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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:00:31
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I didn't know where he came from. I gave that Baron all the power it had and we just barely made it overthe top of the other plane. Then we circled around and landed. This was Ron's first trip with me, and whoknows what he must have thought. But somehow, I talked him into coming to work with us anyway. Hejoined Wal-Mart in 1968 as vice president for finance and distribution.

The Saturday morning meeting is where we discuss and debate much of our philosophy and ourmanagement strategy: it is the focal point of all our communications efforts. It's where we share ideaswe've picked up from various places. And while it's not the most exciting part of the meeting, sometimesI like to read from management articles that pertain to our business. Two of our executives, WesleyWright and Colon Washburn, seem to read just about everything there is in the way of managementliterature, and they're constantly calling useful articles or books to my attention. At the meeting, we'll talkabout competitors, specifically, but also in general. For example, we'll spend ten minutes talking abouthow Wal-Mart can compete successfully with all the good specialty retailers coming onto the scene. It'soften the place where we first decide to try things that seem unattainable. And instead of everybodyshouting it down right away, we try to figure out how to make it work. That's exactly how I ended updancing the hula on Wall Street, by making that bet at a Saturday morning meeting. And, as embarrassingas it was to have to dance on Wall Street, believe me, achieving a pretax profit of more than 8 percent,when most everybody else in the retail industry averages about half that, made it well worth the red face.

  "From day one of Wal-Mart, Mr. Walton made it clear that this wasn't just Ben Franklin with low priceson some items. He wanted real discounting. He said, 'We want to discount everything we carry.' Whenthe other chains around us weren't discounting, he said, 'We advertise that we sell for less, and we meanit!' So whatever else we did, we always had to sell for less. If an item came in and everybody else intown was selling it for twenty-five cents, we'd go with twenty-one cents."CHARLIE CATE,store managerAs I said earlier, once we opened that Wal-Mart in Springdale, I knew we were on to something. Iknew in my bones it was going to work. But at the time, most folksincluding my own brother, Budwerepretty skeptical of the whole concept. They thought Wal-Mart was just another one of Sam Walton'scrazy ideas. It was totally unproven at the time, but it was really what we'd been doing all along:

To understand Wal-Mart's point of view on middlemen, and our relationship with our vendors, you haveto look back to our beginnings in the discount business. In the early days of the industry, mostdiscounters were served entirely by middlemen, jobbers, or distributors who came in and said to thoseold promoters, "We'll keep your shelves filled for 15 percent of the gross." In other words, the price onevery item included a 15 percent commission to the jobber for supplying the merchandise. That's how thefast-buck promoters got into the business without even having to think much like merchants. They tookwhat the jobbers gave them, added on the 15 percent, and still under-priced the department stores by along shot.


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