Page 1

FALL / 19

BETTER TOGETHER

A LOOK AT HOW RC'S GROWTH IS DRIVEN BY A HUGE TEAM EFFORT. RC is rolling up its sleeves and helping neighborhoods grow on p. 30.


REWARDINGLYREWARDING REWARDS By entering in the Otter Rewards Program, one of Russell Cellular's team members won a trip for two to Disney World.

"The trip was absolutely amazing for the both of us. The experiences we had were unforgettable. Otter Rewards is definitely worth it because you never know, you could win a crazy trip like I did!" —Alison Theriault

What is Otter Rewards? It's a loyalty program that rewards and incentivizes sales associates for selling Otter Products. You earn points for every case sold and can redeem points for exciting experiences and merchandise.

LIKE TO HAVE YOUR OWN CRAZY TRIP? ENROLL TODAY AT OTTERREWARDS.COM


5624 S. State Highway FF, Battlefield, MO 417-886-7542, russellcellular.com

FROM THE FEED

PRESIDENT & CEO Jeff Russell CO-FOUNDER Kym Russell CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Darin Wray CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Robert Lister VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS Jeven Russell VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES OPERATIONS Nathan Mindeman EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES Daniel Hyder AREA VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES Brad Boman AREA VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES Anthony Badalamenti AREA VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES Chris Lucido DIRECTOR OF EXECUTIVE SUPPORT Layton Alsup DIRECTOR OF LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT Kurt Reinhart EMPLOYEE AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH ADVOCATE Ron Wallace MARKETING MANAGER Jenn Darden

2111 S. Eastgate Ave., Springfield, MO 65809 PHONE: 417-883-7417 / FAX 417-889-7417 417MAG.COM KATIE POLLOCK ESTES / EDITORIAL DIRECTOR ETTIE BERNEKING / EDITOR ALEX WOLKEN / CREATIVE DIRECTOR BRANDON ALMS / SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHER CONTRIBUTING WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS Ettie Berneking, Karen Bliss, Tessa Cooper, Juliana Goodwin, Jessica Hammer, Jennifer Johnman, Susan Atteberry Smith GARY WHITAKER / PUBLISHER LOGAN AGUIRRE / PRESIDENT/ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER MEGAN JOHNSON / VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS & CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS JOAN WHITAKER / VICE PRESIDENT OF FINANCE

Visit our social media sites to learn about the latest developments from Russell Cellular.

FACEBOOK.COM/RUSSELLCELLULAROFFICIAL @RUSSELLCELLULAR @RUSSELLCELLULAROFFICIAL FACEBOOK.COM/RUSSELLCELLULARCARES @RCCARES

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

1


FEATURES

18

24

30

THE ART OF THE TIME FOR ACQUISITION HEDGIE TALES

HOME SWEET HOME

RC isn’t just growing; it’s thriving! Russell

You know him from PopSockets and the

When RC talks about getting involved in the

Cellular is expanding its footprint across the

RC Cares program, but do you really know

communities it serves, it doesn’t just talk the

country nearly every day. Meet the team that

Hedgie? Do you know how he came to life

talk. It rolls up its sleeves and gets to work. Or,

helps make all that growth possible through

or how he ended up as a long-time RC team

in this case, picks up a hammer and nails and

acquisitions of new stores, and get a behind-

member? Do you know how many hedge-

helps build a house. Learn how RC teamed

the-scenes look at what happens when a new

hog-themed items Kym Russell has received?

up with Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland to

store joins the RC family.

It's time to dive deep into all things Hedgie.

help a family build their dream home.

CONTENTS 4 / SPOTLIGHT

11 / TIPS OF THE TRADE

Bob Kowal joined RC nearly two years ago through an acquisition. What did he learn? A lot.

J.A.M.E.S. is here to help your sales, so it’s time to become bffs.

5/Q&A

6/ HOMETOWN HEROES

Get ready for RC Quest 101.

Hakeem Sykes talks about how he motivates his team and shares his proudest moment.

When this teacher wanted to bring virtual reality into the classroom, RC stepped up to make it happen.

12/ COMMUNICATION

8 / WEEK IN THE LIFE Herbie Upshaw is on the road and dedicated to helping RC leaders succeed and develop through RC Quest 100.

5 / LIFE AT RC When Merissa Crosby lost everything in a house fire, RC was there when she needed help.

6 / RC CARES When a little boy’s medical bills piled up, RC jumped into action.

2

RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

17 / PLUGGED IN 5G is almost here, and RC is leading the charge. Learn how to stay up to date on everything you need to know when it comes to 5G.

14 / ROUND TABLE Robert Lister shares why RC’s Better Together mantra is more than a catchy slogan.

16 / GROWTH SPURT Grab the noisemakers because RC’s growth is worth celebrating.

10 / PILLAR TALK

16 / INBOX

Daniel Hyder talks about the true opportunity within OVT.

Get the scoop on how to make the most out of RC’s 401k match.

32 / WHAT’S THE WORD The list of acronyms used at RC is a long one. Each issue, we define a few of these to help you speak the RC language.

33 / LIFE OUTSIDE Misty Gibson is an RC veteran who worked her way up the pipeline, but when she first applied it was almost on a whim.

Photos by Brandon Alms, Ettie Berneking, Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, RC, Shutterstock


BY THE NUMBERS This issue has plenty to celebrate and get excited about. From new growth to generous donations, here are some of our favorite numbers you'll find in this edition of RC Connections.

105

BURGER PLATES

The Wiggins, Mississippi, RC team rolled out a grill and sold 105 burger plates in five hours. The team raised $1,380 and donated it all to 9-year-old Rylee to help cover medical bills for his joint disease.

LEARN MORE ON / 6

4,300

DOLLARS

Fifty-four Russell Cellular stores raised more than $4,300 to help with a Habitat for Humanity build.

LEARN MORE ON / 30

24

PHONES RC donated 24 new Samsung Galaxy S7 phones to this Springfield middle school classroom, so kids could tap into virtual reality while learning.

LEARN MORE ON / 7

637

RC STORES By the second quarter of 2019, there were 637 stores in 37 states. On average, the company procures 10 to 15 stores at a time, which is RC’s “sweet spot.”

LEARN MORE ON / 19 Photos by Ettie Berneking, courtesy Shutterstock

A NOTE

FROM

KYM

As we race through the end of what is sure to be our most epic year in company history, I am in absolute awe! We have proven we truly are bigger and better together. We hear so much negativity in the media and are all facing daunting issues in the world. But here, at RC, we are busy doing what I always dreamed of. We are supporting one another and making our corners of the world a little better by lifting each other up and working together to impact our team and our communities. Everyone loves a success story, and I am very proud of ours here at RC. For 25 years, Jeff and I have worked hard to provide a fun and positive environment where our families and teams have enjoyed working. In fact, several of our family members have had long-term careers with RC. But Jeff and I can only impact a few people directly. The reason I am in awe is because of all of you. Every person who shows up to work and puts a smile on their face even when their morning was rushed. Each

team member who chooses to answer a call at the end of a busy day or travel across the country to help another team they haven’t even met. There is an old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I think this idea applies to our business as well. When we do our best and help those around us, we prosper together. Life can be messy and is often hard. Sales and customer service are not always pleasant jobs, but it strengthens my spirit to be in it together with all of you. It has been an amazing journey to “do life” with good people who do the right thing, because it’s the right thing and who make a positive impact right where they are. I am so honored to be a part of this RC Family!

ON THE COVER Holly Fain was one of the RC team members who helped out on build day when Habitat For Humanity of Cleveland teamed up with RC to build a house in Cleveland, Tennessee. The project was part of the RC Cares program. It was so successful that RC and Habitat already have more builds planned for this year.

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

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LIFE

SPOTLIGHT

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS After 18 months with Russell Cellular, RSM Bob Kowal knows that in a rapidly growing company, relationships are as important as ever. BY LUCIE AMBERG When Bob Kowal hosted acquisition classes for new Russell Cellular employees in Virginia and New Mexico this year, he was eager to introduce them to RC’s culture and preview all the opportunities that awaited the group of new RC team members. Bob wasn’t an RC newbie, but he knew exactly how the people in front of him felt. Just last year, he was in their shoes. Bob joined RC in January 2018 through an acquisition, and while transitions like that often cause uncertainty and stress, Bob learned joining RC was nothing like that.

JOINING THE TEAM

One reason for Bob’s easy transition was

Bob Kowal joined RC through an acquisition.

the welcoming environment. At RC, he says, “you are treated as family and not a number. It’s impressive for a company that has more than 2,300 employees.” Even members of the company’s executive team including Daniel Hyder, Executive Vice President of Sales, helped Bob feel at home. “I couldn’t think of a better partner in my transition,” Bob says.

everything from maximizing the customer and

business continues to grow and thrive. “In to-

employee experience to understanding key

day’s world, there are so many different places

performance indicators to connecting with the

to purchase from,” he says. “If you can give

local community. As Bob sees it, RC’s goal of

the customer a reason to come back and see

maintaining strong relationships with people

you time and time again, they’ll choose you

in the communities it serves will ensure the

instead of the competition.”

As a Regional Sales Manager, Bob oversees 48 RC stores throughout the Midwest.

LESSONS LEARNED

His territory reaches across Illinois, Iowa and

Bob shares his top tips for success.

Missouri. It’s a complex job and one that gives him a good view of the company’s growth. “When I started with Russell Cellular in 2018, we’d just passed the 400-store mark,” he says. “It’s amazing that we now have more than 625 stores.” As the company grows, Bob focuses on encouraging his team to be grounded. It’s a concept he describes as “owning your business.” “Yes, the door says ‘Russell Cellular,’ but I encourage my entire team to treat the business as if it were their own,” he says. For Bob, this perspective encompasses 4

RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

RC: What would you suggest for

RC: How do you help your team

someone who is joining the company?

manage stress?

BOB KOWAL: Embrace the training and

B.K.: Focus is everything! This business

resources available to you and never be

evolves every day, so no day is the

afraid to ask questions. The more you

same as the one before it. That’s why it’s

know, the more successful you’ll be.

important to take time, pause for a deep

RC: What’s your advice for superior cus-

items each day. And I encourage my

breath, break down your goals and action tomer service?

team members to reach out to their peers

B.K.: Get to know your customers. Build

and managers when they need advice or

relationships and earn their trust. If you

best-practice solutions.

do, they’ll come back again and again. Photo courtesy Ettie Berneking


LIFE

Q&A

LIFE AT RC

A CONVERSATION WITH HAKEEM SYKES In just two years, District Sales Manager Hakeem Sykes has become a staple on

READY FOR THE WORST Merissa Crosby knows first-hand how impactful the Employee Emergency Fund can be, especially when you’ve lost everything.

Russell Cellular’s scoreboard. Find out

BY KAREN BLISS

how he inspires and leads his 24-person Oklahoma/Texas team every day. BY REN BISHOP

Planning for a disaster isn't always enough, so when an emergency happens, it’s nice

RC CONNECTIONS: Your days are packed full at RC. What does your

to know your company has

morning routine look like?

your back. Merissa Crosby,

HAKEEM SYKES: I wake up, get some coffee and pop open reporting.

the manager of the Waterloo,

I get my eyes on some numbers and determine what’s to be praised,

Illinois, store, turned to the

and in my store manager GroupMe, there’s redirecting and direction

Employee

given. I share what we’re looking for today as a district, so we are con-

(EEF) when disaster struck.

stantly directing and coaching certain behaviors with our entire team.

Emergency

Fund

Merissa has been part of the Russell Cellular family for

RC: How do you coach your team members at seven locations?

almost two years, and this past

H.S.: I visit a different location every day. There’s a lot of value in having

January, her apartment caught

that one-on-one conversation. Together with my store managers, we

on fire. Everyone living at the

can redirect employees, give a ton of praise and do what we need to

complex was okay, but by the

keep our team on track. The majority of it is praise. I think that’s what

time Merissa got to the scene,

and it’s completely voluntary. In

A TERRIBLE BLAZE Crosby lost almost all of her belongings in an apartment fire.

helped me get the needle moving in retail myself. I set clear and concise

the building was nearly burned

the same way the EEF helped

expectations and give praise when I see success; that’s my goal.

down. “Everything inside the

Merissa return to her normal life,

building had fire, smoke or

it has helped employees after

RC: What’s your customer service style?

water damage, or a mix of all

natural disasters; it’s stepped

H.S.: I’ve been in retail since I was 18. One thing that’s gotten me this far

three,” Merissa says. “I truly lost

in and assisted team members

is just to smile and slow down. Customers trust sales representatives

almost everything.”

with funeral costs and other

when they’re not moving too fast. So for us to deliver the best wireless

Luckily, Merissa was able

experience possible, it 100 percent starts as soon as we jump out of our

to turn to RC’s EEF. The fund

seats to greet customers.

financial difficulties. Since the apartment fire,

is part of RC Cares, and

Merissa shares her story with

Merissa says it provided her

new

RC: As a District Sales Manager, what’s the best part of your job?

with an unexpected rescue

sometimes

H.S.: What excites me most is two-fold: It’s getting people paid and

when she needed it most.

term

seeing my team members be successful. It’s the best feeling, hearing

Not only did the fund help her

says she wants them to know

that they’re getting paid the most they’ve ever been paid. And I love to

replace basic belongings she

Russell Cellular is not an

compete on that sales scoreboard. I love seeing where we rank every

lost in the fire, it assisted with

average company—it stands

day and figuring it out together with my team.

her moving costs. “It helped

for something greater. “I’ve

RC: In two years, you’ve accomplished a lot with your seven locations. What’s been your proudest moment?

team RC

members too

with

associates.

and longShe

a ton, getting me back on my

never been with a company

feet,” she says.

that has invested so much in

The EEF is one of those

me, from my personal growth

lifelines RC team members

to my career growth,” she

my wife, my daughter, they’re all proud of me. But I’m also proud to be

hope they’ll never need, but if

says. “It’s a big win to be a

part of Russell Cellular. I’ve been in big box retail, and RC is completely

something comes up, it’s there.

part of a company I know is

different than any other place I’ve worked in the best way. The culture

Employees can contribute as

truly there when things come

here is something I’m proud to be a part of every day.

much as they like to the fund,

up in my life.”

H.S.: Being a Top 10 District Sales Manager in November. My mom,

Photos by Brandon Alms and courtesy Merissa Crosby

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

5


LIFE

RC CARES

SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY Wiggins, Mississippi resident Rylee Plemons, 9, has multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, a rare bone and joint disease. His hometown rallied behind him and his family with a special RC Cares event. BY REN BISHOP Wiggins, Mississippi, is the kind of town where everybody knows everybody. Mateo Escaner has lived there most of his life, and since 2017, he’s managed Russell Cellular’s store in the small town. He attends Word Alive Church with his family, and one Sunday, he heard about 9-year-old Rylee Plemons. Rylee was born with

GIVING BACK

a rare bone and joint disease known as multiple

The RC team in Wiggins including Shani Speitler, Kevin Smith, Mateo Escaner and Jason Goodloe, raised funds to cover Rylee’s medical expenses.

epiphyseal dysplasia, or M.E.D. “I’ve known Mateo probably since he was born,” says Julie Plemons, Rylee’s mom.

any ideas, Mateo knew this was his chance to

the fundraiser. Together, they distributed fliers to

“Mateo knew we were having some issues with

help Rylee. “Rylee instantly came to my mind

small businesses around Wiggins and asked for

my son and that I was concerned about how

and I said, ‘I have the perfect thing’,” Mateo

their support.

we could pay the co-pays for physical therapy.

says. Mateo wanted to host a fundraiser the

“We had 70 pre-orders for burgers before

When Mateo came to me saying he wanted to

Wiggins community could get behind. He want-

the event and got some assistance from RC to

help, I knew that someone was paying attention

ed the event to be simple but compelling, so

purchase ingredients, because we didn’t know

he came up with the idea of a burger plate. It’s

how many burgers we would sell,” Jason says.

Mateo is on a team with RC District Sales

a $5 meal featuring a fresh, grilled hamburger,

“But then we kept running out of burgers. I had

to what we were going through.” Manager Jason Goodloe, who wanted to hold

cookie, drink and bag of chips. With the event

an RC Cares event within his district. When

concept nailed down, the Wiggins RC team cre-

Jason asked his store managers if they had

ated fliers that told Rylee’s story and promoted

to make three trips to Walmart to buy more.” Mateo’s father, Kato, served as grillmaster, and an RC team member, Leslie Williams, from

HEDGIE’S HEROES INVESTING IN STUDENTS

THE NEED

When Jeven Russell, Vice President of Operations for Russell Cellular, heard a middle school class needed cell phones to enable them to escape on virtual reality field trips, he stepped up to help. “We always lead with our heart,” he says. “Being able to provide to the community where our business was founded, and the same community I grew up in, was a nice feeling. RC has always given back to communities

VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS Mark Schlager teaches middle school and brought virtual reality headsets to school.

6

RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

one way or another. It’s always been the heart of what my parents set out to do.” BY JULIANA GOODWIN

In 2018, Mark Schlager was busy teaching social studies at a middle school in Springfield, Missouri. But he kept running into a problem. “A lot of my students had never left Springfield before,” he says. “It’s hard to relate scientifically and geographically if they haven’t seen it.” Mark needed a way to engage the kids and get them excited about what they were studying even if they couldn’t physically visit the sites they were learning about. Because

Photo by Brandon Alms and courtesy Russell Cellular


LIFE

RC CARES

FIGHTING BACK

$1,380

Rylee was born with a rare bone and joint disease that affects the growing ends of his bones.

Total donation made to the Plemons family

nearby Lucedale, Mississippi, managed logistics.

burger event were enough to cover three

Burgers were grilled outside the store, and team

physical therapy appointments a week for

members hustled to keep up with orders. The

six weeks and most of Rylee’s next round of

response was overwhelming. When it was over,

appointments, which will help him walk farther

the team couldn’t believe the total.

and become stronger.

The Wiggins RC team sold 105 burger

“We often feel like no one is paying attention

plates in five hours, totaling $1,380 in donations.

to us and life is a constant struggle for money,"

“When we saw that final number, that’s when it

Julie says. “And then a group of strangers ba-

really set in,” Jason says. “We made a huge im-

sically become our knights in shining armor. It

pact, not only on Rylee’s family, but also on the

meant much more than just finances to me.”

Wiggins community. They know we care.” A few days later, Mateo made the call and invited Julie and Rylee to receive a check with

plate drives around his territory. The Ocean Springs, Mississippi, location raised $2,000 for

by Russell Cellular, the family was headed to

a fallen Biloxi police officer, Robert McKeithan,

a physical therapy appointment for Rylee, and

in June, and in July, Wiggins hosted a second

Julie didn’t know how she was going to pay the

plate drive to support a local man battling

$900 co-pay.

brain and lung cancer. “I want our stores to be

When she saw the check’s amount, she

recognized not only for outstanding customer

began to cry. So did most RC employees

service but also for giving back to the commu-

in the store. The funds RC raised during the

nities that support us,” Jason says.

Photos courtesy Russell Cellular

3

DONATION AMOUNT Russell Cellular decided it could do more than donate old phones and provided the class with 24 new Samsung Galaxy S7 phones. “This was the right opportunity at the right time,” Jeven says. The donation was a success. “The kids were blown away,” Mark says. “When I showed them the phones I had, they were astounded at the cool technology. RC went so far to donate even better headsets that they used in demos.”

3+

The number of trips to Walmart to buy more hamburger patties

Upcoming Plate Drives Goodloe has planned for 2019

3

Because of the success of the burger plate drive in Wiggins, Jason is hosting additional

the proceeds from the fundraiser. After stopping

students are visual learners, Mark decided virtual reality could help. He applied for and received a grant to purchase virtual reality headsets so students could take virtual field trips. The only problem was the headsets had to plug into cell phones, and Mark didn’t have any in the classroom. He also didn't have funds to purchase the phones he needed. When he approached companies in town about donating old cell phones, they said no. But RC said “Yes.”

4

The number of RC Wiggins team members who ran the event: Mateo Escaner, Shani Parker, Kevin Smith, Leslie Williams

The number of surgeries Rylee has had in nine years

105

Number of hamburger plates sold

RYLEE’S JOURNEY CONTINUES Follow along with Rylee’s M.E.D. Journey on Facebook at fb.com/ryleesbones

IMPACT

RC’S HEART

With the new phones, Mark was able to take students on virtual reality trips, which helped Mark enhance his lesson plans. “The students were more engaged. I would tie them into what we were learning and say, ‘You will get to go on a virtual tour to the battle of Gettysburg if you take your quiz and turn your work in.’” Mark noticed students were even doing better in class after they had that incentive.

Jeven says RC gets numerous donation requests. Fulfilling all of them might be impossible, but giving back will always be a focus at RC, especially when kids are involved. “In 2017, we developed and defined our RC Cares initiative,” Jeven says. “Focusing on schools is where we want to put a lot of attention. We want to enhance learning in the classroom. This is woven into the core of what we do as an organization.”

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

7


LIFE

WEEK IN THE LIFE

WEEK IN THE LIFE BY JESSICA HAMMER

ON THE MOVE Herbie Upshaw teaches RC Quest leadership courses.

Herbie Upshaw spent years in the wireless industry before he joined the team at Russell Cellular in 2015. Four years later, he’s training store, district and regional managers as the Learning and Development Regional Trainer and facilitator of the RC Quest 100 training program. The program launched in January 2019 after Upshaw and a team of RC employees spent more than a year crafting this workshop-style course. The goal is to help store and district managers develop skills in four core areas of leadership—staffing, training, coaching and accountability. In his role, Herbie helped build the curriculum and now travels the United States to implement and teach the program to fellow RC members.

MONDAYS AND WEDNESDAYS JETSETTING AND SETTING UP Morning: Before heading to the airport and setting off to teach the next RC Quest 100 class, Herbie checks into Catalyst to do his daily training. “I do that every morning to keep me fresh,” Herbie says. “It puts me in the Russell Cellular mindset.” He also checks into the company scoreboard to see how teams are performing before catching a plane. Afternoon: Upon arrival, Herbie checks into his accommodations for the night. The supplies he needs for the next day’s course have been shipped out to him. Once he’s checked into his hotel room, he sets up his classroom and reviews the material for the following day’s class.

8

RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS IN THE CLASSROOM Morning: After checking the scoreboard and doing his daily training on Catalyst, Herbie gets ready to teach 10 to 40 RC members. His main goal is to deliver content centered around the four leadership areas RC Quest 100 was designed to cover. “My job is to facilitate a conversation, teach an idea, and then give them activities,” he says. “They break out and practice skills we’re teaching them.” Afternoon: While on the road, Herbie spends eight hours in front of the classroom as he coaches managers on how they can better lead their team members and run their stores. He’ll be back in six weeks to dig deeper and help find more specific solutions for specific challenges these managers are facing. At the end of the day, he packs the supplies away and sends them off to the Home Office. Once there, the RC sales operations support team unpacks and resets the box with fresh supplies and books before sending it back out to the next training site. With multiple training sites per week, there is a rotation of four to six boxes going in and out of the Home Office every week that the support team is refreshing, reloading and shipping back out.

FRIDAY BACK TO HIS HOME OFFICE After spending the previous four days in airplanes, hotels and classrooms, Herbie is ready to return to his home base in Kansas City. The final day of his work week is spent connecting with the course's co-creator Kurt Reinhart and collaborating on any changes that can be implemented in the coming weeks. Photo by Ettie Berneking


At Russell Cellular, we know life happens. Emergency situations can arise beyond our control that create unexpected financial hardships.

RC EMPLOYEE EMERGENCY FUND Qualifying circumstances include natural disaster, funeral costs, fire loss, acute medical illness, and more. The EEF provides financial assistance for you and your immediate family. Qualifying Team Members can receive up to $500 per occurrence.

For more information about the EEF, how to apply and donate, and for further qualifications and restrictions, visit RChome.co or email RCcares@russellcellular.com


EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

PILLAR TALK

EMBRACING OPPORTUNITY Next time you stop and think about OVT, bring Daniel Hyder, Executive Vice President of Sales, into the conversation. This RC-lifer has some thoughts about how you can use the O in OVT to grow personally and professionally. BY ETTIE BERNEKING You don’t have to be an RC veteran to know the company loves acronyms. There’s KPI, EEF, J.A.M.E.S…. The list goes on. But the most important word jumble of them all might also be the simplest. OVT, which represents opportunity, value and team, has become the backbone of RC’s employee experience. It helps define the company’s mission; it is a promise to every team member; and it gives everyone from tenured executives to new wireless sales specialists a reminder about what RC culture is all about. It’s a big role for three letters to play, but “it’s important for us to have these, so we can have conversations around what we can hold leadership and the entire company accountable to,” says Daniel Hyder, Executive Vice President of Sales. For those who don’t know the story of how OVT became part of the RC vernacular,

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

here’s the Reader’s Digest version. Back in

Daniel Hyder believes there’s more to OVT than a simple acronym. He sees a path to success.

2011, Russell Cellular was enjoying a growth spurt, but the expansion also revealed some

employee experience. Each of the pillars—

programs like RC Quest were created—to

growing pains the company needed to stop

opportunity, value and team—provides some

provide leadership training. Daniel says even

and address. One issue was figuring out

guidance about how to have the best RC

RC Cares falls under the umbrella of opportu-

how to spread the RC culture to a team that

experience possible, and as Daniel sees it, it

nity. “It’s about helping people with personal

was quickly growing across the country. “We

all starts with opportunity.

growth,” he says. “We owe each associate

wanted to have a clear understanding and

“I always tell people this,” Daniel says.

message we could communicate to each of

“Opportunity can mean different things to

they’re comfortable with. We like to create

us about what’s important to us as a compa-

people, but we see it as a vehicle for people.

different opportunities from different career

ny,” Daniel says. Leadership gathered togeth-

Whether that means having the opportunity

paths at Home Office or stores or DSMs mov-

er and between “a lot of discussion, tears and

to come to work at a safe place, be the best

ing into RSM roles. As we grow, we continue

laughter,” OVT came to life.

the opportunity to succeed in any capacity

team member you can or grow professionally

creating opportunities for advancement. We

Unlike a lot of the acronyms circulating

and personally.” That goal of providing a path

want to provide the tools and resources and

around RC, OVT isn’t about sales. It’s not

toward personal and professional growth has

culture of allowing people to feel they have an

even about the customer. It’s all about the

become a driving force at RC. It’s part of why

opportunity to be the best they can be at RC.”

10

RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

Photo by Ettie Berneking


EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

TIPS OF THE TRADE

THE J.A.M.E.S. TECHNIQUE Using Russell Cellular’s sales protocol can lead to success every time. BY KAREN BLISS What is the proper way to make a sale? How can you be successful? The answer lies with

J

J.A.M.E.S. Just ask Ben Winterton, manager of RC’s store in Ava, Missouri, who says the J.A.M.E.S. technique can lead to success. James is not a team member, and he’s not a customer. J.A.M.E.S. is a proven sales technique, titled after the No. 1 customer first

A

name in the RC database. Using the anagram J.A.M.E.S., Ben has plenty of tips to share on how to make a successful sale.

JUMP UP AND CONNECT

M

The first step of J.A.M.E.S. is letting the customer know they are in the right place. “It might sound cheesy, but I always think of Cheers with Jump Up and Connect,” Ben says. “When they’re walking in, I want it to be, ‘Hey, welcome back to Russell Cellular.’ From there, make a

E

basic connection by asking the customer’s name, asking what they need, making them feel welcome and getting the information you need to assist them.

ASK QUESTIONS AND DISCOVER

S

Ben says the questions a sales associate asks

watches them often, you can offer tablets as

no, but customers should understand what

should help discover important life information

a possible activity to help keep the grandkids

products are and what they can do for them, to

about the customer’s family, occupation and

busy. “You can make that recommendation and

make an educated decision.

recreation. Asking questions such as whether

make it specific to their needs,” he says.

the customer is planting a garden this year or

SETUP FOR SUCCESS

about family members helps you make better recommendations for that customer.

MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS

END WITH A SALE AND CLOSE

It’s important to let customers know that we’ve

“This is not selling something they don’t need

got their backs, Ben says. “You want to make

and getting them out the door,” he says. “It’s

sure your customer leaves knowing they have

selling them a solution and making sure both

someone they can rely on with anything they are

“What you’re doing is taking what you know

parties are absolutely happy with what they’ve

faced with,” he says. “We want them to feel like

about the customer and personalizing what you

got. It’s also about overcoming objections and

they aren’t going to run into problems, because

are offering to them,” Ben says. For instance,

adding value to a product for the customer

we’ve made sure to go over the device, and any

if you know a customer has grandkids and

based on their needs.” He says it’s easy to say

concerns they might have.”

Illustration by Alex Wolken

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

11


EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

COMMUNICATION

LEVELING UP RC is investing heavily to train the best leaders possible and continue to promote from within. How is it doing this? Easy—Through RC Quest. BY ETTIE BERNEKING In 2016, RC’s sales charts looked good, and the company was growing quickly. But Jeff Russell wasn’t interested in just revenue. He wanted to invest in the professional development of his team. While RC’s numbers gave him plenty to celebrate, he knew the company was missing the mark when it came to developing in-house leaders and creating career paths. “RC hadn’t had a lot of time or resources to invest in its frontline leaders,” says Kurt Reinhart, Director of Learning and Development. “ Kurt had spent nearly three decades work-

DREAM TEAM

ing as a consultant for corporate leaders, and in

Kurt Reinhart and Herbie Upshaw spent a year developing RC Quest and then spent six months traveling to train the RC team.

2016 he and Jeff saw a new opportunity. Kurt joined the RC team as Director of Learning and Development and teamed up with Herbie

THE MATERIAL

WHAT’S NEXT

Quest 100—a learning platform helping the RC

When Kurt and Herbie developed the RC

Since RC Quest launched, all store managers

team become better leaders. After a six-month

Quest leadership training, Herbie knew Quest

have completed Quest 100. Kurt and Herbie are

Upshaw, Regional Sales Trainer, to create RC

rollout, all District Sales Managers and store

needed to address the importance of setting

now working on developing Quest 200 for DSMs

managers completed the program.

clear expectations. “Don’t just say, ‘sell more,’”

and Quest 300 for RSMs and above. Each level

he says. “We taught them to set crystal-clear

will have different curriculum and higher degrees

THE LOW DOWN

expectations. It’s about holding your team

of leadership. The end goal is to create strong

When Herbie and Kurt developed Quest, they

accountable to specific behaviors that result in

leaders who are eager to grow at RC, or, as Kurt

knew there were four areas of focus: staffing,

more sales.” When it comes to coaching their

puts it, level up. “By store managers leveling up,

training, coaching and accountability. Herbie

team members, store managers learned how

it challenges the DSM and RSM to also level

had been a sales manager for nine years, so he

to show appreciation and hire team members

up,” he says. “By investing in these folks and

knew first-hand what RC managers struggled

who embrace RC’s culture. Instead of asking

giving them the confidence and tools to really

with. This usually included time management,

new hires if they like to make money, store

be great leaders, it challenges people to keep

motivating their teams, striving for professional

managers were trained to ask questions that

moving up.” As it turns out, Quest 100 has also

growth and hiring the right team members.

open a dialogue.

challenged team members to grow personally

Herbie and Kurt spent a full year developing

“The awesome part about this,” Kurt says,

as well. “We found in our young learners a real

Quest’s training material. Each training session

“is we have them embrace what they believe

confidence. A confidence to be OK with who

lasts two days and includes hands-on break out

leadership really means and reflect on what’s

they are and who they are becoming,” Kurt says.

sessions and simulations to test participant’s

important to them. We want to give them the

“They explored authenticity, vulnerability and

understanding of the material. RC Quest is

skills necessary to develop as a leader.” If that

being real. They were served up a heavy dose of

designed to be digestible. “This isn’t a download

sounds a little “tree hugger-ish,” Kurt’s aware,

what it is to be a servant leader, to care for and

where people are drinking from a firehose,” Kurt

but, as he explains, “it’s all about investing in

appreciate others, and they embraced it whole-

says. “This is bite-sized chunks of learning.”

our leaders.”

heartedly.” And that is the soul of Quest.

12

RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

Photos by Ettie Berneking


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PLUGGED IN

ROUND TABLE

TEAM EFFORT Robert Lister might be on the executive team, but he knows it takes every RC team member to run things well across the country.

BETTER TOGETHER There are a lot of ways a new

Raise your hand if you know how the acquisition process works at RC. If you’re hand isn’t in

acquisition can run into challenges, but

the air, don’t worry. Just turn to p.18, and you’ll get a full rundown of how the process works

if everyone follows the Better Together

and how RC onboards new employees who have never been introduced to RC’s culture or

mantra, things certainly go a whole lot

sales process before. It’s an enormous undertaking, and there’s a lot that goes on behind the

smoother.

scenes to make any acquisition successful. There are numbers, performance indicators and ge-

BY ETTIE BERNEKING

ography considerations, but really, there’s one thing that determines whether an acquisition will work or not, and that’s you. “We call it being ‘better together,’” says RC Chief Financial Officer Robert Lister. “It means that no matter what comes our way as an organization, as long as we stay together as a team, we can overcome any obstacle and accomplish anything.” This idea of Better Together has helped RC navigate its way through dozens of acquisitions. It’s helped

14

RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

Photos by Brandon Alms and Ettie Berneking


PLUGGED IN

ROUND TABLE

streamline the onboarding process and nail down the key culture takeaways for new RC

THE WELCOME COMMITTEE Nicole Valentine and Ashley Dale lead the RC Operations team, which plays a vital role in the transformation of stores acquired by RC.

team members. It’s also helped ensure each department involved in an acquisition understands that it’s working within a much bigger team in order to achieve one very impressive goal—bring a new store into the RC family and provide all the new team members with the tools and knowledge they need to thrive.

RAPID GROWTH If you don’t keep track of RC’s growth through acquisitions, don’t feel bad. It’s hard to keep up, and 2019 has been a banner year for the company. By July of 2019, RC had acquired 204 new stores. Compare that to 2018, when RC welcomed an impressive 53 stores to the club, and you start to see how quickly RC is growing. “Each acquisition helps Russell

says. Then there’s the challenge of having to

Cellular expand its ability to provide the best

onboard whole new teams who have already

wireless experience to every customer every

been working together and using an entirely

time,” Robert says. “An acquisition can be

different sales approach.

appealing for a number of reasons, whether

The key is winning over the hearts and

it be geography, vendor relationships, sales,

minds of each new team member joining RC

etc. But at the end of the day, we are putting

and introducing them to the Russell Cellular

our staff in the right place to deliver Verizon

culture. “That’s especially important when you

Wireless products to the customers when

consider a lot of those new team members

and where they want them.”

are probably a little worried about what will

THE PITFALLS

to be willing to share our intentions and plans

happen to their jobs,” Robert says. “We have That growth is good news for RC and offers

with them. This process begins during the

new opportunities to team members, but

acquisition as we get the opportunity to talk

“WE HAVE TO

BE WILLING TO SHARE OUR INTENTIONS AND PLANS WITH THEM.”

—Robert Lister, RC Chief Financial Officer

investing resources so heavily and growing so

to existing leaders of the acquisition company

something.” He also recommends getting

quickly can also be tricky. That’s why Russell

and continues heavily through the onboarding

to know tenured members of the RC team.

Cellular actually turns down more acquisition

process.”

These are the folks who likely have all the

opportunities than it accepts. “People think

answers to your questions and who can

that because we acquire other organizations,

A BIG WELCOME

help you get to know core RC programs

we must want to be the biggest agent with

Not surprisingly, new team members can

like Hedgie’s Hometown Heroes, RC Cares

Verizon,” Robert says, “and that we take

be nervous about the transition to life

and the EEF. “Our team members are the

every acquisition opportunity that comes

with RC. The culture is different. The sales

best example of the Russell Cellular culture,”

our way. But really, we want to be the ‘best’

approach and methods might be different,

Robert says. That means all the tenured RC

Verizon agent, not the biggest.”

even computer programs and logins are

folks need to be giving of their time. They

As for pitfalls, Robert says they can be

new. The onboarding process can seem

need to be present for new members, help

everywhere if you’re not careful. “They can

daunting, but Robert has advice. “Ask

with their trainings, offer advice and share

revolve around bad data, missed deadlines,

questions. We have a great support sys-

lessons learned, and understand that every

bad or non-existent communication, even

tem and are a transparent company, so ask

acquisition goes a lot smoother when RC

sometimes missed legal nuances of the state,

about what you don’t understand and do

performs as one big team. As Robert says,

city, or county the company resided in,” he

not leave yourself wondering ‘what if’ about

it’s simple. “We are better together.” RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

15


PLUGGED IN

GROWTH SPURT

53

STORES

The number of stores RC acquired in 2018. Acquisitions play a big role

BY THE NUMBERS Each issue, we take a look at the numbers to celebrate Russell Cellular’s growth and get a better idea of what’s driving the company forward. This issue, we look at the numbers tied to RC’s acquisitions. BY ETTIE BERNEKING

204

in RC’s continued growth. When the

STORES

company finds a store it thinks would

The number of stores RC acquired in

be a good addition to the RC team, it

2019 by July 1. That’s a 285 percent

evaluates three things. First, it looks at

increase between 2018 and 2019,

that store’s performance. It has to be

and the year isn’t even over yet. All

a successful location for RC to really

that growth requires a dedicated team

be interested. Second, RC considers

to help with the transition. The stores

the new store’s physical location. The

have to be cleaned and flipped. New

geography has to make sense for RC,

inventory and marketing materials have

and it’s best when the company has

to be ordered, shipped, displayed and

team members nearby or who can hop

stored. New team members have to

over easily and support the new crew.

be introduced to the RC culture and

Finally, RC connects with Verizon to

trained. It’s a huge job, and few get to

get input. Verizon’s approval and back-

see all the work that goes into pulling

ing of an acquisition is a must for RC.

off a successful acquisition. Turn to p. 18 to meet some of the team working behind the scenes.

750

MEMBERS

7+

The number of new team members RC

STATES

acquired in 2019 by July. That’s a huge

The number of states RC added to its

jump from 2018, when the company

map in 2019. By the first half of this

brought on approximately 200 new

year, the company acquired stores in

employees through acquisitions.

Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. It also acquired stores in the Washington DC area.

INBOX Each issue, we answer your

RC: When did RC start offering

the employee’s annual wages.

burning questions. Whether

the 401(k)?

Some 401(k) plans restrict the

you’re looking for advice on how

ROBERT LISTER: This started

match to hourly or salary wages,

to improve customer satisfaction

in February 2018 and has been

but our plan matches all wages

or want to learn about ways to

a great addition to our employee

including commissions, bonus-

give back to your community,

benefit package.

es, etc. That makes a difference when comparing 401k plans.

we’ve got answers. This issue,

16

RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

we turned to RC Chief Financial

RC: What kind of a match does

Officer Robert Lister to soak up

RC offer?

RC: What’s the best way to get

some tips on how to get the most

R.L.: The company matches

the most out of a 401(k)?

of the new 401(k) offering at RC.

50 percent of employee dol-

R.L.: We encourage each RC

BY ETTIE BERNEKING

lars invested up to 6 percent of

employee to contribute the

Photo by Ettie Berneking, Illustrations by Alex Wolken


PLUGGED IN

TECH TALK

While 5G is starting to appear across the

on how we’re going to be able to serve our

country, only a selection of Verizon mar-

markets with 5G.”

kets have rolled out the technology to cus-

Since RC is laser-focused on providing

tomers. But that will soon change. As 5G

customers the “best wireless experience to

takes root, Russell Cellular’s Vice President

every customer, every time,” Jeven says all of

of Operations, Jeven Russell, says it will be

the 600+ RC retail stores across the U.S. are

available in at least 30 Verizon markets by

prepared for 5G, even while Verizon and man-

the end of 2019.

ufacturers are still in the process of creating

5G technology boasts lightning-fast down-

compatible devices and equipment.

load speeds of up to a gigabyte per second, Jeven says. On top of that, it will be capable of support-

TECH TALK Wireless technology is an ever-changing landscape, and Russell Cellular is gearing

ing nearly 20 billion connected devices by 2020. That's big news in the wireless industry, which is why Verizon and Russell Cellular have been busy making sure they will lead the charge in rolling out this new technology when

In

“VERIZON HAS A TWO TO THREE-YEAR ADVANTAGE ON WHERE THEY'RE AT IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THEIR TECHNOLOGIES COMPARED TO OTHERS.” —Jeven Russell, Vice President of Operations

the

meantime,

Jeven says the teams that have been working with the technology so far have also been making efforts to educate consumers about “what 5G means [and] why Verizon’s 5G is different than our competitors.” As the cellular industry evolves, Jeven says “there is always a question

it hits the market.

of what that means for

While 5G is relatively new, Jeven says

the future of a retailer or of our industry.”

up for the arrival of the next big thing—5G

Verizon’s 5G network is already superior to that

technology.

of its competitors due to how much energy

ogies and equipment that can handle the

BY JESSICA HAMMER

Verizon has spent developing the technology.

increased capabilities of 5G, it really changes

“When you imagine the different technol-

“Verizon has a two to three-year advantage

how we can support customers,” Jeven says.

on where they’re at in the development of their

“It really is going to change the structure of our

technologies compared to others,” Jeven says.

cities. It’s going to change the way businesses

“Verizon truly is crushing the competition when

run. There is a lot to learn about how Russell

it comes to metrics behind the technologies.

Cellular will support and offer new solutions to

That gives us at Russell Cellular an advantage

our customers.”

maximum amount they can to

individual contribution should

Empower to talk to an account

make changes to your account,

their 401(k) and at least 6 per-

be. Assistance is free and avail-

representative directly.

visit empower-retirement.com

cent of their annual wages to

able online or on the phone.

receive the highest match. RC: How do you calculate how

or call 1-800-338-4015. RC: What happens if you need

RC: How do you know if you’re

to reduce a contribution?

on track to retire?

R.L.: This program is designed

much you need to save in a

R.L.: Staying on track for your

to keep employees in control

401(k)?

retirement goals with your 401k

of their own account. They can

R.L.: The amount will differ

is key. Empower’ s online tools

adjust contributions at any time

for everyone. Empower is our

can show you if you are mov-

and for any reason. Simply log

401(k) program provider and

ing in the right direction. If you

into the individual Empower ac-

can help determine what each

have questions, simply call

count and make the change. To

YOU’VE GOT MAIL Have a question you’d like us to answer? Send your inquiries to RCconnections@ russellcellular.com. RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

17


Russell Cellular celebrated its first acquisition in 2002, but that was just the beginning. The speed at which the company has acquired smaller agents has grown significantly over the past three years. But few know how much work and collaboration goes on behind the scenes to successfully purchase new stores and onboard new team members. It’s time to draw back the curtain and see how RC plans and executes the acquisitions that have helped it become a heavyweight in the wireless retail industry.

BY JULIANA GOODWIN

18

RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

Photo by Brandon Alms


Acquiring a new company is a huge undertaking for any business, but it’s become second nature at Russell Cellular. On average, RC handles five to 10 acquisitions a year, says RC President and CEO Jeff Russell. “We are a growing organization, and we are growing through opening new doors and by acquiring existing companies.” That growth has accelerated during the last few years, especially since 2017 when RC joined Verizon’s Big 6—the program for the six largest Verizon authorized retailers in the country. This honor provided the company with recognition and opportunity for accelerated growth in new markets. By the first quarter of 2018, Russell Cellular had more than 400 stores in 30 states. By the end of the second quarter of 2019, there were 637 stores in 37 states. While there have been some significant acquisitions—the largest happened in 2019 and added 79 stores—usually, the company procures 10 to 15 stores at a time, which Jeff refers to as RC’s “sweet spot.” With this many new stores coming under the RC umbrella on a regular basis, it takes a dedicated crew to make the changeover happen as seamlessly as possible. Every department is involved including IT, solution center, operations, accounting, human resources, marketing and inventory. Here is a step-by-step look at what goes into an acquisition, the teams involved and the transition for new employees joining the RC family.

BEHIND THE SCENES RC does not have specific acquisition goals. Instead, it focuses on smart growth, says Nathan Mindeman, Vice President of Sales Operations. There are three key factors for a successful acquisition. First, RC evaluates if the business it’s looking at runs successful stores. If not, the acquisition would be an uphill battle. Second, RC considers the geography. “Is it in an area of the country we can support? A geographic area where we are currently located?” Nathan explains. “If it’s a new area, great. Who do we have who can support it?” The third and final factor is making sure Verizon is on board with the sale. “We talk to them and ask what they think,” Nathan says. “They need to be behind it.” If all three components are in place, RC is set up for success. Sometimes Jeff Russell is in the market for a new store, but most of the time, a business owner contacts him. “I want to hear about their company and their business,” he says. “Tell me about the culture, what the employee structure looks like. What is most important is making sure there is good retail presence but also that the employee base is going to fit with RC.” To get a better idea if a company is actually attractive enough to buy, Jeff says he looks at geography, 12 months of sales performance and other competitive factors in the market. “Are there other distribution points? If so, how close?,” he says. “Then we analyze it. We are looking for an opportunity to bring on new doors, but we want it to be a good fit.” And not every company is. Jeff says he turns down more stores than he purchases. Once Jeff plugs in the numbers, he can determine within one to two weeks if he’s interested and have an offer ready. Once the two owners reach an agreement, Jeff sends an email to RC’s Home Office and any sales leaders who might be impacted by the acquisition. This is when the flurry of activity begins. The turnaround is quick:

WELCOME ABOARD Kali Crockett, Tina Crewse, Ashley Bumgarner and Danielle Thomas help train new team members who join RC through an acquisition.

typically, there are four to six weeks between the time an agreement has been reached and the transition date. But the purchase itself can happen in as few as 10 days. RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

19


GETTING ORGANIZED When Nicole Valentine, RC Operations Manager, receives Jeff’s email, she starts communicating with the seller. To streamline the process, Nicole handles all communication between the seller and the team at the RC Home Office. That means she deals with everything from significant to minuscule details. “I make sure they are notifying landlords and employees, and I make sure all the dates are set up for shipping,” she says. “We transfer utilities and leases, ship office supplies, make plans for resetting and remerchandising the store. Acquisitions are a big undertaking.” Nicole works with the seller to obtain all of the business’ assets from security systems, fixtures, safes, down to the store layout. She coordinates all those details and streamlines the commu-

A CONSISTENT STRATEGY RC RSMs help with new acquisitions by training and lending support to new team members.

nication back to the RC Home Office and the sales team. Her operations team then handles everything from transferring utilities and leases to

leader. This allows all parties involved to have a

Throughout the two-day training, a lot of

booking hotel rooms for training sessions.

better idea of what was trained, reviewed and

time is spent talking about RC’s culture; the

covered.” Then there’s the training.

TRAINING AND SUPPORT

three pillars of the RC employee experience:

Typically, a regional manager, district man-

opportunity, value and team; and helping new

ager and store manager conduct the face-

team members understand they are part of

Tina Crewse, RC Sales Operations Manager,

to-face training. During training, the acquired

the RC family and the company is here to

helps assist in planning the training and support

stores are shut down and new team members

support them.

for acquisitions from the Home Office. During

spend two days at a hotel conference center

On the third day, new stores have a soft

an acquisition, RC sends existing managers to

to get to know RC. There are presentations,

opening to ensure everything is set up and

the new stores to help new team members, of-

workbooks, hands-on training, role playing

ready to go. If the store and team members

fer face-to-face training and provide additional

and webinars.

are ready to rock, the store officially opens for

weeks of support after the store has re-opened.

“The webinars from Home Office provide

business. It’s on this day when support starts

“There is a lot of planning on the back end

that consistent message from acquisition to

in all locations with other RC employees ready

that begins pretty much immediately after it is

acquisition,” Tina says. “For example, I run the

to help with anything the new crew needs.

announced at Home Office,” Tina says. “We

compensation webinar when we review the

Direct support continues for one to three

pinpoint all the new locations on a map and

comp structure and do practice scenarios, give

weeks with follow up calls from the solution

figure out travel time to and from the hotel to

the group time to work through some things in

center, training team and sales leaders.

find the best locations for training classes, as

the class and provide polls to check their knowl-

well as from store to store. In our largest acqui-

edge before we close the call. The webinar ends

IT Helpdesk Manager, and his team gather

sition, we had 18 teams supporting our newest

with us hanging up, and the face-to-face trainer

and prepare all the equipment the new store

79 locations and 10 training sites.” Tina creates a checklist of items so sup-

then works through a skill drill and answers any additional questions they have.”

While this is happening, Chuckie Coblentz,

will need when it reopens under the RC name. “We put in extensive man-hours to make sure

The first day of training is about the employ-

our staff in the field has the support they

the new locations. RC wants to ensure the on-

ee experience and RC culture. It covers the em-

need at all times to make these transitions a

port teams know what to cover while visiting boarding process remains consistent no mat-

ployee manual, dress code, compensation and

success. We know that if the support isn’t

ter the location. “This also provides us material

policies. Day two is about the customer expe-

there, they won’t have what they need to

that we can easily follow up on,” Tina says.

rience. The goal is to make sure the new team

accomplish the goals we set,” Chuckie says.

“Once the checklist is completed, I review it and

members understand RC’s sales process and

Part of the support Chuckie and the IT team

send it to any department that might need to

how the company works to provide the best

provide is technical assistance for the setup

assist, and it also goes to the location’s direct

experience for customers at each store location.

crew as it flips new stores.

20 RC CONNECTIONS / FALL


BY THE NUMBERS

1994

The Russells open their second Alltel Wireless location.

2002

RC acquires its first store in Springfield, Missouri.

2008

The company acquires 18 stores in Ohio.

2009

The Alltel Wireless and Verizon Wireless merger is completed, which means RC has to convert 100 stores to Verizon

400 stores

stores in a matter of months.

in 30 states were part of the RC

SET UP CREW

team by the first quarter of 2018.

79 stores

While RC associates are being trained, the store itself

were included in RC’s largest

gets a facelift. Angela Shaker, District Sales Manager in

acquisition, which happened in

Pennsylvania, was part of seven acquisitions in two months. In fact, she joined RC through an acquisition. While new employees are in training, Angela and the setup teams remove old merchandise and equipment, clean the interiors and ensure the store is organized. With Chuckie and the

April 2019.

250 employees were part of that acquisition.

IT department helping out over the phone, the setup crew

637 stores

makes sure the internet, phones and RC IT systems are

were part of the RC family by the

working. From there, Nicole and her Operations Team work

second quarter of 2019.

with setup crews to resolve issues including setting up merchandise displays, what to dispose of and resolving property maintenance concerns. All of that gets done in two days. “We start at 7:30 a.m. and finish at 9 or 10 p.m.,” Angela says. “I’ve been there past midnight. It’s hardcore manual

71 stores

were included in another large acquisition the following month in May 2019.

labor, but then it looks great. The team comes in the next day and the computers are working, the internet is working,

is the average time it takes once

employees are notified their company

they have so much new inventory. It’s really cool.” The sup-

is being sold until RC conducts a

port each department gives each other is what makes a flip like this possible. “Every team member is willing to make any adjustment necessary to make sure we reach our end goal,” Chuckie says. “It doesn’t matter if it’s not my job because we all understand that it’s best for everybody.” Angela has also been part of the support staff, which stays on site for about one week. “We go to all the locations

24-48 hours webinar to answer questions.

2 days

is how long it takes to train new employees and flip displays.

4-6 weeks

in the area,” she says. “We tell them our story and help them

is the average time it takes

understand the RC culture,” which includes some special

for an acquisition to be

training. “They may know how to sell,” Angela says, “but we

considered complete.

help them understand the RC way.” RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

21


LESSONS LEARNED “As we grow larger and larger as a company, with our acquisition trainings we continue to strive for more consistency in our message. To help with consistency, we added the webinars from Home Office. For example, HR covers the employee manual, and Inventory covers the price sheet details via webinars from the Home Office. Although this is something we just started in our last two large acquisitions, we found it helpful and plan to continue it going forward.” —TINA CREWSE, SALES OPERATIONS MANAGER 22 RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

"Since I’ve come to work in the IT Department, my favorite part of the job has been doing what I can to drive the expansion of RC. The process has changed a lot over the years, but what hasn’t changed are the amazing people at the core that make these projects successful every time."” —CHUCKIE COBLENTZ, IT HELPDESK MANAGER

“I was most impressed with how patient and friendly everyone was to all of us. I know we probably gave some of them a run for their money as far as patience is concerned. Everyone at Home Office has been such a huge help. The leaders who came out to help us with the transition were extremely knowledgeable and friendly to all of the acquisition employees.” —AMY CHERRY, DISTRICT SALES MANAGER

Photos by Brandon Alms and Ettie Berneking


TEAM Any employee who learns their company

on May 1. “It has been eye-opening and

is in the process of being bought is likely

refreshing to see every aspect was well

going to be concerned for their job, so the

thought out,” he says. “The turnaround

first thing the RC team does is attempt to

time was impeccable. Anything business

put their mind at ease.

related was well executed and methodical.”

“We come in within 24 hours and conduct a webinar and spend an hour talking through

number of existing RC team members who

their questions, helping them understand

came out during the transition to help train

what the transition is going to look like and

and reassure new associates. “When a

let them know we want them to become part

company is bought out, it’s very emotional

of our RC family,” Nathan says. From there, Nathan works with HR to

No acquisition is possible without the support of all RC RSMs, DSMs and the entire Home Office team.

“[RC’s onboarding process] helped with something that can be so emotional. You’re dealing with people’s lives and jobs. When you work for a company, you want to see your vision carry on or you want that vision strengthened. That happened with RC. It was such a seamless transition, it was almost like it was changing hands within a family. ” —ALI ZAIDI, REGIONAL SALES MANAGER

Photo by Ettie Berneking

and employees need reassurance, which is exactly what they got with RC,” he says.

determine what job and compensation

Overall, RC has been able to retain

to offer new team members. The goal is

90 percent of all acquired employees. It’s

to retain as many employees as possible.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

In particular, Ali was impressed by the

a statistic Jeff Russell is especially proud

“That is something that separates us from

of. And there is a reason for that reten-

other companies,” Nathan says. “When

tion. Just ask Amy Cherry, District Sales

we acquire a business, the first thing we

Manager. Cherry was employed by RC

want to do is secure as many existing em-

from July 2015 to August 2018. When she

ployees as we can. We don’t want them to

relocated to a city without any RC stores,

leave. We want customers to walk in and

Cherry joined The Wireless Center. But not

see those same employees, so there is a

long after her move, the store was bought

familiarity there. We want to set them up

by RC in May 2019. “There’s no place like

to win with RC.”

RC,” she says. “The structure, training

Ali Zaidi, Regional Sales Manager in Virginia, joined RC through an acquisition

“The one thing for me is no matter how much you do, something will not go the way you planned it. You can over-organize, over-plan, but when it doesn’t go right, you stay flexible. Be flexible and figure out how to solve a problem.” —NICOLE VALENTINE, OPERATIONS MANAGER

and transparency of the company is unmatched. I’m glad to be home.”

“My philosophy has been to take care of the business you have, and if you do that well, then opportunities will come about. There are a lot of opportunities and there are times in business you have to say no to a good idea. If we are not feeling the fit is going to go well, or geography or the culture of that company is not going to fit ours, we will walk away.” —JEFF RUSSELL, PRESIDENT AND CEO RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM 23


Hedgie

S E L A T a lar as a mascot for ted at Russell Cellu bu de t firs ie dg He his own. Now, on took on a life of so he t bu , ce ren Summit confe mission: “Providing t reminder of RC’s tan ns co a as s rve e.” he se customer, every tim experience to every S the best wireless M AL BRANDON ER | PHOTOS BY BY TESSA COOP

24 RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

Photos by TK Photographer


You’ve definitely seen him. That cute little guy who sometimes appears as a kitschy cookie jar in one of the RC breakrooms or shows up slightly overdressed in a tuxedo on a company t-shirt. Of course, we’re talking about Hedgie, the company’s iconic hedgehog friend. His unassuming and welcoming smile makes him the perfect addition to company swag items, no questions asked. But still, there remains a little bit of mystery behind Hedgie. Where did he come from? What does he represent? And why has he stuck around RC for the last two years? Kym Russell, one of the creators of Hedgie, has the answers about how this familiar creature came to be.

Hedgie’s Origin Story It was 2012, and Kym was in the middle

GIFTS FROM THE HEART Over the years, Kym has received a lot of hedgehog-themed items. These are some of her favorite memories of Hedgie.

of reading Jim Collins’ bestselling book, Good to Great. In fact, the entire RC leadership team decided to read the book as a team-building exercise and in celebration of 20 years in business. Good to Great, as its title suggests, offers insight into how good companies transform into great ones. Spoiler alert: When Kym got to the end of the book, she was pretty disappointed. Collins’ conclusion was that while businesses can learn from these companies and try to emulate them, the odds of other businesses transforming in the same way are low. “He says their success happened organically, almost like it was serendipity that brought the right people to the right place and at the right time, and everything just magically worked out for them,” Kym says. “I thought, ‘Great. Well now what do we do?’ I wanted to know how to achieve greatness at Russell Cellular.” Although she closed the book having learned some sage business advice, she retired Good to Great to the top of a shelf where it gathered dust for a few years.

“I just love getting photos of our team members and their families sporting hedgehog items. Many of the summit attendees say their kids look forward to the trinkets they bring home from the event. I think it demonstrates the comradery we feel as an organization and proves that the RC family culture expands beyond our team members to their families as well. We all work really hard to be great at our work and it makes a huge difference to be able to share our passion with those closest to us. Hedgehogs are a fun way to express our commitment to doing the right things and impacting those around us at the same time. Probably my favorite Hedgie item we have is the cookie jar. They were a huge undertaking for our operations team but having a fun reminder in every RC store and Home Office department was important to me. It is fun to choose the items to fill the “Hedge Fund” throughout the year. I have received some really heartwarming hedgehog themed gifts as well. It’s nice to know you're being thought of in a fun and caring way. I have received the cutest phone case, Tervis cup, coffee mug, Christmas throw and pillow, custom Hedgie cookies, st socks, and the most darling baby blanket when my 1 granddaughter Saylor was born. I am excited about our plan to design even more Hedgie Family items and use the proceeds of these sales to fund employee and community projects.” —Kym Russell RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM 25


Fast forward to 2017, when RC joined Verizon Wireless’s Big 6 retailer program. The leadership team started making plans for

POPSOCKET STYLES

their April summit, and Kym tasked Robert

One way Hedgie has grown is by appearing on RC accessories.

Lister, RC’s CFO, with choosing a book to talk about at the event. To her surprise, he picked Good to Great. Trying to maintain an open mind, Kym gave the book another chance. “I skimmed the book and read some Cliff Notes,” she says. “What was miraculous to me was that five years later, we were exactly in the same place as the good-to-great companies were when they started their journey from good to great. Five years prior, I was just so frustrated because I just didn’t see how it all worked and fit together, but then five years later, I did. We had done the work, and we had grown into better leaders and had done bigger things.” Even though Kym did take away several helpful pieces of leadership advice after reading the book the first time, the takeaway that really stuck with her the second time through was the Hedgehog Concept. Collins based his book on the ancient Greek parable that says, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” In the parable, the fox tries several strategies to capture the hedgehog. He tries sneaking up on him, racing him and even playing dead. But each attempt fails. Time and time again, the fox walks away pricked by the hedgehog’s spines. What the fox doesn’t realize is that the seemingly vulnerable little hedgehog has perfected one thing, and that’s defending himself.

HEDGIE TIMELINE

The RC Leadership team reads Good to Great and learns about the Hedgehog Concept.

October 2017

February 2017

April 2017

Hedgie was born! Russell Cellular joined Verizon Wireless’s Big 6 retailer program, and Kym

Hedgie made his debut as part of the April summit and served as a symbol

RC ships a custom ceramic Hedgie cookie

of RC’s mission toward customer satisfaction.

a reminder of RC’s

2012

Russell began brainstorming themes for the upcoming April summit. She landed on a hedgehog theme. With help from a graphic designer, the first sketch of Hedgie came to life.

26 RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

jar to each store as Hedgehog Concept.

Photos by Brandon Alms; IIlustrations by Alex Wolken, Courtesy of Shutterstock


Collins applies this Greek wisdom to the business world by arguing that organizations succeed if they can identify and focus on the

THE GIFT OF HEDGIE

one thing that they can do best, which is their

Ever since launching Hedgie, RC has found ways to include him on gifts, accessories and office supplies. The little hedgehog was inspired by the book Good to Great.

“Hedgehog Concept.” This means taking time to understand what the company is truly best at doing—not just what it wants to be best at or thinks it should be best at—and sticking to this competency. Through their Good to Great book discussions, the Russells and the leadership team realized RC’s Hedgehog Concept is simple: It’s providing the best wireless experience to every customer, every time. This is now the company’s core competency. With a new sense of excitement about the book, and being the creative planner that she is, Kym got to work coming up with fun swag items to include at the conference. Using a hedgehog as the conference’s icon seemed like a natural fit. In just a few days, she had a Pinterest board littered with tons of hedgehog inspiration. With help from a friend who also happened to be great at graphic design, the two came up with a patented t-shirt design for the conference that featured Hedgie. There he was, in all his black-and-white glory with his untamed spikes and charming red glasses.

According to Kym, she didn’t have a

to fit into that, and if it doesn’t, we need to quit

whole lot of discussion with her friend who

investing our energy on the things that don’t accomplish that.”

Many RC employees first met Hedgie

helped design Hedgie about how he should

when he appeared on the iconic summit bowl-

look. After all, no one on the leadership team

However, Hedgie had other plans. “Hedgie

ing night shirts. The shirts featured a happy

had plans to use Hedgie after the conference.

himself just took on a life of his own,” Kym

Hedgie with the phrase, “Let’s Roll.” He also

“He was supposed to be a one-and-done

says. “People loved him and went hedgehog

appeared on balloons that decked out the

deal, just for the summit,” Kym says. “We

crazy.” Keeping the Hedgie spirit alive, Kym

summit’s welcome desk, and he showed up

wanted to use him to support the book and

found other fun ways to incorporate Hedgie

on hedgehog-shaped cupcakes. It was quite

drive home that it is the one most important

in efforts to boost team morale. The opera-

the reveal party, and it made an impression.

thing we do that matters. Everything else has

tions team regularly sends sweet treats to all

July 2018

November 2018

Hedgie PopSockets debut in stores as part of the RC

Hedgie gets sunglasses as a way of celebrating RC’s recognition as the 2018 Verizon Partner of

Cares initiative.

the Year. Hedgie also got the slogan “Our future is so bright, we’ve got to wear shades!”

Spring 2019

October 2019

RC acquires more than 200 new stores and gains more than 600 new team members. To cel-

RC reveals Herbie Hedgie’s new-and-improved look, as well

ebrate the first half of 2019’s exponential growth, Hedgie appears on swag with his “Bigger and

as his wife Hazel and children Henry and Hadley.

Better Together” slogan. He also shows up as a sticker welcoming new RC family members.

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM 27


HEDGIE EXPERIENCES statement, he stands for much more than Although Hedgie primarily represents the company’s mission means to them. that. We turned to RC family members to learn about what Hedgie was sometimes my only meal. In “I grew up in a family that went without food at times. School lunch PopSocket sales through Carroll, we pay off school lunch accounts for kids. Thanks to the Hedgie in our community while need the RC Cares program, my store is able to help meet this all-too-familiar time.” providing every customer with the best wireless experience, every —CJ Petersen, Store Manager, Carroll, Iowa thankful for Hedgie and what he has “Hedgie has become an extensive part of our daily mission. I am blessing he can bring to families brought to our community. I believe in Hedgie because I’ve seen the where it’s hard to keep the in need. I’ve been that person who struggled, I’ve seen the hard times for each other, and together we lights on. I want others to know that we are a safe zone. We are here Manager, Berryville, Arkansas can be better and build our community up.” —Christy Wall, Store beyond selling PopSockets, and “The wonderful thing about Hedgie’s Hometown Heroes is it goes impact is truly felt. It begins with a extends into our communities. In fact, I would say that is where the our children. To show them opportumindset, and what could be better than to instill that mindset into ute through being there for somenities to give back and connect with the world… We all get to contrib to be felt beyond our backyard.” one else, and in doing so, allow the Hedgie Hometown Hero culture —Kurt Reinhart, Director of Learning and Development

the RC stores throughout the year for popular holidays including Valentine’s Day, spring and fall, so she custom ordered ceramic cookie jars in the shape of Hedgie. These jars are lovingly referred to as “the Hedge fund.”

ACCESSORIZING WITH HEDGIE Since joining the RC team, Hedgie has appeared on all kinds of RC swag including water bottles.

28 RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

Hedgie’s Job Responsibilities Although Hedgie was originally created just

These beloved cookie jars caused the

for the conference, it’s obvious he isn’t go-

Hedgie phenomenon to spread like wildfire.

ing anywhere. There’s no shortage of work

“People just went nuts for Hedgie,” she recalls.

for him, and he is a busy fellow. However,

“I think it might be because of what’s happen-

his main duty is to inspire the RC sales

ing in the market right now. Hedgehogs are just

team. When he speaks, his words are few,

kind of a thing.”

but meaningful. He’s been seen on RC

The demand for Hedgie is still high, so

branding materials where he quips positive

Kym keeps ordering more and more Hedgie

phrases like, “We got this,” and “Let the

items. Now that Hedgie is famous within RC

good times roll!”

circles, you can spot him on cell phone cases,

“The idea I’d really like to drive home

PopSockets and t-shirts. Hedgie socks have

about Hedgie is that he is a fun reminder

now become a hallmark addition to every RC

to focus on what makes us the best.” Kym

Summit. He has fans of all ages, but children

says. “We call that our Hedgehog Concept.

especially love him. Hedgie even appears on

And for us, the one thing we do best is

coloring sheets made to give young, idle hands

provide the very best wireless experience to

something to play with while visiting RC stores.

every customer every time. That’s the one

Team members and their families have started

reason we exist.”

returning the Hedgie love to Kym by sending

But let’s face it, Hedgie is pretty cute, so

her all sorts of hedgehog themed-gifts and

the sales team shares him company-wide.

photos of the hedgehog themed items.

Hedgie even saw his job responsibilities

Photos by Brandon Alms, Ettie Berneking, courtesy CJ Petersen and Christy Wall


Meet the New Family!

HENRY

HERBIE

HAZEL

HADLEY

get expanded and is now the face of RC’s

Hedgie an elevated look and extended family.

community outreach initiative, RC Cares. As

But he’s still the same lovable hedgehog the

ing off his new family. Be on the lookout for

part of RC Cares, The Hedgie’s Hometown

RC family has grown to love.

Herbie and Hazel and their kids, Henry and

Heroes program encourages RC team

“Being respectful of the heart of RC Cares

Hadley, on the next round of hedgehog swag

members to partner with their customers

and what Hedgie has come to represent to

coming your way. Speaking of, did you know

to make a difference in their local school

not just Russell Cellular but also the commu-

a group of hedgehogs is called a prickle?

districts

Customers

nities impacted,” Alex says. “If the design did

Whatever the future holds for Hedgie, he’s

can purchase Hedgie’s Hometown Hero

not invoke a smile or have an innate sense of

optimistic. He recently celebrated RC’s rec-

PopSockets, and each store gets to invest

warmth then it was not up to the standard we

ognition as the 2018 Verizon Partner of the

100 percent of the profits back into the local

were seeking. It was a true labor of love for all

Year. On the celebratory t-shirt, he’s wearing

community.

those involved.”

sunglasses and saying, “Our future is so

and

communities.

In addition, many RC employees proudly

Along with Hedgie’s job promotion to

wear their Hedgie t-shirts while participating in

community spokesman through RC Cares,

By tying Hedgie back to what first inspired

work-organized volunteer days for nonprofits

the hedgehog now has more responsibilities,

his creation, he truly represents the spirit be-

like Habitat for Humanity or Back the Blue.

which is why Alex is working on establishing

hind Good to Great. Going from good to great

branding guidelines on how to use Hedgie. In

is not something that happens overnight. It

other words, Hedgie is becoming even more

doesn’t occur with a single breakthrough or

official, which is a pretty good clue that he is

new acquisition. After all, a sudden revolution

going to be part of RC for the long haul.

does not provide sustainable or long-lasting

What’s Next For Hedgie?

bright, we’ve got to wear shades.”

The RC team revealed Hedgie’s new look

change. Instead, the transformation to great-

This past summer, Hedgie got a makeover

at the October Summit. You’ll notice his smile

ness requires patience and intense effort in a

to match RC’s new logo. RC has been

is a little more pronounced, and that might be

carefully considered direction. The Hedgies

collaborating with 417 Magazine and

thanks to the new pep in his step. After all,

know that, which is why they don’t aim to be

graphic designer Alex Wolken, who gave

Hedgie has gained a first name and is show-

just a fad.

Illustration by Alex Wolken

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM 29


HOME SWEET HOME The RC team in Cleveland, Tennessee, is just as good at swinging a hammer as it is at providing outstanding customer experience.

BY SUSAN ATTEBERRY SMITH

R

ussell Cellular team members in Cleveland, Tennessee, didn’t know Brenda Walker this time last year. She wasn’t an RC customer or employee, but when Walker moves into her new three-bedroom, ranch-style house this fall, RC team members in Cleveland will be celebrating with her. This will be a first—and not only for the 48-year-old mother and grandmother. “I’m the first one in my family to own a home,” she says. Walker’s new status as a homeowner is thanks to her own “sweat equity” and the dedicated volunteers at Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland, which included RC team members who pitched in on build days for Walker’s home this summer. Verizon staffers also joined in on the build as Walker’s home sprung up in Cleveland’s Victory Love subdivision. “Actually, too many people volunteered, which is a good thing,” says RC Regional Sales Manager John Kilgore. For several Russell Cellular volunteers, this year’s Habitat for Humanity wasn’t the first time they could add Home Builder to their resume. Russell Cellular’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity began last year, when Habitat For Humanity of Cleveland sent its Executive Director Tammy Johnson to an RC store after hearing that employees there were looking for ways to get involved in the community through the company’s RC Cares program. RC Cares began a couple of years ago and is spearheaded by Ron Wallace, who serves as Employee and Community Outreach Advocate for Russell Cellular. He’s passionate and energized about RC Cares and its mission, which is to challenge team members to look for ways to invest in their communities. It sounds like a simple goal, but RC Cares is about a lot more than fundraising. “It’s not just check-writing,” Ron says. “We get out 30 RC CONNECTIONS / FALL

BETTER TOGETHER Juliana Warner with Verizon joined Tammy Johnson with Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland and Jason Foster during the build day.

there and serve. It’s hands-on. Caring about people makes a difference. We’re good at selling phones—don’t get me wrong— but we’re also very passionate about helping others.” And last year, RC stores in the Cleveland area did exactly that. To help with that first Habitat for Humanity build, five Russell Cellular stores raised more than $1,500 in a month. From there, Tammy and Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland invited the local Russell Cellular team, which consisted of five local store managers, to come out and build on site. The success of the 2018 build prompted Tammy to invite Russell Cellular and Verizon to take part in one of this year’s Heroes Build projects, which builds new homes for future homeowners who are first responders or military veterans or, like Walker, come from a family of veterans. Both Walker’s father and uncle served in the military, and her late parents are buried in the Chattanooga National Cemetery. Besides sending RC volunteers to help on build days, 54 regional stores competed to sell the most “Hedgie’s Heroes” PopSockets. “Hedgie is Russell Cellular’s hometown hero,” says middle Tennessee District Sales Manager Jason Foster, who joined other RC members in the first build. “All proceeds go right back into the community.” To tap into RC’s competitive spirit, John set a goal of raising $10,000 for the project. “We’ve had people making Photos by Ettie Berneking


TEAM EFFORT

RC members joined in on an RC Cares project that teamed up with Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland.

INSPIRING SUCCESS

John Kilgore helped the RC team meet its fundraising goal of $10,000.

LENDING A HAND

Drickson Toussaint helped Habitat volunteers during the build.

donations and challenging other team members to do the same,” he says. “They’re just a good team. Within their hearts, they just want to help and give to others. And they’re very competitive. You can see that competitiveness on our RC Cares scoreboard.” For each house built, Habitat typically relies on up to 200 community volunteers and raises about $75,000, Tammy says. Future homeowners attend budgeting classes, volunteer at Habitat’s ReStore or office, help build their own houses, and then go on to pay their own mortgages, she adds. Like Brenda, a full-time medical office assistant and a single mother of two, they “usually are people who are hardworking but just have circumstances in life that put Photos by Ettie Berneking

BY THE NUMBERS Some 20 Russell Cellular store managers and eight district managers from the region helped with this year’s build. So did more than a dozen Verizon managers from Georgia and Tennessee. Before Brenda's home was even complete, RC succeeded in reaching its fundraising goal for the build. In fact, RC beat its goal and raised $10,313.80 through PopSocket sales and donations.

them in a lower income bracket,” Tammy explains. “The beautiful thing about Habitat for Humanity is we actually offer a hand up and not a handout.” For Russell Cellular volunteers, the joy of giving a hand up is in getting the chance to give back to their communities, Jason says. “This is going to be four hours out of their day. That’s all it is, but it’s going to start a new life for the people we’re building the house for.” Back at her home build this summer, Brenda couldn’t wait to choose the colors for her new home. “I’m just feeling very blessed,” she says. “It just means so much to me.” For her part, after her home is finished, Brenda hopes to continue volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. “I’m a big believer in paying it forward.” RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

31


LAST WORD

GLOSSARY

SAY WHAT?

MTCE: Mastering the

MBB: Mobile Broadband Devices

Customer Experience

MBBs or mobile broadband devices, are

Like a lot of the training programs at RC,

those handy hotspots that allow custom-

Ready to tap into the EEF or reach out

this one focuses on how to have the best

ers to access the internet anywhere, even

to your AVP? Or, maybe, learn what the

customer interaction possible. But unlike

abroad. MBBs are popular with folks who

heck these terms even mean? Don’t

Catalyst and other mobile trainings, this

live in rural areas who often have trouble

worry, you’re not alone. Even senior

in-person training is led by a district manag-

accessing home internet service, and with

members of the Russell Cellular family

er and is completed within the first 90 days

business travelers who need to stay con-

find themselves sometimes scratching

after a team member joins the RC family.

nected on every trip they take. MBB sales

their heads and wondering what some

count toward the Pull Through KPI on the

of the company’s three-letter acronyms

RQ: RC’s Point-of-Sale Platform

RC Scoreboard, making these devices an

stand for. That’s why each issue, we

If you’ve worked in any retail setting, you al-

important sale to you and your commission..

pick a few different acronyms to define

ready know the importance of having a stel-

and explain.

lar POS. Well, in the wireless world, RQ is

INFO CENTER: Internal Verizon Site

king. There are dozens of wireless retailers

The Info Center is not part of the RC home-

BY ETTIE BERNEKING

who use RQ. It does everything you need

page, but it is one site every team member

from printing receipts to ringing up sales

should check a few times a week. This is

transactions.

CATALYST: A Mobile-Based Learning System Because the wireless industry changes all the time, RC wanted to develop a mobile training platform its team members could access anywhere and anytime. RC also

where Verizon houses helpful information on trainings, promotions and new products they want our teams to know about. If you have a question about a new device or a service, there’s a really good chance all the information you need to know can be found at Verizon’s Info Center.

wanted to take its outdated desktop training and make it mobile-based. They were looking for a platform that allows team members to interact with training material, play games and even ask questions. Luckily, Catalyst does exactly that. RC first rolled out Catalyst almost two years ago, and its 5-minute daily trainings are used by the entire team from sales to Home Office. 32 RCCONNECTIONS / SPRING

Illustration by Alex Wolken


LAST WORD

LIFE OUTSIDE

ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE As a child, Misty Gibson was taught to treat others fairly and never give up. Now, she inspires an entire district with her positivity. BY JENNIFER JOHNMEYER Misty Gibson is an RC veteran. And like many RC team members, Misty—a District Sales Manager for the Arkansas/Oklahoma area— has been with the company for years. This July, Misty celebrated her 12-year anniversary with Russell Cellular and still exudes energy and gratitude about her role within the RC family. Before joining RC, Misty was a stay-athome mom for two years, “I remember passing by the Russell Cellular store and seeing a big reader board that said ‘Now Hiring’,” she says. “I was thinking to myself, ‘Yes! I get to do sales and have adult conversations again.’” Misty applied and landed the job as a wireless specialist at RC’s Booneville, Arkansas, store. It didn’t take long for her

A DECADE AT RC

to thrive. She had monthly meetings with a

Misty Gibson has been with RC for 12 years and still has plenty to accomplish.

teammate to plan how to drive business in her store and utilize the traffic in order to make the coveted “President’s Circle.” It was a lofty

I’m all about the company, policies and doing

superhero movies with her son Blake, and

goal, but Misty was taught to never quit. Her

what I can to help move people forward.”

turns the channel to football and Nascar

mother, Mary Bridges, whom Misty refers to

That stance was behind Misty’s passion to

when her parents are around. She stays ac-

as her hero and biggest supporter, taught her

help out in communities where Russell Cellular

tive by attending Blake’s trap-shooting com-

daughter to work hard, never give up, and

has retail locations. In fact, her team became

petitions, shopping with daughters Cege and

treat others as she would like to be treated.

involved with charitable giving and community

Brooke, spending time with her grandson

After a year, Misty was promoted to senior

fundraising events even prior to the RC Cares

Ealynd, traveling and going out to eat with her

wireless specialist. Soon afterward, a position

initiative. They’ve assisted with disaster relief

husband, Craig, and spending time teaching

for district sales manager opened. “I asked

following the tornado devastation in Moore,

a teenage Sunday School class at her church.

myself what I hoped to gain from this, and

Oklahoma, provided meals for school children

“I know I’m certainly not done yet in my

what I would want my people to learn from

during the Oklahoma teacher’s strike and sent

journey with Russell Cellular,” Misty says. “I

me,” Misty recalls. She decided her main goal

cellphones to soldiers. There is no cause to

still have so much more I want to accomplish

was to be the type of leader who could help

big or too small for Misty to tackle.

before I retire and be a grandma.”

people believe in themselves.

Though Misty is passionate about her

Misty got the position, and her leadership

career and dedicated to giving back, she also

journey began. Her passion for her work still

has a strong work-life balance. “At night I

shines as she talks about her team. “I’m very

like to unwind by reading a good book or by

passionate about this company and all the

watching television,” she says. In her spare

people who work with me,” she says. “If you

time, Misty loves to be with her family. She

asked my team about me, they would tell you

enjoys watching Star Wars and almost any

Photo by Brandon Alms

SHARE YOUR OWN STORY Want to share your story with RC Connections readers? Send your name, title and a brief synopsis of your story to RCconnections@russellcellular.com. RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM 33


July 2018 — June 2019 Recognition TOP OVERALL

TOTAL RAISED

HOME OFFICE CONTRIBUTIONS

RC Cares PopSockets

RC Cares PopSockets

$76,558.50

TOTAL INVESTED RC Cares

381

$59,587.11

RC Cares Donations

$5,220.06

RC Cares Donations

$28,637.25

RC EEF

$22,167.25

RC EEF

DSM JASON FOSTER

RSM EDDIE HASH

RC Donations

$22,167.25

RC OUTREACH PROJECTS

TOTAL

RC VOLUNTEER HOURS

238

$127,362.98

144

TOTAL

$149,446.29

5,000+

RC CARES POPSOCKETS

#1 TEAM MEMBER KRYSTAL ALVARADO

$67,691.93

RC CARES DONATIONS

#1 TEAM MEMBER APRIL TAYLOR

$1,315

TOP STORES

TOP STORES

#1 Berryville-AR 406

#1 Ocean Springs-MS $3,801

Bentonville-AR Pryor-OK Grove-OK Poteau 2-OK Clare-MI Madisonville-TN Cassville-MO Mt Home-AR Stilwell-OK Tahlequah-OK Rayville-LA Ava-MO Springfield 2-MO Mt Grove-MO Buffalo-MO Shawnee-OK Ardmore-OK

Manchester-TN Centerville-IA Durant-OK Lafayette-TN Casa Grande-AZ Cleveland 1-TN Gainesville-TX West Des Moines 2-IA Clarksville-AR Fayetteville-AR Freeport-IL Springfield 1-MO Coldwater-MI Alma-MI San Diego 1-CA Greenville-MI Newnan-GA

Tamaqua-PA West Des Moines 1-IA Brekendridge-TX Monroe 2-MI Sweetwater-TN Benson-AZ Perry-IA Branson West-MO Carroll-IA Houston-MO Mt Pleasant-IA Bolivar-MO McMinnville-TN Tucson 3-AZ Grayling-MI

Madisonville-TN Wiggins-MS Buffalo-MO Venice-FL Houston-MO Carrollton-GA Branson West-MO Marietta-GA Jamestown-TN Cleveland 1-TN Roanoke-AL New Orleans 2-LA Oxford-MS Cedartown-GA Sweetwater-TN Tamaqua-PA Corinth-MS

West Burlington-IA Newnan-GA Morgan City-LA Jasper-TN Columbus 2-GA North Port-FL Sparta-IL Mt Grove-MO Douglas-GA Livingston-TN New Albany-MS Farmerville-LA Roswell 2-NM Springfield 2-MO Englewood-FL Breman-GA Greenville-MS

Alma-MI Milan-TN Jonesboro-LA Blakely-GA Pocahontas-AR Fayetteville-TN Paragould-AR Baton Rouge-LA Woodbury-TN Manchester-TN Fort Walton Beach-FL Columbus-MS Big Stone Gap-VA Ruskin-FL Dunwoody-GA

TOP 5 DSM

TOP 5 RSM

TOP 5 DSM

TOP 5 RSM

1. Jennifer Loghry 794

1. Eddie Hash 2,052

1. Jason Goodloe $5,161.00

1. Chris Lucido $8,373.54

2. Misty Gibson 3. Amanda Mayberry 4. Hakeem Sykes 5. Jason Foster

2. John Kilgore 3. Jeremy Williams 4. Tony Cafeo 5. Kevin Ropell

2. Jason Foster 3. Amanda Mayberry 4. Carey Urquilla 5. Jamie Moorehouse

2. John Kilgore 3. Eddie Hash 4. Mike Frost 5. Bob Kowal

A SINCERE THANKS TO ALL OF THE RC FAMILY

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Russell Cellular Connections | Fall 2019  

Better Together: A look at how RC's growth is driven by a huge team effort. Plus, learn how RC is rolling up its sleeves and helping neighbo...

Russell Cellular Connections | Fall 2019  

Better Together: A look at how RC's growth is driven by a huge team effort. Plus, learn how RC is rolling up its sleeves and helping neighbo...

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