Stories By Roy Christensen

Marty was a great boss and an even better friend.  He had a huge impact on my life, and was truly a blessing to me.

In 1987, I was running Zephyrhills Bottled Water in Florida.  The bottled water business was growing rapidly, and several major companies were making offers to buy Zephyrhills.  The company sold that year, and Black Mountain then became the largest privately owned water company in the nation. 

I first met Marty several months prior to the sale of Zephyrhills at the International Bottled Water Convention.  We talked for an extended time, and during our conversation I told Marty Zephyrhills would soon be sold, and my wife and I would like to return to California; did he have any positions open.  He told me he was putting a team together to help him run the family business, and he might have an opening.  We stayed in contact and he hired me to help build the water business.  The next fourteen years were a wondrous and exhilarating ride. 

As I was about to leave Florida for the new position in California, Marty called and insisted I stay at his house until I got settled and found a place to live.  Wow I thought; what a kind thing to do.  When I got there I met Mary and wow again; what a delight! She made me feel right at home. 

Marty soon invited me to play golf and meet some of his friends at the Sunnyvale course.  On the day of play, Marty asked if I wanted to get in on the betting.  I gracefully declined stating I was a little rusty and didn’t bring much money.  After the round, I was drinking a beer and talking with Marty’s friends when suddenly someone behind me dropped a pile of cash on the table right in front of me.  I turned and looked up, and there was Marty with a big smile on his face.

“What is this?” I said.

“Our team won.” He said.

“But I didn’t bet.”

“I know; I bet for you.”

On the way to the car, Marty kindly complimented me on my game, but quickly added his sage advice.  “Roy, from now on you need to carry more money.”  And to this day I do.

Marty had many talents and made a great C.E.O.   He put together a terrific team of people, and through his leadership greatly enhanced the value of the family business.  We traveled a lot over the years to various industry conventions, suppliers outing, and competitors’ events.  Marty had the best social skills I have ever seen.  He had an uncanny ability to assess any situation and make as many people comfortable as possible.  Marty had a big heart, and looked out for the best interests of everyone.  Here are two Marty stories.

At one of the water conventions we were attending, a large company interested in acquiring Black Mountain, invited us to join some of their executives whom we knew for cocktails.  We went to a private room where a couple of waiters were serving drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  We chatted with all present and at one point we were talking with the senior executive in the room, who appeared to be over served.  Suddenly, in mid-sentence his eyes rolled back and he dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes…..out cold on his back.  We both leaned over to assist him, but in a few seconds he opened his eyes and said he was ok.  I looked over at Marty; he was assessing the situation. He quickly rose up and approached the nearest waiter.  On the move he reached into his pocket, grabbing his money, peeled off a couple of twenties, pressed it into the waiter’s palm, saying, “He’s fine; you didn’t see a thing.”  Following Marty’s lead, I spotted the other waiter and as quickly as I could, pushed a couple of twenties into his hand saying, “He’s fine, you didn’t see a thing.” 

Later, walking back to our rooms, I asked Marty if he was concerned the waiters would get the hotel involved.  Marty replied that was one concern, but more importantly he didn’t want the incident to get back to the executive’s company.  The “You didn’t see a thing” was meant for everyone in that room, and to my knowledge the incident stayed in the room.

On another occasion Marty and I were in the Monterey area on business.  Marty said he would see if he could get a tee time on Pebble Beach the next day.  Sure enough Marty got it, and the next day we were there as a twosome.  The place was packed and a couple of busloads of Japanese tourists were mulling around the pro shop near the first tee taking pictures. 

We were next to hit and stood on the tee waiting for the group ahead to hit their second shot.  At that moment a single player approached us and said, “Hi, I’m bill.  Is it ok If I join you?”  We said, “Sure, glad to have you.”  He seemed pleasantly relieved to be welcomed. He told us he was the general manager of a radio station in Cincinnati, and it was his lifelong dream to play Pebble.  He was an avid fan of the AT&T.

It was time to hit and both Marty and I hit good drives.  Bill teed up and addressed the ball and making the swing his head came up, pulling his body upward.  I thought he was going to whiff, but no.   The driver barely nicked the top of the ball dropping it off the tee with incredible top spin so that it bounced and rolled to the end of the tee box where it fell into a slight indentation with a terrible lie.  Some of the spectators were looking and pointing.  Bill was devastated.  His shoulders slumped a bit and he began walking to his ball.    I looked over at Marty; he was assessing the situation. 

Marty then said, “Hey Bill.”  Bill stopped and looked at Marty. 

 “Bill, hit another ball.”  Bill looked amazed

“I can hit another ball?”

“Yes, it’s ok. You joined our group and we want you to hit another ball.”

No man could have been more relieved than Bill at that moment.  His death march to his first ball was over.  He teed up again and hit a decent shot down the middle.  He broke 90 that day, which made him very happy.  I hate to think what his round would have been like if Marty hadn’t intervened. 

I loved Marty and will miss him immensely.   

Roy Christensen

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