A Tale of Two Cities: The Circuit City Story

A feature-length documentary film

Good to Great

Alan Wurtzel earned his law degree from Yale University in 1959, and was working as a legislative aide for Sen. Joe Tydings (D – Md.) in 1966 when his father called him for some advice. Sam wanted to know if Alan could help him find an in-house counsel for his rapidly growing appliance chain. 

“As we talked about what he was looking for, and what his plans were for the business, I became interested,” Alan explained.  “While I wasn’t looking, the business got to the size and scope where it had the kinds of problems I thought looked challenging.” 

So Alan left Washington and came to Richmond as Vice President of Wards, Co.  In 1970, Alan was elected to succeed his father as president, and two years later became CEO.  Wards was not in very good shape in the early 70′s due to external economic conditions as well as financial challenges at some of their many acquisitions. 

Alan navigated the company through these difficult times.   He made the tough decisions to close or sell off several of their under-performing acquisitions, and  began work on two new retail concepts: “The Wards Loading Dock”  and “Circuit City.”  It was his development and merging of these two concepts that would create the “Circuit City Superstore.”  Alan’s leadership during this period would later be profiled in Jim Collins’ bestseller, Good to Great.      


Click on Jerry & Jim to hear their stories on great management








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