U.S. Manufacturing

Meet Homestar: Building a Future Through Building Furniture

Willie Grant likes to get his hands dirty – and he’s grateful to say that for the past three years, he has had the opportunity to wake up every morning and do just that.

As a maintenance tech at the Homestar factory in Statesville, North Carolina, Willie holds one of the most important jobs on the plant: He fixes the machines that make it possible to produce up to 7,000 units of ready-to-assemble furniture daily.

“My role here is to see that Homestar succeeds,” Willie says. “These are good people, and I don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”

But hard economic realities often make meaningful work difficult to come by. Willie knows from personal experience how hard it can be to lose a job with no warning. In 2008, he faced a series of layoffs because companies were shutting down their factories in the U.S. and sending the work overseas. As a family man with strong sense of responsibility to his wife and four children, he felt helpless to care for the people he loves the most.

When Willie began looking for work again, he had already lost trust in the companies offering him work – he even rejected a job offer with a factory that ended up shutting its doors to American workers only six months later.

“When you’ve been knocked down like I have, it’s really hard to build that trust in a company,” Willie said, “but I’m not a failure, I’m a provider.”

Finally in 2013, Willie’s brother told him about Homestar, a new company committed to hiring American workers and promoting employees from within. After going in for an interview, he recognized something special – and thanks to the commitment Walmart has made to source an additional $250 billion in U.S. products from suppliers like Homestar, Willie and his coworkers can again do the most important work in their lives: provide for their families. Now, they have something to work for again – something to be proud of.

“Every day is not peaches and cream, but we know we have something to fight for,” Willie said. “Walmart coming together with Homestar, it’s a great feeling … It gives us that feeling that we have security now. It gives us that drive to come to work every day and do what we do, and do it the best. Just the thought of knowing that the product we make, here in America, is on the shelves at Walmart – it’s an amazing feeling.”

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Business

Meet the Families Behind Our Grass-Fed Beef

They say you are what you eat.

When we shop to feed our families, we’re especially concerned with what’s in the food we’re buying and where it came from. Thanks to two cattle ranching families who came together years ago to farm grass-fed beef in Utah and Wyoming, we’re able to provide this option – our Marketside Butcher brand – at over 2,000 of our stores.

It’s important to do business with people who care about their customers as much as we do. Working with Jones Creek, that care is obvious. The Crandall family has been farming cattle on their ranches in Utah and Wyoming for over five generations, and they’re committed to a product that’s as natural as it is tasty.

Check out this video to see why they believe in producing beef with no added hormones or antibiotics, but lots of passion and care.

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U.S. Manufacturing

These Artists are Mixing Up the Cocktail Game

Watching a professional mixologist craft the perfect cocktail can leave you awestruck.

From their performance-style bottle flips as they mix the ingredients to the spectacle of the drink itself, it’s truly a form of art.

The bottle flips take time to master, but creating that perfect cocktail at home is definitely within reach. However, it can be intimidating. While craft cocktails are in vogue right now – especially with millennials – many of them report they don’t know how to make them.

We were approached in the summer of 2016 by Walmart’s mixed drinks buyer, Tammy Patton, who wanted help in creating a new, exciting product that resonated with these customers. “The mixed drinks and bar ingredients category hasn’t seen innovations in a while. It all started with us needing lime and lemon juices, which surprisingly, we didn’t have in that category,” Tammy said.

What we came up with – a selection of mixers and bar ingredients called Cocktail Artist – fills this gap. From the ingredients to the packaging, it stands out. We went straight to the experts – eight award-winning mixologists from across the U.S. – and worked with them to create premium ingredients they would be excited to use. They became our spokespeople for each of the products, with their faces on the bottles of the ingredients they helped make.

Each mixologist honed in on the mix or ingredient he or she was passionate about. They were enthusiastic and took ownership from the get-go – all the way to doing store demos, taking pictures with customers and signing bottles. We went with an Andy Warhol-style concept and the idea of turning the labels into actual pieces of art.

We started with two products, then grew to eight in March of this year. And in 2018, we’ll expand to a total of 15. And with new products, come new bartenders. One of them, Skyy John, better known as Tipsy Bartender, is one of the biggest influencers in this category, with 26 million followers. To keep up with demand at our plant in Cincinnati, we’re proud to be adding jobs to that community. What’s great is that none of our mixes are made with high-fructose corn syrup and at the same time, they’re affordable. You can make some really high-quality cocktails and not break the bank.

“This line has really revitalized the category. The major players in that space are bringing more to the table and innovating. We’re growing a new customer base, and they’re coming back more often,” Tammy said. “We’re really proud we can offer quality products like this to our customers.”

Our goal was to create a craft cocktail movement. I think we’re on our way.

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Innovation

The Opioid Epidemic Has Changed Safe Disposal of Prescriptions

The opioid epidemic is as serious of a drug crisis as America’s ever seen. It’s so deep-reaching that nearly every community has felt its effects.

And while prescription pain medications are an appropriate treatment option for some, the reality is that unchecked supplies in the public pose a significant health concern. Just as prescription drugs should be prescribed carefully, they must be stored and disposed of carefully.

Providing a means for proper drug disposal is a fundamental way Walmart can help. Today, we announced a new, free, convenient solution for responsible opioid disposal, DisposeRx. It’s a first-of-its-kind solution and I’m so proud of our team and the work they’ve done to bring this simple means of disposal to our patients.

We know the person who was prescribed a prescription opioid medication isn’t always the only one who is at risk for misuse. This innovative option for medication disposal will help keep families and communities healthy, and DisposeRx is one more way we can make a difference.

Here are a few more reasons why we wanted to help with this critical issue.

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Business

CEO Doug McMillon's Note to Associates on Tax Savings

Happy New Year! I hope you and your families had a great holiday season. Thank you so much for all your efforts to serve our customers during our busiest time of the year. I know there were many smiling faces on Christmas morning and throughout the season because of you. Thank you for serving them so well and for helping each other to do it as a team.

We’ve got some really good news to share today. As you know, the President and Congress have approved a lower business tax rate. Given these changes, we have an opportunity to accelerate a few pieces of our investment plan. We plan to continue investing in you, in our customers through lower prices, and in our future--especially in technology to help improve your jobs and the experience for our customers.

So, we’re pleased to tell you that we’re raising our starting wage to $11 an hour for Walmart U.S., Sam’s Club, Supply Chain, eCommerce and Home Office hourly associates effective in February.

We’re also providing a one-time bonus to hourly associates that pays a larger amount the longer you’ve been with our company. Associates that don’t benefit from the new starting wage increase are eligible for the bonus and it will range from $200 to $1,000 depending on your length of service. As an associate who’s been with the company more than 25 years, I understand the value of experience and we all appreciate those of you that have helped build this company over the years.

I’m also excited to tell you that we’re making an important change to benefits by expanding our paid leave policy to provide full-time hourly associates with 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. This expanded parental leave also applies to salaried associates and to parents who adopt. We will also contribute $5,000 to the cost of adoption. I recently heard from two associates on this topic—one through an open door note and one at a town hall. Both pointed out how limited our policy was for adoptive parents so we’re happy to be addressing that concern now. Families are a priority to us and connecting with and caring for a new family member is obviously important.

As we look to the future and how we’ll win with customers, we’ll be assessing what additional investments are needed, and we’ll make those decisions with you, our customers, and our shareholders in mind.

Thanks again for everything you do. I’m proud of our progress and we have momentum. Let’s build on that in 2018!

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