Home Depot top dog Robert Nardelli got his walking papers this morning. And Atlanta Falcons Coach Jim Mora got his on Monday.
This news comes as little surprise to (a) Home Depot stockholders who watched their holdings plummet under Nardelli’s leadership (b) Falcons fans tired of lackluster seasons and (c) Atlantans who witnessed Home Depot’s phenomenal success and growth under the leadership of founders Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus.
Blank now owns the Atlanta Falcons. Of course he fired Mora. Why wouldn’t he? Blank and Marcus didn’t operate their wildly successful home improvement chain by tolerating mediocrity. If Blank could coach football, the Falcons would be in the playoffs, because he wouldn’t settle for less.
Bernie Marcus — after he and Blank retired from Home Depot — gave Atlanta $200 million of his own hard-earned cash to create the year-old Georgia Aquarium as a thank you gift to Georgians for shopping at Home Depot while he and Blank ran the company.
He told me in an interview shortly before the aquarium opened in 2005 that when he first announced his intentions of building the aquarium, nobody understood the scale of his dream. (The aquarium is the world’s largest.) He said he was used to this sort of reaction and recalled the early days of Home Depot when he envisioned the chain with more than 1,500 stores.
“Everybody thought I was crazy,” he told me. “My guys used to say, ‘Please stop saying that because it’s never going to happen.'” But Marcus was, of course, right. Today, Home Depot has 2,127 stores.
Blank and Marcus are retailing stars — tough acts to follow. If Blank finds someone of his own caliber to coach the Falcons, it will be Hello Super Bowl 2008 for the Falcons. As for Frank Blake, Home Depot’s new chairman, president and CEO, if his flame isn’t as bright as those of Blank and Marcus, let’s hope he keeps a copy of their play book in his vest pocket at all times.