Market Basket's Greek tragedy: From start to finish
Joey Salerno, produce manager brings out fresh watermelon slices and has spent 15 years of his 30 years employed at Market Basket as Market Basket gets back to the grocery business, on Elm Street in Manchester on Friday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
Caught in the middle were 25,000 employees and 2 million customers waiting week after week for stores to return with happy workers and shelves full of fresh vegetables.
No, it took a reported $1.5 billion or so for Arthur T. Demoulas to settle the standoff with his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas.
Word finally came late Wednesday that ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas would regain power, paving the way for boycotting customers and idled part-time workers to return.
"I'm running this company with the philosophy, very strong philosophy, that there's only one boss in the company," he said, according to minutes of a company board meeting. "There's not two. There's not three. There's not five. There's only one boss in the company."
That led then-Director Nabil El-Hage to reply: "In my religion, only the Pope is infallible."
A family feud began after the death of George Demoulas in 1971. He and his brother, Telemachus Demoulas, had already built the chain, known then as Demoulas Market Basket, into a successful business, according to previous accounts in the Union Leader.
A Massachusetts Superior Court judge ruled in the 1990s that heirs of George Demoulas had been cheated out of millions by Telemachus Demoulas and his heirs. Telemachus Demoulas died in 2003, before the lawsuit and subsequent appeals were settled.
Then on June 23 of this year, the board fired him and named Felicia Thornton and James Gooch as the chain's co-CEOs.
Series of rallies
On July 18, workers held the first of about a half-dozen rallies in Tewskbury, Mass., demanding the return of Arthur T. Some warehouse workers and drivers loyal to him began disrupting deliveries to stores, resulting in more than a half-dozen employees receiving termination letters.
"The perils of family business," said Neil Niman, chair of the economics department at the University of New Hampshire.
On Aug. 17, Gov. Maggie Hassan and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick met with both Arthur cousins for four to five hours in Springfield, Mass. and followed up with phone calls.
Asked about the demeanor of the two cousins, Hassan said: "Everybody was professional and constructive. Clearly, this has been a long dispute."
"You try to avoid destroying family wealth or the mental health of your children," Niman said.
As for who came out on top of the Demoulas family feud, "I would think Arthur T. wins in the end," Niman said. "The family feud is essentially over."
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