Houston Walmart Supercenter employees posing with their Regional Supercenter of the Year plaque. ISAIAH BUSE

With a community-first mindset, the Houston Walmart Supercenter has come out on top of 115 Missouri locations to win its first-ever Regional Store of the Year award.

Every year, Walmart hands out awards to exceptional stores based on their financial metrics, online order fulfillment, merchandise processing and community involvement among other things.

Travis Rector, the manager of the Houston Walmart, has been a part of many stores over his career, including locations in Texas and Oklahoma. Nevertheless, Houston has felt like the most community-oriented to him.

“It’s not just about what our associates did, it’s about what our community did. That’s one thing I’ll say about Houston is that we have a small community, but we all work together,” said Rector.

“Without this relationship to our community, getting through the tough times of the pandemic wouldn’t be possible.”

Travis Rector, manager, being presented with a signed uniform from all of his employees. DANIELLE WALKER

As a part of their community first efforts, store associates and managers alike attributed their success to the Children’s Miracle Network and their Shop with a Hero program.

Shop with a Hero is a program that raises funds to help children in need and then gives them the opportunity to go shopping with local heroes. In 2021, the program raised $24,400 and was able to help 244 children have a better Christmas.

“Each year this program raises more funds to help children in need and we appreciate everyone who donated this year. This program would not exist if it were not for the generosity of so many people in Texas County,” stated program organizer Bennie Cook

In addition to their Shop with a Hero program, there was a certain buzz around the store surrounding their Children’s Miracle Network efforts.

At the forefront of these efforts was Jacob Butherus, who was named the Top Volunteer Associate of the Year for the region.

“The Children’s Miracle Network helps families and children with medical expenses. With the help of CoxHealth, we’re able to raise money that stays local to help children in our community,” said Butherus, a local employee.

Jacob Butherus, right, and Alicia Dixon, posing with their trophies for the Top Volunteer Associate of the Year for the region (Butherus) and a traveling trophy for their 130% increase in donations from 2020 to 2021. ISAIAH BUSE

Despite his formal recognition, Jacob gave all of the credit to his team, who he said the program wouldn’t be possible without.

“It’s my team, my associates and our community, we couldn’t do any of this without them.”

Jacob Butherus, Top Volunteer associate of the year

In addition to their recognition as the regional store of the year, the Houston Walmart won a traveling trophy for their 130% increase in donations from 2020 to 2021. This all took place during the pandemic, showing how much the community and the store care.

Although she was not in attendance at the celebration, Sheila Walker, the only remaining employee from when the location opened in 1977, has been a large part of the store’s success.

Walker began working for Walmart at the age of 17, when the company opened its first location in Houston on the east side of U.S. 63 (in a building now occupied by Orscheln Farm and Home).

“There is nobody who has been a bigger part of creating the culture and community connection that we have here than Sheila,” said assistant manager Darrell Pounds.

“Certainly, our $52 million in sales, excellent customer service, and ability to adapt to adversity helped Store 166 receive this recognition,” said Pounds.

“Even so, it’s our focus on community that has separated us from the pack.”

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