Samuel Walton was born on 29th march 1918 to Mr. Thomas Gibson Walton and Mrs. Nanny Lee in Oklahoma near Kingfisher. His parents were farmers and lived with him till 1923 when his father went to his earlier profession of mortgage banker since farming was no longer profitable to raise his two kids and wife. Waltons had to move to Missouri, Chesterfield as soon as Samuel and James (the youngest son born in 1921) fathers work started (Fitzgerald, n.d).
Mr. Walton moved to different towns with his family for a number of years, even after the children started schooling, what would have traumatized most children. Nonetheless, Waltons sons got used and particularly Samuel remained focused in his studies and sports. While in his eighth grade in Shelbina, Samuel became the youngest, in states history, Eagle Scout and received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boys Scouts of America as an adult. In high school, at Hickman High School in Columbia, he was a football and basketball team member and led the football team to winning the state title in 1935.
Samuel grew up in the Great Depression and was obliged to assist his family financially which found him loaded with several chores like milking the cow, selling additional milk to local consumers and then, delivering newspapers. He also sold magazines subscriptions and was voted the Most Flexible Boy on graduation.
Hoping to acquire better ways to assist his family, Samuel attended college and joined the University of Missouri as a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) cadet where he worked as tables waiter in trade for meals, the school pool lifeguard, and joined celebrated organizations like the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, QEBH, and National Honor Society. Samuel was also the Sunday school Class President on Sundays. In 1940, Sam a B.A Economics major student graduated, was voted the Classs President and three days later joined JcPenneys in Des Moines, Iowa as a management trainee with a per month salary of $75.
In anticipation for induction to serve in the US military during World War II, Sam resigned from the Penneys in 1942 and in the meantime worked at a DuPont weapons plant in Oklahoma, near Tulsa. Later, he joined the US Army Intelligence Corps, administering safety measures at aircraft plants and prisoner of war camps. On his discharge, Samuel was made captain and decided to own his variety store.
Private life and initial stores
While in Oklahoma, Samuel met his prospect wife Helen Robson, daughter to L.S Robson, a successful banker and rancher, on April 1942, living in Claremore, attended Claremore High School and attended college in Oklahoma University graduating with a business degree. They got married on February 14, 1943, and had three sons, Robson (1944), John Thomas (1946), James Carr (1948) and a daughter Alice (1949).
At 26 years, Sams dream came true in fall 1945 when he purchased a Ben Franklin variety store in Newport Arkansas, a Butler Brothers Franchise, with a $20,000 loan from his father-in-law and $5,000 army savings. Sam invented ideas that worked to his success like, fully stocked shelves with low-priced goods, late hours working especially during Christmas festivity and discount retailing. To counter his main competitor, the Sterling store, he leased Kroger store and opened it as Eagle in 1950.
Series of Ben Franklin supplies
Amidst challenges, in 1951 he purchased a store in Bentonville, Arkansas, and called it Waltons 5and 10, a Ben Franklin franchise. Samuel settled with his family in Bentonville and occupied himself with several town activities and undertakings. Later he opened a second Walton 5 and 10 in Fayetteville though not a Ben Franklin franchise and hired a manager to run it. To, improve his business; Samuel started the self-service concept allowing customers to pay for all goods at once near the exit. Sam also observed customers happiness, special promotions and proper lighting and cleanliness as well as royal staff (Ireland and Cleland, 2006).
Through his brother, father-in-law and brother-in-law, Samuel opened more stores. In 1954, he and his brother opened a store in Ruskin heights, near Kansas which was quite profitable but didn’t do as well in Arkansas. With his retail business idea, Samuel opened larger stores called Waltons Family Center and hired managers to oversee the business via limited partnership of $1,000 to $10,000 investment in new outlets. By 1962, Samuel and Bud his brother owned 16 departmental stores in Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas.
Wal-mat was first established in July 2, 1962 in Rodgers, Arkansas as the worlds leading retailer. Today Wal-mat employs at least 600,000 American employees.
Walton died on April 5, 1992, from myeloma, in Little Rock, Arkansas. His wife and children succeeded ownership of business with Rob as Board chairman.
He was in the times list of 100 most influential people in the 20th century and was honored in March 1992, with a Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush for pioneering efforts in retail (Mayo and Norhia, 2005).
Retrieved on 27-02-2011 from http://www.stfrancis.edu/content/ba/ghkickul/stuwebs/bbios/biograph/walton1.htm
Ireland and Cleland. (2006). Project management: strategic design and implementation .Mc Graw-Hill Professionals. United States of America.
Mayo J. & Nohria N. (2005). In their time: the greatest business leaders of the twentieth century. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. United States of America: USA.
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