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Founder of Staples Thomas Stemberg Dies at 66, Was Battling Gastric Cancer

Oct 24, 2015 03:55 AM EDT | By Jean-Claude Arnobit
Staples Inc., Thomas G. Stemberg

Thomas G. Stemberg, the man who co-founded Staples Inc. and invented the office superstore, died Friday, October 23, 2015, at his home in Chestnut Hill, according to a report from the Boston Globe.

Stemberg, 66, was battling gastric cancer, which he was diagnosed with two years ago.

The Boston Globe adds that Stemberg was intense and driven and was credited in revolutionizing how office products were sold.

The store that he created now employs 91,000 people in more than 2,000 stores and has annual revenues of $22.5 billion.

Mitt Romney, the co-founder of Bain Capital, the company that backed Stemberg to open the first Staples, told the Boston Globe that he was "an extraordinarily creative and dynamic visionary."

"Tom is one of the great business leaders of our state and our nation," he said. "He was not only the founder but someone who grew the company to a multibillion-dollar enterprise."

The WBUR adds that David Mugar, a Boston philanthropist and businessman who worked with Stemberg at the Star Market grocery store chain, said that he sees Stemberg as a tireless worker with a vision.

"I think he leaves a legacy of working his way up," he said. "Working very hard at creating something from nothing, really from a staple to a company with 2,000 stores at one point."

WBUR adds that Stemberg will be remembered as a visionary who turned an idea into a multi-million dollar company.

The Boston Globe adds that the idea for Staples came to Stemberg while he was driving around in search of a printer ribbon during the Fourth of July weekend in 1985.

He needed the ribbon to finish a proposal for a new business after just being fired as an executive at a supermarket company.

The Boston Globe adds that he was having a hard time finding the right ribbon as most stores were closed.

This struggle has led to Stemberg creating the concept of an office superstore, a one-stop shop for business supplies.

Staples first opened in Brighton in 1986 with the backing of Romney and his company Bain Capital, according to the Boston Globe.

In 1991the company took the stop on Globe's list of 50 fastest growing companies in the state. The company is now worth more than $8 billion.

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