Nearly 5,000 Walmart employees from U.S. stores get a message of “real opportunities, everyday possibilities” at the annual meeting in Fayetteville on Wednesday (June 5).
Gisel Ruiz, chief operating officer for Walmart U.S., wasted no time in renouncing OUR Walmart, which is an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Wal-Mart recently obtained a restraining order from the Benton County Circuit Court against OUR Walmart to prevent the group from disrupting shareholder week activities.
“They don’t represent Wal-Mart, or you. You represent the truth,” she said. “Let me be clear, this organization is not associated with Wal-Mart, they are paid to be here by unions to disrupt, and that is just wrong.”
She said 41% of those chosen to attend this year’s Walmart US meeting have 10 years of service with the company. In total, the group in attendance had more than 22,237 combined years of service with the world’s largest retailer, according to Michael Bender, president of Walmart U.S., western division.
As the world’s largest retailer, the numbers behind the giant company are also staggering.
• The company has just under 1.4 million employees in the United States.
• About 162,000 workers were promoted last year, with 7,400 of those moving into management roles.
• There are between 15,000 and 50,000 open positions at Wal-Mart at any given time during the year.
• Wal-Mart associates spent 1.3 million hours volunteering in their respective communities last year, generating $10.2 million in VAP grant contributions. (Volunteering Always Pays is a program that credit charitable organizations with cash for hear hour of time donated by its employees.)
• Wal-Mart awarded $733 million in bonuses to hourly workers – full and part-time. Bonuses are based on store performance.
• Wal-Mart logistics delivered 600 million more cases and drove 1.3 million less miles between 2007 and 2012, according to Chris Sultemeier, executive vice president of Walmart Logistics.
Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S. introduced Willie and Korie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, who sang the praises of their association with Wal-Mart.
Willie Robertson said the family’s duck calls got into 40 stores originally from going door-to-door. He said the hit television show, was launched from a series of DVDs first made for distribution at Wal-Mart.
“Back then I told them not to film my uncle Si, and boy was that mistake. Everywhere I go today, people ask me where is Si and if he is really that way. He is quite the cat for sure,” Robertson said.
Mac Naughton shared that the No.1 selling tee-shirt in Walmart stores today are Duck Dynasty. And that is the top shirt among all departments.
Robertson joked that he had been approached by a Wal-Mart manager a few years ago when traveling in his family RV about any need they had for food.
“I think he thought I was homeless. I told him the one thing I always had plenty of was food,” he said.
Korie Robertson said the Robertson men used to shave their beards before calling on Wal-Mart at the home office in Bentonville.
“Nobody could recognize them without the facial hair so Willie said the beards are who we are and they haven’t shaved since,” she said.
Ruiz highlighted three individuals who have been upward bound within Wal-Mart’s store operations: Jermane, Natasha and Marisa.
Jermane had been unemployed for more than two years when he took a part-time job at Walmart. He worked his way into store management and has been able to keep his family in their hometown.
Natasha, an immigrant from Armenia, took a job a Walmart in 1992 and is now a zone manager in her Tennessee store.
Marisa Miller of Colorado took advantage of Wal-Mart’s flexible work shifts since her husband has been deployed to military service.
“I signed up for every shift I could get and went from 4.5 hours a week to 30 hours. The extra money allowed us take a short trip before my husband deployed,” Miller said.
She also worked her way up from a seasonal holiday employee to the manager of toys in her Colorado store.
Bill Simon, president of Walmart U.S., said he knew what it was like to work his way up. He spent 25 years in the military, both active and reserve duty. He worked at PepsiCo and in state government for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
In just seven years at Wal-Mart, he has risen to the No. 2 spot with the global retailer. He credited the millions of associates for the company’s success, and he closed the meeting by noting that Wal-Mart would not stand by and take shots from groups critical of the company.
“There are no more free shots at Wal-Mart this year. No more free shots at you. We are telling our story loud and proud through a media campaign that highlights the opportunities at Wal-Mart,” Simon said.