This Retailer's Announcement: Altruism? Capitalism? By Another Name… Leadership.
Jeff is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
In a move that some may write off as blatant pandering, but sure to shake up other national retailers including Target, Kmart, and Costco; Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) has uncompromisingly embraced its position as the lead retailer and largest private employer in the country with its announcement of not only a significant focus in hiring veterans as they return from overseas duty, but also in an aggressive effort to "buy American" to the tune of $50 billion over the next 10 years.
Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
Wal-Mart U.S. Chief Executive Bill Simon announced an initiative to hire more than 100,000 veterans in the United States over the next five years. "Let's be clear: Hiring a veteran can be one of the best decisions any of us can make," Mr. Simon said in his keynote speech to the National Retail Federation, "These are leaders with discipline, training and a passion for service."
In his remarks, Simon also made a strong argument that to recover from our current economic malaise; it's going to take more than government.
"But if we're waiting on government, we're waiting on a process that can't act with the same speed as business."
So often, increasingly too often, business in its pursuit of profit and fear of legislative or executive order consequences, fails to take a lead role in attempting to resolve challenges with bold action. And Wal-Mart? Not so much.
A very American company.
Simon laid out in his prepared remarks not only the course of action the retailer intends to follow, but the reasons, good business reasons, to do so. He stated that businesses need not accept that they are competing for a finite amount of customer dollars, or a limited piece of the business pie. He argued that with bold vision and a return to deliberate action being taken by business decision makers, the pie can be bigger. A growing economy leads to everyone being more successful.
Wal-Mart, and Simon particularly, should be applauded in this accepting of its responsibility as The Nation's Retailer and the embracing of this bold and brave strategy to help return America to the glory and economic powerhouse the world needs it to be.
Wal-Mart, in its use of its power, success, and national goodwill, reminds us again through the words of its Chairman, what it means to be American in this new and necessary revolutionary time in our economic history:
"We can't break the gridlock in Washington, but we can break the paralysis of waiting on Washington."
Why Wal-Mart and why now? Buy the Leader.
In another time, a bold, innovative leader recognized the source of and reasons for success:
The measure of who we are… is what we do with what we have. Vince Lombardi
This writer remains hopeful that this bold and very public move by Wal-Mart will serve as a wake-up call to players in its own industry and others in the US to quit waiting on Washington and get out and lead.
To paraphrase an old investment adage, when you like an industry buy the best and brightest in that industry. Wal-Mart, with its continuing display of leadership and effective leaders guiding it, is the retailer I want to own.
I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. The contributing author, Binkley Wealth Management Group, LLC, and/or its clients may be pursuing the strategies and may or may not hold positions in securities mentioned in this article at the time of publication. The opinions and strategies expressed are not meant to taken as advice to any individual investor. The opinions and strategies discussed are not to be construed as personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities by any individual investor without first consulting with their own personal financial advisor.
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