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David Glass a strong part of Walmart's leadership

Over Walmart' 50-plus-year history, the company has had only five CEOs, including Sam Walton. That in itself is unique enough in the world of business. But what sets them apart even more is the quality of leadership they've provided. Adhering to, embracing and championing the culture set forth by Sam Walton has made all the difference.

To say that Sam Walton's legacy still has tremendous impact on the company today -- 28 years after Sam's death -- is an understatement. Sam was a one-of-a-kind leader. Sam founded a new paradigm in business, a way of life and a whole new way of looking at relationships between suppliers and retailers.

Sam Walton was a hard act to follow, and many people at the time feared what would happen following Sam's death from cancer. The mantle of CEO fell to David Glass, and the challenge of upholding the culture and maintaining the company's momentum took up residence on his shoulders. Fortunately for Walmart, its suppliers and customers, David Glass had very strong shoulders and a will to match.

During the years that followed Glass's taking on the formidable task of captaining the Walmart ship, he brought things to the company that would endure and become the basis for so much of the company's success and continued growth. Glass championed Every Day Low Prices (though Jack Shewmaker is credited with being "the father of Every Day Low Prices"), expansion into the international market, technology as the great differentiator, and so much more.

Could Sam Walton have left the company with a better steward? Hardly. While there were a number of very talented and worthy executives, none could hold a flame to Glass's ability to continue Sam Walton's vision, bring his own incredible gift and talent for retail to bear, or maintain the right relationship with the Walton family, shareholders and associates.

Glass's philosophies often played out in unusual ways in real life. I have always heard that he ate his dessert first at galas and events where dessert was already laid out on the table.

"Bud Walton (co-founder of Walmart and Sam's brother) and I had this deal where Bud had a philosophy about life's uncertain and eat dessert first," David said when asked about the practice. "I've always done it because I like dessert better than I like the food, and just in case I ate enough food that I wasn't hungry for dessert, then I'd miss out, so I just eat it first. Doesn't everybody?"

Sam Walton, in his parting words, said "I would like to be remembered as a good friend." During his Walmart Museum Oral History interview, I asked David Glass how he would like to be remembered. His reply? "Just as part of the team that wanted to do the best that we could do." And do the best David Glass did. Goodbye, David; we'll miss you. But rest assuredly in peace that your legacy will live on.

Alan Dranow


Commentary on 02/10/2020

Print Headline: NWA Letters to the Editor

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