Walmart Shareholders Meeting 2014
Remarks as Prepared for Rob Walton
Good morning, Walmart! Welcome to the 2014 Annual Shareholders Meeting.
I brought something with me today. I recently came across one of Dad's "Chairman's letters." He was always communicating, always sharing ideas. This one is from 1985, almost 30 years ago.
He writes about a Shareholders meeting that had just taken place. Do you know how many associates attended back then? 400 traveled in on buses from across 20 states.
Things have changed a bit since then, haven't they?
Dad would be so excited to see the thousands of associates and visitors from all around the world. Almost every continent, every background and every walk of life. He'd love the range of talented associates who serve our customers today wherever, whenever and however they want to be served.
Here are a few things Dad had to say in his letter about the importance of customers:
“Customers are not dependent on us. We are dependent on them. Customers are people who bring us their wants. It is our job to fill those wants. Customers are not cold statistics. They are flesh and blood human beings with emotions and feelings like our own.”
Dad believed that as long as we think and feel like our customers… as long as we are truly customer-driven … there'd be no limit to how much we could achieve as a company.
New technology and competitors come and go. The customer's needs and how we meet them will change. But Dad knew that the secret to successful retailing is to give customers what they want.
It's just that simple.
When Dad bucked the system and opened discount stores in small towns, some thought it was a crazy idea. But he saw a customer need and he filled it.
When we opened the first supercenters and added grocery, that was another untested idea, but customers loved it.
When we decided to build our own distribution system linked by technology so we could deliver merchandise more efficiently … well, no retailer had ever done that before.
When we started taking our business model around the world … that was uncharted territory.
When we started on our sustainability journey, a lot of skeptics doubted us. Now we are recognized as a global sustainability leader.
And today, we are integrating the digital and physical experience in a way that no other retailer can.
With every generation of leadership we have done what Dad did from the beginning: experimenting with merchandise and formats, learning what was going on with the customer, and always taking it to the next level.
It started with Dad. And it was carried on by David Glass, Lee Scott and Mike Duke.
And this year we had another seamless CEO transition with Mike retiring and Doug becoming the fifth CEO to lead our company into the future.
Mike, on behalf of the Walton family and the Board of Directors, I want to thank you for your 18 years of service.
If you know Mike, you know his passion for retail and his love of Walmart culture.
In every role he has held, he demonstrated integrity in dealing with tough issues, and he displayed the greatest character and consideration for people. He has a determination to do the right thing for our associates, customers, shareholders and communities.
Under Mike's leadership, we scaled up investments in global eCommerce, which position us for long-term growth. Mike's passion for increasing productivity re-engaged the company in leveraging expenses so we can lower prices for our customers.
He pushed us to broaden and accelerate our leadership on sustainability. And he made us a better and more inclusive company through his strong personal commitment to advancing women at Walmart.
Mike is a terrific leader, and I'm very pleased we'll continue to benefit from his insight as a member of our Board.
Please join me in appreciating Mike Duke.
I can't think of a more worthy successor to our strong legacy of leadership than Doug McMillon.
Doug knows this company from the ground up and inside out. He started as an hourly associate in one of our distribution centers at the age of 17. After completing his MBA program, Doug began a 23-year career that spans every part of our business. He has been a buyer in many categories.
He cares about people and the planet and using our strengths to make a difference for both. He understands the enduring values that will never change at Walmart even as he helps us stay out in front of change.
He is a passionate merchant, a great communicator and, truly, an associate CEO.
Dad would just love Doug's story.
It reminds all of us that Walmart is a place of unlimited possibility where you can go as far as your hard work and talent will take you.
Please join me in congratulating Doug.
Through more than five decades of change and transformation, we have given customers what they want.
And we are still building the company of the future.
Dad ended his message almost 30 years ago with this call to action: "Let's go for it."
Today I want to ask you to do just that.
If something needs changing, go for it.
If you see a better way to serve the customer, go for it.
If you have a new idea, go for it.
Let's go and build the Walmart of the future.