It’s All About Ironing Boards

By Mark Bowser

In 1905, Florence Butt founded the H. E. Butt (H-E-B) grocery stores in San Antonio Texas. For decades they dominated the grocery store market in the Lone Star state. That was, until Walmart came to town.

Sam Walton started Walmart in 1962 in Arkansas. A couple of decades later and Walmart dominated the market not only in Arkansas but also in Texas.

As you can imagine, H-E-B probably didn’t have Sam Walton on their Christmas card list. They weren’t the biggest fan of Wal-Mart. Well, maybe they weren’t a fan, but they certainly were an admirer.

One day, Charles Butt who was the grandson of the founder called up Sam Walton and asked if he could come over and learn from his team. Sam said, “Sure. Come on over. I am not sure if I can help, but glad to help if I can.”

When Charles and his leadership team arrived at Walmart, they saw Sam at the end of a long aisle talking to a lady. Charles and his team walked up the aisle to meet with Sam. When he saw them Sam said, “Charles, I’ll be with you in a moment. I’m talking to this young woman.” Sam was showing the young woman an ironing board cover. Sam went on and served her and then he turned to help Charles and his team.

Before anyone could speak, Sam said, “Charles do you know how many worn-out ironing board covers there are in this country? Were going to sell a million this month!”

Sam was a smart businessman because he believed in serving people. That lady had a need and Sam had the answer. She got a quality ironing board cover that she needed and Sam made another sale. A true win-win. As Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.” I wonder if Charles and his team took it to heart? Just some food for thought.

Check out Mark’s podcast “Let Me Tell You a Story with Mark Bowser.” It is available at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, and other podcast platforms.

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