The Lowdown: Bernie Marcus
The LowdownCommunity

The Lowdown: Bernie Marcus

After being fired at the age of 49, Marcus teamed up with Arthur Blank and Ken Langone to build a better hardware store, The Home Depot.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Bernie Marcus
Bernie Marcus

Atlanta is chocked full of interesting “movers and shakers” — some bent-on creativity, empire building, activism and/or just plain having fun and living the good life. Lean in to hear some of the “off the cuff” remarks as to what makes Atlanta legend, Bernie Marcus, tick.

After being fired at the age of 49, Marcus teamed up with Arthur Blank and Ken Langone to build a better hardware store, The Home Depot. The company went public in 1981, and today it employs 500,000 associates at 2,300 stores.

The same energy that made Home Depot successful propelled Marcus to give away more than $2 billion. There is no single, winning formula for success, but Marcus freely shares that the skills needed to build a Fortune 500 company are the same ones that can help cure cancer, treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, and transform autism, just to name a few of the recipients of his magnanimity.

Marcus is known as a philanthropist and public servant, making a wide and lasting impact in Atlanta, and way beyond. He channels his generosity through The Marcus Foundation, which focuses on Jewish causes, children, medical research, free enterprise, and the community.

Among The Marcus Foundation’s key grants are: Grady Health System’s Marcus Stroke & Neuroscience Center and The Marcus Trauma Center; The Piedmont Heart Institute; American Friends of Magen David Adom (related to building a new underground national blood center in Israel); The Shepherd Center; Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital; and The Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem, a non-partisan and non-political think tank dealing with the complex issues facing the Israeli democratic society.

Marcus created the Georgia Aquarium, the largest in the northern hemisphere; and he was among the first to sign The Giving Pledge, a commitment made by the world’s wealthiest people to commit more than half of their wealth to philanthropy and charitable causes during their lifetime or in their will.

You may think you know everything about Marcus; but, here, get a rare glimpse of his casual, yet introspective, remarks on a path heretofore not taken.

If they made a movie of my life, I would chose ———— to play the lead.
Jimmy Stewart

If I could have another talent…
I originally wanted to be a surgeon, now I think I could have been a psychiatrist.

I was star struck meeting…
George Shultz, who played a major role in shaping policy as secretary of state for the Reagan administration. Actually, he held four cabinet positions under three presidents.

My guilty pleasure?
Pastrami sandwich on rye, deli mustard, full sour pickles.

My favorite aquarium display?
The whale shark…my wife, Billi, loves the belugas.

Favorite cocktail?
A single malt Scotch, Macallan 18, on the rocks.

What I’m reading?
Just finished “So Help Me God” by former Vice President Mike Pence.

If I could go back and change one thing about my life, it would be…

The best advice my mother gave me?
If you work hard and focus, you can have anything you want.

My very first job was…
At 12, I worked in a grocery store cleaning bathrooms and doing odd jobs.

If I could tell a 21-year-old Bernie one thing…
Stay 21!

What was your best DIY project?
Most readers don’t know that I am the one who originally coined that phrase: “Do It Yourself!”

read more: