Pam Fehrman gave the invocation and led members in the Pledge. Chip Erickson introduced visiting Rotarians and guests. In response to Chip's question to visiting Rotarians about their best Halloween costume ever, Kirkland Rotary member Jim Webb said it was his wife's costume. She went as a nun, but wore a flesh-covered body suit under the habit — and spent the evening flashing people.
Jane Kuechle reminded members that this year's walkathon would benefit the Kindering Center, and with that in mind, said the Center is holding its gala auction on Saturday, November 8, the day after the BBRC's Anniversary Dinner. She is working to get a Rotary table at the Kindering Center event. Contact Jane if you are interested.
John DeWater got members involved in a membership recruitment skit involving a Heath Ledger "Joker" look-alike (in the form of Steve Goldfarb) and a female devil with a decidedly Russian accent. The Joker noted that he had purchased his distinctive suit from Dick Brown. The devil warned members of the consequences of not bringing in a new member this year.
Steve Szirmai handed out newly printed BBRC business cards to members to give to prospective new members.
Norm Johnson reminded members that November is Rotary Foundation Month. Members aren not forced to contribute, but certainly are encouraged to help the Club reach a $300 average per member donation. Those who donate will be eligible for a prize.
Sergeant At Arms David Bolson asked members to produce a Costco membership card, in honor of the morning's speaker. Those who didn't have one had to put $1 on the table.
Kim announced that Manfred Markevitch will be moving to Switzerland before the end of the year to take on a new job with expanded responsibilities. He will be missed.
Jeff Brotman, Founding Owner of Costco
John Martinka introduced the speaker, Costco Board Chairman Jeff Brotman, who took BBRC members through some interesting facts and statistics about Costco.
When Costco opened its recent warehouse in Omaha, Warren Buffett was one of the guests. After an evening at an upscale restaurant with Costco officials, the next day, Buffett suggested lunch — at the new Costco, where he wanted the hot dog and soft drink. "Food," Brotman said, "is increasingly a big draw to customers during lean times. However, it takes a lot of $1.50 hot dogs to equal high-def TVs on sale at the warehouses." Brotman also noted that when Costco opened in Japan, customers were lined up 1.5 miles waiting to get in.
"Costco is the fifth largest retailer in the United States," Brotman said, and the eighth largest in the world." It has a $25 billion market cap, $7.1 billion in sales each year and 140,000 employees.
There now are 546 Costco warehouses in the world, 400 of them in the United States.
A total of 87 percent of Costco members renew their membership each year.
Since December 1985, Costco has experienced a 15 percent net sales growth per year. The company is number one in customer satisfaction, according to one national survey.
"If we do the job right," Brotman said, "we are irresistible."
Brotman noted that of the first 140 employees at the company's first warehouse just south of the former Kingdome, 100 still are with the company, now in management positions worldwide. In all, Costco only has an 8 percent turnover rate for employees who have worked at Costco for a year.
There are 280 Costco employees on military duty at this time, Brotman said. The company supplements their military income and maintains them on its health insurance so they aren't penalized for their military service. The company also sends them quarterly care packages of items from home.
Other interesting facts:
Costco sources from 28 countries in the world. It is the largest retailer of fine wines in the world. It's products aren't expensive, but are phenomenal values. Costco had $2 billion in e-business last year.
Brotman noted that he and other principals did not start Costco to sell it, but to run it for the rest of their lives. Today, all of top management is well schooled in the Costco philosophy.
In an answer to a question, Brotman said that Costco has abandoned its proposed Bellevue location at the former Kmart site on Main Street and 148th Avenue. (Editor's Note: see Bellevue Reporter story of Wednesday, November 5).
Courtesy of Wally Mahoney
This may come as a surprise to those of you not living in Las Vegas , but there are more Catholic churches than casinos.
Not surprisingly, some worshipers at Sunday services will give casino chips, rather than cash, when the basket is passed.
Since they get chips from many different casinos, the churches have devised a method to collect the offerings.: they send all their collected chips to a nearby Franciscan monastery for sorting and then the chips are taken to the casinos of origin and cashed in.
This is done by the chip monks.