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ATLANTA � The next time you’re looking for help in one of Home Depot’s 2,000 stores, bear in mind that the man or woman in the orange apron might be a real do-it-yourself paint, hardware or plumbing expert. Or not. That person might be a corporate vice president. Or the CEO. Or the general counsel. Home Depot’s new executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, Jack VanWoerkom, started work June 25. But one of his first tasks will not be at the corporate headquarters in Atlanta � known in-house as the “store support center.” He’ll be working in the aisles of a store. A company spokesman confirmed that VanWoerkom is scheduled for a two-week stint at a Boston-area Home Depot. VanWoerkom’s last job was executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Staples Inc. � also in Boston. He was responsible for the retailer’s legal matters, including governance, board of directors, securities and mergers and acquisitions. He was known for spearheading Staples’ entry into the Asia market. Prior to joining Staples, VanWoerkom was general counsel of Teradyne Inc., a semiconductor chip testing company. VanWoerkom, 53, graduated from Boston University School of Law and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
‘Putting executives to work on the floor of retail stores is a longstanding practice for Home Depot.’

Putting executives to work on the floor of retail stores is a longstanding practice for Home Depot. Top executives continue their in-store education by popping in for a day or two a couple of times a year. After VanWoerkom takes off his apron in Boston, he’ll have plenty of work waiting for him in Atlanta. Although the company’s sales have grown to $90 billion, its stock is down. His predecessor, Frank Fernandez, resigned in February without explanation. The company named Jim Snyder, vice president of litigation and risk management, interim head of the company’s legal department. Snyder joined Home Depot in July 2001 as corporate counsel from King & Spalding. CEO Frank Blake started his job in January by cutting his own pay and his executives’ private catered lunches. He told them to buy their own lunch on the first floor like everyone else. So, when VanWoerkom gets back from Boston, he’ll also have lunch waiting for him � in the employee cafeteria. Katheryn Hayes Tucker is a reporter with Fulton County Daily Report, a Recorder affiliate based in Atlanta.

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