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Wal-Mart pioneer Jack Shewmaker passes

Retail Editor 8 -- Home Textiles Today, November 19, 2010

Rogers, Ark. - Legendary Wal-Mart Stores executive Jack Shewmaker, who was hired by company founder Sam Walton in 1970 as a district manager and went on to become one of the retailer's top officers, passed away Wednesday at the age of 72.

"He loved this company and gave it his heart as well as his considerable talents. He was a dear personal friend and, though the company will benefit from his contributions for years to come, it is hard to imagine Walmart without Jack," said company president and ceo Mike Duke, in a statement released by the company.

Shewmaker became president and chief operating officer of the company in 1978 and was a key player in developing Wal-Mart's Every Day Low Pricing strategy - the linchpin of its competitive positioning. He was also instrumental in making Wal-Mart a leader in the adoption of technology to create greater efficiencies. Under his watch, the company adopted bar codes - which were fairly new at the time - and launched its first satellite system in 1983, which linked the company's stores and distribution centers to one another and the home office.

He was also an advocate of Wal-Mart's then-unique door-greeter system.

"The philosophy of our door greet program has to do with the matter of our attitude showing," he said. "If the first person a customer meets when they enter the store looks at them, smiles and offers to assist them if necessary, the odds are high that customer will also smile and looks for the good rather than the bad."

In 1984, he was named vice chairman and chief financial officer, posts he held until his retirement in 1988. He was a member of the board from 1977 to 2008.
"Even after his retirement he continued to attend buyer seminars and operations meetings," said Duke. "As a matter of fact, he was scheduled to speak at one of our buyer meetings later today."

Funeral services will be held at noon Nov. 22 at the Fellowship Bible Church in Rogers. No visitation is planned. The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to one of the following organizations:
• Jack C. Shewmaker Memorial, Jack Shewmaker Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) World Headquarters, 1959 East Kerr, Springfield, MO 65803
• Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) Foundation, 1 College Drive, Bentonville, AR 72712-5091
• Westark Area Council, Boy Scouts of America,1401 Old Greenwood Road, Fort Smith, AR 72901

 

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