19. James D. Sinegal
19. James D. Sinegal
Co-Founder and CEO, Costco

Sinegal recently announced that he'll step down as CEO of Costco in January 2012, handing the reins to current president and COO Craig Jelinek. It's been an extraordinary run for Sinegal, a retail lifer who co-founded Costco with Jeffrey Brotman back in 1983. Costco was the first warehouse club to sell fresh food and operate gas stations and pharmacies. This year, Costco handily outperformed big competitors like Sam's Club, generating sharply higher revenue per square foot.


By Richard McGill Murphy, contributor - Last updated November 17 2011: 5:58 PM ET