It all started with a firing—a very foolish one.
In 1978, Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank were executives at Handy Dan, a home improvement chain based in Southern California. Despite the business being very profitable, the pair had begun to tinker with a new idea. By lowering prices, they found, the stores’ volume shot up, making Handy Dan even more money. The executives had planned to implement that strategy systemwide, but they never got the chance. Corporate raider Sanford C. Sigoloff—who liked to call himself the “Skillful Scalpel”—took over the company, and deciding to save himself two salaries, got rid of Marcus and Blank.
That one decision probably prevented Handy Dan from becoming America’s home improvement leader. Instead, that honor would go to a place called The Home Depot.
Recruiting investment banker Ken Langone and retailer Pat Farrah, who’d run National Lumber and Supply Company, Marcus and Blank opened up