Bottom (and top) line: To turn Home Depot around. Frank Blake restoked employee morale, zeroed in customer needs, and focused on the core business. Best of all, he wasn't Bob Nardelli. What can you learn from Blake's story? Sell the project, not the product. Jump without a (golden) parachute. And never hold yourself above your people. At Home Depot, the days of caviar and roses are past. The CEO with the huge salary and outsized ego is gone. The world's largest home-improvement retail chain has slowed its once-relentless pace of expansion almost to a halt. It has sold its 34 Expo Design Centers, 14 specialty stores, and other grandiose, empire-building acquisitions. What remains is a company with roughly 350,000 employees, 2,238 stores around the world, and sales of more than $71 billion annually. After two years on the job, Home Depot's unlikely savior is still almost anonymous enough to pose as a shopper when he visits his stores.
The story of how Frank Blake and his colleagues turned the company around is a tale with lessons for us all. It's as if Blake had stopped an explosion in mid-blast and turned it around, nestling all the fragments gently back into place.