During his thirty-five years as an interior designer, Andre Staffelbach thought he had seen it all, from garish corporate complexes that screamed of pretentiousness to humble offices that were so tired he could almost hear them yawn.
But nothing shocked the forty-nine-year-old University Park resident like his visit to Bentonville, Arkansas.
Billionaire Sam Walton, founder of the Wal-Mart and Hypermart USA stores, was considering redesigning his Bentonville offices and had invited Staffelbach to review the job. Though he was aware of Walton’s wealth (estimated at $6.7 billion) and his much-publicized thriftiness (he lives in a modest brick-and-wood house and drives a 78 Ford pickup), Staffelbach still wasn’t prepared for what he saw when he arrived.
“I walked into one of the vice presidents’ offices and couldn’t believe it,” recalls Staffelbach, president of Staffelbach Designs and Associates Inc. “The chairs were ripped, they had tape all over them. It looked like a bunch of old hotel furniture. I gave them my recommendations and Mr. Walton said, ’Thank you very much, we’ll call you.’ And he never has.”