Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What's a business for?

Many of you know that I am a retail manager by day, blogger and author by night, unless of course I have to work at night, then the roles are reversed. Such is the life of a retailer.

After many years of this profession, 30 years to be exact, I've had my ups and downs. I've had good jobs and not-so-good jobs. Many times, the success of the company you work for determines if the job is worth having. I've had several go under beneath me and some that came very close. No company lasts forever. Just look at the recent troubles of several once-mighty stores such as Sears, JCPenney and KMart. It's debatable if any or all of them will make it in the long run.

Why do I bring this up? It's simple. I don't agree with all the negative attacks on companies such as Wal-Mart concerning their business operations and practices. As a matter of transparency, I do not work for Wal-Mart and never have. Although they have a store within three miles of my home, I rarely venture there. That particular company just seems to be a lightning rod for those who are dissatisfied with themselves or society.

There are plenty of other companies that pay their employees the wages that Wal-Mart pays theirs, often many who pay less. Many hospitals pay the cleaning staff and other non-skilled positions minimum wage and then ask for volunteers to man the information desk, visit patients and fill other positions. You don't hear people complaining about that, do you? The business of a company is to make a profit; to stay in business. Payroll and benefits is typically the number one cost any business faces. That's also why when times are tough, that's the first place to look for dollars to cut.

Many of the 'complainers' rail about the Wal-Mart 1%ers; the family of Sam Walmart. So they are billionaires, so what? Don't blame them for being in the right place at the right time. The U.S. is not a society, or shouldn't be, where those who have become a success should feel bullied into taking care of others just because groups are yelling at the top of their lungs. I'm sure there is a Wal-Mart foundation of some sort that provides significant assistance to charities. I'm fairly certain that the Walmart family contributes substantially to that and likely others.

In many places, towns and burgs, that company is likely a significant employer. That in itself is a substantial investment in the community. Many companies reinvest back into the communities they serve and it's not always celebrated with press releases and hoopla. Yet, it still happens. How many of those who complain about huge companies ever acknowledge the good they do? Few.

Corporations need to be profitable. That's the bottom line. No profits, no company. No company, no jobs. If you don't like the way a company runs their business, don't be their patron, but then don't complain if they pull out of your community and some of the jobs dry up. There are many who would love to have those jobs. Entry-level jobs are just that; entry-level. Want a raise? It's up to you to do more than the bare minimum just to get by. Entry-level jobs were never meant to be the primary income of families. I understand that at times, things happen that are not within one's control. However, there are many who simply think they deserve a larger paycheck but do nothing to go out and earn it. Sadly, that is too typical of many in the workforce. I have experienced it for many years in this line of work.

For those who do nothing more than complain about others who don't help, how much time did you donate to a local charity this year? I'm sure Wal-Mart and other corporations did more than you know. Is it always as simple as that? No. Are they perfect? Hardly, but then neither is any of us.

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