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The founder of the Wal-Mart chain, Sam Walton was born in March 1918 in the town of Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Graduating from the University of Missouri, Sam enlisted in the Army for the World War II effort. Upon his return, Sam worked for a while at the J.C. Penney group of stores. He began to realize that opportunities existed in the large scale discount retailing business (nickel and dime stores). The idea and business philosophy of Wal-Mart borrowed from the nickel and dime stores of earlier times, and consisted of getting National Brands in bulk at a discount based on volume purchases; the company would then stamp its mark and resell the goods at a slight markup, this rate being however less than the other competing Mom and Pop stores across the USA. This philosophy was so successful that it has eventually led to Wal-Mart's becoming the single largest private employer across the USA. Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart store in 1962 in Arkansas, specializing in name-brands at low prices. The chain of Wal-Mart stores eventually sprang up all across rural America. Wal-Mart went public in 1970. A decentralized distribution system spurred further growth in the 1980s. By 1991, Wal-Mart was the largest U.S. retailer with 1,700 stores. The company is today Number One in the list of Fortune 500 firms and the Walton family is one of the richest on the planet, surpassing even Bill Gates, with a worth of US$ 65 Billlion. Sam Walton remained active in managing the company, as President and CEO until 1988 and Chairman until his death in April 1992. However, his legacy remains entrenched in the corporate philosophy. Lee Scott, a 25-year company veteran, is the current CEO, with the Walton family on the Board of Directors. BORROWING ... ... middle of paper ... ...of potentially costly class action lawsuits, exemplified by a sex-discrimination suit brought by the Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll firm. The suit is a collection of anecdotes of individual female employees—many of whom received poor evaluations and were turned down for promotion. They now claim that Wal-Mart managers have frustrated their career ambitions. A few other cases involve accusations of supervisors making discriminatory remarks toward female employees—entirely possible in a company with more than 1 million employees, but hardly amounting to a company-wide pattern of discrimination. Wal-Mart has succeeded like no other company in understanding what consumers want and giving it to them. Despite Wal-Mart's years of success, the future looks even more favorable for the company.

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