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
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.