Editor in Chief

Tim Talevich, ’78, connects Costco and the consumer through the written word

Written by Annie Beckmann
Photography by Doug Ogle
January 23, 2015
An editor’s job has much to do with ensuring a publication is all it can be—timely, well written, informative, accurate. Unsurprisingly, editors often feel a twinge of anxiety when a print publication goes to press.

Imagine what that anxious twinge must be like for Tim Talevich, ’78, editorial director for Costco Wholesale, which publishes more than 12 million copies of The Costco Connection each month around the world, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Taiwan, Korea and, most recently, Japan and Australia.

“We hold on to our chairs and hope for the best,” he says with a laugh. “The process definitely keeps you alert and humbles you somewhat. The only thing predictable is that my day is unpredictable.”

The Costco Connection began as a quarterly publication in 1987, initially in newspaper format. By 1998, it became a magazine.

“Our magazine reflects the character of our members,” says Talevich. “They love and trust international brands, but they also appreciate top-quality local companies. Walk into any Costco around the world and you’ll find the same mix.”

From a maze of cubicles at Costco headquarters in Issaquah, Talevich guides editorial content with a staff of 30—writers, graphic designers, circulation, production and advertising teams—along with a bevy of freelancers.  

When The Costco Connection features an article about a product, typically it generates a spike in sales for that item. “We have to be careful that we’ll have enough to go around,” Talevich says, citing examples of a column on Kirkland Signature gas that prompted a big jump in sales at pumps at Costco’s 385 U.S. stations as well as at international locations.

Talevich says his love of writing has always had a practical application. In one of his recent editor’s columns, he describes the goals of The Connection: Be useful, be informative, be interesting and be unique.

If his name sounds familiar, it should. His late father John, ’49, late mother Mary, ’48, sister Rebekah, ’74, and son Peter, ’09, JD, are all Seattle U alumni. (Peter now works for K&L Gates in Seattle.) John Talevich served as a distinguished journalism professor here.

“I never took a class from Dad. The word on campus was that he was tough,” says Tim, who grew up on Capitol Hill and completed a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Oregon before working for the Eugene Register-Guard newspaper. After a few years, he returned to the Puget Sound region and worked for other smaller newspapers, then spent several years freelancing for numerous clients.

In 1990, a writer friend of his who had been freelancing for The Connection suggested he give it a try. By 1994, he had joined the reporting staff.

“I’ve been a lucky person in many ways,” he says. “I’m one of very few who haven’t come up through the warehouses. That’s our policy except for some of the more technical roles and attorneys.”

Good fortune shadows Talevich. He beat leukemia. A year later, he started fundraising through triathlon endurance events for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in the organization’s Team in Training program. He has completed 15 of these events and raised more than $100,000 since 2002 after finishing chemotherapy.

This speaks to the role he says Seattle U plays in his career and in his life.

“The Jesuits helped instill a sense of community and giving back that I seek to follow both at work and beyond.”

Fun Facts
• For 14 years, Tim Talevich and his team have produced an annual cookbook and a whopping three million copies were given away in stores right after Thanksgiving last year.

• A recent issue of The Costco Connection reported that International Greetings, the global enterprise that designs gift wrap for Costco, has been supplying wrapping paper to the British royal family since 2013.

• An article on Costco meatballs revealed it took more than six months of taste testing different spice blends before landing on an Italian-style beef meatball versatile enough to be a Swedish meatball as well as a meatball in barbecue sauce.

• Color can have an emotional impact, according to a column in a recent issue, which says red “grabs attention and conveys energy, excitement and a sense of urgency.”
Tim Talevich Tim Talevich, '78, oversees the editorial content for Costco including The Costco Connection, which publishes more than 12 million copies a month.