Feb. 28, 2020
By Matt Smith
Let’s say you’re receiving a prestigious award recognizing your hard work and success. You’ve been invited to a three-day celebration filled with dinner galas, museum tours and celebrity sightings.
Now, let’s say you can only bring one person to share in your success. Who would you bring?
For Josh Lauderdale, the choice was simple: his father Mike. But for Charlie Martin, it was his closest friend and fiercest competitor, David Meschi.
Josh and Charlie are two of around 70 store managers to receive this year’s inaugural Difference Maker Award. The award was given to Walmart store managers whose stores have excelled, either receiving their regional store of the year honor or achieving elite performance metrics (Camp IV).
According to both Charlie and Josh, that success is largely due to the people around you.
Josh and his father Mike get a lot of inspiration from each other. After years of watching Josh grow as a leader, Mike said he has become a better leader just by watching his son.
“I always try to meet people at Josh’s store. The culture I saw at his store changed how I managed people,” Mike said.
Josh’s positive approach is evident in how he talks about his team and their success. When asked about the difference maker ring Josh received the night before, Josh gave all the credit to his team. “It might be an individual ring, but it’s a team award, and I’ve got the best team in the world,” he said.
Josh’s store in Phoenix, Arizona, has had its fair share of successes, but it wasn’t always that way. When Josh arrived there over five years ago, the associates hadn’t had a bonus in a while. But now, the associates of store 2512 have made bonuses for five straight years (20 quarters), and a lot of it has to do with Josh’s management style.
In truth, Josh owes his career to both of his parents. His mother Penny got him his first job as a cart pusher at store 1690 in Decatur, Illinois, 22 years ago. A 27-year Walmart veteran herself, Penny just retired in December 2019. Josh noted Penny would have come, but she’s spending time with her grandkids in her well-earned first couple months of retirement.
Mike, who has managed teams for decades at a grain and food company jokingly said he checks up on Josh all the time, “When I’m in his store, I tell his customers and associates if they don’t like something to tell me. I’m his dad.”
But it’s all in good fun. Josh said he looks forward to inspiring his own kids the way his mom and dad have for him. “It’s full circle. I like to think I’m an image of him,” he said. “I’d love the opportunity to do this for my own kids someday.”
Charlie’s store in San Antonio is one of only three stores to achieve elite metrics and to be named regional store of the year. It’s competition that fuels their success, and Charlie has the perfect competitor: David Meschi.
When David learned Charlie’s store was receiving the Difference Maker Award, he knew he’d never hear the end of it. When Charlie learned, he knew he was bringing David to Bentonville, partly to thank him for making Charlie better, partly for three days to rib him for losing.
David’s store made Camp I first, and that drove Charlie crazy. “I want to win everything,” he said. “I’m resetting the whole store trying to beat him after he got there first.”
David didn’t make it any easier by rubbing it in during market meetings. So, when Charlie’s store made Camp IV, and David’s didn’t, Charlie was quick to return the favor. “He’s gotten really good at brushing his hair back and showing that Difference Maker ring while he does it,” David said.
These guys have been goading each other toward success for a long time. David hired Charlie back in 2001, and two years later, the competition really began when Charlie was promoted to store manager. They lived in Florida back then, and they kept in touch competing with each other in every store they managed.
Fast-forward to 2020. Both Charlie and David are managing stores in San Antonio, Texas, and these two retail veterans go out to lunch every single day. But these lunches aren’t just social calls. “We spend about five minutes talking about our families. The rest is business,” Charlie said.
Both Charlie and David credit each other with helping their success, even if Charlie is quick to point out how much more successful he is this year. “You have to find someone that’s doing better than you are,” David said, as Charlie mouthed “That’s me.”
But Charlie showed his true colors by backing David up. “You have to find the right people to learn from. When he says something, I listen. I even beat him with his own tricks,” Charlie said.
Charlie and David know competition makes them stronger. But in their case, it’s also made them stronger friends.