weā™d be jetting around in flying cars by now and living in space colonies,
yet failed to anticipate the Internet or global terrorism. Yet some things
āWith the current U.S. population, right now we can probably have
12,000 or so stores around the country,ā Cork said. āIf we keep on opening
400, 500, 600 stores a year, weā™ll get there by 2015, maybe 2020 or so.
Weā™ve got a ways to go yet, but there will come a time when we have to
look at other businesses.ā64
Walgreens has no current plans to enter the Canadian or overseas mar-
kets. Instead, the company intends to do more of what it does so well now:
provide convenience for drugstore customers.
Whatever the future holds, two bets are safe: Walgreens (1) will have
the courage to anticipate the changes ahead and (2) will not lose sight of
its commitment to customer service. Bernauer explained,
Weā™re conservative in our values, but weā™re not conservative in our
execution or in our planning. The fact that weā™re quiet does not
mean we donā™t have resolve or intensity or determination. Weā™ve
made some pretty bold decisions, and weā™re continuing to do that.
We donā™t have many stores left [that were] built before 1990, yet
weā™re taking down 15 percent of them a year and replacing them.
But I guess on a strategic basis, what we are focused on hasnā™t
226 americaā™s corner s tore
changed a whole lot. There are current issues always, like Medicare
and drug coverage issues. But our basic business hasnā™t changed: site
selection, convenience, customer service. If we get those things right,
weā™ll be in good shape.65
āHereā™s the thing in a nutshell,ā Jorndt said. āWe preach this around
here all the time: Running your core business is the hardest thing to do. Itā™s
not that exciting, itā™s not that new, itā™s very tiring! Youā™re driving
this eight-horse team down this mountain roadā”you better be focused!
You better not be looking at the scenery or focusing on your girlfriend in
āI guess the press thinks weā™re sort of a boring company,ā Cork said. āWe
just keep plodding along, and we donā™t have any debt. The CEOs are still
paid way below the hotshots, and should be. We may be boring, but it
works.ā When asked what his grandfather would think if he were to spend
a week meeting the current executives, studying the growth charts, and
visiting the stores, Cork said, āI hope he would be proud,ā then mulls it
over a little longer before adding, with subtle but unmistakable satisfac-
tion. āAnd I think he would be.ā67
200 Wilmot Road
Deerfield, IL 60015
Phone: (847) 914-2500
Founded in 1901 in a 50-by-20-foot neighborhood store on Cottage Grove
and Bowen avenues on the South Side of Chicago.
228 americaā™s corner s tore
As of August 31, 2003:
Number of Employees: 154,000
Number of Stores: 4,227
Sales: $32.5 billion
Net earnings: $1.176 billion.
Share price: $32.57
Earnings per share: $1.14
David W. Bernauer, Chairman and CEO
Jeffrey A. Rein, President and COO
Charles Sr. born October 9, Rio, Illinois.
Charles moves from Dixon, Illinois, to Chicago.
Walgreen buys his former boss Isaac W. Bloodā™s store at 4134
Cottage Grove and Bowen avenues for $6,000.
Walgreen buys his former boss William G. Valentineā™s drugstore
at Cottage Grove Avenue and 39th Street, Walgreenā™s second
store. A chain is born.
Myrtle starts making soups, sandwiches, cakes, and pies for
Walgreenā™s second store, thereby starting the chainā™s first food
230 americaā™s corner s tore
All Walgreens storesā”then numbering nineā”are consolidated
as the Walgreen Co.
Walgreens opens its first store inside Chicagoā™s āLoopā at 17 E.
Washington, in the Venetian Building, sending fountain man-
ager Ivan āPopā Coulson to work in the new store to ensure its
success. One day in 1922, Coulson adds two scoops of
Walgreensā™ famous Double Rich Ice Cream to the malt powder
and milk and stirs it in the mixer, thereby inventing the milk
shake. The creation fuels an unpredented expansion in
Walgreens opens its first store in New York, at 1501 Broadway
and 44th Street, in the Paramount Theater Buildingā”a huge
success that attained folklore status in the city for all the future
actors that whiled away their afternoons there.
On February 15, 1934, the 483-store Walgreens chain opens on
the New York Stock Exchange, with the letters WAG.
On August 10, Charles Sr. resigns as president, and the board
names his son Charles Jr. (āChuckā) to replace him. On
December 10, Charles Sr. dies of cancer.
Due to irreconcilable differences between general manager
Justin Dart and company president and CEO Chuck Walgreen,
the board forces Dart to resign, and a palace coup is averted.
In May, Walgreens opens a 6,000-square-foot storeā”its biggest,
at the timeā”in the Pentagon, donating all profits from the
store back to the Pentagon Post Restaurant Council, which su-
pervised the buildingā™s food service.
Walgreens opens its first self-service store, which proves to be
so successful that Walgreens converts or builds all of its stores to
Evergreen Plaza opens in suburban Chicago, the areaā™s first
shopping center, with a colossal Walgreens as the centerpiece.
āIt was then and there,ā Chuck says, āthat we decided we would
never again open a conventional store.ā
his toric highlights 231
The board names Charles (āCorkā) Walgreen III to replace his
father Chuck as company president and soon adds the title of
Fred Canning rises to company president, forming a highly ef-
fective partnership with Cork.
Walgreensā™ innovative āIntercomā system is launched, linking
all Walgreens prescription departments together, allowing Wal-
greensā™ customers to get their prescriptions at any Walgreens
outlet they visit just by remembering their name.
Walgreens opens its 1,000th store, marking the beginning of
the first major expansion since the 1920s. Sales top $3 billion
the next year.
Fred Canning retires as company president after a legendary
12-year run. Dan Jorndt is named to replace him.
Walgreens opens its first freestanding corner store with drive-
Walgreens opens its 2,000th store.
Cork Walgreen retires as CEO. Dan Jorndt takes over. Cork
retires as chairman in 1999, with Dan Jorndt assuming that
Walgreens opens its 3,000th store.
Dan Jorndt retires as CEO, turning over the reins to David
Bernauer. Jorndt retires as chairman in 2003.
Walgreens opens its 4,000th store.
1. Marilyn R. Abbey, Walgreens: Celebrating 100 Years (Deerfield, IL: Walgreen
Co., 2001), 7.
1 from humble beginnings
1. Herman Kogan and Rick Kogan, Pharmacist to the Nation (Deerfield, IL:
Walgreen Co., 1989), 63.
2. Kogan and Kogan, 13.
3. Taken from Lee County Historical Society pamphlet; also available on
4. Myrtle Walgreen, Never a Dull Day (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1963), 71.
5. Author interview with Chuck Walgreen, May 23, 2003.
6. Kogan and Kogan, Pharmacist to the Nation, 15.
7. Walgreen, Never a Dull Day, 72.
8. Marilyn R. Abbey, Walgreens: Celebrating 100 Years (Deerfield, IL: Walgreen
Co., 2001), 73.
9. Donald L. Miller, City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of
America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 65.
10. Ibid., 15.
14. Author interview with Bill Shank, May 22, 2003.
15. Miller, City of the Century, 24.
16. Ibid., 17.
17. Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City (New York: Crown, 2003), 16.
18. Ibid., 37ā“38.
19. Larson, The Devil in the White City, 12.