Meet Samuel Moore “Sam” Walton
(March 29, 1918 – April 5, 1992)
An American businessman and entrepreneur born in Kingfisher,
Oklahoma, he was the founder of Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart, which is one of the world’s
largest general retail chain stores. By 2001, Wal-Mart had over 4500 stores worldwide.
I think the attached email that was forwarded to me today, about the success of this giant retail store, is very interesting (see below), especially when you consider the man behind the store, who founded it.
How many of you knew that Sam Walton was a committed Christian?
Could this be the reason behind the success of Wal-Mart? I think so.
Here is a little history behind the man:
Sam began his retail career working for another Christian business man, JC Penney, where he began as a management trainee in Des Moines, Iowa; and he got that position only three days after graduating from college. His starting salary was $75 a month.
He resigned J.C. Penny in 1942 in anticipation of being inducted into the military, for service in World War II.
In the meantime, he worked at a DuPont munitions plant near Tulsa, Oklahoma; and soon afterwards he joined the military, and worked in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps, supervising security at aircraft plants and prisoner of war camps. In this position he served at Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, Utah; and eventually he earned the rank as captain.
After leaving the Army, in 1945, Sam opened a variety store; with help from his father-in-law, who loaned him $20,000; and with the $5,000 he had saved from his time in the Army, he purchased a Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas. The store was a franchise of the Butler Brothers chain.
It was in this first story that Sam Walton pioneered many concepts that would prove to be crucial to his success.
Walton made sure the shelves were consistently stocked with a wide range of goods at low prices.
His store also stayed open later than most other stores, especially during the Christmas season.
He also pioneered the practice of discount merchandising by buying wholesale goods from the lowest priced supplier.
This allowed him to pass on savings to his customers, which drove up his sales volume.
These higher volumes allowed him to negotiate even lower purchase prices with the wholesaler on subsequent purchases.
Walton’s store led in sales and profits in the Butler Brothers’ six-state region.
Another factor that made this store successful was its central location, making it accessible to a wide range of customers.
In an attempt to limit the expansion of his main competitor, the Sterling Store, Walton leased a nearby Kroger store and opened it in 1950 as the “Eagle” department store, but it didn’t fare as well.
However, due to the variety store’s enormous success, the landlord who owned the property, P.K. Holmes, refused to renew Sam Walton’s lease when it expired; desiring rather to pass the store along to his son.
The lack of having the option to renew his lease, together with the fact that he was being charged an outrageous rent of 5% of his sales, all of this served as an invaluable lesson in business to young Sam Walton.
Despite his forcing Sam Walton out of business, his former landlord agreed to purchase the store’s inventory and fixtures for $50,000, which Walton called “a fair price”.
From there, Sam Walton arranged to open another store; but since he was unable to find a place in Newport, the location of his first store, he instead moved to Bentonville, Arkansas, where he opened “Walton’s Five and Dime.”
Incidentally, the original store, now called the Wal-Mart Visitor’s Center, is located at 105 North Main Street, Bentonville, Arkansas.
In Bentonville, the Waltons also became involved in numerous civic activities; and Sam Walton served as president of the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce.
From there, Sam Walton went on to open more Ben Franklin Stores with the help of his brother, his father-in-law, and his brother-in-law.
In 1954, he opened a store with his brother James “Bud” Walton in a shopping center in Ruskin Heights, a suburb of Kansas City.
He later opened another store in Arkansas, but it failed to be as successful as his other stores.
Sam then decided to concentrate on the retail business instead of the shopping centers, and opened even larger stores which were called “Walton’s Family Center.”
Sam Walton also offered managers the opportunity to become limited partners, if they would invest in the store they oversaw and managed, and would invest a maximum of $1,000 in new outlets as they opened.
This motivated the managers to always try to maximize profits and improve their managerial skills; and by 1962, Sam Walton and his brother Bud owned sixteen variety stores in Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas (fifteen Ben Franklin and one independent Fayetteville store).
The first true Wal-Mart opened on July 2, 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas; and it was called the Wal-Mart Discount City store; and it was located at 719 West Walnut Street.
Soon after the opening of that first Wal-Mart, the Walton brothers teamed up with another business man, Stefan Dasbach, which to the purchase of many stores to come.
It is interesting also that Sam Walton had a goal and a determination to market American-made products, in his stores; and also, along with that determination, he also had a willingness to find American manufacturers who would supply merchandise for the entire Wal-Mart chain at a price low enough to meet the foreign competition.
Regarding Sam Walton’s family, he married Helen Robson in 1943. They had four children: S. Robson “Rob” Walton, John T. Walton, Jim Walton, and Alice Walton.
He also supported various charitable causes, including those of his church, the Presbyterian Church (USA)’
He also established The Sam and Helen R. Walton Award, which was created in 1991; when the Waltons made a gift of $6 million which included an endowment in the amount of $3 million to provide annual awards to new church developments that are working in creative ways to share the Christian faith in local communities.
Sam Walton died on Sunday April 5, 1992, of multiple myeloma, a type of a bone cancer, in Little Rock, Arkansas. The news of his death was relayed by satellite to all 1,960 Wal-Mart stores.
He left his ownership in Wal-Mart to his wife and their children: Rob Walton succeeded his father as the Chairman of the Board of Wal-Mart, and John was a director until his death in a 2005 plane crash.
The others are not directly involved in the company (except through their voting power as shareholders). The Walton family held five spots in the top ten richest people in the United States until 2005.
Here are a few other interesting facts:
In 1985, Sam Walton began a program designed to stem the ‘tide of communism’ in Central America by promoting capitalism and privatization.
In 1998, Walton was included in Time’s list of 100 most influential people of the 20th Century.
Sam Walton was honored for all his pioneering efforts in retail in March 1992, when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H. W. Bush.
Also that year, the Jiangsu province of the People’s Republic of China awarded him the Golden Star Foreigner’s Award for “tireless assistance in the development of People’s owned factories in the Suzhou area”.
Forbes ranked Sam Walton as the richest man in the United States from 1982 to 1988, ceding the top spot to John Kluge in 1989 when the editors began to credit Walton’s fortune jointly to him and his four children. (Note: Bill Gates first headed the list in 1992, the year Walton died).
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. also runs Sam’s Club warehouse stores.
Wal-Mart stores also operate in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
At the University of Arkansas, the Business College (Sam M. Walton College of Business) is named in his honor.
Mr. Walton was also inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1992.
(Please note most of the information and history used in this article, was found at Wikipedia)
I don’t think that it is by accident that this store chain is as successful as it is.
As I read my Bible I find that it has always been God’s will to prosper His children, as truly any loving earthly father would also want for his kids; but it doesn’t end there, because my Bible also says that it is also God’s will that we be in good health too, but it says, “even as our soul prospers” (see 3 John 1:2).
I thought this article might be an encouragement to all of us, particularly in these times.
We all know the enormous success of the Wal-Mart chain, but how many of us knew the man behind that success?
I think it is very interesting to note that he was a Christian brother.
As for the suggestion that all we have to do is elect, or hire, the man who runs Wal-Mart, to run our government, I don’t think it is as easy as that.
Whereas I certainly admit, having someone at the helm of our government, in the office of President, who does have some real business savvy and experience is certainly is certainly perferred; or in lieu of that, as the book of Proverbs says, at the very least, our president should have wise councilors around him, on staff, of men and women to advise him, who do have that experience and knowledge.
As it is, the Obama Administration is hiring anything but experienced people!
The next point why I don’t think the suggestion that we merely elect the head of Wal-Mart, or someone like him, to run our country, is viable solution to our nation’s problems, is because our problems go much deeper than that!
Barack Obama, as much as I dislike his policies, and what he is doing to our country, he is just one man; and he was elected to that office by a majority vote of the people who voted for him; and so as I see it, he is but a reflection of the values of our society at large!
No, what I see as our ONLY solution, is a grassroots movement of God, that effects our nation from the bottom up… where we focus our attention primarily on the reestablishment of Godly families, where the family altar, and studying and teaching our children from the Bible is common place again, in most every American family; where God and prayer, and teaching from the Bible is brought back again into our public education system.
Unless we can have this sort of grassroots change, that affects our nation from the bottom up, then anything that comes out of Washington DC, without that change at the grassroots level, will be only more of the same; and I can tell you this for sure… we can’t go much further in this direction, because we are just about at the end of our rope.
Either we turn back to God, or we will be history, as a free nation… and it is as simple as that!
Again, this is my soapbox speech for today… please do let me know how you feel, and what your opinions are?
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 2:31 PM
To: Skip Barland
|I knew Wal-Mart was doing well , this is interesting…
You may think that I am complaining, but I am really laying the ground work for suggesting that MAYBE we should elect, or hire the guys who run Wal-Mart to Fix the economy.
This should be read and understood by all Americans Democrats, Republicans, EVERYONE!!!
Please consider these facts:
The truth is our Federal Government has FAILED in every “government service program” it has ever attempted; and yet this present Obama administration is increasing the size and cost to run our already over extended government, beyond all reason… and the truth is, we just don’t have the money to pay for it!
Yet and still, this president expects us to believe that after this dismal track record, that our Federal Government, and his administration, can now be trusted to take over and manage our nation’s Health Care system?
Who do they think they are fooling?
Folks, keep this circulating. It is very well stated. Maybe it will end up in the e-mails of some of our “duly elected’ and their staff (they never read anything) will clue them in on how Americans feel.