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David Perdue’s U.S. Senate campaign grabbed headlines with some punch lines about some of his fellow Republicans in the race.
In case you missed it, Perdue’s first television commercial had four crying babies dressed in outfits with the first names of some of his opponents. It was an attempt to portray himself as the adult in the race.
Perdue also highlighted his business acumen in the ad, making a claim about his record as Dollar General’s chief executive officer from when he joined the company in 2003 until he left the business in 2007 that we wanted to check out.
"Four years later, the company added 2,500 stores and 20,000 jobs," he said.
We wondered whether Perdue was exaggerating about his tenure at the Tennessee-based company or did he accurately portray his record at the business.
For those of you who haven’t paid any attention to the Senate race and think his last name sounds familiar, David Perdue is not that Perdue, but they are kin. Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is David’s first cousin. David Perdue has carved out an impressive career of his own as a business turnaround specialist. He was a top executive at the clothing company Haggar and Sara Lee, which is best known for its poundcakes. He was the CEO of the sports apparel company Reebok, where he was credited with balancing the books.
Dollar General has more than 11,000 stores in 40 states. There are currently 588 Dollar General stores in Georgia, more than any state except Texas.
Perdue joined Dollar General in June 2003 and stayed there until July 2007. The company keeps annual financial statements on its website. While the reports did not exactly match the dates of Perdue’s tenure at Dollar General, the annual reports show his claim has merit.
The annual reports note the company’s ambitious plans to open 600 to 800 stores a year. In most years during Perdue’s tenure, Dollar General exceeded those projections.
On Feb. 28, 2003, Dollar General had 6,192 stores and an estimated 53,500 full-time and part-time employees. On March 4, 2007, the company had 8,260 stores and about 69,500 full-time and part-time employees. That’s a four-year increase of nearly 2,100 stores and 16,000 workers.
Campaign spokesman Derrick Dickey said those reports are not a reliable measuring stick to examine the accuracy of Perdue’s statement for a few reasons. First, as we agreed with the campaign, those reports do not entirely match Perdue’s tenure. Second, Dickey said, the reports do not reflect the decisions Perdue made that may have affected the company’s performance.
"The numbers we cited are based on our analysis of the added stores and jobs created that can be directly attributed to decisions made by David while he served as CEO of Dollar General," Dickey said via email. "In an abundance of caution, we used thoughtful, conservative estimates of both numbers."
PolitiFact Georgia tried to compare the numbers for the first full year Perdue was in charge with his final year at Dollar General. The annual reports show Dollar General had 6,700 stores at the end of 2003 and 8,194 by the end of 2007. That’s an increase of about 1,400 stores. The number of additional employees totaled 13,700.
So do we buy what this businessman says about his time at Dollar General?
To sum up, Perdue said Dollar General added 2,500 stores and 20,000 jobs when he was the CEO. Perdue’s precise numbers are slightly off from what we found, but his overall point about opening many new stores and creating a lot of jobs is on target.
We rate Perdue’s claim Mostly True.
YouTube video, "David Perdue: Outsider," Feb. 4, 2014.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "David Perdue’s business background looms large in U.S. Senate run," Aug. 8, 2013.
Dollar General Securities and Exchange Commission report.
Email from Perdue for Senate spokesman Derrick Dickey, Feb. 6, 2014.
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