Community

Conquering Small Business Challenges and Obstacles, Ninja Warrior Style

Since the age of 3, Garrett Takach has been a sports fanatic. According to his mother, Marie, Garrett has not only played, but excelled, in almost every sport imaginable.

It came as no surprise to her, then, when he decided to start a small business combining sports and fitness – ninja warrior style. In January 2015 at age 18, Garrett founded Ninja Park Obstacle Fitness Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Ninja Park is an obstacle training facility where anyone of any age with any kind of fitness goal can come in and participate in a unique fitness style called TAK Fit – a technique that combines obstacles, calisthenics, and strength training. Ninja Park offers training, workshops, kid’s camps, team building events, mobile obstacles, a rock climbing wall and a weight training area.

Coming from a big family, Garrett learned first-hand the importance of a strong support system. So to make his dream a reality, he not only wanted a trusted group of individuals around him – he also knew he needed expert advice. In July 2014, Garrett met with SCORE, a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Garrett looked to SCORE to provide feedback on his business plan and discuss the possibility of opening an obstacle gym.

While browsing the SCORE website in January 2016, Garrett noticed the open call for applications for the American Small Business Championship, a national competition sponsored by Sam’s Club that celebrates small business owners and entrepreneurs from across the nation. He didn’t think he stood a chance against 400 other small businesses across the U.S., but decided to enter Ninja Park anyway. This turned out to be a great decision.

Ninja Park was named the Grand Champion in the 2016 American Small Business Championship and awarded $25,000.

The mentorship and resources provided by SCORE and Sam’s Club have helped Garrett grow his business. As a result of the championship, Ninja Park has grown from offering two to three classes daily to nearly eight to ten. Garrett has also expanded the facility to incorporate new and improved flooring, mats, rock climbing walls and obstacle courses. A new business manager, four new full-time employees and two interns have been hired, too.

Garrett is excited about what the future holds for Ninja Park and hopes to become a franchise by continuing to leverage the support provided by SCORE and Sam’s Club.

To learn more, apply or nominate a business for The American Small Business Championship, visit the official website here.Entries are accepted through Feb. 13. Champions will be announced in late March and the grand champions will be revealed in September.

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U.S. Manufacturing

In the News: Inside Our Open Call for American Manufacturing

Shrimp, hair gel, sweet potato cake.

Forbes sent a film crew to Walmart’s corporate office in Bentonville, Arkansas, to capture the excitement as suppliers pitched these and hundreds of other products at our annual U.S. Manufacturing Open Call event.

Forbes shared its inside look today. Take a look at what the big day is like for the people behind the products.

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Community

Why This Associate Wants You to Start With #HelloMyNameIs

“Hello, my name is….” It’s a phrase made up of only four words.

It takes very little time to say – it’s an easy way to begin a conversation. Yet, when people say these words, they can have such a big impact.

My late wife, Kate, started the #HelloMyNameIs campaign in 2013 while living with terminal cancer. As a medic herself, she had become frustrated with nurses and doctors who never introduced themselves to her before providing medical care.

Kate had already been speaking to hospitals and conferences about her experience as both a medical provider and a patient, but through the campaign she hoped to share some key values that resonate beyond people working in healthcare: communication, small acts of kindness, putting the patient at the center of every decision and seeing each person as an individual.

Kate was one of the most determined, resilient people I have ever known. I firmly believe that through adversity, comes legacy. July 23 is International “Hello My Name Is” Day – both the anniversary of Kate’s passing and what would have been our 12th wedding anniversary. We invite everyone – from people to corporations – to join us in celebrating Kate’s legacy by introducing yourself and using #HelloMyNameIs.

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Innovation

How Easy Reorder is Making Shopping Even … Easier

Peanut butter beats jelly. Water beats soda. Tortilla chips beat potato chips. These are just a few of the things revealed to us by our new Easy Reorder feature.

What is Easy Reorder? Instead of telling you, let me try and show you. Imagine this … last week you purchased diapers while at your local store. Then you realized you forgot a few things. So, you logged onto Walmart.com and purchased wipes as well as some cleaning supplies and paper towels.

The next time you open the Walmart app, you may notice something different. The site remembers the Walmart.com items you purchased, but also the diapers you bought in your local store – including the brand and size.

Easy Reorder, which is available now on desktops and our mobile app, makes it … well, easy for you to reorder items that you previously purchased at Walmart. Here’s the cool part: We’re integrating both in-store and online purchases to provide you with a single spot to view (and repurchase) the items that you buy most frequently – items like dog food, cereal, shampoo and diapers.

Let me share a little bit more on why we’re doing this. I’ll use myself as an example. I have 151 different items on my Easy Reorder list. I challenge you to go online and try and find 100 individual products to build a list. You’ll find it takes a really long time. Now, you can simply go into a Walmart store, buy the things you need and then, when you come home, everything will be neatly organized on Walmart.com. For me, that means that I get to save a ton of time when I need to repurchase the items I’m looking for. Trust me, with two kids at home, I have to replenish the snack cupboard a lot. Easy Reorder is a game changer.

I’m not the only one who loves this feature. Our customers love it as well, and we’re seeing it in our results – Easy Reorder contributed to the growth we saw in the first quarter.

For fun, I thought I’d share some of the top items on customers’ reorder lists:

Easy Reorder is part of our team’s laser focus on helping customers save both money and time by leveraging our more than 4,700 stores and Walmart.com.

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Community

Paper Paved the Way to Success for This Family Business

There are two secrets to C. Ray Kennedy’s business success: an entrepreneurial spirit … and office paper.

In 1992, the bank Ray worked for in Charlotte, North Carolina, was in need of a copy paper supplier, but there were no local businesses offering that service. Ray took a chance and decided to quit his job and create a company that could meet the bank’s needs. Since then, what he started, American Product Distributors, has evolved into a nationwide provider of paper – and so much more – to large government organizations and corporations like Walmart.

APD now creates custom electronic catalogs for a variety of products needed to run a business – office and cleaning supplies, industrial items, branded corporate products like apparel, bags and awards – and houses many of the items within its network of 31 warehouses located across the U.S. The company believes in buying American-made whenever possible and sources the majority of its products from the U.S.

Office supplies may sound commonplace, but streamlining the buying process and offering advice make a huge difference for businesses in two key areas: cost savings and speed, according to Cy Kennedy, son of Ray. Cy has served as president of APD since 2011.

APD started small with three employees and a limited catalog. Twenty-five years later, the organization now employs around 50 people and includes a new software division that uses an updated, redesigned ordering system to save customers money. Walmart, a longtime customer, has found value in the company’s convenience, specialized service and quick turnaround, which is important to a business operating on such a large scale.

While growth is always something to be grateful for, Cy says that APD prides itself instead on its employees’ continued success inside and outside the company. While some have moved up to senior management positions within the family business, Cy said some former employees have gone on to become executives at other companies, and a few who started their careers with APD are now successful politicians or entrepreneurs.

Cy credited the culture his father established – a meritocracy built on kindness and respect for employees, suppliers and customers alike – with contributing to personal success.

That culture extends beyond the walls of the business. Ray’s family established the Kennedy Foundation to reach out to children in need. The foundation has helped feed hundreds of thousands of free meals to kids who don’t have access to healthy food outside of school.

The family also started three daycare centers that focus on serving low-income families. “We’ve prepared a lot of children for school who otherwise wouldn’t hit the ground running,” Cy said. “Some started with us as infants and are now college degree holders.”

Whether it’s in business or in the community, the Kennedys are focused on one thing: finding ways people can help each other.

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