Sam Walton: Biography

There are not many entrepreneurs, who were able to shape the development of the entire industries, and such individuals usually attract the attention of both economists and journalists. Sam Walton is one of such people since he shaped the work of retailing companies in the United States and many other countries. This paper is aimed at discussing the major landmarks in his life and career. Overall, it is possible to say that he demonstrated the importance of inventory management for the sustainable growth and development of enterprises. His business practices are now emulated by many companies, especially retailers. This is one of his major contributions.

Sam Walton was born to a family of farmers in 1918 (Krieg 96). They lived in a small town, Kingfisher, located in Oklahoma. Since childhood, this person was accustomed to supporting his family. For example, he often assisted his mother who was engaged in the milk business. His family was profoundly affected by the Great Depression which left many farmers jobless and homeless. In turn, Sam’s family had to leave Kingfisher, because his father was forced to look for new employment. Eventually, they settled in Missouri where his father ran a small mortgage company (Krieg 96). Despite economic difficulties, Sam Walton was able to attend the University of Missouri where he studied from 1936 to 1940 (Pile 112). It should be mentioned that he majored in business administration, and this knowledge proved to be of great use to him. In 1942, he joined the army, but he was not allowed to serve in a combatant position because of his heart problems. A year later, he married Helen Robson, and his wife played an important role in his entrepreneurial career. In many cases, she acted as one of his business advisors (Pile 119). Thus, one should keep in mind that Sam Walton relied on the assistance of other people.

Walton began to manage his store in 1945. To start this venture, he had to borrow money from his father-in-law and use the savings that he earned during his service in the Army. He purchased a store in Arkansas, at that time, it was only a part of the supply chain. He was able to increase the revenues of this store by using some of the techniques that ensured effective use of inventory. For example, he attached much importance to the display of goods on the shelves. However, he also faced a first business problem. In particular, he was denied the opportunity to renew the lease of the building (Pile 115). However, this failure did not prevent Sam from becoming a successful entrepreneur. In particular, he began to operate a chain of franchise stores in Bentonville and Kansas City. Each store that he purchased or opened eventually became more profitable (Pile 115). Overall, these activities were also of great value to Sam Walton, because he learned to delegate authority to other people. In many cases, their role was critical to the success of Walton’s ventures. This is one of the main aspects that should be considered.

The most crucial milestone in Walton’s life and career was the opening of the first Wal-Mart store in 1962 (Thompson 440). It was located in Rogers, a small suburban city in Arkansas. To a great extent, this event can be described as the start of Walton’s global empire. One should keep in mind that the growth of Wal-Mart can be explained by Walton’s innovative approach to supply chain management. For example, he laid stress on the construction of warehouses that were critical for the timely supply of goods. Moreover, he established partnerships with various American producers who could deliver the merchandise at a low price. It should be taken into account that he procured products directly from manufacturers without using the services of mediators. To some degree, this strategy enabled the company to win the price competition. In the following year, the Wall-Mart chain began to operate in various cities of Arkansas. At the end of 1970, he operated more than 30 Wal-Mart stores in the United States (Thompson 440). One can argue that such growth was unprecedented for the retailing industry.

It should be mentioned that Walton’s achievements were recognized by other people. For example, in 1992, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (Krieg 99). At that time, his company became the largest retailer in the United States. He died at the age of 74, and he was venerated as one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the world. One can say that he became the role model for many people who aspired to start their businesses.

Overall, Sam Walton demonstrated the way in which business administrators and managers could achieve substantial growth of their companies with the help of effective supply management techniques. His ideas and practices are now emulated by other retailing companies that operate in different regions of the world. Thus, to some degree, he shaped the functioning of this industry. This is why his role should not be overlooked.

Works Cited

Krieg, Katherine. Sam Walton: Founder of the Walmart Empire. New York: ABDO Publishing Company, 2013. Print.

Pile, Robert. Top Entrepreneurs and Their Businesses. Boston: Oliver Press, 1993. Print.

Thompson, John. Strategic Management: Awareness and Change. New York: Cengage Learning EMEA, 2005. Print.

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