In the more than four decades since he co-founded Home Depot, 93-year-old Bernie Marcus has learned quite a bit about the economy and business in America, developing strong views about what works and what doesn’t along the way.
In a recent interview with the Financial Times, the billionaire discussed those views, lamenting the current state of the U.S. economy and sharing his concerns for the future.
“I’m worried about capitalism,” Marcus told the Financial Times. “Capitalism is the basis of Home Depot, [and] millions of people have earned this success and had success. I’m talking manufacturers, vendors, and distributors, and people that work for us [who have been] able to enrich themselves by the journey of Home Depot. That’s the success. That’s why capitalism works.”
Marcus founded Home Depot alongside co-founder Arthur Blank in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1979 after the pair were unexpectedly fired from another home improvement chain. Since then, the store has expanded to more than 2,300 locations across North America.
In Marcus’ view, however, the company could not have achieved the same level of success if launched in today’s market.
“We would end up with 15, 16 stores,” he said. “I don’t know that we could go further.”
That change, along with a general lack of work ethic among the younger generation, can be attributed to the rise of socialism, according to the retailer.
“[N]obody works,” he said. “Nobody gives a damn. ‘Just give it to me. Send me money. I don’t want to work—I’m too lazy, I’m too fat, I’m too stupid.’”
It’s A Woke World
Marcus further lamented an increasing lack of respect for the First Amendment, noting: “We used to have free speech here. We don’t have it. The woke people have taken over the world.”
The nonagenarian also acknowledged that, given his age, he is less susceptible to cancelation attempts, though that hasn’t stopped certain groups from trying.
In 2019, while noting that he did not agree “with every move” Trump makes, Marcus told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he intended to donate to Trump’s reelection campaign because the then-president had “produced more than anybody else.”
Marcus also praised Trump for his “businessman’s common sense approach to most things,” holding that the United States was better off under the 45th president than it had been under the previous administration.
But while Home Depot sought to distance itself from its retired co-founder’s comments, Trump jumped to Marcus’ defense, urging his supporters to do the same.
“A truly great, patriotic & charitable man, Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot who, at the age of 90, is coming under attack by the Radical Left Democrats with one of their often used weapons,” Trump noted on Twitter in July 2019. “They don’t want people to shop at those GREAT stores because he contributed … to your favorite President, me!”
“Fight for Bernie Marcus and Home Depot!” Trump added.
Ultimately, those boycotts appear to have been unsuccessful, given that the company has an estimated annual revenue of $150 billion.
Marcus has been outspoken in his conservatism for years, attributing his views to a love of the United States and the freedoms Americans enjoy.
“I think there are two big reasons why this country is so great,” Marcus said in another 2019 interview. “The first is our Constitution, which guarantees a freedom of speech and expression. The second is our free market system.”
“The free market system has been the biggest creator of wealth and prosperity the world has ever known, lifting billions of people out of poverty and far more superior than any government program could ever be,” Marcus added. “The free market is the tool that allows many to reach out and grab hold of the American dream.”
Given his love of capitalism, the entrepreneur’s past support for Republican political campaigns—including the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and John McCain—should not come as a surprise.
And Trump is not the only Republican candidate to have recently earned Marcus’ support.
As a Florida resident, the entrepreneur has also donated to the state’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“I give money to [Trump and DeSantis] because I hope they’re going to do the right thing,” Marcus told The Financial Times.
While adding that he thought Trump’s policies as president were “spot on,” Marcus demurred on which Republican he would like to see replace Joe Biden in the oval office.
“It’s going to be very interesting in ‘24 because I think that DeSantis will challenge him [Trump],” he said. “And may the better man win.”