Shalom Life | March 11, 2015

Jewish Hall of Fame: Arthur Blank

This week's inductee is the co-founder of Home Depot, and owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: December 10th, 2014 in Business » World

Since the dawn of time, Jewish people have contributed greatly to various fields, from sports to entertainment to politics to porn. With our Breakthrough Jew feature, we recognize those who are up and comers in these various industries, identifying those great innovators and leaders in the contemporary world who are making a mark on society that will last a lifetime.

With the Jewish Hall of Fame, we recognize the remarkable advancements members of our community have made on today's society. These are people who have truly changed the world, and have earned the respect and praise of the members of today's younger generation.

ShalomLife’s Jewish Hall of Fame is our ongoing tribute to the greatest Jews who have ever lived; be sure to catch us weekly with our latest inductees, and tweet us @ShalomLife with your suggestions.

Check out last week's inductee into the Hall of Fame here.

Hall of Fame Member: Arthur Blank

Born: September 27th, 1942, in Sunnyside, New York.

Best known for his hand in the founding of Home Depot, Arthur Blank came from a modest beginning. Born to Max and Molly Blank, a Jewish family from New York, Blank was the youngest of two children. He attended Stuyvesant High School, a school which offers a tuition-free education with an advanced course load. Adept with numbers, Blank graduated from Stuyvesant and went on to attend Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, for business administration and accounting.

In 1963, three years after starting, he received his degree from Babson. Soon after graduating, Blank was hired as a senior accountant by Arthur Young and Company. He stayed with the company for a time before joining with the Daylin Corporation and eventually became the company’s president of Elliott’s Drug Stores and Stripe Discount Stores. After Elliott’s was sold off by Daylin, Blank was relocated to the Handy Dandy Home Improvement Centers by the company.

While working in hardware he met Bernard Marcus who, at the time, was the CEO of Handy Dandy while Blank was vice president of finance. Although their run with the company ended in 1978 as part of Daylin restructuring their business, it did present both men with an opportunity to launch their own home hardware venture.

Together, the same year they were fired from Daylin, both Bank and Marcus founded Home Depot.

One of their initial investors was Kan Langone, a New York investment banker. With his help, they were able to come up with a list of investors who were able to back an idea that would, eventually, make Blank and Marcus billions. What was so successful about the design of the Home Depot was their warehouse concept, where products could be kept in bulk at each store and thereby allow customers to pay a lower price. Their focus on customer service has also helped them become one of the most successful home hardware franchises in North America. Marcus retired as CEO after nineteen years, and Blank retired from his position of co-chairman in 2001.

It was during his time with Home Depot that Blank divorced his first wife, Diana, with which he has three children, and married his second one, Stephanie. They also had three children together and met at work. She was a designer for the company while Blank was CEO following Marcus’ resignation from the position. He has since divorced for a second time, and is with Angela Macuga.

In 2002 it became apparent that Blank’s interests lay in more than just home renovation. In February of that year, Blank bought the Atlanta Falcons NFL team from former owner Taylor Smith. Two years later he bought the Arena Football League franchise, the Georgia Force, and relocated the team back to their original city, Atlanta, to be closer to their sister team the Falcons. Although Blank has expressed an interest to purchase and expand his collection of Atlanta sports teams, he’s yet to purchase a team since he acquired the Georgia Force.

Currently, Blank is the chairman of the Arthur Blank Family Foundation. He’s been included in the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2006, and was named Georgia’s Most Respected CEO by Georgia Trend magazine for the second time, in addition to other accolades. With so much under his belt it’s no surprise that we at Shalom Life have inducted him into this week’s Jewish Hall of Fame.

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