Rob voss, first general merchandise manager, sam's club: Small-town merchants, by the way, aren't the only groups we've gotten into controversies with bysticking to our philosophy of putting the customer ahead of everything else. On the surface, the idea ofserving the customer sounds so simple, so logical, and so obvious. But from the very beginning, the waywe have practiced it has been so radical that it has frequently gotten us into trouble with what folks call"the system." In the early days, the department stores put a lot of pressure on vendors to keep them fromselling to discounters like us because they hated what we were doing: offering our customers prices muchlower than theirs. In some states, the department stores used so-called "fair trade" laws to try and blockdiscounters from doing business at all. 热99re久久精品 I said okay. But he had made a mistake by a week so we really had a target date of two weeks from theday we began. We tried desperately, but we didn't quite make it. We opened on Thanksgiving Day, andthe store was horrible. I was standing out in front when Sam drove up. He saw the disaster, but he wassmart enough to know how hard we'd been working and that if he told the truth we would have justdisintegrated. He said, The store looks really good, guys.' And he drove away and left us."Obviously, because I have spent as much time as I could out where it counts, in the stores, seeing ifwe're doing the job we should be, it has put a very heavy load on all our executives, especially since Iexpect them to get out in the stores too. My style has always been to lay off a lot of the day-to-dayoperating responsibilities to folks like Ferold Arend and Ron Mayer in the early days, later on to JackShewmaker, and eventually to David Glass and Don Soderquist. So my role has been to pick goodpeople and give them the maximum authority and responsibility. But as I mentioned, we couldn't find anybody who wanted to run their trucks sixty or seventy miles outof the way into these little towns where we were operating. We were totally ignored by the distributorsand the jobbers. That's not only how we came to build our own distribution system, it's also how we gotused to beating the heck out of everybody on prices. We had a time getting good merchandise for ourstores back then, but our cost of acquiring the goods was rock bottombecause we sat out there withabsolutely no help from distributors. And because we got used to doing everything on our own, we havealways resented paying anyone just for the pleasure of doing business with him. Afew days later, Dad entered the University of Arkansas hospital in Little Rock. Even in the final weeksof his life, he took great pleasure in doing what he had always done. One of the last people he spoke withoutside the family was a local Wal-Mart manager who, at our request, dropped by to chat with Dadabout his store's sales figures for the week. Then, less than three weeks after receiving the Medal ofFreedom, and just days after his seventy-fourth birthday, Dad's struggle with cancer finally ended. OnSunday morning, April 5, he died peacefullyas inspirational in facing death as he had been in facing life. And sometimes the establishment has made me mad. The truth is, when those Butler Brothers folksturned down my discounting idea, I got a little angry, and maybe that helped me decide to swim upstreamon my own. He had a great big heart, but he was gruff and he scared all the young folks to death. There was neverany question that he was the boss, and when he wanted something done, believe me it got done. I singlehim out here because Don Whitaker was very, very important in the early development of the company,establishing the philosophy of Let's be out front. Let's do it right. Let's get it done now and get on with it.