Jerry Throgmartin, Chairman and CEO, hhgregg
How does hhgregg do it? In an age of zero margins, ever-increasing big-box presence, consumers with less expendable income and more things to spend it on, this regional powerhouse of a consumer electronics retailer has been expanding… aggressively.
That means Chairman and CEO Jerry Throgmartin has at least two things going for him: the knowledge of what it takes to succeed in a highly competitive CE landscape, and the guts to execute on it. And, to be sure, he ought to be this good. He literally grew up around the business, working in the store his grandparents built while in middle school. That was in the 1970s, just 10 years after his father took over the business, which was only 10 years after his grandfather opened the first hhgregg in 1955.
Throgmartin worked his way through the business while in high school and what is now called the University of Indianapolis, where he played wide receiver for the football team. Once college was over, however, the competitive spirit that served him on the field needed a place to flourish, and that happened to be the hhgregg sales floor. From there it was a one-way train to the chief executive’s office, which Jerry took over in 1999.
But while we’re used to hearing about family businesses whose owners literally hand over the keys to the next of kin when they’re ready to retire, Throgmartin has a different family he needs to serve now that hhgregg is a public company. And so far, he’s done it. In 2006, hhgregg’s total sales were close to $1 billion, up 10 percent from 2005. Since then, 10 new stores have opened.
“We’ve been fortunate in that the areas of the [overall CE] business that have been strong are the areas in which we excel: high-end large-screen flat-panel TVs and home theater, and higher-end appliances,” Throgmartin said.