When Charles Rateliff retired from Walmart, he left a company that had changed the face of modern retailing, instituted industry-leading approaches to cost and price controls and provided unmatched global opportunity as it extended its reach around the world. A lot was changed by Charles since his start date in 1979. But his experiences of creating systems and teams to enable unprecedented growth, deploying strategic analysis and uncovering business opportunities, efficiencies or solutions are ones he draws on daily in his current role as an independent consultant to private investment groups and businesses of all sizes.
His combination of Christian values and professional determination marked a career that began as an internal Walmart auditor. Sam Walton noticed his contributions and potential, and within five years, promoted him to Treasurer.
Charles began his career during a key moment in the history of Walmart, and his vast transferrable skillset of problem-solving, creating teams, and adding efficiencies were what Walton demanded of him as he placed Charles at the forefront of critical divisions which were key to the company’s growth and expansion. In the company’s first decades, Walton and his core leaders maintained a start-up mentality, which led them to build, create, and reinvent approaches to retailing that guided the fledgling company to move beyond the deep South and quickly outpace competitors domestically and later, around the world.
During his 25 year career at Walmart, Charles served in numerous senior executive roles, working alongside legendary retailing CEOs of the time including Sam Walton, David Glass and Don Soderquist. Time and again, Charles was sought after to serve as a leader tasked with creating or transforming several divisions, many whose departmental P&Ls were larger than countless standalone companies. The retailer’s growth was so explosive during this time period, previously developed departments required thoughtful reinvention to achieve Walton’s big, bold aspirations that would change the face of retailing around the world. One example is the company’s core value and strict adherence to pricing controls. Charles, as auditor and Treasurer, ensured this practice became foundational to the company’s culture and helped spur the mission of saving money to help customers live better.
Sales increased dramatically and Walmart grew from its modest 1979 footprint of 242 US-based stores and $1 billion in sales to become the world’s largest retailer. The company introduced Sam’s Club, membership-only retail warehouse clubs, and Walmart Supercenters, large stores combining general merchandise and a full-scale supermarket to provide one-stop shopping convenience. At the time of Charles’ retirement, Walmart reached nearly $350 billion in sales. and had topped the Fortune 500 ranking of America's largest companies.
Aside from serving as Walmart’s Treasurer, Charles served in leadership roles including Senior Vice President roles for Benefit Plans (401k and Profit Sharing), Workers Compensation, General Liability, Property Insurance, the Self-Insured ERISA Health Plan, Aviation Department, Corporate Commercial Travel Department, Compliance, Food Safety, Risk Management, and Domestic and International Security.
Charles repeatedly proved his ability to lead and transform divisions through challenging situations. His track record of accomplishments includes improving Walmart’s employee benefits program, testifying before the U.S. Congress in favor of associate health savings plans.
Charles retired from Walmart in 2004 and shifted focus to an independent advisory role, guiding business owners as they navigate significant periods of growth as well as providing executive council as they explore mergers, acquisitions, or the sale of their business. The financial crisis of 2008 reinforced his belief in the importance of strategic investments that would weather any economic condition. As part of his current advisory work, he takes time to consider a 360-degree view of business opportunities and adopts a rigorous vetting to ensure they are a business built for the long haul.
A proud husband, parent, and grandfather, Charles works alongside his sons, Matthew and Michael, in multiple business ventures through The Rateliff Group. He volunteers with Northwest Arkansas community and faith-based organizations such as The Influencers, Circle of Life Hospice, Downtown Bentonville, Inc., and Pathway to Freedom.