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Built from Scratch: How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew The Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion Paperback – July 3, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; Reprint edition (July 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812933788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812933789
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Built from Scratch is about two businessmen who achieve the American Dream by fundamentally changing the realm of home-improvement retailing. Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank, cofounders of the Home Depot, explain how they established the first national chain in the industry by concentrating on low prices, customer service, and strong leadership values.

Ultimately, this is a book about grit and determination. "Building the Home Depot was a tough, uphill battle from the day we started," they write. "No one believed we could do it and very few people trusted our judgment." The two cofounders launched the company only after they were fired by a California hardware retailer because of politics. The Home Depot lost $1 million in its first year of operation in Atlanta. Today it's one of the great successes on Wall Street, with more than 700 stores across the country and 160,000 employees.

One reason the book is so engaging is that it includes corporate anecdotes. A favorite: the company banned wild parties after several employees were demoted and a couple were fired in the wake of a drunken annual managers' meeting. Another yarn involves Sears, which made one of the worst financial mistakes in retailing history when it passed on a deal to purchase Home Depot in the early 1980s. The authors are self-serving at times; for example, they whine too much about paying $104.5 million to dispose of a sex-discrimination lawsuit. But there's no denying the smashing performance of Big Orange. Marcus and Blank paint a story with some sparkling advice for practically anyone in business. --Dan Ring --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

When Chris Roush approached Marcus and Blank about his book on Home Depot (Inside Home Depot, LJ 1/99), they denied him access, preferring to tell their own story. While it is more folksy and humorous, it essentially covers the same information, with the addition of intimate details of many business relationships and dealings. Blank, the company's president, chief operating officer, and chief executive officer, and Marcus, the chairman of the board, began Home Depot in Atlanta with little backing. But their shrewd merchandising ideas and ability to work with key players not only surprised many in the industry but created a corporate culture that competitors are now trying to emulate. The authors candidly discuss setbacks, including a multimillion dollar discrimination settlement, as well as ideas gone awry. Most libraries should have at least one of these books on Home Depot, and larger public libraries and business collections should consider both.ASteven J. Mayover, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

One great lesson is the importance of values for success in business and life.
Jeffrey Rosensweig
If you've ever been to a HD lately, don't read the book, it will just get you upset next time you walk into one of the stores.
Rick Oliver
This book is very motivating and inspiring and I highly recommned it to anyone interested in growing a business.
Brooklyn Joe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Reader on April 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
In reading one of the less flattering reviews of this book, the reviewer took exception to the subtitle mentioning "regular guys" because of the connections and startup capital that was available to the founders. I think the reviewer in question has entirely missed the point.

First, there is a growing litany of "entrepreneurs" who have had access to as much or more capital as these gentlemen and then went on to squander this resource through self indulgence and generally incomprehensibly poor judgment. The point the authors made consistently throughout the book was that despite capital being critical to this venture, smart and calculating decisions were far more crucial to their success. Look at second generation wealth, second and third generation CEO's, or the offspring of celebrities for that matter, and try to convince anyone that they had a walk away advantage over the people who struggle to pioneer new concepts. Sad but true, knowing someone with a huge bank account-or someone who simply has a big bank account-does not guarantee success.

As an entrepreneur with a fledgling six year old company that was started on next to zero capital, we have steadily grown our company to 1.5 million in sales in much the same fashion as Home Depot but on a smaller scale of course. This book has been what I have been looking for to find a way to illustrate to our team and potential investors what we are capable of. Believe in the idea; go beyond any reasonable sense of effort to insure it works; constantly look for new opportunities and ways to reinvent yourself; reward the people who helped you get there; and through hard work and being better at what you do, inadvertently punish anyone who tried to stop you or rip you off.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I began reading this book out of mild interest and found a number of lessons that I could use in my career as the trainer for a large Canadian pet organization. A great read and a great learning tool for all, not just those in the home improvement field.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elijah on April 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Reading the 1 star reviews, I can see where a lot of the critics are coming from and I think they have a valid point. This book does seem to be self-congratulatory. Definitely seems like a marketing tool in order to put Home Depot in the best light. ie. All about how great Home Depot is to their employees. How hard they worked. How smart they are. Additionally, they seem to gloss over or ignore the many negative aspects of their business/actions.

But, I've noticed that a lot of the books written by founders are written this way. I think it's a really rare person who's going to write a book that tells you the complete truth that also includes the evil things that they did. (I think that every business owner has to do some questionable stuff to get ahead, especially in their early years when money is so tight. For example, the now beloved Warren Buffet was once considered the Ogre of Omaha. Frankly, it's hard to succeed in business if you're a complete saint. For example, if you know that a land for sale is filled with gold but the poor seller is ignorant. Is it ok to pay $1,000 for the land even though you know it's worth $1 MM?)

I've read many other books written by founders and most also seem very self-congratulatory...almost to the point of seeming shady. They take credit for the littlest of things and they seem to gloss over many questionable acts. And, like other founders, this author isn't going to just give away his secrets that he's learned over the past 30 years. He's only going to give away a few here and there. He might actually throw in a few half-truths to make himself look good.

But, I've learned to accept this and try to glean as much information as possible. So, as a business owner, I did learn some stuff. Nothing earth shattering but something here and there. The book was also entertaining as well. 3 stars.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By W. P. Danitz on January 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
These two gentlemen who started The Home Depot had been executives at another home center company, but when they were fired and a friend pushed them to start Home Depot, they truly had nothing, but an idea, a dream. They really had no money, and had to go out and find it. For anyone who has ever had to do that to start your own business, believe me it ain't easy! I know I did it!. Read this story, you won't be sorry!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It never ceases to amaze me in what it takes to satisfy a reader. When I read a book like this, I am basically asking myself several questions. How on earth did these guys do it? How did they come through the funnel and get it done. What was at stake? What were the major premises of the concept? Could it have failed, if so how? How close did it come to failing? Could some one else have done this, or replicated it, or perhaps have done it better.

A lot of life is pure fantasy. You have your own template of how things works, and you look at the world and you see that template everywhere. If you go out and try to apply this system and superimpose it onto the real world, it either fails or it succeeds. Sometimes the template is a good one, but the execution gets screwed up.

When I look at Home Depot, a story that I have an intimacy with, I found this particular book to be fabulous. There is nothing boring about it; in fact I found every page worthwhile. Having spent 35 years in Wall Street running money, and figuring out how does a company make a buck, I found this book even more worthwhile. If you are involved in the investment business, this becomes a particularly worthwhile read.

If you run a company or have aspirations towards a career in management, you better read this book, because there is something in it for everyone. For most of us, there is more than one thing in it. Peter Drucker the ultimate management mind of the 20th century probably said it best when he talked about the corporation as a living, breathing organism that required nourishment on a daily basis. You just can't assume that corporations will continue to exist simply because they exist now.

Every day a company fights for its corporate life, for its right to continue to exist.
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