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Refereeing big deals appeals to Kissinger

Thomas F. Kissinger – The Marcus Corp.

Photo by Kevin Harnack

Photo by Kevin Harnack

As general counsel for the Marcus Corporation, Thomas F. Kissinger likes to stay current on the hospitality industry.

It’s his job to keep things running smoothly on the legal end for the Milwaukee-based company, but the position is also somewhat unique in the profession.

Since joining the family-owned company, known for its ownership of hotels and movie theaters, in 1993, Kissinger has handled everything from the high-profile sale of the Baymont (formerly Budgetel) hotel chain to handshake contracts with film distributors.

Through it all, he relishes the ability to connect to clients.

“If the popcorn is stale or the soft drinks are pricey, I can relate because I’m buying the same things,” Kissinger said. “I feel what the customer feels maybe more so than in other industries.”

While the ripple effect from the recession may have seemed like something out of a bad movie, it created a lot more litigation for Kissinger and his team.

“A lot of distressed properties and different elements than there had been before,” he said. “People were less confident and a lot more careful, but we’re starting to see that go away.”

Despite the sluggish economy, Kissinger has no plans to change careers, although he once considered becoming an NBA referee.

A year into law school, he attended referee rookie camp and performed well, but decided that his future would be better spent in court than on it.

Refereeing remains one of Kissinger’s passions and for the last three decades, he has officiated college and high school games.

He is also an avid theatergoer and every year around this time, he gears up for the annual Oscar night charity event sponsored by the Marcus Corp.

Kissinger prefers dramatic fare to summer blockbusters and named “The Shawshank Redemption” as his favorite film.

But like a good attorney, he is willing to negotiate, especially when it comes to family.

“My son made me see the last Harry Potter movie, which was actually the first one I’ve seen and it was okay,” he said. “I really liked ‘The Social Network.’”

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