What opportunity looks like at Walmart

Walmart talks a lot about the opportunities it provides to employees and every so often examples pop up that puts things in perspective.

Take the case of Donald Fleming, the store manager at the Walmart Neighborhood Market which opened this week in Colorado Springs. Fleming leads a team of nearly 100 employees and likely earns a salary in the vicinty of six figures running a business that will generate annual sales of roughly $20 million. That’s a big responsibility and Walmart has entrusted it to a guy who just eight years earlier joined the company as a sales associate at a store in Ruston, La., while he was a senior in college.

Further north in the Denver suburb of Aurora, Walmart opened another new Neighborhood Market this week and the store manager there experienced a similar career progression. William McConnell joined Walmart a few years before Fleming in 2002, but did so at one of the lowest levels in the organization. McConnell, a U.S. Army veteran, began as an overnight stocker, and apparently distinguished himself to the point where Walmart saw fit to put him in charge of running an entire store in a major market.

Stories like these could become a lot more common in the years ahead if Walmart were to meaningfully accelerate expansion of its small format stores to a Dollar General-like pace of more than 600 units annually. Walmart currently operates roughly 300 Neighborhood Markets nationwide and opened its first unit in 1998.