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Most retailers talk about change in the context of weeks and months. Not Chuck Conaway. In this executive's world of high-pressure retailing--where nothing short of the future of the discount segment hangs in the balance--change comes about each day.
"We talk about daily intensity at Kmart," Conaway said. "This is all about energy and intensity."
In his first 300 days at the helm of the nation's No. 2 discount retailer, Conaway set this intensity bar very high, and in doing so underscored just how much one can get done in a short period. Since he started as chief executive in June 2000, this 40-year-old chairman has managed to overhaul the entire executive management team, revamp in-store operations on everything from resets to the number of trailers used to house overstocked merchandise and "relaunch" a marketing campaign that harks back to the retailer's glory days.
"Change is the name of the game, and change is inherent in the new Kmart culture," Conaway said.
While a lot of the change being enacted now at Kmart has been proposed before, Conaway brings a level of conviction that's been missing in the last decade. In addition to exuding confidence in both his demeanor and mere public presence, he has a retail track record worthy of a veteran with twice his tenure. On April 14, 1999, Conaway, then CVS executive vp and cfo, became president and coo at the drug retailer's …