Glass died January 9 from complications associated with pneumonia, according to the Glass family, which is organizing a public “Celebration of Life” on January 27, in Rogers, Ark., to honor Glass’ life and career.
“More than anyone beyond Sam Walton, David Glass is responsible for making Walmart the company it is today,” Rob Walton, Sam Walton’s eldest son, said in a note on Glass’ passing posted on the company’s website by Doug McMillon, Walmart’s president and CEO.
Glass succeeded founder Sam Walton as Walmart’s chief executive and led the company through some of its most notable achievements, including its decision to become a food retailer, its entry into international markets and its e-commerce debut.
Under Glass’ leadership, Walmart:
- Increased annual revenues from $16 billion to about $165 billion.
- Introduced the Supercenter format and expanded Sam’s Club.
- Expanded international operations in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Mexico, Puerto Rico and United Kingdom.
Glass is also credited with leading efforts to streamline operations and improve customer service, including the development of automated distribution centers, linked by computers to Walmart headquarters, stores and suppliers. These efforts allowed Walmart to grow from a regional retailer to become an international retail leader, according to a press release from the Glass family.
Glass was named MMR’s Retailer of the Year in 1993. That same year, Fortune magazine identified Glass as the “most admired CEO” in America. He was elected to the Retail Hall of Fame in 2000.
“Those of us who watched him closely frequently tell each other that he is the most under-appreciated CEO in the history of business,” McMillon wrote. “The results of the company and the choices he made set the company up for a long run into the future. He would often say, ‘we are just getting started.’ The reason some under-appreciate his impact was his humility.”
Glass, who described himself as a “baseball junkie” since going to his first game, in 1948, became interim CEO and chairman of the Royals in 1993 following the death of the founding owner, Ewing Kauffman. Glass became sole owner of the team after purchasing the organization from the Kauffman estate in 2000. Under Glass’ leadership, the Royals reached the World Series twice — in 2014 and 2015 — winning the title on the second try in a five-game series with the New York Mets. The Glass family sold the team to a group led by Kansas City businessman John Sherman. Major League Baseball owners unanimously approved the deal in November.