The Wal-Mart economy's big winners

For a small business owner, an order from Wal-Mart means access to the 200 million customers who visit each week, plus the chance to grow sales and hire more employees. Meet four lucky owners.

Pitched 10 times before first order

mohawk industries walmart suppliers
  • Company: Mohawk Home, Calhoun, Ga.
  • What it sells: Area rugs, bath mats, doormats

Bill Kilbride knew Wal-Mart was going to be big even when the retailer had fewer than 1,000 stores nationwide. As president of Mohawk, Kilbride wanted his company to have a piece of that growth.

So he visited Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., roughly 10 times in the 1980s to convince the retailer to sell his area rugs and bath mats. His persistence paid off when Wal-Mart placed its first order in 1989.

"It was the beginning of a lot of work and a lot of building," Kilbride said. "We were in the big leagues."

Mohawk employed about 115 people when it signed on with Wal-Mart. Today, he has about 1,600 employees and ships hundreds of thousands of rugs to nearly 4,000 Wal-Mart stores each day.

-- Have you ever been a Wal-Mart supplier? Send your story to
  @emilyjanefox - Last updated March 19 2013 05:00 PM ET

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