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Walmart

image via Jared C. Benedict

With thousands of stores located all across the planet, Wal-Mart is easily the largest general retail chain store in the entire world. It’s hard to imagine that only half a decade ago, this super store was just a small start-up business started by Sam Walton; but through Walton’s pioneering concepts, Wal-Mart became what it is today.

Walton was born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma in 1918 but was raised in Missouri. He was exposed to retailing at a young age; his father operated a small store to support the family, aside from being a mortgage banker. Growing up during the Great Depression, Walton had to tend to matters at home as much as those at school. He earned extra money by milking cows and delivering milk and newspapers to people in the neighborhood.

After graduating from college, Walton served briefly during World War II. He took over his first variety store at the age of 26 after the war marking the beginning of his career in retailing.

The retail success story of Walton began in 1962, with the opening of the first Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Arkansas. His management style, coupled with effective marketing strategies, made the store a hit with consumers. Soon, a chain of Walt-Mart stores sprang across America.

One basic concept of management Walton first introduced is the “profit sharing plan.” This plan is made especially for Wal-Mart employees; he believed that happy employees meant happy customers, thus increasing sales. With this plan, employees can increase their income dependent on the store’s profit and become part of the company’s success. Walton also implemented a unique decentralized distribution system, which created the edge to further spur the growth of the superstore.

The discounting dynamo was able to turn Wal-Mart into the largest U.S. retailer by 1991. He passed away a year later as the second richest man in America, behind Bill Gates.

Even after a decade from his passing, Sam Walton’s legacy is still a benchmark for success.

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