Walmart and Kroger, according to the National Retail Federation, a trade group.

Sinegal told the Puget Sound Business Journal that Brotman’s loss is devastating.

“He was not only the greatest business partner — and I mean lifelong business partner — but he was a confidant, and a close personal friend. And I loved the guy. Jeff was so engaging, how could we not love him?” Sinegal told PSBJ. “It’s a heartbreaker that somebody you know and love is gone like that.”

Mike Flynn, former editor and publisher of the Puget Sound Business Journal, wrote in his Flynn’s Harp blog that the impact of Brotman’s contributions and memories are being widely shared. Flynn writes about the story behind Brotman’s humble support of the Junior Achievement Puget Sound Hall of Fame. Q13 FOX hosted Brotman to record his opening video for the PSBJ Hall of Fame to benefit Junior Achievement.

A memorial service will be held at McCaw Hall on August 8th at 11am. The service can be accessed through a live stream.

In an obituary published last week, his family writes:

“For all his accomplishments, Jeff will be remembered most for his devotion to his family and friends, his intelligence, wit, his generosity of time and spirit. He was a great guy, he was the best.”