Thomas G. Stemberg

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Thomas G. Stemberg
Born (1949-01-18) January 18, 1949 (age 66)
Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Harvard University
Harvard Business School
Occupation Managing General Partner at Highland Capital Partners
Known for Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Staples Inc.[1]
Spouse(s) Maureen Sullivan (divorced)
Dola Hamilton (divorced)
Katherine Chapman O’Hara
Website Tom Stemberg

Thomas G. Stemberg (born January 18, 1949)[2] is an American businessman, investor, and philanthropist. He is a pioneer of the office supplies superstore industry, most notably for founding office supply retail chain Staples Inc. with Leo Kahn.[3][4]

Life and career[edit]

Stemberg was born in Orange, New Jersey, the son of immigrants from Vienna, Austria.[2][5][6] His father was a lawyer who became a restaurateur.[7][8]

When Stemberg 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. He later returned to the United States to attend Harvard College, graduating in 1971 with a B.S. in Physical Science.[9] 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.[8] In 1973, Stemberg graduated from the Harvard Business School receiving his M.B.A. as a George F. Baker Scholar.[10] Hailed as a retail pioneer and innovator, he developed and launched the first line of generic food sold in the United States and revolutionized the office supply business by eliminating wholesalers and selling directly to customers through his warehouse-like superstores.[10] He adapted a simple objective that later became the foundation of Staples Inc. He always emphasized that his "priority is saving people money."[11]

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, Stemberg 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. Stemberg previously had worked in the grocery store business at Star Markets. Stemberg 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.[12]

In 1986, Stemberg started Staples with backing from private equity firms including, Hambro International Ventures, Harvard Management, Bessemer Ventures, Adler & Company, and Bain Capital;[13] Bain co-founder Mitt Romney served on the company's board of directors for the next 15 years.[14] By 1999, Staples raked in more than 7 billion dollars in worldwide sales, with more than one thousand superstores, mail order catalogs, e-commerce outlets, and a contract business.[13]

Stemberg is also an ardent philanthropist in myriad of areas pertaining to education.

In 2005, Stemberg joined Highland Capital Partners, a venture capital firm, in Lexington, Massachusetts as managing general partner.[15]

Stemberg, a political supporter of Mitt Romney since Romney ran for the U.S. Senate in 1994, spoke on Romney's behalf at the 2012 Republican National Convention.[14]

In 2012, Stemberg was involved in a legal dispute between him, his first wife Maureen Sullivan and Mitt Romney who was a key witness in his troubled divorce with Maureen. Romney was allegedly heavily involved in this very messy and long drawn-out divorce, which was according to media bitter and ugly.[16][17]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b The Guru Guide to Entrepreneurship: A Concise Guide to the Best Ideas from ... - Joseph H. Boyett, Jimmie T. Boyett - Google Books
  3. ^ Martin, Douglas (2011-05-12). "Leo Kahn, Trailblazer in Big-Box Retailing, Dies at 94". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  4. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees (2011-05-14). "Leo Kahn, entrepreneur who helped found Staples office-supply business, dies at 94". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  5. ^ The Lanestream Media - posted by Ghost at The Ghost Nation
  6. ^ Stemberg, Thomas G. (2004-01-11). "EXECUTIVE LIFE: THE BOSS; An Austrian Advantage". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ Stemberg, Thomas - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: Thomas Stemberg, Social and Economic Impact - Staples, Office, Supply, and Business - JRank Articles
  8. ^ a b Alumni Achievement Awards 2000: Thomas G. Stemberg - HBS Working Knowledge
  9. ^ "Tom Stemberg". FamousWhy. Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Stamberg, Thomas". Highbeam Research. Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  11. ^ Stemberg, Thomas - Business Leader Profiles for Students | HighBeam Research
  12. ^ G. Stemberg Austria&f=false
  13. ^ a b The Guru Guide to Entrepreneurship: A Concise Guide to the Best Ideas from ... - Joseph H. Boyett, Jimmie T. Boyett - Google Books
  14. ^ a b Goodison, Donna (August 30, 2012). "Thomas Stemberg preps for Stem-winder praising Mitt Romney". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  15. ^ Founder and Former CEO of Staples Joins Highland Capital Partners from
  16. ^ [1] from
  17. ^ Ace of Spades HQ