Samuel Walton, Founder of Walmart
Samuel Walton(Sam) was born in 1918 in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. When he was only 5 years old, his father decided to move to Florida in search of a better living as it was getting increasingly difficult to make financial ends meet in Oklahoma.
Sam was a quick learner in school and was also active in sports. While he was a student in Missouri, he became the youngest Eagle Scout in the history of the state. But life wasn’t all roses for him in his childhood. The financial situation of his family along with other American families worsened during the Great depression. During the Great depression, virtually every American family suffered and apart from studying, many students had to work in order to support their families. Sam was also actively involved in supporting his family. He used to milk the family cow, bottled the extra milk and delivered it to the customers. He also delivered newspapers on a paper route. Probably his versatility was groomed in his early childhood and it was also recognized in his high school when he was voted as “Most Versatile Boy.”
After graduating from college, he was hired by J.C Penny as a management trainee in Iowa. But after serving for about 18 months, he resigned from the company hoping that he would get a chance to take part in World War 2. Eventually, he served in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps, reaching the rank of Captain.
Post World War 2, the grounds for World’s largest retail chain started getting laid when he started managing a variety store. After some time, he took a loan of $20,000 from his father in law which helped him purchase a Ben Franklin variety store in Arkansas. There, he learnt his first lessons as an entrepreneur. He started innovating with his store and his store was always a hit among the customers. He always ensured that the shelves had variety and are never depleted with products. It was no surprise that within three years his sales volume grew from $80,000 to $225,000.
With the help of his brother, in Missouri alone, he owned 16 stores by 1962. One of his innovative business tactics included encouraging the store managers to invest and take equity stake in the company. Thereby encouraging them to take responsible role in the functioning of the company.
But the Walmart in the ‘modern sense’ was created in the year 1962 in Arkansas. Sam was never shy of adopting innovative business ideas in his business and very candidly admitted that his one-stop-shopping center format was based on Meijer’s concept. Founded in 1934 as a supermarket chain, Meijer pioneered the modern supercenter concept. Also, one of the reasons why Sam succeeded in popularizing Walmart is that he located his stores in smaller towns and not larger cities. Though logistics was an issue to a certain degree back in 1962, he worked on this by ensuring that the stores are located within a day’s drive proximity to Walmart’s regional warehouses. Also in order to ensure that there is no dependency, he creating his own trucking service. From about 190 stores in 1977, almost 800 stores were opened by 1980. From 1982 to 1988, Sam remained the richest man in America.
In 2015, Samuel Walton‘s net worth is more than $100 billion. From delivering newspapers and milking cows to becoming one of the most successful businessman ever, this story of Samuel Walton is an epitome of ‘rags to riches entrepreneur’ journey.
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