Their life is the story of rise from streets to the corridors of power, from scarcity to abundance, from a nobody to height of fame, these are the people who have defied all odds to reach the pinnacle of success. We share today the inspiring story of rise from rags to riches of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.
“Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom.”
Born to Thomas Gibson Walton and Nancy Lee in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, US on March 29, 1918, Sam Walton grew up during the Great Depression at the family farms milking the cows and supplying the surplus to customer to make ends meet. To support his family he did all kind of odd jobs from distributing newspapers to waiting tables.
After high school he decided to attend college and completed his graduation in 1940 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. After graduation he joined as management trainee in a company from where he resigned to be inducted in army for service in World War II. In army he reached the position of captain before leaving in 1945.
At the age of 26 he started his first variety store in Newport, Arkansas with the help of a loan of $20000 and his small savings. He named his store Ban Franklin. With some innovations and pioneering concepts the sales of his store increased 3 fold within 3 years. He opened his second store after three years at a distance of 200 miles from the first store. This gave him huge lessons about management and delegation of responsibility. After tasting success with these stores he went into overdrive and started opening new outlets and in 12 years he expanded to 18 Ben Franklin franchises.
He encouraged his managers to innovate and got them deeply involved by offering them equity stakes in business. This motivation of his team went a long way in designing his success. Another unique strategy by Sam was that he chose the location of his stores in smaller towns rather than the big cities, a usual practice at that time. He used to say “If everybody is doing it one way, there is a good chance you can find your niche by going exactly in the opposite direction.”
The first true Wal-Mart opened in Rogers, Arkansas on July 2, 1962. In Wal-Mart stores Sam Walton strategically marketed American products. This helped to bring down his acquisition cost of the merchandise significantly and became more competitive than the foreign companies. As a result of this he was able to pass on the savings in product pricing to the customers. He said “There is only one boss. The customer, and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
Within next five years Walmart expanded to 24 outlets and US$12.6 million in sales. Growing rapidly from a retail chain in Arkansas it has become world’s largest company by revenue and as of January 31, 2017 Walmart has 11,695 stores and clubs in 28 countries around the globe.
Walton married Helen Robson on February 14, 1943. They had four children. Walton was included in Times list of 100 most influential people of the 20th century in 1998. He has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992. Sam M. Walton College of Business at University of Arkansas is named in his honor. He had been ranked the richest person in the United States from 1982 to 1988 by the Forbes magazine. At the age of 74, Walton died on April 5, 1992 due to blood cancer in Little Rock, Arkansas. He left the ownership of his company to his wife and their children.
“IF YOU LOVE YOUR WORK, YOU’LL BE OUT THERE EVERYDAY TRYING TO DO IT THE BEST YOU POSSIBLY CAN, AND PRETTY SOON EVERYBODY AROUND WILL CATCH THE PASSION FROM YOU LIKE A FEVER.” – SAM WALTON
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