Since 1966 Dick Schulze has been busy turning Sound of Music, a one-shop audio dealer in St. Paul, Minn., into Best Buy Co., a $20 billion retail behemoth with 1,900 stores.
Now, following a personal tragedy that became a life-altering wake-up call, he has relinquished day-to-day control of the corporation and reshuffled his priorities, making family, philanthropy and the plain old pursuit of fun the first order of business.
TWICE caught up with Schulze following his final shareholder meeting as CEO. Excerpts from the ensuing, candid conversation follow.
What drove you for all those years? Surely wealth was no longer a factor at some point.
It was a sense of achievement and the determination to learn.
Going forward, I’ve determined that it’s time to broaden my horizons as to what’s important in my life. After [first wife] Sandy died, I wanted more balance. I had promised her that between my 60th and 62nd birthdays I would scale back, spend more time with the family and pursue other endeavors.
My new wife is very much like Sandy. We will do many of the things together that I had planned to do with her. We will focus on education, community and building our Family Office to ensure continuity for future generations.
I’m on the board of governors at the University of St. Thomas Business School. I’m going to work with the dean on developing the curriculum and creating the structure and support to build on a wonderful foundation and make it a top quartile business school.
I’m also going to travel more, and will remain engaged in Best Buy.
You said you will remain an active chairman. How do you define active?
I will take a role in developing the future leadership of the company. And for the first time, I will have a chance to think about, to look at, how the company should look in 10 years. For 35 years I had been focused on how the company looks today.
While [CEO Brad Anderson’s] focus is on the next five years, my focus is on what the company should be 10 years from now in terms of investments, how we should be positioned and how the stores should look. I will talk with economists, business leaders, suppliers and consumers, and will read, learn and study.
All work and no play?
No, I also plan to play a little golf in Florida. I have a home down there that I seldom use. We also have a lot of children and grandchildren and I’m looking forward to some great times with them.
How do you envision the Best Buy of the future?
Way beyond where we are today. We have resources and capabilities I couldn’t imagine 10 years ago. But we need to lock down what needs to be done — the vehicles and the avenues — and what the future could be. We have a great opportunity.