OPERATIONS

Tom Cruise makes surprise appearance at Wal-Mart annual meeting

BY Mike Troy

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores held its annual shareholders meeting on Friday morning and the most noteworthy development at the event — aside from a $15 billion share repurchase authorization — was a surprise appearance and glowing comments by Hollywood heavyweight Tom Cruise.

Walmart is used to big-name entertainers participating in its annual gathering and this year was no exception. Hugh Jackman served as emcee and Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson belted out a few tunes during an event that was focused on celebrating the accomplishments of the company’s 2.2 million employees.

That’s where Cruise came in. At the midpoint of the meeting, between presentations by Global eCommerce president and CEO Neil Ashe and Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon, Jackman introduced Cruise to the crowd of roughly 14,000 people gathered at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark. Wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and dark tie, Cruise walked to the center of the stage to thunderous and enduring applause that elicited a huge smile and numerous thank yous.

“I’ve wanted to come here to this meeting for quite some time now,” Cruise said. “I truly admire your company. I’m inspired what you create every day.”

Even longtime attendees at the event who are accustomed to surprise appearance by celebrities could not have seen that coming.

Cruise called Walmart a role model for businesses because it has taken the lead on issues where it is leveraging its size and scale to make a difference.

“That is something I admire,” Cruise said. “Walmart is using its size and scale to improve women’s lives around the world.”

He also touched on the company’s sustainability efforts, initiatives to make healthy food more affordable and corporate giving which surpassed $1 billion for the first time in 2012.

Regarding sustainability he said, “This company is proving it is good business also,” and on the subject of food and lower produce prices he added that, “Walmart is committed to helping people eat better.”

His appearance and favorable comments seemed a bit surreal in part because Walmart has never had a celebrity of Cruise’s stature participate in its annual meeting, let alone make such favorable comments.

“I’m here today because I want to thank you, the associates, you are the ones who deserve a round of applause,” Cruise said before exiting the stage.

It’s not like Walmart isn’t on Hollywood’s radar considering the company’s ability to sell all manner of entertainment products, but there is a big difference between emceeing the event as Ben Stiller did on several occasions or performing a few songs as countless singers have done, and forcefully proclaiming Walmart to be a wonderful company.

In so doing, Cruise broke ranks with left-leaning Hollywood and the entertainment establishment to support a red-state, anti-union company founded on conservative principles.

That more than anything is what made his appearance and comments a jaw-dropping moment in a meeting that was otherwise filled with stale recaps of the business results, references to founder Sam Walton and uplifting stories about the exceptional efforts of associates.

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Former Dow Chemical VP named to doll company board

BY CSA STAFF

HOUSTON — One World Holdings has appointed Wilma Delaney, former VP of federal, state and provincial governmental and regulatory affairs for Dow Chemical, to its board of directors.

"We are very pleased to welcome Wilma to the One World board," said Joanne Melton, CEO of One World Holdings. "Wilma brings deep expertise in corporate governance and global market expansion that will prove invaluable as One World continues its growth trajectory."

Wilma Delaney worked for Dow Chemical Company from 1975 until 2002, when she retired. While with Dow Chemical, she held multiple leadership positions. As head of the central office in Washington, D.C., for 10 years, she managed the activities of more than 50 lobbyists and other government and regulatory affairs professionals for all of North America and the territories. Delaney also managed all advocacy initiatives and maintained relationships with members of Congress and Executive branch staff. In addition, she established and coordinated close interactions with national political, governmental and regulatory organizations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

"I believe that One World Holdings, Inc. has identified a significant unmet opportunity in the children’s toy market and is in a position to fully capitalize on this opportunity. I have confidence in the ability and integrity of One World management to make the company successful. I am excited to serve on the board and contribute to that success," said Delaney.

The One World Doll Project has developed a line of multicultural and fashion dolls called the Prettie Girls! by Stacey McBride-Irby, who spent 15 years at Mattel designing and creating fashions and concepts for the iconic Barbie line.

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Leadership changes at Dollar Tree

BY CSA STAFF

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Dollar Tree has promoted Gary Philbin to president and COO. He has served as COO since 2007. Bob Sasser continues to lead the company as its CEO.

“I am thrilled to have Gary assume this new role,” said Sasser. “As COO, he has demonstrated outstanding leadership and superb business judgment, and he has been a major contributor to our growth and success. Among his many notable achievements are the improvement of Dollar Tree customer satisfaction and shopping experience and the integration of our Canadian stores.”

Philbin has a bachelor’s degree from Miami University and received an MBA from Xavier University. After spending 30 years in the retail grocery industry where he held senior-level positions in both merchandising and operations, he joined Dollar Tree as SVP of stores in December 2001.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunities before us,” added Sasser. “We have a concept that customers love, a vision of where we want to go, and the people, infrastructure, and capital to take us there. Gary will provide experienced leadership as we continue with the profitable expansion of our business.”

Dollar Tree operates 4,763 stores in 48 states and 5 Canadian Provinces.

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