I’m getting a little defensive over the Wal-Mart “thing” due to living in the Northeast and Germany, where Wal-Mart has been chewed up and spit out. I have to admit that I hate having the Wal-Mart conversation with many people in both of these places. Most typically, they boastfully say, “Well, Wal-Mart couldn’t succeed here.” I’m not completely sure why that is something to be proud of in itself. I think that folks are saying it because the big company didn’t overrun their town or country and turn everyone into mindless (money-saving) zombies with small businesses left in the wake. But that’s not the point of my post… that’s another conversation that maybe I’ll find interesting enought to write about at some point. My point is that
- Even though they are a very large corporation and I’m quite sure there are people involved with Wal-Mart that have both deliberately made unethical decisions and mistakenly made bad decisions
- And yes, turning a ship that big is hard, and they can’t react in the way they used to be able to react
- And yes, they have lost some of their charm with Mr. Walton gone
… I still respect what Wal-Mart has done and I’m proud they are from Arkansas… my home state.
I’ll give you my top 5 reasons why I respect Wal-Mart:
- Before Ben & Jerry’s, Google, and Southwest, Wal-Mart shared success throughout the ranks. Yes, across the South, there are people who were cashiers at Wal-Mart who are millionaires now. Sam Walton believed in his employees and rewarded them with stock in the company through ESOPs and stock grants.
- Note… The company doesn’t have that leverage for employees now due to their size. This is a law of nature, not something evil they are doing to their employees.
I recently learned from the book What I Learned from Sam*Walton that there was an internal rally cry at Sam’s Club, HEATKTE, which stood for “high expectations are the key to everything”. This is how Mr. Walton ran the company. He expected more… all the time… from everyone. He was tough, but inspirational, and he built an outstanding company that has been the most successful company in my lifetime.
Please know I am not saying Wal-Mart is perfect. I don’t think this. I also don’t think they deserve the ire they have stirred up in people. Before you bash them, make sure you know the facts. The company has done a great deal of good and are a model company in many ways, particularly looking at the first 4/5ths of their existence.
OK, I’ve gotten that off my chest. Feel free to hurl insults my way for standing up for the big evil American corporation.