Message from Sam Walton
On this Tuesday evening, I’m flying to Bentonville from Mayfield, Kentucky. I’ve had the extreme pleasure today to help celebrate the Grand Re-opening of our newly remodeled and completely renovated Wal-Mart No. 200 at Jacksonville, Illinois. And what a great job our associates from Jacksonville did on their store. They were so proud of it, and they well should have been. I wish all of you could have been with us for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and other activities. Jacksonville is one of the old Mohr Value take-over stores which we’ve had for four years. We’ve got a great group of dedicated associates in that store. You should have heard their Wal-Mart cheer and song – what spirit! But most importantly what they’ve accomplished in Jacksonville since being a Wal-Mart, even with Kmart and two other major discounters’ competition, I’m convinced can be repeated in almost every Big K store that we’ve acquired. In four years time they’ve more than tripled their sales, from $2.0 to $6.5. Now after being remodeled and completely refixtured, they claim they’ll do $8,000,000 in 1982 and make 8%+ profit. I wouldn’t bet against them! Quite a story, and it’s very typical of all 17 of our Mohr value takeovers, and I suppose is one reason I’m 100% confident we can do the same thing throughout the Big k Division 14 Country with those very fine, enthusiastic associates who have come with us in those stores.
Then to Macomb, Illinois where we have another very fine Wal-Mart program (also a former Mohr Value store) and now a great Wal-Mart. This store, too, would have to measure up to one of the best merchandised Wal-Marts that I’ve seen.
Then this afternoon I dropped into Mayfield, Kentucky to see the spectacular renovation and Grand Opening of the former Big K store in Mayfield. It was absolutely a beautiful store and we were so fortunate to be able to employ many real fine quality associates.
I’m sure Mayfield will be a real Wal-Mart Winner for us, and the former Big K store at Paducah, Kentucky is maintaining an unbelievable sales rate since opening in August. In fact, the farther we get in to the Big K program, the more certain I am that we will do well with every one of the former Big K stores; especially after we have been able to remodel and renovate their buildings and fixtures.
Let me give you a brief update on our store opening and renovation program to date. And what a job our Store Planning and Store Opening personnel have done for us all. As of today, we’ve opened 34 new Wal-Marts, plus 8 new Wal-Marts by acquisition, with 27 more to go for this year. Also we’ve remodeled, relocated and expanded a total of 29 other Wal-Marts with 9 more to go in this category. Some kind of a year – all that on top of the Division 14 Big K acquisition – and I’m happy to report that our total new store program is on plan and under control.
I just wish that I might have gotten to visit the other nearby Wal-Marts around Mayfield today. Especially Princeton, Benton, Fulton, Morganfield, and Central City. I did have the pleasure of visiting with some of our associates from all those fine stores who were in Mayfield helping on the Grand Opening.
So you know I’ve had a good day – just needs to be more time for me to get around to see you all as I once did. My concern is that as we grow larger – now some 460 stores and growing – that we won’t continue to take the time to learn and listen to one another as we once did, This has been a priceless ingredient in our Wal-Mart formula, and we must all, throughout the Company, work hard not to lose this most valuable of assets. We’ve said it often, and I know you believe it. Our people ARE the difference between Wal-Mart and our competitors. And the attitude, dedication, loyalty, and performance of our associates is directly related to the effectiveness of our Wal-Mart management. Do you really care about our people – our associates? Do we listen to them fully and carefully? Do we respond and reply to their questions and problems? Do we involve them completely in our programs – explaining why? Do we express appreciation when a job is done well? Do we counsel and advise constructively when an associate is not performing well? Do we take each other granted? (A real “no-no” in our Wal-Mart company!) Do we encourage the Open Door Policy, realizing that is benefits us all in the long run?
Again and again, and we can’t say it too often. Our 36,000 people in Wal-Mart make the difference! Wal-mart is No. 1, and will continue to be No. 1, as long as we have those 36,000 caring, involved, interested, and enthusiastic people in our stores, distribution centers, and general office. They make us what we are, and they’re great! I just wish it were possible to thank you personally for the fine job you each are doing.
My message must be today – that those of us who are designated as leaders, managers, and supervisors in Wal-Mart, must always put the interest of our associates first. Sensing, supporting, listening, and learning from our associates is, I repeat, a most priceless ingredient in our Wal-Mart formula for our future success as a Company and as individuals. If we are to lead and set a good example in our role as a supervisor or as a management person at any level, we must first learn what it means to serve and support our fellow employees. The phrase – Servant Leader – is most appropriate. In fact, a great criteria for us all would be the test of whether Wal-Mart is, or can be a “People Building Company” rather than a “People Using Institution”. Think on this. You get the message. If we serve, support, train , and involve our associates completely in our Wal-Mart program, regardless of our size or success, we’ll continue to have those satisfied customers shopping our stores and who support us all, and we’ll build together one great company.
OUR PEOPLE DO MAKE THE DIFFERENCE IN WAL-MART! My friends, thanks for listening, and thanks for all you’re doing to make 1981 the very best year we’ve ever had. Good luck!