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Word Count: 2,373
In the late 1940s when Sam Walton was franchising a Ben Franklins variety store in Newport Ark he had a simple but momentous idea Like any retailer Walton was always looking for deals from suppliers Typically though a retailer who managed to get a bargain from a wholesaler would leave his store prices unchanged and pocket the extra money Walton by contrast realized he could do better by passing on the savings to his customers and earning his profits through volume This insight would form a cornerstone of Waltons business strategy when he launched Wal-Mart in 1962The quest for low prices came naturally to Walton He was freakishly cheap Although he was ranked as the richest man in the United States by the 1980s he continued it is said to have his hair cut by the local barber a 5 expense that he never supplemented with a tip Perhaps he wasnt satisfied Cost-cutting was as one might also expect an obsession in the Wal-Mart culture and Walton was almost as chintzy with his executives as he was with his cashiers On business trips everyone including the boss flew coach and hotel rooms were always shared Even a cup of coffee at the office required a 10-cent contribution to the tinBut coffee taxes only went so far Walton understood that a major requirement for keeping costs down was controlling the payroll As he would write in his 1992 autobiography Made in America No matter how you slice it in the retail business payroll is one of the most important parts of overhead and overhead is one of the most crucial things you have to fight to maintain your profit margin Not only did Walton prefer to hire as few people as possible but he also dreaded paying them more than he had to Unions were particularly feared and Walton did everything he could to fight them almost always successfullyIf such a regimen seems stifling Waltons employees
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