FALL / 19
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!" â€”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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Fifty-four Russell Cellular stores raised more than $4,300 to help with a Habitat for Humanity build.
LEARN MORE ON / 30
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
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
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.
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.
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?
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
do, they’ll come back again and again. Photo courtesy Ettie Berneking
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
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.
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
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
RC: As a District Sales Manager, what’s the best part of your job?
with an unexpected rescue
H.S.: What excites me most is two-fold: It’s getting people paid and
when she needed it most.
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.”
The number of trips to Walmart to buy more hamburger patties
Upcoming Plate Drives Goodloe has planned for 2019
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.”
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
Number of hamburger plates sold
RYLEE’S JOURNEY CONTINUES Follow along with Rylee’s M.E.D. Journey on Facebook at fb.com/ryleesbones
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.”
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.
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
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,
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.”
RC CONNECTIONS / FALL
Photo by Ettie Berneking
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.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
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
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
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
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.
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
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-
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
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.”
heartedly.” And that is the soul of Quest.
RC CONNECTIONS / FALL
Photos by Ettie Berneking
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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
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
RC CONNECTIONS / FALL
Photos by Brandon Alms and Ettie Berneking
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
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
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
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
in RC’s continued growth. When the
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.
The number of new team members RC
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
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,
es, etc. That makes a difference when comparing 401k plans.
we’ve got answers. This issue,
RC CONNECTIONS / FALL
we turned to RC Chief Financial
RC: What kind of a match does
Officer Robert Lister to soak up
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
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
“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
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
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
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-
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
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
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. Itâ€™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
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
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
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
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
The Russells open their second Alltel Wireless location.
RC acquires its first store in Springfield, Missouri.
The company acquires 18 stores in Ohio.
The Alltel Wireless and Verizon Wireless merger is completed, which means RC has to convert 100 stores to Verizon
stores in a matter of months.
in 30 states were part of the RC
SET UP CREW
team by the first quarter of 2018.
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
250 employees were part of that acquisition.
IT department helping out over the phone, the setup crew
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
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.
is how long it takes to train new employees and flip displays.
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
help them understand the RC way.” RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM
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
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
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.
The RC Leadership team reads Good to Great and learns about the Hedgehog Concept.
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
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
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
the Year. Hedgie also got the slogan “Our future is so bright, we’ve got to wear shades!”
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.
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!
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?
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
sunglasses and saying, “Our future is so
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
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
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
RC members joined in on an RC Cares project that teamed up with Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland.
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
MTCE: Mastering the
MBB: Mobile Broadband Devices
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-
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
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
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 â€” June 2019 Recognition TOP OVERALL
HOME OFFICE CONTRIBUTIONS
RC Cares PopSockets
RC Cares PopSockets
TOTAL INVESTED RC Cares
RC Cares Donations
RC Cares Donations
DSM JASON FOSTER
RSM EDDIE HASH
RC OUTREACH PROJECTS
RC VOLUNTEER HOURS
RC CARES POPSOCKETS
#1 TEAM MEMBER KRYSTAL ALVARADO
RC CARES DONATIONS
#1 TEAM MEMBER APRIL TAYLOR
#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
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...
Published on Oct 1, 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...