Over the last few decades, more people than ever are taking on home improvements and completing DIY tasks rather than getting in the experts. In fact, for many people, making improvements to their home is a hobby. One factor that has led to this surge in DIY enthusiasts is the trend for television programs and magazine articles that cover home improvements, home makeovers, property sales, and self-building projects. This, in turn, has led to home improvement stores becoming big business. Many people who own their own homes spend their evenings or weekends frequenting this type of store looking for the perfect products to improve their properties. In the United States, the best-known and most successful of all these stores is Home Depot. This specializes in selling equipment and products that people can use when completing various aspects of DIY and gardening. Home improvement enthusiasts and keen gardeners spend hours in this store selecting the products they want or need to complete the project they are undertaking. At some point in their lives, most citizens of the United States will shop in a Home Depot store on at least one occasion and the same applies to citizens of Mexico and Canada. Home Depot is a business with a long and interesting history of which many are unaware. Here are 20 interesting facts about Home Depot that you might not know.
1. It was founded in 1978
Home Depot was co-founded by Arthur Blank, Bernard Marcus, Pat Farrah, and Ron Brill in 1978. Originally, their aim was simply to build superstores bigger than their direct competition in the home improvements sector. Their secondary aims were to deliver excellent customer service and to provide good prices that were predominantly based on purchasing large volumes of items. It has gone on to become the largest retailer of home improvement supplies, both in the United States and in the world. They have succeeded in achieving their original aims and now have average annual sales of $90 billion and Home Depot is consistently listed on the Forbes 500 list of the biggest companies in the United States. It is one of the fastest growing retailers in the United States as it has surpassed brands including Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy in terms of expansion.
2. It is based in Georgia
Home Depot is based in Georgia. When the company was first founded, the first two stores were opened in 1979 buildings that had been leased by J.C. Penny in metro Atlanta. The very first store opened by Home Depot had approximately 25,000 on its shelves. Although the company has since expanded, they have stuck close to their roots and remained based in this state and its corporate headquarters are now located in nearby Cobb County, Georgia. Despite having its history set in Georgia, this is now very much a national company as it has stores in all 50 states, plus stores in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
3. The Stores Are in Huge Warehouses
Home Depot has always gone for a warehouse look for their stores. To achieve this, they choose to open their stores in massive buildings that have plenty of floor space and height to stack their thousands of products. The average Home Depot store has a floor area of 105,000 square feet. However, there are many of its stores that are significantly larger than this. The largest store in the United States is located in Union, New Jersey and this store has a floor area of 225,000 square feet. The second largest store is located in Anaheim Hills in California. This store has a floor area of 204,000 square feet.
4. They Have Had Many Different Brand Slogans
Many brands have a slogan that catches the attention of consumers and gives an indication of the type of company the slogan is representing. Slogans are often used within a wider marketing plan as a technique to make their brand stand out from competitors and stay in the memories of potential customers. Usually, once a company has chosen their slogan, this will remain with the company for as long as it is operating. This has not been the case for Home Depot as they have changed their slogan repeatedly throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Some of the former slogans have included ‘The Home Depot: First in Home Improvement!’, The Home Depot, low prices are just the beginning’, and ‘When you’re at the Home Depot, you’ll feel right at home!’. In 2003, the company changed their slogan to ‘You can do it. We can help’. They then changed the slogans again in 2009 to the current slogan ‘More saving. More doing’.
5. It Dominates the Online Home Improvements Market
While most people think of only the bricks and mortar stores, Home Depot also operates online. The online element of the business has been hugely successful. In fact, they have approximately 120 million visitors to their website annually and this means they now dominate the online construction and home improvement market. One reason for this success is the wide range of products that are available online. While most of their bricks and mortar stores stock around 40,000 different products, there is a much wider range available for online shoppers. The number of products available on their website is in excess of 250,000. Shoppers can have these delivered to their home or special-order items to be delivered to their nearest store for collection.
6. The Business is Active in Politics
While some businesses shy away from any involvement in politics for fear of alienating some groups of potential customers, Home Depot has always been actively involved in politics. This company is known for making campaign contributions and in the past, 72% of these contributions have gone to Republican candidates. Former United States President George W. Bush was a personal friend of former Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli and Home Depot gave Bush the maximum allowable contribution to his campaign.
7. Home Depot is Trying to Expand Internationally
As this United States based business has been so successful in America, they have made several attempts to expand internationally. They initially expanded into Canada and Mexico and this was a hugely successful business move as Home Depot is now the biggest home improvement retailer in both these countries. In Canada, there are 180 stores that employ 35,000 people. In Mexico, there are 106 stores and 11,000 employees. However, not all their ventures have been quite so successful. They have tried to expand into both Chile and Argentina but Home Depot was not successful in these countries, so they withdrew from this international experiment. This has not put them off attempting to expand internationally in the future. There are currently plans in place to expand into the United Kingdom, Ireland and Poland.
8. They Have Failed to Break into the Chinese Market
Another country where Home Depot have attempted to unsuccessfully expand is China. When China was experiencing a boom in the real estate industry, Home Depot decided to try and cash in on the growth and prosperity in that market by opening stores in that country. Initially, they opened seven stores in various locations across China. Sadly, this international expansion was a failure and all seven stores had closed by 2012 because the fledgling sales figures were so low. This failure was explained by the cultural differences between the United States and China. IN the United States, there is a trend towards people undertaking DIY tasks themselves rather than paying a professional to come in and complete the job for them. It is something that people enjoy and are inspired by television makeover programs. However, the Chinese have a completely different attitude to the Americans. They believe that manual labor is common and for the lower classes. They do not want to demean themselves by completing such menial tasks themselves. Those that could afford the prices of supplies from Home Depot did not want to buy equipment and products to do the job themselves. They wanted the whole project finishing, from the design stage to completion.
9. They Don’t Only Sell Home Improvements Products
Home Depot is best-known for their range of home improvement products as this is the area in which they specialize. Typical products that customers see on the shelves are tools, equipment, and supplies for decorating, small building jobs, plumbing and gardening. However, these are not the only products sold by Home Depot as they often have short-term ranges of products for sale in their stores. Over the years, they have sold some rather unusual items. These have included a jerky gun to turn dried meat into sticks of jerky, a potty training kit, a $600 Viking corded phone, a brownie making machine, pink flamingo statues, and a heat clip set for hair extensions manufactured by Remington.
10. Home Depot Has Many Failed Business Ventures in Other Sectors
Home Depot is well-known for dominating the home improvement retailer sector. However, they have previously made attempts to venture into other business sectors. In most instances, these business ventures have been unsuccessful. One example of this is when they tried to open convenience stores and fueling stations that aimed to attract contractors. Other ventures include landscaping suppliers, a range of home furnishings, an EXPO appliance design center, a builder-based HD supply. For now, it seems they have realized that they should stick to what they know and concentrate on their business as a home improvements retailer.
11. They Support the United States Military
From their beginnings, Home Depot have always been deeply involved in philanthropic causes. They even have their own charity wing of the company called the Home Depot Foundation. Since this foundation was formed, it has donated over $200 million in money, materials, and time. Some of the organizations who have benefited from this includes KaBOOM!, a charity that builds playgrounds for children living in inner cities. They also support the California-based City of Hope National Medical Center, and Habitat for Humanity. In addition to these organizations, Home Depot have always supported charities for the United States military. They even offer a 10% discount for members of the United States military community.
12. There Was a Huge Security Breach at Home Depot in 2014
During its history, there have been several controversial incidents involving Home Depot that have damaged its reputation. One such incident was a huge security breach that occurred in 2014. This security breach involved the financial details of their customers along with many other records relating to both customers and employees. When the incident was investigated, it was revealed that as many as 56 million credit card numbers of customers were compromised as a result of the security breach. Following this incident, Home Depot took several measures to make amends. First, they offered those who were affected by the breach a free year of credit monitoring. Another measure they took was to revamp their electronic payment system.
13. They Are Taking Steps to Become More Environmentally Conscious
Like Many modern companies, Home Depot are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and to have a less negative impact on the environment. A lack of environmental awareness is something that this company has been criticized for in the past. People have specifically criticized Home Depot for not doing enough to promote responsible chemical waste, lumbar, and plumbing initiatives. They have declared themselves as being committed to the environment and have pledged to become industry leaders by selling services and products that are respectful to the environment. One measure they have taken to improve their reputation with regards to the environment is to introduce an environmentally safe label for over 3,000 of their products. They are also making a push towards cleaner energy lighting and an increase of recycling. Furthermore, the Home Depot Foundation has committed itself to donating $100 million over the next ten years so that 10,000 affordable green home units can be built and they have promised to plant in excess of three million trees.
14. They Offer Excellent Customer Service
For Home Dept, running a successful company is not just about selling lots of products and making huge profits. They put a lot of effort into their customer care as they believe by doing so it will encourage people to shop with them and it will bring them return custom. They have lots of different strategies in place to ensure that their customers are happy. One thing they do is to offer the Home Depot Low Price Guarantee. This is an ongoing offer that says they will beat the advertised price of any of their competitors if they have it in stock at their own stores. The founders of Home Depot also devised a Customer Bill of Rights. This entitles the staff who want to take of customers to amend prices in accordance to the assortment of products and the quantities bought if they believe this is the right thing to do. Another way they offer good customer service is by getting involved with their customers directly. They hold free Kids Workshops in many of their stores and this has given over one million children the opportunity to build their first tool box. They also have the Home Depot Garden Club for their customers and this is the largest garden club in the world.
15. Home Depot Funds a Project at Duke University
Home Depot is involved in an interesting project at Duke University as they are funding the ‘Home Depot Smart Home’. This project involves ten engineering students from an upper-class background living in a specially designed home on campus. The house is designed to replicate a research laboratory. While the students are living there, they must collate information and give their feedback about innovative technology at the house. This includes home technology, security and monitoring devices, communications, entertainment, energy efficiency, and environmental technology.
16. Home Depot Supports Olympians
As a company, Home Depot has always done its best to support athletes from the United States. For example, they support Joe Gibbs Racing, they have a Home Depot car entered into NASCAR competitions that is piloted by Tony Stewart, and co-founder Arthur Blanks is the owner of the Atlanta Falcons. They have also supported Olympians from both the United States and Canada. Home Depot did this through their Olympic Job Opportunity Program. Many Olympians struggle to work as most jobs do not offer the flexibility they need to combine a working life and training program. In 1992, Home Depot began their program so they could offer jobs to future Olympians that gave them the benefits and flexibility they needed to train and participate in competitions. This program was discontinued in 2009. Between 1992 and 2009, they employed 570 Olympic hopefuls. This means they have employed more Olympians than any other company in the world.
17. Many of Their Best-Selling Products Are Proprietary Home Depot Brands
Home Depot sells as wide range of products that are manufactured by many different brands. In fact, most stores have around 40,000 different products on display. However, a significant proportion of this company’s success is from its sales of proprietary Home Depot brands. These are brands made by another company but that are only sold in Home Depot stores. Some of these brands include Cub Cadet ® lawn equipment, Toro ® lawn equipment, LG ® appliances, RIGID ® tools, and Ryobi ® tools. One of their best-selling products is their proprietary paint brand, BEHR ®. This is the top consumer brand of paint in the United States and has a 25% share in the consumer paint market.
18. They Use Product Mix Tricks
When Home Depot first opened its stores, it wanted to look like it was already doing huge amounts of business to its new customers. They also wanted to create a warehouse feel in their large stores and make it appear as those these stores were packed to the rafters with merchandise. One trick they used to achieve this was empty product boxes. They put these empty product boxes on the highest shelves, where people wouldn’t reach up for them anyway. This helped to create the impression that they had plenty of stock and give their stores the look of a warehouse.
19. Home Depot Employs 385,000 People
Home Depot is one of the biggest employers in the United States and had over 385,000 employees in 2016 working either in their stores or in their corporate headquarters. It surprises many people to learn that despite the large number of employees, they are still not unionized. In 2004, Detroit store workers were given the option of garnering union representation, but they voted to turn down this proposal. If they had formed a union, they would have been to first store to do this.
20. A Man Once Tried to Cut Off His Own Arm in a Store
Now for a final random fact about Home Depot. Over the years, may strange incidents have taken place in Home Depot stores. While some of these are amusing, there are other stories that are alarming. One example of the latter is the time when a man attempted to cut off his own arm in one of Home Depot’s stores. The events that took place have been described as like some kind of gruesome zombie movie. A man walked into a California branch of Home Depot and grabbed a sheet rock saw from the shelf. He then began to saw his own arm off. By sheer luck, an off-duty police officer happened to be browsing in the store that day. He ran to the man’s assistance and gave him first aid until help arrived. It is still not known what caused the man to try and saw off his own arm, but it is believed to have been a drug-crazed episode.