Saturday, March 29, 2008

The man at the helm makes a difference.

The spirit of Sam Walton is still around.

Shortly before Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast on the morning of Aug. 29, 2005, the chief executive officer of Wal-Mart, Lee Scott, gathered his subordinates and ordered a memorandum sent to every single regional and store manager in the imperiled area. His words were not especially exalted, but they ought to be mounted and framed on the wall of every chain retailer /snip
"A lot of you are going to have to make decisions above your level," was Scott's message to his people. "Make the best decision that you can with the information that's available to you at the time, and above all, do the right thing."

That was always the Sam Walton philosophy. "Give your customer the best value at the best price." AKA: Do the right thing.

While the Federal Emergency Management Agency fumbled about, doing almost as much to prevent essential supplies from reaching Louisiana and Mississippi as it could to facilitate it, Wal-Mart managers performed feats of heroism. In Kenner, La., an employee crashed a forklift through a warehouse door to get water for a nursing home. A Marrero, La., store served as a barracks for cops whose homes had been submerged. In Waveland, Miss., an assistant manager who could not reach her superiors had a bulldozer driven through the store to retrieve disaster necessities for community use, and broke into a locked pharmacy closet to obtain medicine for the local hospital.

But the bean counters are never far behind when The Man isn't around anymore.

A collision with a semi-trailer truck seven years ago left 52-year-old Deborah Shank permanently brain-damaged and in a wheelchair. /snip
Two years ago, the retail giant's health plan sued the Shanks for the $470,000 it had spent on her medical care. A federal judge ruled last year in Wal-Mart's favor, backed by an appeals-court decision in August.

When decisions are no longer made at the local level, when the person who has control of your fate knows you by computer print out, when you're just a number on a balance sheet: You lose.

Still think Universal Healthcare is a good idea?

...From the tipline.

Thanks, Don

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