Eddie Basha Jr.
CEO and chairman, Bashas’ Family of Stores
Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
I was 11 years old and it was summer vacation. My mom was making a cake and needed something for it, so she sent me to our family store on my bicycle to pick it up. When I got there, my Uncle Ike thought it was time I had a job, so he told me to go home, take my mother the ingredients for the cake, and come back and start sweeping the store. I pedaled home, horrified, and told my mother the crazy idea my uncle had. She agreed with my uncle! So I went back to the store, grabbed the broom, and I’ve never stopped working. What I learned from that experience is that a family business really is no respecter of age. It’s something that’s in your blood.
Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job in the industry WAS my first job. What I learned is that in our business, it takes a team effort to be successful in each and every store. I might have been responsible for cleaning, but that was just as important as stocking, checking-out, bagging or managing. The central point is that it takes a team to operate a store — a team effort on everybody’s part to operate a vertically integrated company such as ours.
What was your salary?
If my memory serves me correctly (that was so long ago!), I believe it was 20-30 cents an hour … of which every penny went into my bank account.
Who is your biggest mentor, and what role did he or she play?
I had two very important mentors in my life. The first was my father, who shared with me his wisdom, his knowledge, his experience, his belief system. It was a great privilege to have so brilliant a father as a mentor. The second man who mentored me most was Don Cooper, deceased president of Bashas’. When my father died in 1968, I honestly wasn’t ready to run the business. Don took me under his wing and taught me the nuts and bolts of this industry. If it hadn’t been for Don’s mentorship, I’m not altogether certain Bashas’ would have survived.
What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
I’d tell a person entering the grocery industry that it’s a lot of hard work, but there’s no greater privilege than contributing to a family’s mealtime. I’d also tell him or her to never forget to give back to the community that honors your business with its patronage.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
If I weren’t a part of Bashas’, I’d be involved in some aspect of education. I was at Stanford studying to be a teacher when my Uncle Ike died in 1958. I nearly dropped out of school to come back and help my Dad with the company business, but he insisted I finish my studies. I did, and I ended up working in the family business. I’ve been passionate about education my whole adult life, and fortunately my work has afforded me the opportunity to serve our state’s educational system in many ways, but there’s a part of me that would love to have made education my career.
AZ Business Magazine July 2008 |