4 Careers, 2 Pearls of Wisdom and 1 Life Lesson

Career Path

Walmart Canada celebrates its 30th year in business this month, and Dave Wendt has been part of it from the very start!

photograph of dave smiling at the camera

While Walmart Canada is celebrating its 30th birthday in 2024, Dave Wendt is celebrating his 47th year with the company. That’s because he started at Woolco Canada on June 15, 1977. And in 1994, Woolco was purchased by Walmart.

Dave’s work transitioned from part-time maintenance (pushing carts and emptying ashtrays — if you remember those days!) at Woolco to managing Walmart stores across the country to his current role in Central Operations as Retail Integration Manager.

“I’ve run everything from a rural store in Stephenville, Newfoundland, to an urban store in downtown Toronto,” Dave shares. “What an opportunity to understand customers and how different stores work!”

To those who know him, Dave’s one of the legends of Walmart Canada. Naturally, we asked him for the opportunity to hear about his career and learn from his experiences.

Four careers

Looking back at his near 50-year run, Dave says, “I've had four distinct and rewarding careers in this great company.”

“At Woolco, we were working hard but struggling. Walmart came along in 1994. And then it was all the excitement of opening stores and renovating. All of the sudden, you're Number One. There's no greater feeling!”

The day after Walmart’s grand opening on November 6, 1994, Rob Walton (Walmart's Chairman of the Board of Directors at the time and Sam and Helen Walton's oldest son) flew to St. John's, Newfoundland. Rob wanted to tour a small store and Dave’s store fit the bill. So Dave picked him up at the airport in his family minivan.

“Two days as a Walmart store manager, and I'm touring with Rob Walton,” Dave shares. “It was mind-blowing!”

In 2007, Dave started a second phase of his Walmart career when he became a founding member of Walmart Canada’s Store of the Community program. The program celebrates diversity by offering products for multicultural communities across Canada.

“It's all about getting the right items in front of the customer. Being part of the Store of the Community was huge, and I just loved it. It was so much fun. It was exciting!” The creativity and collaboration broadened Dave’s skill set.

As Store of the Community branched off, Dave moved into a new role: Feature Planning. Working with merchants was the ideal experience for his next role. “Every role brings you something new.”

What he considers his fourth career at Walmart is also his current: Retail Integration Manager. In this role, he serves as liaison between the Central Office and stores. His team supports both merchants and stores to land in-store initiatives and solve any issues that bubble up. They also put together the merchants’ playbook.

“I enjoy being a support resource, helping to drive new initiatives in the company,” Dave explains. “I've had four distinct and rewarding careers in this great company.”

photograph of dave in his office

Two pearls of wisdom for your career

When asked what career guidance he’s relied on through his years, he recalls two pieces of advice.

The first came in 1994 when then-CEO David Glass described Walmart’s open-door policy where every voice matters: “We're all important. We just have different roles.”

That notion struck Dave deeply. “He was telling all of us that we’re just as important as he is. That's a great way to express it, and I find Walmart truly believes that.”

Dave also shares the wisdom of another Walmart leader as a helpful guide in making decisions: “If you're doing the right thing for the associate, you're doing the right thing for the customer and you're doing the right thing for the shareholder — then you're doing the right thing.”

One life lesson

“I have had to adapt and change, going from Woolco to Walmart, going from a Walmart store to the home office, and I learned that you can't do it all on your own,” Dave says.

His lesson? Listen and learn.

“You might know some things, but you can’t know it all. So listen to your peers, your coaches, and learn. Be that sponge,” Dave shares. “At some point, you’re going to utilize all of what you learn. I’ve been unconsciously doing that all of my life.”

“Be that curious cat and ask, ‘why? Why are we doing it this way?’ It will serve you well.”

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