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55th Reunion!

  May 23-26, 2024


Erdman Center info




Catching up with ... Ted Garcia

From Kicking Footballs to Business Leadership at Starbucks Coffee Co.

Ted Garcia was born in Brazil. His father was Swiss-Brazilian and his mother a descendant of Germans who emigrated from the United States to Brazil after the Civil War. They decided that educational opportunities for their two sons would be better in the United States so they emigrated north when Ted was nine years old. He attended several schools but most of his high school years were in Colorado Springs, where he made the all-state baseball team and played quarterback on the football team. Asked one day to participate on special teams, he showed how he could kick further than anyone else using a soccer-style approach. Charlie Gogolak was then at Princeton breaking new ground among place kickers in college football. It was for that reason and Princeton’s reputation for educational excellence that Ted chose Princeton.

Ted arrived at about 6’1” and 165 pounds, somewhat underweight for an Ivy League football player. He consumed lots of milkshakes to boost his weight but did most of his on-field work kicking. He majored in political science and wrote his thesis on Juscelino Kubitschek, who had been president of Brazil when Ted was a youngster.

Though a polysci major, Ted had a strong interest in technology, especially manufacturing technology. His father had been a businessman and plant manager and Ted enjoyed the process of procurement, production and distribution of goods. Johnson & Johnson’s Domestic Operating Company in New Brunswick offered him a job after graduation, and he took it. "Like a lot of us in the summer of 1969, I realized Princeton was not ‘the real world,’” he says. "I learned a lot about business and leadership at J&J. I began as a supervisor in the ‘Band-Aid’ division and left 10 years later as the Purchasing Manager at their Ortho Pharmaceutical Division.

Johnson & Johnson was a leader in supply chain management – combining manufacturing, distribution, transportation, and procurement, and this is the field on which Ted focused. He evolved into a supply chain leader.

After ten years at J&J, he set out in what was a progression of four jobs, all in supply chain management. He worked for Bausch & Lomb in Rochester, N.Y., Cadbury Schweppes Inc. in Stamford, Conn., the consulting firm of Coopers and Lybrand, and as Vice President of Operations Strategy for Grand Metropolitan PLC (the parent company of Pillsbury, Green Giant, Burger King, Alpo, etc.) in Minneapolis.

But it was in Minneapolis in late 1994, while working for the Consulting firm Cap Gemini, that a phone call came from an executive search firm and a man Ted knew from his days at J&J that took his life in an important new direction. The "head hunter” told Ted that the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, and the President and COO, Orin Smith, wanted to speak with him about the leadership role of their Supply Chain Organization. Starbucks was not particularly well known at the time, having only about 400 stores in the United States and western Canada. Ted was skeptical but as Starbucks had just opened in Minneapolis, he went to see what it was all about. He was very impressed with the service he received, the courtesy of the baristas and their respect for customers. He felt they might only be having a good day, so he returned several more times on other days – the service was consistently outstanding. But Ted still believed the company might be "too small” and proceeded to decline the opportunity to interview with SBUX. About three weeks later, on January 4th 1995, the headhunter called back and asked him a favor: Please take a day and fly out to Seattle to speak with Starbucks’ senior management.

Ted flew to Seattle and met with Schultz and Smith and was so impressed with the entrepreneurs that he accepted the position. "When Howard and Orin had the opportunity to speak with someone about their vision, well, the rest is history,” Ted says. It was a decision that forever changed his life and his family’s life. "Once I was there I could never have worked for another company. It was a dynamic enterprise to work with and retire from.”

Ted led the growing supply chain organization. From 1995 to 2005, he was responsible for manufacturing, engineering, distribution, transportation and procurement as well as Starbucks’ coffee sourcing organization as the Executive Vice President of Supply Chain and Coffee Operations, reporting to the company’s President & COO, Orin Smith. When he retired in 2005, the company had grown to 10,250 stores in 37 countries. In 1995, Starbucks was opening one store every two weeks. When he retired in 2005, they were opening five stores every week.

The Supply Chain and Coffee Operations team implemented processes and business practices that saved the company over two hundred million dollars in manufacturing, distribution and procurement costs. Starbucks had achieved supply chain excellence in ten short years. One of the processes Ted is most proud of was the implementation of night deliveries to all stores in the United States. This entailed setting up a network of third-party distribution providers across the country who not only received, combined and delivered much of what is sold by the stores, but also set up and rotated the product in each store at night. This enabled partners who arrived in the morning to open the store and focus on what they did best, selling the best coffee in the world, while delivering outstanding customer service to their loyal customer base.

Why does Ted think Starbucks is so respected and successful? "For one, it serves the best coffee in the world, coming from farmers who are dedicated to their crop. For another, it’s because their roasting process and equipment -- primarily developed by Starbucks -- is the best in the industry. Most importantly it is because store-level customer service is outstanding, about which Howard Schultz has always been passionate.” Ted also mentions that the company prides itself in delivering comprehensive health care insurance and stock options for all "partners,” as Starbucks calls its employees.

Ten years of helping Starbucks develop a world-class supply chain organization was enough for Ted. He had done well and wanted to spend more time with his family. He retired in 2005 and moved with his wife, Jane Hoerig, to Fairfield, Connecticut, where they built a home. They love the East Coast and living there allows them to see their two grown children, Grant and Erin more often.

These days Ted enjoys computers, computer technology, and their deliverables. He is always available and speaks to those people and organizations that reach out to him about his business and leadership experience.

By the way, his business card, since 2005, now lists his title as "Husband and Father.”

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