Jerry Throgmartin, Chairman and CEO, hhgregg
A Commitment To VisionJanuary 2008 By Brian Ploskina
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.
Bill Trawick, president and executive director for the NATM Buying Corp., said that it would indeed be risky for a company to expand as aggressively as hhgregg has, but not if you have Jerry Throgmartin at the helm.
Trawick has known Throgmartin for more than 25 years, from back when they were the reps for each other’s companies to the Nationwide Buying Group meetings (Trawick was serving P.C. Richard at the time).
“I think he’s done a good job in going head-to-head with these national accounts, providing better service,” Trawick said. “[hhgregg hasn’t] been frightened by the national chains. In fact, their new locations have been adjacent to nationals’ stores. I think he has learned that he has a different message to the consumer. He has commissioned salespeople, he trains heavily. The stores stand up to any.”