Every time I stop in at Staples — although I didn’t know until recently — I have Mitt Romney to thank for its existence. I don’t know what I’d do without Staples in the small town where I live – from the array of printer cartridges to the choice of mice. My neighbor takes her computer in for a regular cleaning. The staff answer our questions, capably and politely.

Mitt Romney did far more than finance Staples. That multi-millionaire pitched in to stock shelves at the flagship store and for years worked hard on its board of directors, so intensely involved he’d soak through dress shirts.

It’d be hard to put the Staples story in a stump speech, although it exemplifies the executive qualities we need in a president. If every voter knew about these qualities, they’d know who to vote for.

  • Mitt didn’t let others’ uneasiness deter him from taking his own look at the Staples concept
  • He had the ability to see possibilities others missed
  • He sold the concept to his own doubtful partners
  • He conducted due diligence
  • He personally followed through — at every step — to ensure the first Staples store lived up to his concept of a “supermarket” for office supplies

From “How Involved Was Mitt Romney in the Founding of Staples?,” an article at Mental Floss (“where knowledge junkies get their fix”):

In every debate this campaign season, Mitt Romney has been hammered by his Republican rivals for essentially teaching companies how to ship jobs overseas during his days at Bain. Romney almost always responds by saying he actually created jobs, and helped start Staples. Did Romney really have a hand in creating an office supply giant?

He did. More accurately, he convinced a bunch of people with a lot of money that Staples’ business model would work. He also put in a few shifts at the first store.

Let’s start at the beginning. In 1984, Romney left consulting firm Bain & Company to co-found their new private equity investment firm, Bain Capital. Not long after, supermarket executive Thomas G. Stemberg approached Bain with an idea. According to Staples company lore, Stemberg was working on a business proposal over a holiday weekend when his printer ribbon broke. “After driving from store to store and not finding the correct ribbon,” Staples.com explains, “Tom came to a realization: The world needed a supermarket for office products.”

When Stemberg went looking for a venture capital, he got laughed out of offices all over Boston. …

Be sure to go to the original site and read what a tough time Stemberg had in getting investors to listen to him. Next, here’s a section on how Romney made Staples possible:

When Stemberg took the idea to Bain, Romney was intrigued, but his colleagues were uneasy. Romney decided to do a little research and the firm began surveying small businesses in the area. They found that business managers often thought they were spending very little on supplies, and believed it would cost more to send someone to a store to buy them. When they talked to accountants at the same businesses, though, they often found the places were spending as much as five times more than management thought. Romney figured the savings Stemberg’s store could provide justified someone having to actually go there. He took his survey results to his partners and convinced them that Stemberg’s model could work. They agreed, and gave Stemberg the initial funding for what would eventually become the Staples chain.

Romney’s role didn’t end there. He was very involved with the first Staples store when it opened. Stemberg was short on hands, so the Bain Capital guys helped out, picking out the computer system and stocking shelves for the first few weeks it was open.

Romney didn’t stock printers for long, but he did sit on the Staples board for years. Even out of the store, he put in hard work, though. In his VC days, Romney reportedly got so stressed out and exerted himself so much that he regularly sweat through his dress shirts. It happened so often, in fact, that his Bain Capital friends came up with the term “pitting” to describe it.

Read the rest of the fascinating story here: “How Involved Was Mitt Romney in the Founding of Staples?.”

How about that? Can any of us imagine that Barack Obama has ever worked that hard? Furthermore, as Obama’s government buddies have proved, it takes a real businessman, with a history of success, to envision new enterprises that have a good shot at success.

And do you think that Mitt Romney would ever permit the rewriting of a contract to make taxpayers the chumps who have to pick up the tab for his failed investment?

Go ahead and ask the same of Rick Santorum … how many businesses has he had the vision to create and work long hours to bring to fruition? Yeah …

No matter. Congratulations to Romney, and his partners at Bain, for creating a business that provides a true service.