IBJNews

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • 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

    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. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

    2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

    3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

    4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

    5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com

    ADVERTISEMENT