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From a farm boy living in the outskirts of Oklahoma to becoming the richest man in America in the 1980s and revolutionizing the way the country did business, Sam Walton’s legacy continues to live on. By the time he passed away in 1992, Sam Walton had amassed a fortune in excess of $25 billion and today, his brainchild Wal-Mart continues to bring in revenues of over $300 billion, making it the world’s largest retailer. Born on March 29, 1918 near Kingfisher, Oklahoma, Samuel Moore Walton grew up on a farm with his brothers and parents, Thomas Gibson and Nancy Lee Walton. They moved to Missouri when his father decided that farm life was not substantial enough to support the family and he became a farm loan appraiser. While this meant that the family would constantly be on the move throughout Missouri, Walton did not let this affect him. In his grade eight school at Shelbina, Walton became the youngest Eagle Scout in the history of the state. While attending Hickman High School, Walton excelled in both sports and academics, winning the state title as quarterback and also becoming Vice President and later President of the student government. He was also voted Most Versatile Boy at his graduation. After high school, Walton enrolled in the University of Missouri, pursuing an economics degree in an attempt to find a way to help support his family. To pay his tuition, Walton worked as a waiter, lifeguard and newspaper delivery boy. Outside of class, Walton kept busy as an ROTC officer, member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and as President of a Sunday school class. He was so popular with his classmates that when he graduated in 1940, he was voted permanent President of the class. Walton knew he had an interest in commerce and aspired to attend the Wharton School of Business, but knew he could not afford it. Just three days after graduating from college, Walton found employment as a management trainee with JCPenney in Iowa. Though he was earning $75/month, he resigned in 1942 in order to be free to serve in the US military. He worked at a DuPont munitions plant in Oklahoma until he was called to join the army. One year later, Walton was called for service with the US Army Intelligence Corps. Here, he worked as a security officer at aircraft plants and prisoner of war camps within the US. After just three years, Walton had reached the rank of Captain but felt his time with the army had come to an end. It wasn’t until 1945, when Walton was 27 years old, that he decided to enter the retail industry. With a $20,000 loan from his father-in-law and $1,000 of his own savings, Walton purchased a Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas. A franchise of the Butler Brothers chain, this would prove to be the beginning of his remarkable retail success and would also be the testing ground for many of the pioneering ideas that Walton would later implement in his Wal-Mart stores. “There’s a lot more business out there in small town America than I ever dreamed of,” said Walton. The success of his first variety store took even Walton by surprise, leading in sales and profits in the sixstate region in which the Butler Brothers operated. By consistently stocking his shelves with discounted products, keeping later hours than most others, and buying wholesale goods from the cheapest suppliers,
Walton managed to significantly increase his sales volume. But, Walton’s success would not be allowed to go unchecked. When the landlord of the store realized his opportunity, he refused to renew Walton’s expired lease and instead gave the store to his own son. P.K.Holmes essentially forced Walton out of business and bought his inventory for $50,000, which at the time Walton called “ a fair price.” Although he had lost his business, this setback would not deter Walton. He launched another Ben Franklin store in Bentonville, Arkansas and called it the Walton Five and Dime. Its success enabled him to open a second store in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which was not a Ben Franklin franchise, but was equally successful. He continued to expand and by 1962, Walton owned sixteen variety stores throughout Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas. It was also during this expansion period where Walton first began the practice of profit sharing, offering managers limited partnerships in order to create incentives and generate company loyalty. In 1962, Walton opened the first official Wal-Mart in Rogers, Arkansas, with a mission to provide discounted goods to rural America. The chain of stores continued to spread across the U.S. and was formally incorporated as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 1969. Three years later, it became a publicly trade company. In the early years, stores were intentionally setup within one-day driving distance from the company’s distribution centre so as to ensure immediate restocking. Between 1970-1980, Wal-Mart’s sales increased from $313 million to $1.2 billion with the number of stores increasing 8.5 fold. Walton financed his expansion through a combination of vendor’s money and bank debt, which he was largely able to pay off with the company’s profits from going public. In 1983, Sam Walton decided to open another chain of stores. Sam’s Club became a members-only warehouse chain, which first opened in Midwest City, Oklahoma. Here, products were sold in bulk and arranged in a warehouse style. Sam’s Club found similar success to Wal-Mart and Walton was able to expand the chain throughout the U.S. In 1990, Wal-Mart had become America’s number one retailer. But, Walton had even bigger dreams for his company; he wanted to go global. In 1991, Wal-Mart made its first presence on the international market by opening a store in Mexico City and from that point on there was no turning back. Wal-Mart continued to expand across the continental U.S. and in international markets. Today, Wal-Mart is the largest grocery chain in the U.S., the largest private employer in all of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, and earns revenues of over $300 billion. Similarly, Sam’s Clubs reports sales revenues of almost $40 billion and also continues to expand into international markets. Kartikey Sharma http://rew2019.wordpress.com/