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Kirk Forrest may be a Harvard-trained lawyer, but he sure sounds like a salesman when he talks about his new employer, Sam’s Club. First, he reels off stats about the company-$32 billion in sales, 90,000 employees, 517 stores, etc. Next, he advocates that everyone shop there; Manhattanites, he says, can go to the store in Elmsford, New York, a mere 25 miles away from midtown. “Customers need to perceive real value to make them pay $35 up front” for membership, he explains, touting the benefits of joining the wholesale club. That enthusiasm will serve Forrest, 51, well now that he’s become Sam’s Club’s first general counsel. As vice president for legal affairs, Forrest is one of seven members of Sam’s Club’s executive board. Despite its tremendous growth-it is the nation’s second-largest warehouse chain-Sam’s Club shared a GC with parent Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., until this year. Wal-Mart’s GC still handles litigation, but Forrest’s team of five lawyers manages the daily legal issues, from trademarks to real estate. A native of Queens, New York, Forrest was associate general counsel at The Williams Companies, Inc., in Tulsa before joining Sam’s Club. He was previously general counsel for MAPCO Inc., also in Tulsa, which Williams later acquired. Forrest now makes a weekly commute to Sam’s Club’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, where he keeps an apartment. But every Friday he drives two hours back to Tulsa, where his wife and two children still live. “It makes the job a lot easier,” he explains, because he can devote himself to work during the week. That devotion seems to be part of the company culture: “I get in at 6 a.m., and I don’t [even] get a choice parking spot,” he says.

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