By Yael Segev and Sarah Feingold
Arthur Blank, the billionaire owner of the Atlanta Falcons, is adamant that he has no intention of moving the National Football League team from the Georgia capital.
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The Falcons have been working for several years to get a new stadium in downtown Atlanta. As often happens when a city is having stadium issues, rumors started circulating about moving the NFL team to Los Angeles. But Blank asserted that they were nothing more than rumors.
“I was never approached, ” Blank told ESPN. “My team was never approached.”
He relates to Falcons’ fans as investors, who chose to dedicate their time and their money to their favorite team. In his days as an owner, the Falcons staked their position as the top of the NFL and recorded four consecutive winning seasons.
Blank, the 71-year-old billionaire who founded Home Depot, the largest US do-it-yourself home improvement business, with his friend Bernard Marcus in 1978, has defined his business-strategy in a simple phrase: “Listening to what matters most”.
Blank and Marcus were fired from from their executive positions a the Drugs Division of Handy Dan, part of the Daylin corporation, in 1978. Soon after the two found themselves sketching, what became one of the milestones of American retail, on a coffee shop napkin.
Home Depot, the business launched by the two friends, changed the form of the home improvement business by creating home improvement warehouses. The huge hangars offered a huge variety of low-cost home improvement merchandise, including do-it-yourself products, which was enthusiastically welcomed by customers. In 1999, with the opening of two gigantic stores in Atlanta, Home Depot became number one in the home improvement business in the US.
Blank and his partner Marcus published a book sharing their secrets with readers and describing the first tough days of the business. The two partners relate that by analyzing their failures they managed to overcome them.
Blank was born in 1942 to a Jewish family in Flushing, New York. His entrepreneurship was inspired by his parents, especially his mother, Molly. Like many married women of her time, Molly never worked outside of her home and was a full-time mother of two sons, Arthur and his older brother Michael. Blank’s father, Max, was a pharmacist who started a drug mail-delivery business, but died when Arthur was only 15. Molly Blank had no choice but to take the business into her hands, and did so well so that within a few years, the small business became a multi-million dollar company.
Blank’s first business initiatives began when he attended Babson College, and included a laundry business and even a baby-sitting service. These jobs shaped his concept of dealing with clients, focusing on clients’ needs, recognizing the customer as a crucial part of the business itself.
Blank competed his degree in Business Administration and Accounting from Babson college. After graduation in 1963, he got his first job as an senior accountant at Arthur Young & company. A few years later, after the family business, Sherry Pharmaceutical, had been purchased by the Daylin corporation, Blank took a position as the Drugs Division president at Handy Dan, which was a part of the corporation, until he was fired in 1978, along with his colleague, the former CEO Bernard Marcus. The rest is history.
Blank sold his part in the business and retired from Home Depot in 2001. His estimated net worth is approximately $ 1.4 Billion and he is the head of two major charity funds, the Arthur Blank Family foundation and the Amb group. These funds support non-profit organizations, encourage the learning abilities of young children and donate to Atlanta’s cultural environment by supporting young artists.
Blank’s marriage with his wife of 18 years, Stephanie, is finally coming to an end, after their separation in 2011. They have three minor children together and he has three older children from his first wife.