There are some people that leave a lasting impression. John Marsch was one of those people. Standing at 6 feet, 4 inches and with a shock of white hair, he certainly was remarkable to all who saw him. But it was a captivating presence and entrepreneurial spirit in equal to his large stature for which he will be remembered.
Marsch, founder, chairman and CEO of TMC Communications Inc., died May 17 at his home, after a yearlong bout with cancer. He is survived by daughter Melissa Baker Marsch and her husband Dylan Baker; daughter Michelle Cutlip, her husband Justin and their three (soon to be four) children Christopher, Gabriella, Nicholas and baby John; and his former wife Kathy Keller.
Marsch is recognized as an industry pioneer. In 1982, he established TMC of California, the first alternative long-distance provider to serve many parts of California. TMC Cal, which built the first digital microwave network to connect area businesses with fiber-optic technology, provided service to more than 14,000 commercial customers in the state. In 1989, Marsch sold TMC Cal to Omni Holdings, a Swiss holding company.
After working with several international firms during the period of his non-compete, Marsch sought to replicate his success and relaunched TMC in 1997; this time with an added focus on sharing the wealth with the agent community.
He was a pioneer in agent equity, says Ron Ireland, TMCs CFO and chairman of the companys executive committee formed to manage the company in Marschs absence. His dream never became a reality, but it was his intent to reward agents for helping him build a company.
Over the years, the company developed a distribution channel of about 300 active agents with master contracts, Ireland says.
Marschs focus on the agent community was personal, say TMC executives.
He loved this business and oftentimes blurred the line between personal and business, opening his home to agents, carrier partners and even competitors, says Johns daughter Melissa Marsch Baker, who also works at TMC as director of marketing.
John would just jump in his plane and go visit TMC agents. He loved to be in front of them, says Susan Davidson, TMCs vice president of sales and business development, adding that Marsch, a salesman at heart, was her partner in crime. He truly enjoyed the personal and social aspects of working with the agent channel.
Marsch, an avid pilot, owned and flew a Socata TBM-700, which he fired up regularly to visit agents and their prospects. Thats when he was happiest when he was in the field, says Ireland, who has worked for TMC for eight years.
John was a true innovator in this industry and more specifically in the channel, says Rick Dellar, cofounder of Intelisys Corp., an agent for TMC since 1998. From the original TMC in the 1980s and the creative ways he built networks to the born again TMC of the last decade, John brought fresh ideas to the industry, challenged the Big Guys and, more specifically, was always a strong advocate for the channel and for agents. He will be missed by many.
Davidson says Marsch had planned a leave of absence from the company to tend to a heart condition in February 2005. He formed an executive committee to govern the company in his absence, which became extended when he was diagnosed with cancer in May 2005.
He provided us with a company that could stand on its own, says Ireland. We are a success on our own. We owe him a debt of gratitude.
The company in March reported its most profitable 12 months to date based on plans that Marsch set in motion, Davidson says, adding that Marsch was adept at training his managers and passing on his knowledge and experience.
While the company and its employees will continue to prosper in Marschs absence, Davidson says, His boundless energy and enthusiasm is hard to replace.
The family suggests donations in the name of John David Marsch be sent to the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, 300 W. Pueblo St., Santa Barbara, CA 93105.
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