Photo: Getty

Ken Langone, who made his billions as a financier of Home Depot, has a new book out called “I Love Capitalism.” Last week, we asked for actual Home Depot employees to tell us whether their job makes them love capitalism. The response has been overwhelming.

Over the weekend I received well over 100 emails from current and former Home Depot employees. We will be running excerpts of these emails in several installments in coming days. These are meant, quite simply, to give the employees of Home Depot an opportunity to share their own experiences inside the company. Just like Ken Langone.

No tipping

I worked at Home Depot back in 2001 and my primary job was loading by the contractor checkout. This meant large quantities of cement, lumber, drywall, etc. They strictly prohibited me from accepting tips from the contractors I was helping. I was told if I got caught accepting a tip I would be fired on the spot. The pay absolutely sucked and they had a policy where if you had any work place accidents you would be immediately taken in for a drug screening which was all well and good except it was very selectively applied... I only worked there for a few months and I quit when my manager gave me a hard time for taking 10 bucks from a guy who needed help loading several thousands of pounds of landscaping stones into his truck on a sweltering July day in Virginia.

Fuck Home Depot.

A climate of success

The climate control for all Home Depots in the U.S. is controlled via one central location, and the only store thermostat is located by the GM’s office, so the air wouldn’t kick on in the store unless it got to over 80 in most areas. Central management wouldn’t do anything, so the manager would set up a heating lamp on the thermostat in the summer to get the A/C to turn on.

The only people I talked to who liked working there were guys who hid in backrooms and closets to watch movies any chance they could. No one cared enough to do their job. When I started, there was a quarter inch thick layer of dust over all of the shelves of tool rental, and there were a lot of tools that were “out of service” because no one felt like cleaning them...

It certainly didn’t feel like the great ideal of capitalism at work.

The positives

I totally agree with Home depots belief in their commitment that the customer always comes first. That and their leadership is why they are so successful. I’m going on my eleventh year there and even at 75 I have no desire to quit.

I work at the corporate office and it is far and away the best job I’ve ever had. I totally feel respected and empowered for my own career. In less than 5 months I’ve met countless people who started as a part time cashier or lot attendant and are now in high level positions... All store level retail sucks, but the associates in store I’ve engaged with seem as content as possible.

Anyone can find negative things about any business or corporation. From my eyes and Living the Orange Home Depot is a good company to be employed.

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Demeaning

I worked part time at Home Depot [in Tennessee] on and off in 2013 and 2014. During our onboarding and training, we were shown several videos that I would characterize as anti-union in nature, explaining that management cared about employees and that we should go to them if we ever had any concerns about the workplace. My takeaway from that whole experience is that they wanted us to report dissent or dissatisfaction among our fellow “associates.”

The job itself was pretty terrible. I was paid $8.25 to bring shopping carts off the lot and to load customer cars. I’d do just that rain or shine, hot or cold. The managers also had a weird thing about employees sitting on the job. If they caught anyone sitting, that person would quickly find themselves on management’s shit list. Coming home with sore, blistered feat was a regular occurrence while working there. Sometimes I could barely walk after a longer shift. I’m not in great shape, but I really feel for the older or overweight associates. I heard many employees sharing strategies for dealing with chronic pain. Most would take large amounts of over the counter painkillers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if others resorted to more extreme methods of pain management. The store was perpetually understaffed and employee turnover was very high (I can’t imagine why!) which really added to the burden on the associates that were there.

In general, I found work there to be an exceptionally demeaning experience.

Baptism by fire

I’ve worked at home depot for a year and a half and I am 19. Here’s my story at home depot: I started at age 18 having just graduated from high school. I had been working at Zaxbys for 6 months and was looking for something that could give me more hours. I got the job and they assigned me to the flooring department which also includes moving boxes, storage totes, blinds and shades. After a week and a half of online training, which hardly helped to teach me anything, I went out onto the floor for sales and stocking. Being only 18, I did not have any flooring experience and I was wrong to believe that management would teach me how it’s done. Baptism by fire is how they do it at home depot. Eventually I just started researching how to install flooring and tile by myself so that I wouldn’t look like an idiot when the customer is expecting an answer and I am the guy that is supposed to know it. Customers are expecting an experts advice but the pay that home depot offers is insufficient to attract the experts. The only experts in the building are the retired contractors that just want something to do in their spare time...

6 months in to being a specialist I was told I was moving to appliances. So I did. Our appliance delivery company honestly blows. They often deliver broken appliances, the wrong appliances, and sometimes they’ll refuse to install. So when a furious customer calls, I’m the one to answer. Hearing phone calls at work stresses me out now. I told the management team that I wanted to go back to flooring and I did after a few weeks. For kicks I decided to look around at what kind of jobs I could get as a biology major. I noticed most jobs required lab experience so I looked for entry level lab jobs. I asked my ASM for a recommendation and he gave me his info. I was then approached by management asking if i intended on staying with home depot and moving up, or pursuing biology, I kid you not...

Oh yeah, that tax plan that supposedly gave home depot associates $1000? Only associates that had been working there for 20 years recieved $1000, which was taxed. I recieved “$200" which was really $120 after taxes.

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Hell

Don’t know if you have read Dante inferno but I am convinced home depot is one of the levels of hell!! I have worked for them 10 years it is a horrible place!! I have a 401k that I have put money into for 9 years all I have in it is just principle! Fees to manage account eating away at my hard earned savings. Been there so long I am so beat up I feel like an abused wife. I have no confidence to go find another job. Tried to get promoted worked so hard interviewed over 15 times never was promoted and never told why!! Picked the person that had no experience and was lazy ever time. Hard work gets you know where at the depot.

The garden of Eden

Yes I work at home depot garden dept... I like my job in some ways it is the best I have ever had. In others it is the job from hell I water in the parking lot in 90-100 degree heat everyday for eight hours.

I like my co-workers very much and do my best to work with them. Our values policy is very strong at home depot. I will never be rich working here. I will never have a career I am too old there is little time left. I do not have a 401k but had I started younger I would have.

I do feel some days like a corporate slave but that is true of most today. Most people do not go places and get rich like langone however in any company. So does capitalism work? No. Not like it used to in his day or my father’s.

However I am grateful to have a job in the hardest department at home depot the garden center.

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lol

If you like your back to ache your feet to hurt have ASMs (assistant store manager) pretend to care about you and enjoy working for $11.00 dollars an hour, than we have a job for you. lol. HomeDepot is a revolving door of employees. I’ve seen every single employee that comes to HD with great enthusiasm, excitement and friendliness that at their one year anniversary, when they receive there first raise of literally .25 cents realize that this is a horrible place to work. Half the people I work with give plasma every week so they can afford food. It’s heartbreaking. On the plus side, if you’re a retiree that doesn’t really need much money and only works 16 hours a week than this is the place for you.


We will run more Home Depot employee emails in days to come. If you are a current or former Home Depot employee who wants to share your story of working there you can email me.