Seven years ago, Home Depot’s stock price and sales lagged that of its main — yet considerably smaller —competitor, Lowe’s. Chairman and CEO Frank Blake set out to transform the company just as the financial meltdown of 2008 began to transform every market across the board.
Blake changed how Home Depot marketed its products. Rather than continue to tailor advertisements to contractors and cater to the handyman, the company began running television commercials for a new primer-painter combo with women doing much of the work.
And while it used to be a joke that trying to find someone in an orange apron to help you find your way through one of the cavernous big box retailer’s stores was impossible, Blake also changed that. He put more employees on the floor, inspiring them to be attentive, while boosting their pay and instructing them to focus on the customer first. Everything else fell into place as employees responded to that environment.
In August, after reporting robust quarterly sales that once again bested those of Lowe’s and topped analysts’ estimates, Home Depot announced Blake will transition his CEO duties to Craig Menear, the company’s president of U.S. retail, while retaining the chairman role effective November 1.
Menear certainly has his work cut out for him as Home Depot’s profit has increased for five straight years. Second-quarter revenue rose 5.7 percent from a year earlier while same-store sales climbed 5.8 percent for the three months ended June 30. Not to mention Home Depot’s share price is up 127 percent since Blake took over.
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