Richard M. Schulze
Richard M. “Dick” Schulze is the founder of The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. He also founded and is now chairman emeritus of Best Buy Co., Inc. Best Buy is the world’s largest consumer-electronics retailer.
Dick was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. From a modest background, he and a hand-picked team built a retailing empire based in the Twin Cities. Dick continues to exhibit lifelong values of integrity, humility, honesty and respect. His legacy will include major contributions in business, entrepreneurship education and philanthropy.
Schulze began work as a manufacturer’s representative for electronics components. In 1966 he founded his own company, The Sound of Music. His new business expanded to six stores in Minnesota by 1983. He renamed his company Best Buy. He adopted a warehouse format and expanded into many more kinds of consumer products. His new company soon went public with remarkable growth. Best Buy had introduced the superstore concept to the electronics industry!
Dick served as Best Buy’s Chief Executive Officer from 1983 to 2002 and then as Chairman until 2012. He rejoined the company in 2013 as Founder and Chairman Emeritus. Today, Best Buy employs more than 145,000 people. They operate more than 1,400 stores in the U.S. and 479 stores in Canada, China and Mexico.
He continues to support Best Buy employees through:
- a disaster relief program that is funded and managed by his Family Foundation, and
- a partnership with Best Buy to finance The Best Buy Hope Fund, an emergency relief fund. The Minneapolis Foundation manages the fund for Best Buy employees.
Dick enrolled at the University of St. Thomas, but then joined the Air National Guard full-time. Dick’s plans to attend college never materialized. Still, he became a trustee and major donor of St. Thomas. In 1998, the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota awarded him an honorary doctoral degree. (He also holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Minnesota.)
Schulze and his late wife, Sandy, donated $50 million to St. Thomas in 2000. At that time, theirs was the largest donation ever to a Minnesota college or university. The donation founded the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship at the university in 2005. The Schulze School worked to become a leader in entrepreneurship education and outreach. Schulze School students learn to turn innovative ideas into sustainable businesses. Hundreds of businesses have benefited from the school’s expertise, consulting and start-up support.
Dick served on the University’s board of trustees for 20 years. He retired from the board in 2015. He now serves as trustee emeritus.
The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation
Schulze has long supported nonprofit organizations in the Twin Cities and Minnesota. He and his late wife Sandy established the Richard M. and Sandra J. Schulze Family Fund in the mid-1990s. The fund became a vehicle for their donations to local social service charities. Sandy died in 2001 from mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
In 2004, Dick started the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. He announced plans in June 2013 to give away $1 billion during his lifetime. He now chairs the foundation’s board of trustees.
Always an Active Entrepreneur
Schulze currently serves as:
- chairman and president of Olympus Ventures, LLC,
- president and director of Founders Properties, LLC,
- founder and president of Best Jets International, a worldwide airline charter and management company, and
- a member of the Minnesota Business Partnership (85 of the largest corporate business partners working with legislators to develop public policy)
Schulze has four adult children (who rotate service on the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation’s Board of Trustees) and 14 grandchildren.
He is now a permanent resident of Florida.