Sam Walton Wal-mart A Retail Success StoryContrary to popular belief, Sam Walton, the founder of retail giant Wal-Mart, was not from Arkansas. Walton actually hailed from Kingfisher, Oklahoma, born on Marc 29, 1918. He was raised in Missouri where he worked in his father's store as a student. This was where he first learned about retailing and experienced the joy of the business. When he graduated from the University of Missouri in 1940, he started his own career as a retail merchant when he opened the first of several franchises of the Ben Franklin five-and-dime franchises in Arkansas. This would lead to bigger and better things and he soon opened his first Wal-Mart store in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas. Wal-Mart specialized in name-brands at low prices and Sam Walton was surprised at the huge success that came to him and his retail business. Soon, a chain of Wal-Mart stores sprang up across rural America.
Walton is a legend in the retail industry. His management style was popular with employees and he founded some of the basic concepts of management that are still in use today. After taking the company public in 1970, Walton introduced his "profit sharing plan". The profit sharing plan was a plan for Wal-Mart employees to improve their income dependent on the profitability of the store. Sam Walton believed that "individuals don't win, teams do". Employees at Wal-Mart stores were offered stock options and store discounts. Such benefits are very common nowadays, but it was Walton who was one of the first in the business who implemented those business strategies. He believed that by giving employees a part of the company and making their success dependent on the company's success, they would care about the company.
By the 1980's, Wal-Mart had sales of over one billion dollars and over three hundred stores across North America. Wal-Mart's unique decentralized distribution system, also Walton's idea, created the edge needed to further spur growth in the 1980's amidst growing complaints that the "superstore" was squelching smaller, traditional Mom and Pop stores. By 1991, Wal-Mart was the largest U.S. retailers with 1,700 stores. Walton remained active in managing the company, as president and CEO until 1988 and was the chairman until his death in 1992. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom shortly before his death.
When Walton died, he held the position of being the world's second richest man, behind Bill Gates. He passed his company down to his three sons, daughter and wife. Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated (located in Bentonville, Arkansas) is also in charge of Sam's Club, a chain of membership-only retail clubs. Wal-Mart stores now operate in Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, China and Puerto Rico. Sam Walton's visions were indeed successful.
In Walton's biography, Made in America : My Story he outlines what he feels are the ten commandments of business:
1. Commit to your goals
2. Share your rewards
3. Energize your colleagues
4. Communicate all you know
5. Value your associates
6. Celebrate your success
7. Listen to everyone
8. Deliver more than you promise
9. Work smarter than others
10. Blaze your own path
By following his advice maybe you too can become a retail giant someday.
By: Anne Carter
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