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Floyd Hall's first job as a furniture deliveryman ended abruptly when the store's owner recognized his real talent and offered him a salesman's job.

Mr. Hall, now chairman-president and CEO of Kmart Corp., has used those sales and marketing skills to pluck one of the leading discount chains from near bankruptcy.

With a keen focus on "getting it right with the customer," Mr. Hall came out of retirement in 1995 to spearhead the turnaround.

The centerpiece of Mr. Hall's success has been the development of the Big Kmart.

"The line between marketing and merchandise is too fine for me to even see it," he says. "I think of myself as a marketing guy."

The Big Kmart brand was launched as stores were converted by market. "We didn't want to overpromise," says Mr. Hall, 62, whose career includes a stint as president-CEO of B. Dalton Bookseller and chairman-CEO of Target Stores, followed by the founding of six companies, including Museum Co., a chain of retail stores specializing in museum reproductions.

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