Sam Walton (1918 – 1992)

Born    : March 29, 1918(1918-03-29) in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, U.S.

Died    : April 5, 1992 (aged 74)in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.

Occupation      : Former Chairman, Wal-Mart

Net worth        : US$58.6 bn (1992 Forbes 400), $128.0 billion (2008), according to Wealthy historical figures 2008.


When a person from Berryville, Arkansas, began opening discount stores outside towns where Sam Walton ran variety stories, he saw what was coming. So, on July 2,1962, at age 44, he opened his first Wal-Mart store, in Rogers, Arkansas. Discounting had hit America in a big way.

Once committed to discounting, Walton began a fight that lasted for the rest of his life. That is to drive costs out of the merchandising system wherever they lay – in the stores, in the manufacturer’s profit margins and with the middleman – all with a view to reducing the prices down, down, and down. Using that formula, which reduced the prices drastically, Wal-Mart sales grew at a relentless pace. Walton hit the road to open stores wherever he saw opportunity. In fact, he would see the layout of the places in his low-flying airplane. When he found the right place in intersections he would touch down, buy a piece of farmland and order up another Wal-Mart store.

As the chain began to take off, Walton made major adjustments to manage the growth. Meanwhile, as early as 1966, when he had 20 stores, he attended the IBM Computer School in order to hire the smartest guy in the class who would computerize his operations. He understood the need for computerizing his merchandise control. Today, Wal-Mart’s computer database is second only to the Pentagon’s in capacity, and though he is rarely remembered that way, Walton may have been the first true information-age CEO.

To his great delight, Walton spent much of his career largely unnoticed by the public or the press. In fact, hardly anyone had ever heard of him when, in 1985, Forbes magazine determined that his 39 per cent ownership of Rd Mart’s stock made him the richest man in America. After that, the first wave 01 attention focused on Walton as a famous retailer. His extraordinary charisma had motivated hundreds of thousands of employees to believe in what Wal-Mart could accomplish, and many of them had traded the company’s stock to wealth. It was truly the American Dream.


Sam Walton was born on March 29,1918 to Thomas Gibson and Nancy Lee Walton near Kingfisher, Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, they owned and lived on a farm until 1923.The Walton family then decided that the farm was not profitable enough to raise a family on. So, Sam and James (Sam’s younger brother born in 1921) had decided they would go back to being a Farm Loan Appraisers. Once this job started the Walton family moved out of Oklahoma and moved from town to town in Missouri. This would traumatize most children but for the Walton boys, it was no big deal. This could be seen when Sam was in 8th grade at Shelbina he became the youngest boy in the state’s history to become an Eagle Scout and this was only a stepping stone to his journey of accomplishments.

As Sam Walton grew up he was always an ambitious boy. He had to help support his family, along with his father and brother because money was lacking due to the depression. Sam’s job was to milk the family cow, bottle the milk, and then deliver the surplus to customers. He would go off to deliver newspapers afterwards. When he graduated from high school he was voted the “Most Versatile Boy” in his class. During this time it would have been easy for Sam to just give up on school and go to work full time. Seeing how his family was struggling to make ends meet, he decided he was going to stay in school and attend the University of Missouri.

As Sam grew up and anyone could see how determined he was to succeed and as time passed he went from being a poor town boy to the richest man in the world. Sam Walton had instituted 10 rules for success, and the 10th rule explains how he achieved all this. It says, “Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody is doing it one way, there is a good chance you can find your niche by going exactly the opposite direction.”

Watson did force a lot of people to change the way they made a living. His use of informational technology to cut costs quickly traveled to all kinds of companies; and his pioneering retailing concepts paved the way for a new breed of  “category killer” retailers like Barnes & Nobles.(Category killer is a term used in marketing to describe a product that has a distinct competitive advantage that competing firms find it almost impossible to operate profitably in that industry.) This wave of low- overhead selling continues to accelerate. The Internet, in fact, is its latest addition. One can only wonder what a young cyber Sam would set out to accomplish if he were just getting started now.

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The company went public (1970), and thanks to a unique decentralized distribution system and Sam’s charismatic leadership and celebrated hands-on management style, it grew faster in the 1980s. In 1991 Wal-Mart became the nation’s largest retailer with 1700 stores, and he was reported by Forbes to be the richest man in the country. He was president and chief executive officer until 1988 and chairman until his death. The family business empire included Arkansas and Oklahoma banks and newspapers. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom shortly before his death in 1992. In 1999 Wal-Mart took over the ASDA group (the second largest super market chain) in the UK.

Sam Walton (1918 – 1992)
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