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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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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 the Audio CD edition.
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 the Audio CD edition.
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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. Those corporate entities that assume that they will always be around - NEVER LAST. Other entities out there either eat them up, or they suffer the slow final death of arrogance, and go out of business without even knowing why they went out.
Home Depot is the story of two guys that got up in the morning every morning, fighting for the right to keep doing it a better way. They lived by the credo that you have to keep moving or they will throw dirt on you. Some of the lessons and ideas you will learn from this book include the following:
· CUSTOMER SERVICE - You have to take care of good people, and constantly be on the lookout for them. If necessary hire them, even when you don't have the jobs for them because you may not get a second shot at them.
· DOING THE RIGHT THING ALL THE TIME - It can cost you money doing the right thing, but it comes back in spades. Something else happens when you do the right thing. People realize your efforts, and some will take advantage of you, but that will be more than offset by the multitude of others who will become loyal customers for life.
· NOBODY LOVES A COMPANY- They may love what you do, and what you do for them as customers, but there is no real loyalty to companies, at least in this generation. Home Depot always tried to make as many of their employees stockholders as possible, so that they could align the employee (associates at HD) goals with the corporate goals.
· THIS IS A TOUGH PLACE TO WORK IF YOU ARE INFLEXIBLE - This lesson was lost on the current Chairman, CEO Nardelli who was fired by the Board for his IMPERIAL management style. He also possessed no understanding of the Home Depot culture as he tried to superimpose his General Electric template on the company. He failed miserably but that's another book.
· IF YOU CAN SAVE THE CUSTOMER MONEY, DO IT - Always do the right thing by the customer, and you will have a customer for life. Go the extra mile for the customer. CULTIVATE the customer.
· THE FOUNDERS WERE LIVING ON THE FUMES OF DREAMS - I loved these stories. These guys Marcus and Blank were honest about what they faced, and several times this company was touching or facing bankruptcy. This is an important lesson. The way around it is to have twice as much capital as you think you need. This by itself was worth reading the entire book. This is priceless knowledge.
· IT'S ABOUT PRICE, SELECTION, AND CUSTOMER SERVICE - Never lose sight of this statement and act on it in your own business goals. Give people the best price you can, and the finest selection of merchandise. If you back it up with the industry's best customer service you have found for yourself a business model for success. It may sound simple, but try executing on it.
So let me let you in on a secret. I spent years with Bear Stearns well over 20 years ago as a limited partner. When I read the early financial stories of Home Depot on Wall Street, I knew that what the founders in this book were saying was the complete unvarnished truth.
The story of how Ross Perot, one of America's wealthiest men in the early 1980's blew having dominant control of this company is now the stuff of myths. Nevertheless it's a true story. The founders ultimately turned down Ross Perot as a shareholder. They believe Perot to be a control freak. Yes, Perot didn't want the founders driving around in a Cadillac. Perot was a Chevy man. Well, the Chevy man blew a $60 billion dollar fortune by not investing a couple of million in Home Depot.
Then there's Ken Langone, the financial guy behind this phenomenal story. Langone may be the only guy in America to be the IPO maven behind two all time American success stories. He successfully brought public both Ross Perot's EDS, and the Home Depot. Who else can say that? He also made a billion dollars in the process. Langone is a unique, fabulous, walk to the well with you kind of guy. Among Wall Street types, he is unique, and the Street needs many more like him.
There is a story in the book where Langone is involved in a stock sale to a very nasty executive who is very prominent in his own right. Every time the executive refuses to give in to Langone's price, Langone just keeps upping the ante on him. This goes on for pages. It is uproariously funny, and is deserving of retelling over and over again. You will love this book, and learn an enormous amount about business in the process. It should probably be required reading for all MBA programs in management.
If you have any desire to understand what it takes to dedicate your entire life to building something, especially in the business world than this book is a read for you. There's one more thing that I must get across that is compelling. Having spent my life involved with companies like Home Depot, and high-powered successful people, I have come to the conclusion that it does not have to work out successfully.
There is no such thing as one must succeed, or it was ordained that this must happen. As an example Home Depot could have gone out of business a half dozen times before becoming so financially solvent that the business model had to work.
Steve Jobs at Apple could have decided 20 years ago, to license that Apple operating system to the PC industry, and Gates and Microsoft would never have happened. GM could have decided to build quality cars 25 years ago, instead of building [...]for decades while the Japanese took the market away.
Al Gore could have concentrated just a little bit more on Florida in 2000, and George W. Bush would have never been. John Kerry could have fought off the challenge of the Swift Boat accusations, and Ohio would have gone his way, and with it the election.
In the end, it's really a question of who comes through the funnel, and that is not always predictable. As I read this wonderful book, I came to the conclusion once again, that yes, you have to go for it, and dedicate all to getting there, but there is no certitude that you are going to make it. Just make sure you follow YOUR PASSION, because no matter where you wind up, a PASSION FILLED LIFE is a life WORTH LIVING. Good luck.
Normally, and I offered, to let by-gone's be by-gone's, even thought I personally take being harmed or worse, either though negligence, ignorance, or deliberate, very personally, and ted to get very upset and mean- as I hope any Combat Survivor Would!. Well, the only real MH Professional I saw my 5-days there was in fact a Social Worker, which a degree in takes approximately 18-months versus the 5(+) years of training of a LICENSED psychologist. Well even though I was in fact cordial to staff, and really liked/respected several, but had a very limited, blunt and heated conversation with Program Director, they simply had said SW check on me very routinely- as if to portray me as either violet or psychotic or worse!!!! So, sometimes it is simply best to depart an area were the cards are simply stacked against one, and staff do not like being called out on their numerous faults in leadership and stewardship, of their sponsors money. Furthermore, the "Program" Director could not tell me if they in fact had a "staff" grooming standard- that specified hypo-allergenic skin and clothing products for work, nor could they even tell me if cleaning products (I sent staff and numerous others pictures of) were in fact Echo Friendly or hypo-allergenic????? Odd....yet again!!!! Furthermore the staff neurologist claimed no one else could smell anything on said employee when, do to various reasons my own sense of smell is hindered- from 10-feet away!!!!!! I will not attach photos' of these products...as if anyone who reads this and is associated with sponsorship of this program only has to check numerous staff computers....if they so desire!!!!!
Worst yet was facility maintenance. SHARE is right smack downtown Atlanta- in or near very epicenter of crime!!! (see picture Atlanta Crime Numbers) Also,if memory serves, they have had guest's struck by Atlanta Traffic- yet offer no road belts nor "high-vis" safety gear for walking various parts of program.. Other vets asked about mine and I sent it all to staff to "consider" issuing something of the like. At Biscayne APT's I observed no security camera's anywhere to protect vets and their vehicles, etc... I was told by staff to ensure laundry room was locked as target of opportunity for other than guests/intruders....odd!!!! Also none of locks on my ground floor apartment worked, I had to buy WD-40 and "service" the locks myself- ended up giving bottle to RA staff for utilization as I left!!!!
My room was horrid, none of dishes nor silverware washed/cleaned... I am a fall risk and no shower mat. Had to purchase my own....as well as adequate pillows to accommodate GIRD and other conditions! I have also sleept on rocks in the mud and rain more comfortable than the bed I was given...the mattress was beyond worn out- offered Program Manager to lay on it themselves but declined!. Also, the lamp in my bed room, with no ceiling fan nor light, was broken and an electrical hazard. I had to tell staff not to try to repair on their own unless certified! I had a Curtain rod that was not attached to anything properly and slid off or to left or right as tried close one curtain- other apparently stolen- along with "battery" in clock-had replace that as well!!!! My blue couch was worn out so bad it leaned to one side. Furthermore, the AC/Heat control lid was broken. I received a very lengthy "speal" from same former VA employee about not, selling, nor giving away medications, but in my room was provided no means to secure these medications-i.e medicine cabinet nor even lock box- yet again odd???? Despicably considering how many folks had unlimited access from staff to APTs!!!! Also there was no safe or mechanism with staff to secure valuables such as car keys, electronics or jewelry, etc.. in APT or Program!
Odd yet again given crime rate and all kinds of un-monitored access without security cameras..... Luckily I brought my own door jam and door stops to deter intruders.....do not think most "guests" think of this..... Out back of my apartment were several very real safety hazards and intruder friendly access, yet they chose to place "cones" over horse shoe pits.....odd yet again on that "brilliant decision!" (some vets wake up disorientated- what would happen if fell off small cliff back of my apartment with no safety fencing?) As I was leaving, my chest of drawers literally fell apart and staff RA acknowledged he was aware of it but hoping it would last "a little-longer!" Also, the van utilized to carry/transport veteran guests was broke and driver trying to fix engine himself- was he also "certified" mechanic????? This van in fact had both side mirrors, as we say in Army, "circle X" meaning a "deadline" item due to safety or various reasons and vehicle cannot be utilized until repaired and "downtime" must be accounted for, by someone- as well as accident/ damage reports collected!!!!
Finally, being a USMA graduate, Open Water Dive Certified, Infantry officer, Gym Rat most of my life they wanted to in fact certify me on a "deadlined" punching bag, and Gym Equipment as well as the pool...but this was not to occur until week number-2...hummph???? When are men considered men and do not in fact have to be certified on everything by someone most likely less knowledgeable than them????
Given, sodium fluoride (Prozac) and other chemicals most likely in local water, did not even provide any sort of bottled water or alternative like Gatorade etc....which some vets need for numerous "health reasons" etc....
All of this and more I sent to numerous staff, as well as litany of others .....(see attached pictures-many, many more taken and sent), along with, as I was told by staff valid corrective recommendations-however simply seemed quite pleased with status quo.. and no disciplinary action taken for "inadequate" leadership or stewardship of funds and resources....
I simply place it in the highest court of the lad, you, the public to decide for yourselves....... whether or not mine, and I would hope the sponsors of this program, standards are in fact "too" high!!!!!????? Or if Vets' are being placed unnecessarily at risk due to those charged to execute this program on behalf of the sponsor...??????
Veterans should not have to endure the same or worse than the US DVA. To see what vets deal with in all sorts of spectrum's I would recommend PEB Forum at pebforum.com. (http://pebforum.com/threads/possible-new-resource-vets-tbi-perhaps-better-experience-than-myself.42787/) One of the super moderators is very familiar with this program and apparently had much better experience for those interested!!!!!