“I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, to take things beyond where they've been.”
– Sam Walton
Samuel Moore Walton was born on March 29, 1918 at Kingfisher, Oklahoma. He is an American businessman popularly known as the founder of the famous retailers Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club.
Walton’s childhood is not lavish. He had to work on several chores to support the financial needs of his family which was customary during the time of Great Depression.
Following high school, Walton attended college in the hopes to support his family better. He joined the University of Missouri as an ROTC cadet. During his college days, he is a working student with various odd jobs like waiting tables in trade for meals. Few days after graduation, he joined J.C. Penney as a management apprentice in Des Moines, Iowa where he spent just about eighteen months.
He left J.C. Penney in the hopes to be trained for military service in World War II. For a time being, he worked at DuPont munitions plant near Tulsa, Oklahoma. Eventually, he became officially part of the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps where he supervised the security of aircraft plants and the prisoners of war camps until he attained the position of Captain.
Walton left the military after three years, got married and had a child. He decided to put up a business to support his family. He was able to loan $20,000 from his father in law to which he added another $5,000 from his savings to purchase a Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas. His business took off because of his low price strategy and long store hours.
In 1950, his Ben Franklin store became the top performing store in his area. Because of this, Walton’s landlord wanted to buy the store from him for his son to which he deliberately refused. As a result, his landlord did not let him renew the lease and he was then forced to close down. Determined as usual, he started looking for a new place to set up his store. He found a good place at Bentonville where he opened the Walton's Five and Dime and made a 99-year lease to avoid the same mistake from happening. That was the time when Walton’s business started to flourish.
Walton’s ultimate plan is to operate huge superstores in rural areas that offer wide variety of discounted products. He approached Ben Franklin with this idea but they turned down his proposal.
Decided to succeed, he took the plunge alone without any big company behind him. He borrowed money against everything he possessed to build the first Wal-Mart in Rogers, Arkansas. That was the biggest risk he took that turned out really well. He was able to expand his business in 1969 where he had a total of eighteen Wal-Marts in Arkansas and Missouri and still growing in numbers until present.
His success with Wal-Mart led him to an idea to create another store – Sam's Wholesale Clubs. This store aims to provide wholesale products at discounted prices for small business owners. This idea becomes a huge success for Walton and in the year 1985, he was recognized as the wealthiest man in America by Forbes magazine.
Affirmation for today:
I am never too old or too young to succeed big!