How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew the Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion
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A pair of hardware merchandising buddies chat about how they built one of the most successful big-box retailers ever. These moguls of do-it-yourself did it themselves: they built the Home Depot. In two decades, they built their business from the ground up to employ 200,000 “associates” in nearly 1,000 locations. It’s a kick-ass company, they are proud to announce, and indeed, it is. It has eliminated distributors and wholesalers from its network. It browbeats manufacturers for uncommon price concessions and rebates while great quantities of inventory are drop-shipped directly to their outlets. Founders Bernie and Arthur and their cohorts are fierce competitors, and they tell you so with broad grins. They allow managers much latitude, they say, even as they stress the tight reins on merchandise, distribution, finances, and infrastructure. The story is in the words of Arthur and Bernie, and their words are interchangeable. It’s all colloquial lumberyard schmoozing, and the scurrying metaphors are pleasantly mixed: “I opened the door and [he] ran with it,” and “sometimes they run with a red herring and get burned with it.” Some words are jerry-built to fit: associates are “inculturated” with Home Depot values—but you get the idea. The inculturation stresses care for the customer in particular and corporate decency in general. (It seems to work.) Bernie and Arthur thrive on merchandising and playing with the big boys, like Ross Perot and the late Sam Walton, but they don’t neglect the details. They acknowledge that many mom-and-pop stores haven’t been able to survive the Home Depot’s thorough competition. The message is that the day of mom and pop has passed (though Bernie and Arthur are now considering opening small neighborhood shops now that the old folks are gone). A garrulous handyman chronicle of a ubiquitous corporation, this text is constructed of plain pine, without a coat of writer’s varnish, by a couple of guys in orange aprons. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 15th, 1999
ISBN: 0-8129-3058-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1999