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Brad Anderson

CEO, Best Buy

Impact: The man who transformed Minneapolis-based Best Buy from a regional stereo shop into the globe’s most powerful consumer-electronics retail force, encompassing more than 1,150 outlets spread across the U.S. and reaching into Canada and China, has not lost his mojo.

Challenged in the low-margin gadget game by Wal-Mart and Costco, Best Buy — under Anderson’s guidance — has embarked over the last few years on a risky tweak to its business model, emphasizing services.

With entertainment technology growing more complicated, Anderson reasoned, service-oriented businesses such as the company’s Geek Squad PC-support operation and its Magnolia home-theater boutique would provide a how-to edge for confused consumers in a world where they could maybe save a few bucks at Wal-Mart but are left to the wolves of product manuals in the process.

A 52% jump in third-quarter profit suggests the strategy is working.

POV: “Five or six years ago, we built stores that were well-lit and provided an easy way for people to get out with the product they wanted,” Anderson says. “But now we’re having to swallow a lot more complexity in our operating systems. … We’re constantly having to handle more complicated customer issues as people use digital in a variety of ways.”

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