How The Nordstrom Brothers Treat Their Employees Like Family

It’s been 116 years since John W. Nordstrom and his friend Carl F. Wallin opened a shoe store in Seattle. That fateful decision laid the foundation for the Nordstrom family to build the company into the department store powerhouse it is today. The fourth-generation co-presidents, Blake, Pete and Erik Nordstrom, have risen through the ranks with their tireless work ethic and unwavering passion.

“We all started out in the stockroom and worked our way down the pyramid in various roles throughout,” Pete told FN. “We literally grew up in the business, and we’re all true merchants. Now, as co-presidents, it’s the sum of our experiences that we feel serve us best.”

The Nordstroms have fostered a familial spirit throughout the company. “We want all employees to feel as though it’s their name on the door and that they are empowered to do whatever it takes to serve the customer on their terms,” Blake explained. “Our open-door policy is connected to the idea that we all have a stake in this together. It’s up to each of us to play our role in delivering the best experience for the customer.”


The brothers and their cousin Jamie Nordstrom (EVP and president of stores) are forging ahead with an ambitious strategy, including making a major statement in the New York market. And the company’s rich history is top-of-mind as the Nordstroms eye the future. (Last week, the family said it was exploring a deal to take the retailer private.)

“The current pace of change is challenging, particularly when you’re fortunate enough to have a reputation that has been built by the generations before us,” Erik said. “We don’t take that for granted but also understand the need to quickly evolve with the customer’s expectations.”

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