Author Topic: Sam Walton - Made in America  (Read 1429 times)

longinvestor

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Sam Walton - Made in America
« on: October 08, 2018, 07:25:18 AM »
Just finished reading this book. Irrespective of where one is when thinking about his baby, Wal-mart, this is an exceptional story. He is a true original, and arguably there are only a few every century. Winning this big in brutal retail is quite something. Sam's winning approach reeks of simplicity and putting customer first.

Here are some interesting tidbits that I was not aware of before hearing it from the horse's mouth,

- He copied shamelessly; there was never a trip that he took (family camping, business meetings) where  he did not pay a visit to the local retailers. He says he's been in more K-Mart stores than he can count, probably more than K-Mart management!
- Wal-mart's success came about because he was never afraid of trying new things, change at a whim. It defies the stodgy, cast-in-stone image that shopping there would present itself. Most notably the switch to IT enabled logistics from his paper based management was a huge turning point.
- Until he could no longer keep up with the growing store count, every single site was chosen by Sam flying his plane repeatedly over the target locale! He did this apparently single handedly until store #400. Apparently this continues.
- His foray into retailing with the first variety store success ending abruptly because he did not read the lease he'd signed. The owner took over the property! That day forward, all leases are 99 years. They read now.
- His employee base (especially the early and long termers) include many millionaires via stock ownership. Of course he pays just enough as the labor market pushes him to. But apparently they ask for ideas from everyone in the rank and file. Don't know if this is current practice. As an online grocery shopper myself, I am pleased as  a punch with the customer friendliness of the associates who load my car.
- How he arm wrestled P&G to submission is quite a story. Buffett / Munger are surely keenly aware of this with the ownership of packaged goods and Costco.
- I simply loved his Saturday morning management meetings at every store. That captures what it is all about..

 - Just like Buffett, he shares in the same world view and has done similar things: newspaper routes, frugal living, inherited wealth (he threatens to come out of the "box" should future Waltons splurge in vanities), local empowerment (biz/store) etc.

If Wal-Mart keeps Sam's approach substantially intact, they are not going down anytime soon. But time will tell.

Just as Buffett says about Rose Blumkin, absorbing Walton's story is worth a business degree.

 
« Last Edit: October 08, 2018, 07:27:30 AM by longinvestor »


globalfinancepartners

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Re: Sam Walton - Made in America
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2018, 07:29:13 AM »
Totally agree, it was a great book.  I had my 18 year old son read it recently.  Don't remember it being part of the book, but interesting how the 3G principals would make pilgrimages to Arkansas to study at the foot of the master.  That's a smart thing to do, and lucky access to get.

longinvestor

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Re: Sam Walton - Made in America
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2018, 03:00:30 PM »
Totally agree, it was a great book.  I had my 18 year old son read it recently.  Don't remember it being part of the book, but interesting how the 3G principals would make pilgrimages to Arkansas to study at the foot of the master.  That's a smart thing to do, and lucky access to get.

Cost saving ideas will make you blush. In business travel, they share hotel rooms and such. It is this attitude that will make them a fierce competitor. 3G is correct in copying this. After all, ALL businesses need to practice cost reduction. Unfortunately many waste their energy trying to get price and try changing customer behavior instead. Every one wants to be like Apple but in reality most (virtually all) need to be like Wal-Mart. They end up losing to the Wal-Marts of the world.

What's striking after reading the book is how much can one person shape an entire industry. 

Liberty

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