IBJNews

Marsh defense: Travel was integral to company success

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Without membership in certain international business organizations, Don Marsh says he could not have built his grocery chain into a billion-dollar company.

His frequent trips overseas were so integral to the success of Marsh Supermarkets Inc., he claimed in testimony Thursday morning, that when his lawyer in his civil trial asked him to rate the meetings on a scale of 1 to 10, Marsh didn’t hesitate when replying “10.”

“I couldn’t have run the company without them,” he said.

Marsh’s testimony on cross-examination in his civil trial revealed part of his lawyers’ strategy to convince jurors that the frequent trips the former CEO of the locally based grocery chain took on the company jet were for business and not pleasure.

Marsh Supermarkets is suing Marsh, 75, alleging that he used company funds to pay more than $3 million in personal expenses during part of his time as CEO until after the company he led was acquired in 2006.

Don Marsh belonged to several global organizations, including the World Presidents Organization, Chief Executives Organization, World Economic Forum, American Arbitration Association and American Management Association.

One such organization took him to Berlin for a speech he gave in 1989 at the time the Berlin Wall fell, he told the jury.

While Marsh Supermarkets never operated stores outside of Indiana, Ohio or Illinois, Don Marsh traveled around the world to such wide-ranging destinations as Cuba, India, Libya, Russia and Venezuela in hopes that the Marsh brand could gain market share in those countries.

In Russia, for instance, Marsh private-label products were sold in Russian grocery stores for a short time until Don Marsh said he “pulled the plug” after he couldn’t compete with cheaper, Chinese products.

Russia is where he met the director of the Russian ice ballet, with whom he had an affair. Marsh put her up in a New York City apartment as he considered sponsoring the tour in the United States.

When asked by his lawyer what bearing his physical relationship had on his idea to bring the ballet to the United States, Marsh replied: “None.”

The affair was one of four extra-marital relationships Marsh has admitted to during this week's ongoing testimony.

He also flew to Libya a handful of times in an attempt to open a distribution center in the country to serve “mom and pop” stores, he said. Marsh’s sale to Sun Capital Partners in 2006 interrupted the project, which Don Marsh said had the support of former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar.

Florida-based Sun Capital Partners terminated Don Marsh’s contract “without cause” after it took over, then stopped paying his $4.2 million severance in early 2008, after it claims it discovered personal expenses charged to the company.   
 
Don Marsh is countersuing Sun Capital, claiming it still owes him about half of his severance.

Meanwhile, Don Marsh’s attorney, Andrew McNeil, presented evidence Thursday morning regarding the various condominiums either Don Marsh or the company owned or leased.

A rental agreement for a condominium in the Dominican Republican, documented in a 1996 company directors meeting, showed the condo registered to the company.

Marsh said he used it as motivation for employees who “hit certain incentives” to vacation there. He also would take workers, as well as customers, who won contests, on cruises to tropical destinations such as Tahiti.

Less glamorous were plane flights to his condo in Saugatuck, Mich., along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, where he would take various employees every year to pick their brains about the company in a relaxed atmosphere.

“I would try to get information from the bottom up,” Marsh told the jury. “Every company should do it. Instead they go from the top down. It was so effective it was unbelievable.”

Marsh was one of Indiana’s highest-profile executives for decades and frequently appeared in the company’s TV advertising. Proud of his community involvement, Marsh told the jury that in Indianapolis only Eli Lilly and Co. gave more to charity.

Don Marsh is expected to continue testifying on cross-examination Thursday afternoon.

The trial in federal court is expected to last two weeks and feature 40 witnesses.


 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • seem proper
    I know it sounds crazy, but if he was a member of these organizations and spoke as chairman of Marsh then they would be reasonable. If this is true, he will probably prevail.
  • where you a shareholder?
    You can only complain if you were a shareholder and you were forced not to sell Marsh stock. We both know neither are true. Don built value in the company and gave huge ROI's. Before you roast a rich man look at the venture capitalist company that is suing the little guy. Put things in perspective?
  • I Stand Corrected
    You all are correct as to the ownership. Thanks. As to his behavior, there is no excuse for that, irrespective of company ownership, or anything else.
  • IT WASN'T HIS COMPANY
    I think you are a little confused...prior to sun capital's purchase, it was don marsh's company. Marsh had SHAREHOLDERs of which don marsh was ONE OF THEM but not the only one. His actions were personal in nature and in my opinion at the cost to his other shareholders. If it were a private company with 100% ownership...then have at it. But it was not. His desicions/actions were on the backs of the company's shareholders.
    • Marsh went public in 1953
      For the record, Marsh became a publicly help corporation in 1953; Don became President in 1968. So, it was always a publicly held company (while he was in charge). Apparently Don just ran it as though he owned it (rather than in the best interests of the shareholders).
    • Wrong is always wrong
      Even if Don Marsh owned the company, his selfish, gluttonous habits did not keep his customers/stakeholders' best interests first. I've always thought Marsh had higher prices than Kroger - guess that's why. Was he the sole stock-holder? And even now, he has no sense of inpropriety other than his affairs and that was only because he got caught (or he wouldn't have had four!) You can't make a silk purse out of this sow's ear.
      • Old Habits Hard To Change
        When Don owned the company, he could do whatever he wanted with it -- there's nothing wrong with that -- it's his and he probably had personal guarantys out there for every dime of debt. But when he cashed out and Sun capital bought it, the rules changed. But he didn't. It is surprising it took Sun so long to see waht was going on. If they didn't have someone on the inside keeping an eye on things it's their fault. It sounds like Sun's partners/shareholders are unhappy with the investment decision so Sun is trying to cover by trying to claw back money from the guy who sold it to them. Poor due diligence on Sun's part, not fraud by Marsh.
        • What a piece of work!
          I can hardly wait each day to see the IBJ's update on this case. Could Don Marsh be any more full of it (or himself)? This is like waiting for Dallas (or another soap opera) to come on each week! My heartfelt sympathy to his wife & family (and tossed-aside mistresses) though.
        • Shame on him...
          What a descpicable person he has been shown to be. So much to learn from his fall from grace...You only have one reputation in this life. Protect it by not conducting yourself in the manner he has! Randall Tobias would have benefited from heeding that advice as well. Poor choices by fellow Hoosiers!
        • Same defense as John Clark at the Indy Airport!
          Sounds like those two might have traveled together!
        • Not the right choice of words
          After admitted to four extra-marital affairs, I don't think I would say this, Don, “I would try to get information from the bottom up.” Just saying

        Post a comment to this story

        COMMENTS POLICY
        We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
         
        You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
         
        Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
         
        No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
         
        We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
         

        Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

        Sponsored by
        ADVERTISEMENT

        facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
         
        Subscribe to IBJ
        1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

        2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

        3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

        4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

        5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!

        ADVERTISEMENT