Author Topic: Tales of a Walmart manager  (Read 13395 times)

Malloy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 403
Tales of a Walmart manager
« on: February 20, 2014, 11:06:12 AM »
Normally, the Gawker series on the unemployed/ what it's really like to work in a big box store is excellent.  The stories are gut wrenching, and it's pretty hard to snark on the people featured.   But, this one just really stood out as so emblematic of why people get into financial trouble.  This guy was making a lot of money on commission when his company fell apart.  Instead of putting that money in the bank, he bought a 750k condo.  He had 20 years of work experience, and his story didn't have read like this.  If you work in a commission-based job, you can't always count on the gravy train being there.  Also, if you are making so much money in a position that doesn't require complicated credentials or expertise, chances are you are exploiting a market inefficiency that will eventually be corrected.  The anomaly in this guy's story is that he was making a mid 6-figure salary, not that he couldn't find a comparable job after he lost it. 

http://gawker.com/a-walmart-department-manager-begs-the-world-hire-me-1526863891

In 1998 through 2009 I worked as a partner in an independent two person manufacturers' sales representative agency selling construction material. In 2009 we made anywhere from $12,000 to $38,000 in commission each MONTH— more than some people take home in a year. My partner decided he was tired of making so much money and so he opted to take up life in prison. With an ethical clause attached to our contract, the gravy train came to an end.

Yes, I saved money. My mortgage payment was $3,000 per month on a $750,000 condo in an upscale ski resort town in Colorado. Credit card balances, typically paid off each month, ran about $1,500 per month. With no income. the savings account did not last long.

With two children to feed and foreclosure in progress, I sent my resume to anyone that offered a job. In an economic downturn, not many people were hiring in my industry. I have 20+ years in sales and marketing and a proven track record of making companies money. Every management position I applied for required at least a Bachelor's degree. I have an Associate's degree. With the economy in distress I applied for state assistance and got it on the condition that I continuously applied for work. Desperate for work, I applied at Wal-Mart for a temporary overnight remodel associate position. To their credit, Wal-Mart hired me. Probably because I had a pulse. The turnover rate at most stores is about 45% per month. Associates are encouraged to dissuade others from quitting.





MustachianAccountant

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 433
  • Age: 42
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2014, 11:43:14 AM »
I don't get this sentence:
"My partner decided he was tired of making so much money and so he opted to take up life in prison. With an ethical clause attached to our contract, the gravy train came to an end."

Undecided

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1089
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2014, 11:54:18 AM »
I don't get this sentence:
"My partner decided he was tired of making so much money and so he opted to take up life in prison. With an ethical clause attached to our contract, the gravy train came to an end."

Construction business, outsize profits, someone goes to jail. We don't know the exact details, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's a relationship among those elements of the story.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 28258
  • Age: -998
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2014, 11:56:45 AM »
I don't get this sentence:
"My partner decided he was tired of making so much money and so he opted to take up life in prison. With an ethical clause attached to our contract, the gravy train came to an end."

I read it as: His partner did something illegal, went to prison, and they got fired.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9358
  • Registered member
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2014, 02:12:43 PM »
Something doesn't add up.  I'm seeing a savings rate of 60-90%.  If you make 500k per year you can afford a $750k condo.  What am I missing?
« Last Edit: February 20, 2014, 02:14:25 PM by dragoncar »

rocksinmyhead

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1491
  • Location: Oklahoma
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2014, 02:27:51 PM »
I just... don't understand. most of it, but also this:

"University of Phoenix, a reputable school"

haha what?


arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 28258
  • Age: -998
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2014, 02:35:21 PM »
a reputable school

It probably says enough if you have to add that qualification.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Milspecstache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 530
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2014, 09:19:07 PM »
I read the link but he doesn't really justify his hate for Wal-mart.  Based on his attitude I would guess that he wouldn't like working at my job either. 

Then again, after making $12,000 to $38,000 a month any average American job must feel like hell.

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9358
  • Registered member
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2014, 09:33:48 PM »
I read the link but he doesn't really justify his hate for Wal-mart.  Based on his attitude I would guess that he wouldn't like working at my job either. 

Then again, after making $12,000 to $38,000 a month any average American job must feel like hell.

Well, they did give him a job.  Fuck them, right?

vern

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 594
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2014, 11:21:32 PM »
I just... don't understand. most of it, but also this:

"University of Phoenix, a reputable school"

haha what?

That was my reaction as well.

http://gawker.com/5562794/kids-paying-real-money-to-attend-fake-colleges

Nords

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3298
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Oahu
    • Military Retirement & Financial Independence blog
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2014, 07:47:29 PM »
I don't get this sentence:
"My partner decided he was tired of making so much money and so he opted to take up life in prison."
I read it as: His partner did something illegal, went to prison, and they got fired.
Hunh.  My interpretation of the sentence is that his partner chose to retire early and escape workplace stress.

After all, he had enough money to live his dream-- right?

Old-time readers of Early-Retirement.org will recognize this as "the baguette early retirement tactic".  If you run out of retirement assets in a Western European country then you buy a baguette, use it to hold up a bank, wait for the police to arrest you, confess your guilt, and reside in prison luxury for your remaining years.

LalsConstant

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 439
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2014, 09:02:09 AM »
Wow... this guy.

I can empathize a lot with being qualified on paper to make more money, but being stuck working for Wal-Mart.  That was me for two years of my life after all.

It is frustrating, I agree.  In fact it's downright depressing.  However, I have to point a few things out here:

1.  It sounds like Wal-Mart isn't treating him unfairly to me.  Look no one at Wal-Mart, unless they come in with particular prior experience, starts at Department Manager.  Also, while this trend is dying, one of the core conceits/concepts of Wal-Mart used to be that the salaried managers weren't MBA graduates from fancy schools, but rather people who actually worked their butts off in the stores.  This isn't true any more (a good number of WMT's top executives were never so much as a cart pusher), but at the store manager and below level, it is still true.

Is Wal-Mart a bad employer?  I'm going to say yes based on my experience but it's not like people seem to think it is.  They're bad because they're so indifferent to people and treat 98% of their workforce like they're completely interchangeable, but anyone who works on the floor in one of their stores knows that's just not true.

They're not even "Bad" because they don't pay a lot; Wal-Mart doesn't set wages, circumstances far outside of their control set wages.  But I will say they don't set relative wages correctly, in that higher performing employees don't really earn a meaningful amount more than their less productive counterparts.

The big decision makers at the top are so far removed from daily operations they strive for control and uniformity at the sake of innovation and effectiveness.  It's a byproduct of the company being so damn big.  I don't believe these are evil people, I just believe they have to make a big decision without understanding all the nuances.

That's really the source of some many of their problems.  Wal-Mart needs to take a cue from Jack Welch and reward their top 20% instead of treating everyone the same.

2.  I went to school while working at Wal-Mart.  I went to a regular brick and mortar university who doesn't have to qualify itself as reputable and have no student debt.  I realize he probably can't do this supporting a family (I can live like a pauper if I must because it's just me, but I'm talking about some urban survival type stuff here you wouldn't subject a child to).  Still, even if I'd financed my degree, I wouldn't have spent more than $20,000.  Guy needs to shop around and/or move cities/states.

He is right that WMT doesn't give a rat's butt about employee education above a GED.  They do throw out a scholarship here and there, but it's not like there's a universal tuition reimbursement program save for the GED program (which Wal-Mart will pay for).  The trick is, you have to sell your educational credentials to someone outside the company.

It is true that if you want to be a salaried manager it helps to have a bachelor's degree.  But honestly the degree can be in anything, WMT doesn't care.  Just study something easy.

3.  It is true that it doesn't look good on your resume if you put "WALMART" up there front and center.  However, what I do is list "Accounting Associate", my last title at that company, and then clarify it was at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.  The difference is, this shows the responsibility and roles I had and emphasizes what I actually did on the job rather than who I worked for.

4.  Wal-Mart isn't this guy's problem.  The fact is, I'm not too good to work at Wal-Mart.  This guy isn't either.  He needs to get it in his head that nothing makes you "better" than the people who work for this company their whole lives.

This guy's problem is he is needs to fish or cut bait.  Take a poo or get off the pot.  Finish the degree and move on to somewhere else that will value his new qualifications, or stay put.

Use Wal-Mart as a stepping stone or buckle down and make Wal-Mart work for you.  Those are your choices.  No one is going to swoop in on a white horse and save you from retail hell, the only way out is to claw yourself out of that pit with the exposed boney nubs of your overworked and stiff fingers.  All of your choices suck.

To that extent I feel bad for him, he didn't do anything wrong by having a job that paid lots of money in the past and he probably had no reason to suspect it would end. It's got to suck to fall so far.

But the harsh truth is that anything he's lost, however bitter it is to swallow, is now a sunk cost.  I went through the same thing, realizing the consequences of what was happening to me wasn't fun, but what he had before just doesn't matter any more.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 28258
  • Age: -998
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2014, 09:05:36 AM »
That was a well thought out and well articulated post, LalsConstant.  Thank you.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

rocksinmyhead

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1491
  • Location: Oklahoma
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2014, 09:31:19 AM »
That's really the source of some many of their problems.  Wal-Mart needs to take a cue from Jack Welch and reward their top 20% instead of treating everyone the same.

interesting. I was talking over the weekend to two friends who work for the National Park Service. they described this exact concept as one of the biggest issues with working for the government (and not even just in a selfish sense of "we wish we were better rewarded for our work," but "we observe other people not being utilized to their full potential because of a relentless insistence on everything being 'fair'"). I commented that I don't think this is an issue specific to the government because it's the government, but something that tends to happen in all (overly?) large organizations... so yeah, what you're saying kind of backs that up I guess.

also, thanks for your perspective, really interesting!

Mr. PlantingOurPennies, who posts on here from time to time, has talked a lot about how he went from being an unqualified philosophy graduate to making a very good salary in commissioned sales. He wrote a very good, very interesting guide on how to get into the field, and one thing stands out: sales skills are highly transferable, and employers are willing to take a risk on people who are commission-only because they are hired at no/minimal risk to the employer. It sounds like this guy is *good* at sales; would it be possible for him to start being a salesman at some other company and building a book of business from there?

http://www.plantingourpennies.com/just-out-of-school-deep-in-debt-job-sucks-what-to-do/
http://www.plantingourpennies.com/2012/10/15/how-do-you-go-from-minimum-wage-to-80k-in-a-year-part-1/
http://www.plantingourpennies.com/how-do-you-go-from-minimum-wage-to-80k-in-a-year-part-2/
http://www.plantingourpennies.com/how-do-you-go-from-minimum-wage-to-80k-in-a-year-part-3/

I love how this forum, no matter the topic, will eventually get around to giving advice/trying to help this guy, even though he will probably never read it :)

SwordGuy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7367
  • Location: Fayetteville, NC
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2014, 09:41:58 AM »
That was a well thought out and well articulated post, LalsConstant.  Thank you.

Damn.  If LalsConstant wants to run for office, my vote has been secured.

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3514
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2014, 07:26:20 AM »
I'm also with LaisConstant. 

This guy's problem isn't with Walmart. 
The problem isn't with the economy. 
The problem isn't that he had only an associates degree.

The problem is that the dude had a job paying him oodles and bunches of money, money much beyond what he could expect with his degree of education . . . And instead of spending moderately, he bought what he admits is that he bought "upscale condo" in a ski town and spent in other over-the-top ways.  The result was predictable.  When the good times ended,  as happens all too often in situations that are untenable, he couldn't recreate his situation elsewhere.  If he'd used good sense when the money was rolling in, he'd have been living in a paid-for moderate house and would've had money in the bank instead of bills in the mailbox.  He either could've retired or could've afforded to take a lower job in comfort. 

MsSindy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 535
  • Age: 53
  • Location: Philly Burbs
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2014, 08:15:53 AM »
This sounds like my brother's story.  He never finished high-school, but I think his wife did.  They started a painting business in So. Cal that did extremely well during the times when people were scooping up foreclosures and doing remodels.  According to my Dad, there was a couple of years where they reportedly pulled in around $400k.....They remodeled their own house, bought RVs and expensive trips, box seats at the Angels games, etc., but then the gravy train ran out.  They are in debt up to their eyeballs.  They don't have any prospects on jobs because neither has experience outside of the painting business.  They asked my Dad for money and he told them to sell all their shit and start saving their money (yeah, Dad!!  Was a Mustachian before it was cool to be one!).

So, similar theme.  Good timing, some hard work, and a few lucky breaks made them great money - but it wasn't sustainable (or most likely will it be repeatable).

Numbers Man

  • Guest
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #17 on: March 04, 2014, 08:40:40 AM »
Let me see if I got this straight. He made $12k to $38k per month for 11 years representing multiple companies and selling to multiple customers. And he couldn't get a job from any of those contacts? He must be a real dick for that to happen.

Melody

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1089
  • Age: 31
  • Location: Australia
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2014, 04:25:08 PM »
  If you work in a commission-based job, you can't always count on the gravy train being there.  Also, if you are making so much money in a position that doesn't require complicated credentials or expertise, chances are you are exploiting a market inefficiency that will eventually be corrected.  The anomaly in this guy's story is that he was making a mid 6-figure salary, not that he couldn't find a comparable job after he lost it. 

So true! With the slow down in construction of mining/oil and gas projects in the city I think the local economy will take a hit soon... Far too many unqualified people making 100K+ and qualified people making crazy money (i.e. a trade qualified electrical engineer that I am friends with pulls annualised salaries of $300-$400K, of course he doesn't actually make this much as they are all 3-4 month contracts, but he's still on well over $200k at age 25.) I also have an ex-boyfriend who loaded up on consumer debt while earning $85k a year while in sales, who then got fired and has been unable find anything paying over $45K... needless to say he is not doing too well, as his debt load was high even for an $85k income. I think over time, choosing to stay in school and upskill will pay off for me.

Milspecstache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 530
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2014, 06:37:54 PM »
Agreed on many over-paying jobs coming to a close:

Friend in IT was making $150k before getting outsourced.  Now struggles to find a job making less than $50k.
Friend in carpentry who can make $3k in a day selling and installing windows.  That makes it very hard to take a job that pays much less.

Had a discussion with an R&D head for a major car company a few years ago.  Asked him what his major concern was.  He replied that it was the loss of manufacturing jobs.  My dad was able to get a manufacturing job right out of high school and support a family.  For me to do that I would have had to move and probably take some college to get there.  What about our children?  His point was that back in the day, American can companies could sell over-priced SUVs and afford to pay someone $50/hr to sweep floors but those profit margins are now gone and those jobs will never return.

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3514
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2014, 06:59:37 AM »
Something no one's mentioned:  This guy may be part of the "used to be possible" world.  Here's what I mean:

I have a good friend who attended college 1-2 years but didn't graduate; however, she has excellent writing skills, knows technology, and is very organized.  She has been working 25-ish years as an executive secretary (maybe administrative assistant is correct) and is well-suited to the job.  I'd be surprised if she doesn't earn 50K+, which is not half bad for someone with no degree.  THE PROBLEM:  Though she does her job well, she hates her boss and hates the long commute.  Yet she cannot change jobs. Why?  Because she got her foot in the door with this company years ago when it was possible to land an executive assistant job without a degree, but today no one will even talk to her without a degree.  She constantly harps on her daughter about the importance of earning a degree so that she won't find herself locked into such a situation. 

This guy may be similar.  He got into this job back when an associate degree was "enough", and now he finds that he's not competitive in the world. 

This doesn't excuse the fact that he didn't save anything when the gravy train was good, but he probably made the mistake of thinking, "If I am capable of earning X amount in this company, I can go do it somewhere else.  That's not always possible." 

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 28258
  • Age: -998
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2014, 07:18:36 AM »
Most companies will care much more about 17 years work history than a degree by that point in one's employment career.

Still, I suppose he could be getting stopped out at the initial screening process before a human even sees it.

If he can get far enough though in the application process, the degree won't matter compared to the experience.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Nords

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3298
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Oahu
    • Military Retirement & Financial Independence blog
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2014, 08:07:12 PM »
Because she got her foot in the door with this company years ago when it was possible to land an executive assistant job without a degree, but today no one will even talk to her without a degree.
This is actually a great screening tool for figuring out which companies you wouldn't want to work for anyway.

There is at least one company out there willing to pay her for what she's worth, not for just a sheepskin.  The challenge is in networking with her contacts to find that company, and then either persuade the hiring manager to make an exception-- or to find an exec willing to get her the exception.

At this point she must be wondering how long it would've taken to get a college degree, any college degree, when stacked up alongside the working hours and the commute hours that she's racked up over the years.  And before people chime in to tell me how unrealistic and harsh this appraisal may be, I'll point out that I know plenty of submariners who managed to get their degrees on active duty.

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3514
Re: Tales of a Walmart manager
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2014, 06:45:47 AM »
Because she got her foot in the door with this company years ago when it was possible to land an executive assistant job without a degree, but today no one will even talk to her without a degree.
This is actually a great screening tool for figuring out which companies you wouldn't want to work for anyway.

There is at least one company out there willing to pay her for what she's worth, not for just a sheepskin.  The challenge is in networking with her contacts to find that company, and then either persuade the hiring manager to make an exception-- or to find an exec willing to get her the exception.

At this point she must be wondering how long it would've taken to get a college degree, any college degree, when stacked up alongside the working hours and the commute hours that she's racked up over the years.  And before people chime in to tell me how unrealistic and harsh this appraisal may be, I'll point out that I know plenty of submariners who managed to get their degrees on active duty.
Definitely possible, but she's at an age where one must consider diminishing returns.  She's so near retirement anyway that there's little point in putting in the money and effort -- if she were 20-something and would have the use of the degree for years, it'd be a different story.  And she has teenagers at home who need her attention at this point.  Yes, she could finish a degree, but it probably isn't the best option for her.  For someone else, yes, it'd be a wise choice.