Deceased HHGregg chairman oversaw explosive growth

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Jerry Throgmartin, who helped transform HHGregg from a local retailer into a major player in the consumer electronics industry, died unexpectedly Sunday at the age of 57.

A spokesman for the company declined to comment on the cause of Throgmartin's death. He fell ill and died while visiting his ranch in Colorado, University of Indianapolis President Beverley Pitts said in an e-mail to faculty and staff Monday morning. Throgmartin was a member of the UIndy board of trustees.

"It is quite a shock," Pitts wrote.

Throgmartin served as chairman and CEO of the Indianapolis-based company from 2003 to 2009, when he became executive chairman. Throgmartin's grandfather founded the company in 1955.

The former CEO played a "critical role" in HHGregg's growth during a career that spanned 36 years, current CEO Dennis L. May said in a prepared statement.

Throgmartin joined the company in 1975 as a salesman and then served as store manager, district manager, advertising director and store operations vice president. Before becoming CEO, he also served as president and chief operating officer.

Throgmartin led the company through its 2007 initial public stock offering, which accelerated its growth. It now operates 208 stores in 16 states and has annual revenue topping $2 billion.

Junior Achievement of Central Indiana Inc. announced Jan. 9 that it had inducted Throgmartin into its Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame. He was scheduled to be honored at a Feb. 16 event along with three other inductees.

Throgmartin was heavily involved in civic and corporate circles away from HHGregg, including serving as chairman of the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center development board and the University of Indianapolis board of trustees.

Last year, he was named to the board of directors of Hulman & Co., the Terre Haute-based company that controls the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Indianapolis bank executive Steve Stitle, who knew Throgmartin for more than two decades, called him a business visionary.

"I think Jerry had a knack for sort of going against the trend of what was happening in the electronics industry, and he understood the importance of customer service and really having outstanding people work in his business," said Stitle, regional chairman for PNC Bank in Indiana.

HHGregg withstood a series of competitive challenges before expanding its ambitions regionally and then nationally over the past two decades. In the 1980s, for instance, Fretter Inc. and Highland Superstores Inc. both charged into Indianapolis, only to later retreat and go out of business. The latest rival to falter was Circuit City, which went out of business in 2009.

In a 1997 interview, Throgmartin said he didn't spend his time obsessing about the competition.

"It is my own belief that competition doesn't put you out of business," he said. "You put yourself out of business, because you stop delivering what the customer wants."

Throgmartin didn't always see himself at the helm of HHGregg, despite having been immersed in the family business from an early age.

As a teenager, sports held a bigger fascination than TVs and refrigerators. A wide receiver at Franklin Central High School, then Ball State University and the University of Indianapolis, Throgmartin dreamed of a professional football career even while peddling appliances as a part-time salesman for the growing chain.

"Everybody who comes out of high school playing football thinks they're going to play in the pros, and I wasn't any different than that," he said in 2002. "I was just convinced that I had a career path. I would play some pro football and then I'd go buy a ranch someplace and take it easy."

Gradually, the realization set in that he wouldn't be catching touchdown passes in the NFL. The void left by that disappointment almost immediately was filled by the prospect of a future in the family business.

"I started getting the bug for our business almost as a replacement for the competitive part of football," Throgmartin remembered in 2002.

He started full-time sales in 1978, when there were five HHGregg stores in Indianapolis, Kokomo and Anderson. A year later, the company's first superstore opened near East 96th Street and Keystone Avenue, and Throgmartin became its manager.

He had barely gotten his feet wet when a devastating blow struck. At just 24, Throgmartin was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer whose treatment called for a bone marrow transplant.

In those days, such procedures were rare, and weren't being performed here. After treatment at the Indiana University Medical Center, Throgmartin went to Houston several times, ultimately receiving the transplant in 1981.

The disease gave Throgmartin a new perspective.

"I take our business pretty seriously and I'm pretty competitive. But at the end of the day, no matter how bad it gets, it's still just a job," he said in 2002.

Throgmartin is survived by Peggy, his wife of 35 years, twin daughters, a son and two grandaughters. The son, Gregg Throgmartin, is HHGregg's executive vice president and chief operating officer.


  • Reaserch
    I had the privilege to spent 8 days with Jerry in PA and Baltimore,MD we have traveled together from place to place researching old Circuit City stores that went out of business .(I was his personal driver)
    Some of those locations became later HHGregg.
    It was great to know him superb person with the most pleasant personality !!
    May he rest in peace my condolence to the family. Moty
  • Gone too Soon
    As a former employee for 19 yrs I witnessed his strength as a leader first hand. Only years after I departed HH Gregg did I realize the positive impact he had on my life. I only regret I never had a chance to tell him. Thank you Jerry for being you...May your soul rest in peace.
  • Jerry
    Sorry to see Jerry has passed. My mother, Doris Bush, was the book keeper when Hiney had the first small store. She loved you all like family. I remember well the summer picnics at the lake house on Fall Creek. God bless you all during this loss.
  • Jerry Throgmartin
    Taken too soon! We will miss you Jerry!
    • Signature Quote
      Great article. I just changed my email tagline to this:
      "Competition doesn't put you out of business, you put yourself out of business, because you stop delivering what the customer wants."
      Jerry Throgmartin, CEO and Chairman, HH Gregg
    • A Great Leader
      He lead by example and cared about his employees. Jerry gave many people the opportunity to reach goals thy never thought possible. He will be missed.
    • So much more than a good businessman
      Jerry Throgmartin never forgot his roots. He also had ethics and common sense, two traits that are lacking in some business leaders today. He will be greatly missed.

    Post a comment to this story

    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

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. The Affordable Care Act is not the reason for the slow recovery and lack of high paying jobs for low skill workers. This is a trend that has been going since the early 80's. The recovery is real in the sense that GDP has been growing steadily at a rate of roughly 2.5% since the recession ended in late 2009 (newsflash, the stimulus worked) and the unemployment has been steadily dropping. The reason issue we are facing deals with a skills gap (not enough workers with the right credentials / experience) and wage stagnation due to corporate America being focused solely on maximizing profits for shareholders and not caring about the American middle class. Why should they? Multi-billion dollar mutlinational companies keep offshoring their profits in order to avoid paying taxes (which makes our deficit worse) they convince Americans to fight amongst themselves. If you want to create jobs and reduce the deficit, raise the minimum wage and change corporate tax laws. Of course, if you want to continue to belive that tax cuts for wealthy create jobs (which they don't) and allow corporations and the wealthy to continue to make you cover more and more of the costs of maintaining infrastructure, funding the military and other government services, then keep voting Republican. Hopefully someday you wake up and realize what's been going on since Reagan took office.

    2. Helloooooo, my name is Kate. I am so joyous to share this wonderful testimony about what Dr. Osoijiakhena, a great spell caster, did for me and my family. I wedded a year and 6 months ago, we were very happy during this whole period, i really love my husband so so much. I started noticing changes when he started coming home late at night, he stop paying attention to me, i later found out that he was having an affair with another lady, i dont know what she did to get to him but she really got a hold on him. He started spending weekends with her, and threaten for divorce. I was so heart broken and devastated, i spent many night thinking on how to get my husband back. A friend took it upon herself to to introduce me to one Dr. Osoijiakhena, a great spell caster, who once helped her with a spell that reunited her family and helped her husband secure a very prolific job. Though i had my doubts and never believed, but i decided to give it a try because i was helpless. I contacted Dr. Osoijiakhena, the Spell caster, to help me reunite my family by bringing back my husband from that other woman and break whatever hold she had on him. He only just told me that it's a minor issue, once i provide and do everything he will ask me to do, then i will have my family back again. I did everything he required. And he did it!!!!! My husband returned back to me and pleaded for forgiveness, and i also secured a well paid job in a big company, just as the great spell caster, Dr. Osoijiakhena said. I am so so happy to share my testimony on this wall. I am using this medium to tell every one that has same or similar problem to try the great Dr. Osoijiakhena through his mail: drosoijiakhenaspell@gmail.com......he is so real!!!!! He can also help you with: (1) IF YOU WANT YOUR EX GIRL/BOYFRIEND TO RETURN BACK TO YOU (2) IF YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE BACK (3) IF YOU WANT TO BE PROMOTED IN YOUR OFFICE (4) IF YOU WANT YOUR MAN OR WOMAN TO LOVE YOU (5) IF YOU WANT A CHILD (BARREN) (6) IF YOU WANT TO BE RICH/WEALTHY (7) IF YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE TO BE YOURS FOREVER (8) IF YOU'VE BEEN SCAMMED AND WANT YOUR MONEY BACK (9) IF YOU ARE HAVING DELAY IN GETTING MARRIED (10) IF YOU HAVE A COURT CASE AND WANT TO WIN (11) IF YOU'RE A DRUG ADDICT AND YOU WANT TO REALLY STOP (12) IF YOU CANNOT IMPREGNATE A WOMAN (STERILE) (13) ALL TYPES OF DISEASES I advise you to contact the great Dr. Osoijiakhena, the spiritualist for solutions via his email: drosoijiakhenaspell@gmail.com

    3. Sergeant McNally is buried in Cathcart Cemetery on a hill known as McNally%u2019 Hill. The Cemetery is in a natural bushland setting and is very well maintained.The emergency department at Ararat Hospital is known as the John McNally Emergency Department. Cathcart is approx. 4.6 km from Ararat and is approx. 345 m above sea level.

    4. My spring chicken of a Mom is turning 75 years young. She is a big fan of Frankie and I think she would get a big kick out of the film. I wanted to take her to the Broadway play but am priced out. Thanks for your time and consideration. Oh yea, Wildwood! Joie

    5. I thought this company would go bankrupt in 2013/2014. I predicted that four years ago. I was wrong. It will take another couple of years, but they will get there.