Leader Spotlight: John Marshall

By Heather
Tuesday, Nov 10th, 2020

A Texas native, John Marshall has enjoyed a career that has taken him around the U.S. and the world, before landing him in the Rocket City of Huntsville, Ala., in 2001 where he has been COO of Wilson Lumber for the last five years. He’s worked in 17 different industries, from sporting goods to sewer systems to treated lumber to restaurants, and a few things in between.

After a successful stint in Recreation Administration, running athletic programs and indoor soccer centers, Marshall was recruited into the sporting goods industry, starting out as the promotions manager for a soccer company and growing from marketing to sales to executive management over a 16-year career.

It was then that he found a talent for doing “turnarounds” and spent the next part of his career moving from company to company and fixing them, taking them from struggling to profitable. “The problem with turnarounds,” Marshall said, “is if you do your job right, you work yourself out of a job every two to three years.” After six successful turnarounds in 15 years and a few turn-ups in 20 years, it was time for a change.

When he joined C12 in 2007, he was working with Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro, Ala., and was looking for colleagues who could challenge him intellectually and spiritually. In C12, he’s found that and so much more.

“Personally, from C12, I’ve gained spiritual accountability, business acumen from other people, great peer relationships, and insight into a lot of different businesses,” Marshall said.

Wilson Lumber has been heavily impacted by C12 as well, with its top two leaders – Marshall and Wilson Lumber President Robb Wilson – deeply invested in C12 principles. It was C12, in fact, that brought these two together.

Also from C12 came a partnership with Corporate Chaplains of America, a matrix for the company Caring Team, and a more faith-based culture. Marshall recalled that Robb Wilson was stocking shelves when he joined C12, and his C12 board advised him to restructure how the company was run, giving Robb more opportunity to be the visionary and grow the company.

While the company mission statement and core values were always there, C12 has helped Wilson Lumber better define its mission and values. “We are more bold with how we share faith in our business,” Marshall explained. “Decision making is another example. We base our decisions on the core values, which are Biblical principles.”

For Marshall, it’s always been about coaching. Coaching is the career he pursued in college at Baylor University, and while no longer on the field coaching sports teams he is very much still a coach, to the employees who report to him at Wilson Lumber and to his peers in C12. “I love to coach,” said Marshall, a 62-year-old father of four and grandfather of one. “It’s why I do what I do.”

In 2010, Marshall was recognized as C12 Member of the Year in Huntsville, and in 2018 named C12 Member of the Year in Nashville. While he’s accomplished many great things in all of the businesses where he has served, Marshall says his proudest accomplishment is marrying his wonderful wife and raising four successful and well-adjusted daughters “who all get along.” He coached all of his daughters on the soccer field, as well as in life. “I’m proud of the coaching and mentoring I’ve been able to do in my career,” Marshall said. “It’s a fulfilling experience to come along side someone and use the experiences I have had to help them in what they’re trying to do.”