SPRING / 19
ACROSS THE GENERATIONS Learn how the Russells grew their family business into a national operation that still feels like home.
Photos by TK Photographer
5624 S. State Highway FF, Battlefield, MO 417-886-7542, russellcellular.com
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 AREA VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES Brad Boman AREA VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES Daniel Hyder AREA VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES Anthony Badalamenti DIRECTOR OF LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT Kurt Reinhart EMPLOYEE AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH ADVOCATE Ron Wallace
FROM THE FEED
Visit our social media sites to learn about the latest developments from Russell Cellular.
FACEBOOK.COM/RUSSELLCELLULAROFFICIAL @RUSSELLCELLULAR @RUSSELLCELLULAROFFICIAL FACEBOOK.COM/RUSSELLCELLULARCARES @RCCARES
MARKETING MANAGER Jenn Darden
NEED TO REACH OUR INBOX? 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 CLAIRE PORTER / MANAGING EDITOR JENNA DEJONG / EDITORIAL ASSISTANT EVAN GREENBERG / STAFF WRITER LINDA HUYNH / SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHER CONTRIBUTING WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS Jennifer Adamson, Lucie Amberg, Tessa Cooper, Jenn Darden, Julie Davis, Juliana Goodwin, Laina Morehouse, Lillian Stone GARY WHITAKER / PUBLISHER LOGAN AGUIRRE / PRESIDENT/ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER MEGAN JOHNSON / VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS & CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS AMMIE SCOTT / VICE PRESIDENT OF STRATEGY AND SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE JOAN WHITAKER / VICE PRESIDENT OF FINANCE
IF YOU HAVE STORY IDEAS, QUESTIONS, OR FEEDBACK YOU CAN ENGAGE WITH US AT:
RCCONNECTIONS@ RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE DIGITAL EDITION OF RC CONNECTIONS, VISIT RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM/STORE/ABOUT RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM
PARTNER OF THE YEAR
NEW HOME OFFICE
It’s hard to believe Russell Cellular has been
When Russell Cellular first started, no one ex-
Big things are happening in Battlefield,
around for 25 years. What started as a door-
pected the small Missouri-based company to
Missouri. The Russell Cellular home office is
to-door sales operation out of the trunk of a
make a big splash. But RC has never been
moving into new digs to make room for the
car has grown into a national company. If you
one to settle for second place. Last year, the
growing sales-support team. The building will
don’t know the story and the legend of RC,
company beat the odds—and some major
have virtual meeting spaces for better compa-
it’s about time you did! Learn how RC started,
competition—when it was named Verizon’s
ny-wide communication, and the home office
grew and continues to grow.
Partner of the Year.
team will reunite under one roof again.
CONTENTS 4 / SPOTLIGHT
6 / HEDGIE’S HEROES
17 / PLUGGED IN
Three tries and a lot of hard work later, this RC go-getter is thriving.
RC helped 32 kids in Missouri show up to school in style.
This customer’s story of how a Hum device saved her life will make you add one to your car ASAP.
5/Q&A Grab a pen and take notes on these tips for connecting with customers.
8 / WEEK IN THE LIFE You might not know Dalton Dale, but his job makes or breaks yours.
RC Connect is changing how the RC family communicates.
5 / LIFE AT RC It’s about time you learned about the Russell Cellular EEF.
14 / ROUND TABLE
10 / PILLAR TALK
When disaster struck one family in Clare, Michigan, these two RC team members stepped up to help out and give back.
RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
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 hopefully help you speak the language.
Two RC veterans share how much the sales strategy has changed.
Think you know what Russell Cellular’s three pillars are? We’ve got the inside scoop.
6 / RC CARES
11 / TIPS OF THE TRADE Connecting with customers is as easy as 1-2-3.
16 / GROWTH SPURT After 25 years, RC has some big numbers to celebrate, and there’s no sign of slowing down.
16 / INBOX Why launch a magazine? You asked, and we answered. Turn the page to find out what inspired us.
33 / LIFE OUTSIDE Atlanta Area District Sales Manager Drickson Toussaint gives back on and off the clock.
Photos courtesy Russell Cellular, Jenn Darden, Kurt Reinhart, Drickson Toussaint; by Linda Huynh
BY THE NUMBERS This issue has plenty to celebrate and get excited about. From new hires to heartfelt donations, here are some of our favorite numbers you’ll find in this edition of RC Connections.
In 2018, Russell Cellular gave $3,200 to the charity Kids’ Closet in Springfield, Missouri, which provides new clothes for area foster children in need. Thanks to that donation, 32 foster kids in Springfield got to shop for new school clothes.
LEARN MORE ON / 6
HUM DEVICE All it took was one new Hum device to help save the life of a customer when things went wrong while she was behind the wheel.
LEARN MORE ON / 17
NEW STORES RC enjoyed some impressive growth between 2013 and 2018. More than 246 stores were added to the fold during that time. When the company celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, it had 439 stores.
LEARN MORE ON / 16
KYM When we decided to launch this magazine, we had a lot of team members wondering why. Why put resources into a publication that would only be seen by Russell Cellular family members? Our answer is simple: We’re launching RC Connections because we want to connect with our RC family members across the country. Over the past 25 years, RC has spread out across the nation. As we’ve grown, it’s become harder to stay in touch with our team. That’s why we are always looking for ways to stay connected to each other and to our vision of who we are as a company. Long gone are the days when Jeff and I could circle through neighboring states to share our message with team members before returning home. Russell Cellular has spread from coast to coast, and our RC family is now more than 2,000 team members strong. But even as we’ve grown, we’ve managed to still feel like one big family. Jeff and I have certainly not built this business alone. It has been the daily effort of each RC employee that has made this dream a reality. As we celebrate
RC’s 25th anniversary, we want to celebrate you. We also want to reflect on what we’ve accomplished including being named the Verizon Partner of the Year (turn to p. 24 to read more)—and get excited about new things to come like the opening of our new home office in Missouri (turn to p. 30 for more). RC Connections is our chance to celebrate you because what you do every day really matters. It matters to your customers, but it also matters to all of your team members. Everything each of us does every day is what makes us better than we were yesterday. As a company, we have incredible momentum. I hear it in conversations at the home office, and I can see it in your leaders. Together, we are a winning team, and I hope this magazine helps you believe that, too.
ON THE COVER
This issue’s cover features a pho-
For some words of wisdom and a little insight, we turned to one RC store in Springfield, Missouri, to get a few tips on how to connect with any customer.
to from the groundbreaking of the
LEARN MORE ON / 12 Photos courtesy Jenn Darden, Russell Cellular; by Linda Huynh, Ettie Berneking
new RC home office. Pictured are Sally Lane, Kym Russell, Jeven Russell, Saylor Russell, Kayla Russell, Layton Alsup, Jeff Russell, Susan Russell. (Not pictured: Brandon Alsup) RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM
TEACHING SUCCESS Chris Lucido has climbed the corporate ladder since joining Russell Cellular, but he credits his success to his team, mentors and company culture. He says the company gives its employees the tools to succeed. BY JULIANA GOODWIN
When Chris Lucido joined Russell Cellular nine years ago, he realized his professional life was about to change. Lucido came from a smaller company that was acquired by RC. The company only had seven stores, and at that time Russell Cellular had 100. Lucido immediately liked the RC culture, the dedication to customer service, all the training and the family atmosphere. Today, the 31-year-old New Jersey native is one of the company’s regional sales managers. He oversees stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. “I started as a rep
Lucido’s team’s name is DYNASTY, and it’s
It’s also great that Lucido’s position at RC
and worked my way up to assistant manager,
a group of people who, he says, “want to do
presents new challenges almost every day.
then to store manager, district sales manager
better every day and work hard.” There are
No two days are the same. Duties can range
and now regional sales manager,” Lucido says.
245 associates on team DYNASTY, including
from daylong meetings to seeing the Saints
If it sounds like an easy move up the ladder,
nine district managers. Lucido is in charge of
in the Playoffs with Verizon partners. At RC,
think again. Lucido applied for the regional
leading them all, and he credits his team with
Lucido says he’s found an amazing team,
sales manager position three times. Instead
his own success.
mentors and the best opportunity of his life.
of giving up, Lucido listened to his mentors—
Daniel Hyder and Jeff Russell. Under their tu-
hard-working, energetic and motivated people
telage, Lucido stayed focused and worked on
is my fuel,” he says. His team is also a group
improving his performance and management
of big-hearted people who are involved in the
Chris Lucido has grown as a manager at
skills. That work finally paid off.
community, which is another big part of the
Russell Cellular, and he’s learned a few
Russell Cellular culture.
helpful lessons along the way.
Lucido has now held his regional sales manager position for three years. In that short
The team has participated in and helped
time, his responsibility went from overseeing
organize fundraisers for Alzheimer’s, Habitat
18 RC stores to 61. Currently, Lucido spends
for Humanity, Children’s Cancer Centers and
half the year on the road or in the sky.
a fishing tournament in Biloxi, Mississippi, that
“We are in a business where every day something changes,” he says. “Being able
benefited the Children’s Youth Program and Police Athletic League.
to navigate and adapt to different changes
“Being involved in the community is part
and challenges is critical to understanding
of who we are,” Lucido says. “Russell Cellular
our business and what is at stake. Our team
understands that the employees are the back-
steps up every week to meet challenges,
bone of our company. Great employees make
and they do it with purpose and passion.”
RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
Lucido focuses on four things: staffing, training, coaching and accountability. “You must have great people before you can achieve success,” he says. “We coach and mentor our people so they are set up for success. After we have done our part, it is their turn to create their own story of success.” Lucido has learned a lot from his boss and mentor, Daniel Hyder. “I learned it is ‘Our team.’ They create the culture of success,” Lucido says. “They have done such an awesome job!”
Photos courtesy Laina Morehouse
LIFE AT RC
DIALING INTO SUCCESS
EMPLOYEE EMERGENCY FUND
As District Sales Manager for Russell Cellular, Holly Fain is responsible for
Life throws some curveballs. Russell Cellular is here to help
managing and driving sales at four
you catch them.
stores in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Find
BY LUCIE AMBERG
out how she puts customers first, stays up to date on technology and handles
When emergency knocks on
stress in a market that's growing faster
the door, financial hardship
have faced emergencies or
than you can text.
often follows. Illness, fire and
times of need, he’s encour-
BY JENNIFER ADAMSON
RC CONNECTIONS: What does a typical workday look like for you? HOLLY FAIN: I start my day off in my home office where I address emails and reporting. Then I visit a store location. I engage with all of the team members and then spot check and address all items and operations in the store. I also have a one-on-one conversation with the store manager. Throughout the day, I engage with my whole team to drive sales. I wrap up my day back in the home office. Some days, there can be a few conference calls, interviews, training classes or meetings. R.C.: How do you encourage your team to connect personally with such a large customer base? H.F.: My team connects with our customer base by maintaining lasting relationships. It starts when they are in our store. We create a positive first impression, get to know them by asking questions and by building a rapport and connect their needs and interests personally to our different products to make their lives better. We call our customers to follow up with sales. We work to give them a
natural disaster can derail even
aged them to apply to the EEF.
the best-laid plans. In times of
He’s also personally reached
need, Russell Cellular provides
out for emergency assistance
support through its Employee
through the fund, so he knows
Emergency Fund (EEF).
the impact it can make.
is eligible to apply to the EEF
after a 90-day introductory
to go when you feel like you
period. Applications are sent
have nowhere to turn,” and
to district and regional sales
he particularly values that this
managers before being sent to
“somewhere” is his own com-
pany. “It’s incredible to know
for approval. It’s one of the
the company is there for us,”
many ways #RCCares.
he says. “You hope you’ll never
Qualifying employees can
have to use it, but if you need
receive assistance just when
it, it’s there. It's just one of the
they need it most, and the
many reasons why I love this
program is funded through
contributions from colleagues throughout
He’s seen the EEF fill the gap for practical needs, like
utility bills, as well as emotional
to the EEF at any point and
ones—like a gift for the child
R.C.: How do you stay up to date with today’s rapidly changing
in any amount. “Giving is a
of an employee facing unfore-
matter of the heart, and the
seen hardship. Medrano says
H.F.: In this industry, the latest technology is always at the tips of
amount is completely up to the
the program works because
our fingers. We become the experts on the latest wireless devices
employee,” says Ron Wallace,
it’s supported by employees.
personalized experience that keeps them coming back.
sold in our stores, new trainings available and peer support when
we have questions. And if there’s ever anything I’m not sure about,
Outreach Advocate. “There is
I just use Google.
no amount too small or too big for that matter.”
R.C.: What do you do to unwind from a busy day?
“Every penny adds up,” he says. “It’s for us and because of us.” Wallace agrees. He says, “When an employee invests in the EEF, they’re investing in
H.F.: It took some time to learn how to manage the stress with this
TIME OF NEED
team members who are going
job. I had to learn not to worry about things I can’t control and take
Jose Medrano is a District
through emergency situations
action on things I can. I know there is a solution to every problem
Sales Manager in Southern
they didn’t expect. They can
that comes up and that I can handle it. I try to unplug as much as I
California, and he’s supported
know they’re doing their part
can in the evenings and spend time with my family. I enjoy traveling
the EEF since he first learned
and making a difference in
and vacations. It helps to take a break. Cooking and yoga at home
about it. “I signed up for it
someone else’s life at a time of
help me relax.
that night,” he says. When
Photo courtesy Holly Fain
GIVING BACK When Merry Adkins and Becky Carlton heard about the car accident Malissa Lambert’s son had been in, they immediately sprang into action and used the resources of Russell Cellular to help a family in need. BY EVAN GREENBERG
Becky Carlton and Merry Adkins work at Russell Celullar’s office in Clare, Michigan. One day, they stumbled across a Facebook post detailing the car accident fellow Michigan resident Malissa Lambert’s son had been in. Carlton and Adkins didn’t know the Lamberts, but they knew they wanted to do something to help. So they approached their store manager about using Russell Cellular’s charity initiative, RC
Cares, to raise money for the Lambert family.
Sales from Hedgie PopSockets can be used to fund a charitable project through RC Cares.
Their plan was simple: They would use the funds from sales of the Hedgie PopSockets to help the Lamberts.
the communities in which it operates. “These
their spirits. The Lamberts’ story was a
They knew how much time Lambert was
communities and customers are there for us,”
personal one in particular for Adkins. She
spending at the hospital in Ann Arbor—a two
Adkins says. “They purchase our phones;
had been a single mother of three kids, so
hour drive from the family’s home in Harrison.
they come in; they do service with us and
she understood the responsibilities Malissa
They knew how tough it was on her as a
we just want to help out.”
Lambert was shouldering. With that in mind,
single mother to stay strong and juggle her
Adkins and Carlton also recognized that
Carlton and Adkins reached out to Lambert
responsibilities while her son was in the hos-
with the holidays coming up, giving back to
and explained what it was they wanted to
pital. They also wanted to show, that as a
the Lamberts and treating the family to a
do. Small communities like the ones they
company, Russell Cellular truly cares about
surprise could be a fantastic way to boost
live in are tight, Adkins says, and if there’s
HEDGIE’S HEROES LOCAL LOVE
One example of RC’s philanthropic spirit is RC
In 2018, Russell Cellular's
Cares—an initiative helping communities RC serves. To raise money, stores sell “Hedgie’s Hometown Heroes” PopSockets. In Springfield,
Closet in Springfield, Missouri, using funds from PopSocket purchases and employee
which provides clothes for foster children. “There’s
donations from its HQ team. In
more to RC than just phones,” says Ron Wallace,
the past, Russell Cellular has
A TEAM EFFORT
“We care about our communities, and we want to
RC team members Nickie Pentecost, Keke Rover and Ron Wallace presented a donation to Kid’s Closet—a charity in Springfield, Missouri.
make a positive impact in the lives around us.”
RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
donated $3,200 to Kids’
Missouri, RC donated $3,200 to Kids’ Closet,
Employee and Community Outreach Advocate.
Springfield, Missouri, team
BY JULIANA GOODWIN
focused on supporting foster kids and families, and when they learned about the mission of Kids’ Closet, Wallace says it “was a no brainer.” Photos by Linda Huynh, Jenn Darden
The money Carlton and Adkins raised in just seven days from selling the Hedgie PopSockets.
The total amount of money raised for the Lambert family.
When Lambert arrived at the store around
Hedgie PopSockets come in designs to match your style.
the 2018 holidays, she was overwhelmed. She was particularly struck by the personal details Carlton and Adkins had assembled
anything they can do to help, they’re going
like the board games. Overall, it was a big
to do it. As Carlton tells it, when she gave
success for RC Cares.
Lambert a call, Lambert immediately broke
Adkins and Carlton aren’t the only ones
down crying. “She was so overwhelmed
participating in the RC Cares program. This
and didn’t realize that the community cared
type of action can be taken at any Russell
so much,” Carlton says.
Cellular location at any time. Carlton and
To put their plan into action, Adkins
SPREADING HOLIDAY CHEER Melissa Lambert (back left) stopped by the RC store in Clare, Michigan, to pick up the Christmas presents the employees purchased for the Lambert family during a time of need. (Left to right) The store’s RC team including Casey Mates, Becky Carlton, Merry Adkins, William Usher and Patty Hood were at the store to celebrate with Lambert.
Adkins are hoping the success of the Hedgie
and Carlton made some calls and started
PopSockets they sell can fund initiatives of
raising funds through the sale of Hedgie
their choosing as they collect money through-
PopSockets. They didn’t want their do-
out the new year. They have a few ideas in
nation to be an empty gesture. They
mind, perhaps supporting military families or
raised nearly $300, and handing Lambert
children in foster homes in their county. What
a check wouldn’t suffice. This had to be
matters is that they created something last-
special. Carlton had a friend who knew
ing and worthwhile that is making an impact
the Lamberts and knew the sons were
on the lives of others in the community. Even
big fans of the University of Michigan, so
small gestures have a big impact, which is
they bought them U of M shirts. They also
why Russell Cellular is focused on showing
knew the family liked to play board games.
that RC truly does care.
RC CARES IN YOUR COMMUNITY RC Cares is one easy way for Russell Cellular associates to make donations and help those in need. To participate, take similar action to Carlton and Adkins with PopSockets, or choose your own way to build up a reserve to donate at the end of the year to a worthy cause. If several branches within Russell Cellular participate, it fosters the sense of community and giving the company wants to maintain and grow. This also allows employees to be active in their community and display that they care about the needs and problems of area families and customers.
Kids’ Closet is part of Ambassadors for Children, which falls under the umbrella of the Council of Churches of the Ozarks. The program focuses on increasing self-esteem of kids in foster care, says Keke Rover, Director of Ambassadors for Children. Kids’ Closet is a boutique where foster children can shop twice a year for new clothes. On each visit, kids receive three new outfits, underwear, socks, a coat or jacket, pajamas and a gift card to buy shoes.
Every month, 110 kids come to
Each year, Russell Cellular picks a
Kids’ Closet, which for many might
variety of projects that will receive
be the first time they have ever
donations from the company. “The
received new clothing. The average
heart of Russell Cellular has al-
shopping trip costs $100 per kid, so
ways been to give back and make
the generous donation from Russell
a difference, and our teams are
Cellular helped 32 children walk
always looking for opportunities to
away with new outfits. “Oh man, it
give back,” Wallace says. In 2019,
is amazing,” Rover says. “There's
“We want to both highlight our
something about being able to pick
different hands-on outreach efforts
out your own clothes, something
as well as encourage our teams to
that is brand-new, that really does
get more actively involved serving
something for self-esteem.”
RC is always looking for new ways to get involved in the community. So if you have an idea for an RC Cares project, spread the word. Wallace says if RC employees have an idea for an outreach project of their own or have recently been involved in an outreach project in their community that they would like to share with the company, they can share their ideas, stories and pictures by sending an email to RCcares@russellcellular.com.
Photos by Linda Huynh, courtesy of Russell Cellular
WEEK IN THE LIFE
A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF DALTON DALE
BY LUCIE AMBERG
Dalton Dale manages Inventory Operations at Russell Cellular. As he says, “When product comes in, we’re moving it in, dealing with it and moving it back out.” Considering the amount of inventory traveling through the company each week, it’s a big job—and it’s a job that impacts virtually every team member at the company. Since joining RC in 2012, Dale has worked in a number of roles. He’s moved up the company chain from sales representative to even landing a gig as a district sales manager. Because his current role is so critical to the success of other departments, he values the insight these experiences provide. Dale oversees two teams, one that focuses on retail support and one that works hands-on with the incoming inventory. He stays busy but still makes time for professional development. “Our industry is constantly changing, and we have to evolve with it,” he says. “I’m always asking, ‘How do we get better?’”
MONDAY PLANNING AND COMMUNICATION Morning: Organization is key— especially on Mondays. Dale sorts and prioritizes his email inbox, checks time sheets and makes time for the Catalyst training program. Afternoon: Dale blocks off his afternoons so he has time to stop and connect with his team. The group discuses deadlines and projects coming up that week. “Effective communication helps everyone accomplish the things they’re trying to accomplish,” he says.
TUESDAY COMPLETING SHIPPING TO RETAIL STORES Morning: Inventory transfers are shipped on Mondays and Tuesdays, so this is a busy day for the whole team. They ship to 250 to 350 locations each week. “It’s loud, and it’s busy,” Dale says. “There’s a lot of movement.”
RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
Afternoon: Dale reviews the purchase orders and determines how many are overdue or need to be reconciled with retail stores. Afterwards, the retail support team receives weekly purchase order recaps, which keep the department on track with the retail stores depending on them. Dale also makes sure to give shout-outs to team members who’ve met their goals and deadlines.
WEDNESDAY FOLLOW-UPS AND FORECASTS Morning: Dale helps oversee the trade-in program. On Wednesdays, he puts together trade-in reporting, and the retail support team touches base with stores about the status of their trade-ins. Afternoon: With a busy calendar ahead of him, Dale has learned to block off this section of the day to think through what's coming up next week. “So much of what I do is problem solving, planning and forecasting for what’s ahead,” he says.
ALWAYS ON THE MOVE Dalton Dale’s job has him on his phone practically all day.
THURSDAY DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH
FRIDAY WRAPPING UP AND ENDING STRONG
Morning: The day starts with a conference call about the trade-in program, which brings together partners from other areas of Russell Cellular as well as partners from Verizon and HYLA. Dale helps manage the inventory logistics of this critical process. Every other week, this call is followed by a conference call with iQmetrix.
Morning: Dale touches base with the RC returns team and evaluates how the week turned out before he starts planning what’s next. By dedicating some time to scheduling the upcoming week, Dale can make sure his team is setup for success.
Midday: The retail support team follows up on overdue transfers. Afternoon: “Afternoons tend to be when my creative side comes out,” Dale says. It’s why he uses this time to move forward on long-term goals like developing inventory training.
Afternoon: He generates reports for long-term processes like accessory counts for the retail support team. “Since these processes take the entire month, I put together a progress report every Friday,” Dale says. “Retail support team members can then plan the next week or even the rest of the month based on the current status.” Photo by Linda Huynh
RC EMPLOYEE EMERGENCY FUND PURPOSE: The purpose of the Russell Cellular Employee
QUALIFYING EMERGENCY SITUATIONS FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE:
Emergency Fund is to support valued team mem-
Natural disaster, fire, funeral costs for spouse or im-
bers when emergency situations arise beyond their
mediate family (immediate family includes Parent,
control causing unexpected financial hardships. The
Step-Parent, Sibling, Children, Step-Children, Father
fund will be maintained through employee, company,
or Mother-In-Law, Grandparent, Step-Grandparent,
and outside donations. All donations will be held in
Grandchild, Step-Grandchild, or any dependent person
living with the employeeâ€™s household), being a victim of a crime causing financial hardship (could include crimes
causing bodily injury, domestic violence, theft, etc.), and
Any full time employee becomes eligible after a 30-day
acute medical illness of self or immediate family.
introductory period, then 1st of the month following a 60-day waiting period.
PROCESS: Anyone seeking financial assistance from the fund will
need to fill out an application found at RChome.co and
The maximum amount of assistance the fund provides
forward it to their District and Regional Sales Managers.
to a team member is $500.00 per occurrence or one
The DSM and/or RSM will in turn, forward applications
weekâ€™s salary, whichever is less. During any two-year
to RCcares@russellcellular.com for approval. Once
period, an eligible team member may not receive, in
approved, funds should be available within 72 hours. All
the aggregate, an amount equal to more than the
funds received will be considered grants, not loans, and
still subject to normal employment tax.
PILLAR TALK Everyone knows what the three pillars at Russell Cellular are: opportunity, value and team. But do you know what each of them really means or how they came to be? If not, you’re in luck! RC Vice President of Sales Operations Nathan Mindeman has the inside scoop for you. BY NATHAN MINDEMAN
OPPORTUNITY We want to be a place where everyone can work successfully. For those employees who just want to be the best wireless specialist they can be, we want to help them achieve that. We also want to provide opportunity to help people develop professionally and improve their skills. We teach our managers how to address coaching moments but to do so in a way that the individual can see how they can benefit from improving their abilities. We hired Kurt Reinhart as our Director of
Learning and Development to improve our
Area Vice Presidents of Sales Anthony Badalamenti, Brad Boman and Daniel Hyder spoke at the RC 25th anniversary.
leadership capabilities so we can empower
Jeff and Kym or our executive sales leaders
opportunities. He’s spent the past two years
in person very often. It’s been one of those
Team is a term that can be overused, yet it’s
developing our leadership strategy. (Turn your
natural growing pains, but it has meant that
really important that our employees under-
attention to p. 12 to learn more.) One thing
it’s now harder for our team to feel valued and
stand you can’t succeed on your own. You
that’s come about as a result of Kurt’s work is
recognized from senior leadership.
RC team members to make the most of their
need a team. Yes, you can enjoy success in
the new RC Quest Store Manager Program. It
Showing value to our team members is
the short term. You can be solely focused on
is our goal to teach every store manager how
more important than ever. That’s why, in 2011,
your own results and production, but you’re
to effectively communicate and coach their
we decided that “value” needed to be one of
going to run people over doing that, and you
team members in their store in order to help
our three pillars of employee experience. We
won’t create long-term success for your-
need to reward and recognize people who are
self or your store. A fully functioning team
contributors to our success. It’s also important
environment is needed for future success.
everyone reach their full potential.
that the recognition isn’t just from leadership.
We firmly believe that part of why Russell
I can vividly remember when I was a new sales
We also show value to each other. We have to
Cellular has succeeded for so long is that
rep. Jeff and Kym would come to northwest
do that through calls, emails, shout-outs and
we’re all in this boat, rowing together, mov-
Arkansas where my store was and where
face-to-face comments. In any form possible,
ing the team forward. We help each other
we had other stores in that same area. We
we need to continually encourage each other.
succeed. It doesn’t matter what position you
always had a monthly meeting at a restaurant,
We have to keep that RC culture of respect for
have; we all have our piece we need to do,
and Jeff and Kym went over sales figures and
everyone. You don’t need to wait for Jeff or a
our piece of the puzzle that is vitally important
recognized people who were top performers.
sales leader to come to your store to say you
to the team. We can only succeed together,
That was really cool and a lot of fun. But as
did a good job. Instead, you can show value to
and it needs to be about the team.
we’ve grown, our team doesn't get to see
each other every day.
RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
Photo courtesy Russel Cellular
TIPS OF THE TRADE
BEST PRACTICES At Russell Cellular,
establishing and maintaining a relationship with customers is key. Thankfully, there are
guidelines you can follow to ensure the road to success is as easy as 1-2-3. We headed to RC’s Springfield 2 store to talk with Store Manager Pedro Alvarenga, Assistant Store Manager Brandon Benoit and Wireless Specialist Carinne Gann to learn about
their tips and tricks for connecting with customers and staying in touch even after completing a sale. BY EVAN GREENBERG
ESTABLISH A METHOD
STAY IN TOUCH
CATALOG YOUR ACTIVITY
The Lasting Relationship Method or TLR is
The seller/customer relationship does not end
If you don’t already use RQ, you should. RQ
about staying consistent and diligent in your
at point of sale. Benoit calls customers back
provides employees with a database where
communication with customers and making
a few days after the sale to make sure they’re
they can track their activity with custom-
sure they know you care about their needs.
happy with the device. “I remind them I’m here
ers, take note of things they might need to
Listening to them and understanding what
for the life of the device,” he says. Keeping in
remember and insert alerts for any action
they’re looking for illustrates you care about
contact with a customer is a vital way to en-
that might need to be taken. “It’s kind of
setting them up for success. “You ask those
sure they return to Russell Cellular for future
like our form of Google Docs,” Gann says.
questions with true empathy,” Alvarenga says.
purchases. RC employees can create lists of
“We can go in and start a new activity for
“That’s why people shop at RC. We take time
customers with notes about call-backs and
a customer, and that remains on their pro-
to ask questions and remember them when
product updates. “This is our CET system,”
file.” Setting reminders is a useful exercise,
they come back.” For Gann, it’s not about
Alvarenga says. “It’s our customer experience
too. Anytime employees log in to RQ, those
selling the customer a phone. “We focus on
tracker. We use this with every customer, and
reminders will pop up and serve as a help-
the interaction,” she says. “It’s much more of a
it allows us to ask helpful questions while in-
ful alert. Everyone’s approach to RQ might
relational process. We get to know about the
teracting with each customer.” There’s never
vary, but Alvarenga likes to add notes to
customers.” That includes learning how they
a guarantee a customer is aware of the newer
customer profiles while they’re still in the
use their cellular devices. Could they benefit
products and protections Russell Cellular has
store. “I usually do it when I get done talking
from a tablet or a hot spot? Do they travel for
to offer. “It’s about coming up with my own list
with a customer or while I’m still talking to
work? “I’m not just trying to sell them some-
of people to reach out to, seeing how they are,
them,” he says. “It’s something that’s pretty
thing when they walk in,” Benoit says. “I want
letting them know without pressure that we
quick and easy to setup.” Then once a new
to know what brought them into the store and
have new services available,” Gann says. “It’s
promotion starts, Gann and Alvarenga can
figure out what it is they’re searching for, so I
about getting them into the store and seeing
see which qualifying customer profiles pop
can guide the conversation to what they need.”
what I can do for them.”
up and reach back out to them.
Illustrations by Alex Wolken; Photo by Linda Huynh
A CLEARER PERSPECTIVE With RC Connect, leaders at Russell Cellular are changing the way employees communicate and understand how each of their responsibilities and jobs interact with one another. BY EVAN GREENBERG As Russell Cellular has grown in size, it has also grown in stature. When this happens, it’s only natural for small fissures to form as job responsibilities become even more complicated and specific. Essentially, a growth in size means more people, and this can muddle communication. With this in mind and in an effort to combat and address this issue, Kurt Reinhart, Director of Learning and Development at Russell Cellular, led the charge to form RC Connect. “You start to see
IN HIS NATURAL ELEMENT
this divide,” Reinhart says. “There’s a natural
Kurt Reinhart spearheaded the RC Connect project to improve communications.
and organic gap that occurs between people on the front line and headquarters.” Reinhart is incredibly passionate about fostering communication and ensuring it’s as streamlined as possible. On top of that, he emphasizes appreciation and respect, which is why he was bothered when he noticed a breakdown in communication at Russell Cellular as the company outgrew its momand-pop roots. Team members in one part
“WE ARE CHANGING THE WAY THAT WE INTERACT WITH EACH OTHER, AND I’M EXCITED TO SEE WHAT THE COMING YEARS OF THESE CONVERSATIONS AND CHANGES BRING ABOUT.” —“Herbie” Mike Upshaw, Learning & Development Regional Trainer at Russell Cellular
of the company often didn’t understand or
going on in the big picture. That is what RC Connect is focused on—doing little things that can challenge team members to start thinking outside their own realm of responsibility.” In less than a year, Upshaw and Reinhart have seen results. “From a field perspective, we’ve
didn’t appreciate another department’s role.
discuss successes within their departments
noticed people are starting to have a bet-
To fight this problem, Reinhart led the charge
at Russell Cellular. Reinhart works to create
ter grasp of what HQ really does and have
to form RC Connect. The new group is made
an informal environment that encourages the
an improved appreciation of the support HQ
up of three employees from headquarters and
group to share. The group also discusses
provides to the field,” Upshaw says. What it’s
three employees out in the field who work to
new ways to foster communication through-
done, he adds, is provide a lens into the lives
improve inter-departmental communication.
out RC through presentations, often visual in
of fellow RC team members, so someone in
After the group’s focus and goals were set,
the form of a video or a graphic.
California can learn about an employee who
RC Connect officially formed in October 2018 and has been meeting monthly ever since. RC Connect at its core establishes and
“Everyone knows that we want to grow the business, and we want to be better,”
works across the country. RC Connect has already started changing
says “Herbie” Mike Upshaw, a learning
communication from top to bottom. “We are
maintains relationships that reach across the
and development regional trainer at Russell
changing the way that we interact with each
aisle. On the first or second Tuesday of every
Cellular and co-facilitator of the group with
other,” Upshaw says. “I’m excited to see what
month, the group hops on a conference call
Reinhart. “By being trapped in just our own
the coming years of these conversations and
to talk about their personal and work lives and
little job and our own routine, we miss what’s
changes bring about.”
RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
Photo courtesy Kurt Reinhart
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THE PROS Nathan Mindeman and Tina Crewse started in sales before moving up the RC ladder.
THE POWER OF SALES
After 25 years, a lot has changed
into his new role at RC, Mindeman was
at Russell Cellular, including the
Back when Nathan Mindeman joined the
living his dream. He’d always wanted to run
way the sales team operates. What
Russell Cellular team in 1999, cell phones
his own retail business, and here he was at
hasn’t changed is the company’s
did one thing: They made calls, and Minde-
the ripe age of 18 getting his first taste of
focus on sales—nearly 90 percent of
man had never used one in his life. “My first
sales. Despite all those retail daydreams,
the company’s workforce is on the
real experience with a cell phone was walk-
Mindeman wasn’t a natural fit. In fact, he
sales side. Two RC veterans share
ing into the RC corporate office in Spring-
stunk. “Here’s the truth,” he says. “I was
the lessons they learned while on the
field,” Mindeman says. “It was my first day
petrified of customers.” Mindeman’s favor-
sales floor and discuss the rapidly
on the job, and Jeff was showing me how
ite days were when not a single customer
changing cellular industry.
to use a cell phone.” Mindeman was 18
ventured into his store—a sales nightmare
BY ETTIE BERNEKING
years old when he was hired alongside his
for anyone else. Eventually, that fear faded,
dad. Mindeman handled sales and custom-
and Mindeman gained confidence. He
er interactions inside the Siloam Springs,
consistently ranked in the top two or three
Arkansas, store while his dad headed
sales reps in his area each month. After
outside to dig up new business. Settled
six months on the job, Mindeman’s dad
RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
Photo by Linda Huynh
moved up to regional sales manager and
“STAYING UP ON THE GAME AND MAKING SURE OUR TEAM HAS THE RESOURCES TO HELP CUSTOMERS IS HUGE,”
then found himself on the other side of
—Tina Crewse, Sales Operations Manager
returned to work at a university while Mindeman stayed on at Russell Cellular. Out of the two of them, Mindeman says it’s safe to say few thought it would be the 18-year-old who would stick around. Two years later, Mindeman was promoted to district sales manager where he led a team of four to five stores around Arkansas and Oklahoma. From there, Mindeman
business as the company’s director of operations. Today, Mindeman has been with
than we do about the devices they want.
moved to district sales manager before be-
Russell Cellular for nearly 20 years, and a
They’ve already spent hours researching
coming sales operations manager in 2017.
lot has changed over those two decades.
one or two options, and our job is to guide
Instead of becoming less aware of the lat-
“In 1999, the business was definitely
them to the right service plan and device.
est technologies coming down the pipeline,
less retail-oriented,” he says. “Our stores
Customers are now the experts. It’s our job
Crewse is now consumed by what’s on the
looked like more of an office.” Sales reps
to provide them with a great experience in
way. “Staying up on the game and making
were seated behind one of two desks
sure our team has the resources to help cus-
facing the front door while two small round
tomers is huge,” she says. “We didn’t have
tables took up a bulk of the floorspace,
THE SALES SUPPORT
customers as knowledgeable about avail-
and a few ficus trees stood in the corner.
Unlike Mindeman, Tina Crewse was no
able devices as they are today.” Helping the
Retail displays at the time were limited,
neophyte when it came to cell phones. She
growing RC sales team stay knowledgeable
and so were computers. “Everything was
joined the team in 2009 as a wireless sales
about new devices and services is Crewse’s
done by hand,” Mindeman says. “We had
rep two years after Steve Jobs wowed the
biggest goal, and it’s not easy.
a triplicate contract we would walk you
world and unveiled the very first iPhone in
through. You had to fill it out and sign it,
2007. Smartphones were saturating the
list of service and device trainings they’re
and we would call it in and activate your
market, sliders were all the rage, and the
constantly adding to. Some of the items on
phone for you.” Today, everything is differ-
BlackBerry was still holding on. Instead of
that list haven’t even hit the market yet. Take
ent. “The vast majority of customers who
simply making and receiving calls, your cell
the much-whispered-about devices that will
Crewse and her team have a growing
walked into my store had never owned or
phone could access your email, browse
use the 5G network. It’s still little more than
operated a cell phone before,” Mindeman
the internet, and get you hooked on the
a catchy headline, but already Crewse has
says. “Today, there are a lot of customers
ever-popular game Snake. “I thought the
launched trainings for the sales force. “It’s
who walk into our stores who know more
Motorola tablets were a big deal,” Crewse
called organization,” she says laughing.
says. “We offered satellite TV back then.
“Customers are researching devices and
It all seemed like the biggest advances in
bandwidth and coming to our stores with
technology at the time.” After six months on the job, Crewse moved up to store manager and then
a good knowledge base of what they want. Our job is to build that relationship and help our team be knowledgeable.”
“CUSTOMERS ARE NOW THE EXPERTS. IT’S OUR JOB TO PROVIDE THEM WITH A GREAT EXPERIENCE IN OUR STORES.” —Nathan Mindeman, Vice President of Sales Operations Photos by Linda Huynh
In 2013, RC had 700 team members. That number soared to 1,900 by 2018 as the company added new positions—mostly
GROWTH SPURT Each issue, we take a look at the numbers to
in sales. Two exciting additions were the creation of the Employee and Community Outreach department and the Learning and Development department.
celebrate Russell Cellular’s growth and get
RC did some expanding between 2013 and 2018 when it celebrated its 25th
a better idea of what’s driving the company
anniversary. The company added 246
forward. This issue, we’re going back in time
stores during that time period. By the
to compare some key stats from five years ago through this January to see how much
the company has grown and to celebrate Russell Cellular’s 25th anniversary.
end of 2018, RC had 439 stores across the country including new stores in New York, Pennsylvania and California.
NEW REGIONAL SALES MANAGERS
BY ETTIE BERNEKING
When RC celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013, the company only had eight RSMs on staff. By 2018, that number
reached 13. To get a better idea of how important RSMs are to the company’s overall success, consider this: Each RC regional sales manager oversees five to
ADDITIONAL UNITS IN TOTAL SALES
eight district managers and anywhere
The last five years have been a true sales
from 15 to 40 stores. More regional sales
success story for the RC team. As the
managers on the team means more
company has increased its number of
stores and more growth.
stores and team members, sales have also seen a boost. In December 2013, total sales topped out at 16,472 units. By December 2018, that number grew to 58,401 units.
INBOX A DEEPER LOOK
RC CONNECTIONS: Fill us in.
R.C.: Why do you think this new
What inspired this publication?
project is important?
Each issue, we answer your burning
KYM RUSSELL: Right now is
K.R.: As we continue to grow
questions. Whether you’re looking for
such a commemorative time
across the country, we know it
advice on how to improve customer
in our company’s history we
is critical that all team members
satisfaction or want to learn about
thought this would be a great
share the same vision of who we
ways to give back to your community,
time to start a magazine of our
are and why what we do matters
we’ve got answers. This issue, we
own. Plus, we wanted to be able
to each other, our customers and
turn to RC Co-Founder Kym Russell
to better communicate all of our
our communities. This is a great
to learn why the company decided to
success stories like RC Cares
platform to share real-life stories
launch its own magazine.
and employee milestones.
and examples of what we are
BY ETTIE BERNEKING 16
RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
accomplishing together. And at Illustrations by Alex Wolken; Photo by Ettie Berneking
When Henry Rossetti, district manager in
It was an incredible story to hear firsthand,
western Connecticut, talks about the Hum
but it wasn’t that surprising. With all of its driv-
device RC sells at its stores, it’s easy to see
er-friendly features, the Hum is now compet-
he’s passionate about the product. And for
ing with similar devices already on the market
including OnStar, LoJack and AAA. The real
The Hum has a variety of uses: It can be
difference is that the Hum device weaves all
used for diagnostic purposes on a car and
the benefits and features of those services
alert drivers to maintenance issues; can send
and products into one powerful tool. Simply
crash alerts to emergency services; has road-
plug it into your car, and it’s ready to go.
side assistance; and with the app, can track
If your car is stolen, you can track it. If you
drivers—an especially popular tool for parents
need help, just push a button, and an oper-
LIFE CHANGING TECH
of new drivers who want to be able to track
ator will come on and ask if you need assis-
save lives. Just ask Gloria Holmes, an RC
like it more than anything else,” he says. “My
The Hum device is more than an incredible
customer who walked into the Rocky Hill,
daughter drives an old car. It tells us what the
tool to track your car’s speed and location;
Connecticut, store and told the staff how the
problem is, where to take it and what it should
it saved the life of one Connecticut woman.
device saved her life. As she began her tale, a
cost to fix. If it tells you this should only cost
BY JULIANA GOODWIN
their teenager when they’re behind the wheel.
tance. The device can also give you a driving
“You can put speed alerts on this app,”
score, which is often used by parents of a
Rossetti says. “I personally use this myself.
young driver or an employer monitoring how
I have it set at 70 mph, and if my daughter
the company vehicle is being driven.
goes over that, I get a text alert.” But above all, Hum has the power to
The feature Rossetti appreciates most is the Hum’s diagnostic alerts. “This is why I
Russell Cellular rep grabbed his cell phone to
$200 and the garage says $600, you know to
record her testimony.
go to another garage.”
“I have the Hum in my car, and because
All of these features are amazing but for
of it, I am alive today,” Holmes begins. “I had
Rod Tyler, the wireless sales representative
a third stroke on Route 9 trying to get to
who recorded Gloria’s testimony, nothing
Middlesex Hospital, and the Hum saved my
compares to seeing the product’s usefulness
life. The ambulance came within 10 minutes.
firsthand. “When Gloria told me about how
I was brought to Hartford Hospital, and they
the Hum saved her life, I felt joy in knowing
saved my life. Without the Hum, I would be
I’m working for a company that makes prod-
dead today,” she says as she ends her video
ucts that can save lives,” Tyler says. “It was a
they are part of something big
R.C.: What excites you about
tion matters because our people
and know that what they do ev-
nearest and dearest to them
matter. They might need to hear
ery day matters. We are a winning
K.R.: I am most excited to
outside the company.
from someone on the other side
team that is making a positive im-
tell the stories of our amazing
of the country who is dealing with
pact. I want to use this as a tool
team. I know the stories will
a similar issue or maybe they just
to recruit and retain the right peo-
be truly inspirational and foster
need to be encouraged.
ple with the right hearts to contin-
a belief that each person can
ue leading us forward, and I hope
contribute and that together
R.C.: What do you hope this
this magazine will enable people
we can accomplish so much
to see the heart of the company
more. I am also excited for our
K.R.: I want every single person
and the heart of those who work
team members to have a way
associated with RC to feel like
with us at Russell Cellular.
to share what being a part of
the end of the day, the publica-
Photo by Linda Huynh
the RC family means with those
YOU’VE GOT MAIL Have a question you’d like us to answer? Send your inquiries to RCconnections@ russellcellular.com. RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS Russell Cellular is a homegrown success story. Learn more about its roots, and find out where the company plans on heading after 25 years in business.
BY TESSA COOPER
Jeff Russell, president and CEO of Russell Cellular, is an entrepreneur at heart. His wife, Kym Russell, is Russell Cellular’s co-founder and a self-proclaimed dreamer. So it’s no wonder the couple decided to take a chance on a 1993 newspaper ad by an Alltel agent who was looking for someone to sell
IN THE BEGINNING
wireless phones. It didn’t matter that Jeff had
RC opened its first headquarters in 1995 when the company was an Alltel retailer.
never seen or used a cell phone at that time. He landed the job, and it didn’t take him long before he decided to branch out on his own. On
a desk and a chair picked out at an area flea
December 3, 1993, Jeff and Kym started oper-
market. Even the family's credenza served as a
ating Russell Cellular (RC) out of their living room
phone display case at the store.
and the back of their Dodge Omni. Since Jeff was from Yellville, a rural town in
RC has always been a family business. Early on, Jeff and Kym’s son, Jeven, and daughter,
Arkansas, he felt most comfortable when he
Layton, were heavily involved. Jeven, who is
was talking to farmers. So he visited dairy farms
now the Vice President of Operations at RC,
and began building his client base while Kym
started officially working for RC in the invento-
stayed back at home and managed incoming
ry department when he was 16 years old. He
faxes. “At that point, you were really educating
says some of his favorite childhood memories
people on wireless,” Jeff says. “Cell phones
involve RC. “I remember doing store setups
were not popular or common. It also wasn’t a
when the company moved into new markets,”
consumer market back then; it was still a busi-
Jeven says. “It was like a family trip. One of my
responsibilities was getting the desks tidy and
As the cell phone market began to grow, Jeff
set up.” When the company’s server crashed
and Kym transitioned their business to be more
one day, the kids stayed home from school to
retail-focused. In 1994, Susan Russell, Jeff’s
help out. “They had to spend all day doing data
mom, became the company’s first major sup-
entry so we could do payroll,” Kym says.
porter when she loaned him $1,500 for a retail
For the first two years of business, Russell
and office space in Bolivar, Missouri. “We had a
Cellular’s marketing strategy relied heavily on
huge grand opening sale,” Kym recalls. “I took
word-of-mouth. “I lived off of the referrals,” Jeff
the kids with me, and we handed out fliers door-
says. “My job really was to educate a customer
to-door. We made enough money to pay her
on what a phone could do for them, win over
back that first month.” Part of the money from
that relationship, and then once they were satis-
Jeff's mom was used on office furniture including
fied, I asked them for referrals.”
RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
BLAST FROM THE PAST When Russell Cellular first started, Jeff and Kym went door-to-door in their Dodge Omni. The car was like a mobile store.
by TK Photographer Photos courtesy Russell Cellular
the challenges and the ups and downs as
With the business quickly growing, Jeff and
goal is, and they have that same heart and
Curious what RC looked like when
Kym continued to keep up with changes
passion.” As cell phones continued to grow
it started? Check out the next
and made adjustments to their business
in popularity, Jeff retired from his door-to-
page for some snap shots from
model. Kym began managing the home of-
door marketing days and focused primarily
the early years.
fice, so Jeff could focus on increasing com-
on taking care of his current customer base
A TRIP THROUGH HISTORY
we went along. They also know what our
pany sales, marketing and finances. The
and opening even more retail locations. By
two learned how to work well together be-
2002, Alltel recognized Russell Cellular as
fore they hired additional employees. “We
its top-selling agent. Other organizations
2 Kym Russell in 1995 at RC’s first HQ.
agreed that if either one of us felt uncom-
began to take notice, and in 1998, Jeff
3 Kym and Jeff presented Robert Lister an achievement award.
fortable with something, we wouldn’t do it,”
received the Small Business Association
Kym says. “If we both didn’t think it was a
Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for
good idea, it probably wasn’t.” Darin Wray, Chief Operating Officer, joined the RC team in 1995 as an outside
the Kansas City District. Then in 2004, the
5 Jeff and Kym together in 2002.
area’s fastest growing company.
6 Jeff, Kym and Darin celebrated the grand opening of a new store in 1999.
asked him to manage the first Springfield Mindeman, now the vice president of sales
4 Kym and Jeff won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999.
Springfield Business Journal named RC the
sales representative, and Jeff and Kym location. Soon after, they hired Nathan
1 The exterior of RC’s first location in Bolivar, Missouri.
ACQUISITIONS, MERGERS AND GROWTH
operations. Mindeman was 18 years old, but he helped develop the Arkansas market.
While a little bit of competition is certainly
Both Wray and Mindeman still work on
great for business, so is an acquisition. In
7 The first RC HQ was furnished with furniture from thrift stores. 8 The device display in the first HQ looks nothing like it does today.
the executive council today alongside Jeff,
2002, RC acquired its long-time Springfield
Kym, Jeven and Robert Lister. Lister, who
competitor. Jeff and his team kept the mo-
started as Kym’s assistant while still earn-
mentum going as they expanded into new
ing his accounting degree, would even
markets across America. Thanks to the
watch the Russell’s children while the cou-
sales growth and an 18-store acquisition in
ple was traveling for business. Now he is
Ohio, 2007 and 2008 became record-break-
RC’s chief financial officer. “Our executives
ing sales years for RC. But the boost also
Although RC now has locations
have grown up with us as well,” Jeff says.
meant the company was starting to experi-
all over America, the business has
“They know where we started; they know
ence growing pains, and Jeff could no lon-
humble beginnings. Take a look
ger visit each RC store in person. “We had
at how much this homegrown
to learn how to manage stores from a dis-
business has flourished.
I believe we have the best leadership team ever assembled anywhere. —Kym Russell, Co-Founder of Russell Cellular 20 RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
tance,” he says. While RC was busy acquiring its competitors, Verizon and Alltel were busy merging. In 2008, the RC team quickly got to work converting more than 100 Alltel stores into Verizon stores in just a matter of months. The company pulled this off while simultaneously opening a new corporate office in Battlefield, Missouri. The merger allowed RC to spread into even more states. Jeff credits the company’s success during this time to the team’s attention to detail from the beginning. “We treated our business like it was a big business when it was small,” he says. “We set up policies, procedures and structure, and that allowed our business to grow within that framework.”
BY THE NUMBERS
1900 Employees In the beginning, it was just Jeff and Kym running the show. Now they rely on nearly 2,000 people each day to keep the business up and running. Even when the business was small, Jeff always tried to run RC like it was a big business by setting up clear policies and procedures from the start. “Structure is what allows businesses to grow, and we focused a lot on that early on,” Jeff says.
More than 400 Stores in 31 States Although RC’s headquarters are in Battlefield, Missouri, the company has retail locations in 31 states.
UNITED STATES MAP OF RUSSELL CELLULAR COVERAGE
RC Original HQ Location in Missouri Order of Store opening by State
States with Russell Cellular Locations
Photos courtesy Russell Cellular; Illustration by Alex Wolken
TALK OF THE FAMILY
Even during times of growth and exciting changes, Jeff
After 25 years of business, it’s not just Jeff and Kym who
and Kym focused on cultivating a company culture that
have some memories to share. The second generation of
stayed true to their original tagline: “Personal communi-
Russells has a few highlights of their own. “My husband and I couldn’t be prouder of my parents. They’ve been the most exceptional role models which is what brought me into owning my own business. It blows my mind that a company so impressive is a company my parents own. They’ve worked so hard, and it’s amazing to see it all pay off.” —Layton Alsup, owner of Nu Essence Spa and daughter of Jeff and Kym and her husband Brandon
cation with the strength of a telecommunications giant.” The company might have started out small, but it always operated like one of the big guys—with one exception. RC wanted to take care of its team, and it wanted to treat its customers the same way Jeff and Kym had done when they were going door-to-door. That meant being approachable and customer service-focused. Although RC has since retired that slogan, Jeff and Kym never lost track of those values. “We really tried to pride ourselves on the one-on-one customer inter-
“Russell Cellular is a big part of all of our lives. So many people in this company have become great friends. It’s amazing to see good people doing good things, succeeding and helping all of those around them succeed as well. From my perspective, RC looks like family.” —Kayla Russell, wife of Jeven Russell “RC has always been a family business. It’s not just working with my mom and dad. Our whole team is a large extended family. We support one another and celebrate together. I’m thankful to work alongside my parents, and I’m excited about the future for the RC family.” —Jeven Russell, Vice President of Operations and son of Jeff and Kym
LESSON'S LEARNED Jeff and Kym got married at the ages of 19 and 17. Just five years later, they started Russell Cellular together. The two reflect on what made their business and their marriage successful.
actions,” Jeff says. “We were working for the customer and looking out for their best interests… The core of our business hasn’t changed over 25 years. It’s that singular interaction with a customer that matters.” In 2012, the company’s leadership team recentered its focus and made customer and employee experience its top two priorities. “We’ve always genuinely cared about our customers and cared about our people,” Kym says. “In the last 18 months, something has begun to happen organically. The team started referring to themselves as the ‘Russell Cellular Family.’ It really has taken on a powerful voice of its own.”
balanced the checkbook and paid
the company struggled financially,
R.C.: What is your favorite thing
the bills. It’s not like he handled all
or there were policies and proce-
about each other from a business
the finances and I didn’t. We always
dures that needed to be changed.
and personal standpoint?
did things together.
We would lock ourselves in a room and have those hard conversations,
J.R.: Her attention to detail. Both
JEFF RUSSELL: When you’ve got
and we followed through with the de-
from a personal aspect, like the ti-
two people fighting and working for
cisions we made. It showed us that
diness of the home and the way it’s
a common cause, you’re obviously
we were able to persevere through
organized and structured and how
going to go a lot further than just one
adversity, where most people would
we manage our calendars. And the
RC CONNECTIONS: You two have
person. We were very good at playing
have given up.
same on the business aspect. No
always worked together to help the
off of each other’s strengths to move
business succeed. What is one stand-
the needle forward. Communication is
K.R.: We always put our relation-
company summit, policy or proce-
out lesson you’ve learned?
very important in business and mar-
ship first, and we had each other’s
riage. In marriage, you obviously have
back always. That is a lot harder to
KYM RUSSELL: We learned to play
to communicate your needs, where
do than say. Even when we worked
K.R.: His ability to stay humble. He’s
on each other’s strengths. We’ve
you’re at and how you’re feeling, and
late, we would go to dinner and re-
always been that way. He is quiet,
relied on each other. If there was
it’s not that different in business.
cap the day. We tried really hard to
and he just doesn’t have a big ego.
spend quality time with our kids and
He doesn’t brag about things and
we just let the other one do that part.
R.C.: How do you two make it through
quality time with each other. We let
tell people what he is going to do.
Because of that, there was never a
stressful times together?
go of all the things that we could that
He just quietly gets the job done.
we didn’t have to do, like housework
There’s that saying, “Don’t take
For example, in the beginning, I did
J.R.: There were moments when we
and yard work, and tried to focus on
meekness for weakness,” and that
all the payroll and taxes, but Jeff still
had to make tough decisions when
the things only we could do.
sums him up.
something one of us wasn’t good at,
really straight line of responsibilities.
22 RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
detail is too small, whether it’s a
Photos courtesy Layton Russel, by Christine Bonnivier
A TOAST TO THE FUTURE Jeff and Kym have watched RC grow into a nationwide company.
MILESTONES AND LOOKING AHEAD Russell Cellular celebrated a big milestone in 2017. Verizon invited RC to join its Big 6 retailer program, which allowed Russell Cellular to operate seamlessly on the national level. The year 2018 marked 25 years in business with 400 stores in 31 states, and the numbers continue to grow. Over the next several years, RC plans on continuing to expand, while investing in the communities of each RC location through the RC Cares program. “We know the best resource we have is each other,” says Kym. “We are growing faster than ever, doing more acquisitions than ever, opening more stores than ever... Honestly, my favorite thing to do is sit down and talk about business, what’s coming next, where we’ve been, where we’re going and who is on this journey with us.” With the company steadily growing, RC is looking forward to opening its new 40,000-square-foot home office building in Battlefield, which is scheduled to open in December 2019 (turn to p. 30 to learn more). The building will feature a brandnew training facility, which means “we’ll be able to not only train our HQ staff in here, but we’ll also bring our leadership in from across the country,” Kym says. “When you look at the last 25 years, it gives you a good gauge of where this could go.” Jeff adds, “It’s crazy to sit back and think about the days of selling phones doorto-door out of my car, and now to see a national company out there as one of Verizon’s elite Big 6… For us, it’s always been more than a job. It’s been our life.” Photo courtesy Russell Cellular
ICE ICE BABY This massive ice sculpture was created for RCâ€™s 25th anniversary party.
24 RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
Photo courtesy Russell Cellular Photos by TK Photographer
Russell Cellular has been growing for 25 years and has picked up numerous accolades along the way including receiving Verizon’s Partner of the Year award in 2018. This is how a company with roots in southwest Missouri became a top dog in the wireless industry—and how it plans to continue growing.
BY JULIANA GOODWIN
Who would have imagined 25 years ago when a former turkey farmer and his wife set up a home-based business that it would one day receive national recognition and beat out retail giants including Walmart and Best Buy. Not owners Jeff and Kym Russell. “When Kym and I started this company, we
BOND, JAMES BOND
were looking to provide a living for our family,”
For its 25th Anniversary RC hosted a 007 Casino Royale themed party. (Left to right) Breonia Crain, Adam Linder, Hakeem Sykes and Jordan Waddle joined the fun.
says Jeff Russell, founder of Russell Cellular “Through consistent, steady growth, we’ve continued to lead and develop the company to where it’s at now, along with incorporating the help and support of a lot of great leaders along the way.”
“That includes the national retailers,” says
customer service, which still remains key to
Daniel Hyder, one of Russell Cellular’s area
the company’s success. It didn’t take long for
The past two years have brought some
vice presidents of sales. “You are not just the
that approach to pay off. Jeff and Kym hired
unexpected honors to Russell Cellular. In 2017,
best out of six, but out of Walmart, Target
employees and opened several stores. Soon
the company was invited to join Verizon’s Big
and Costco. It’s nice to see that a mom-and-
Russell Cellular was recognized as Alltel’s
6, an exclusive program designated for the
pop company whose roots are in southwest
top-selling agent, and that was just the start
six largest Verizon authorized retailers in the
Missouri can compete with national brands.”
of the accolades.
United States. That alone was a big honor for
But Russell Cellular has done much more
Russell Cellular, but it wasn’t the only reason to
than compete. It’s thrived.
celebrate. In 2018, the company was named
Additional staff was hired as sales kept growing. In 1998, Jeff won the Small
Arkansas natives Jeff and Kym Russell
Business Association Young Entrepreneur
Partner of the Year by Verizon and beat out
moved to Springfield, Missouri, in 1993. By
of the Year award for the Kansas City
some seriously impressive—and larger—com-
that December, Jeff was selling Alltel Wireless
District. In two or three years, the company
petition that was also vying for the coveted title.
from the trunk of his car. His focus was on
grew from 15 stores to 40. Then in 2004, growth started to slow. “We plateaued from 2004 to 2007,” says Nathan Mindeman,
JEFF’S TAKE When Jeff and Kym Russell started the company, they never dreamed it would one day receive such recognition. Jeff says once they were part of the Big 6, he saw the potential for Partner of the Year. “Early in 2018, our Leadership team began to grow and develop, creating synergy across the company. We realized the metric Verizon was using to evaluate success we could ‘win’ at. As a team across the company, we focused on getting better and winning in each of the metrics. It was a prideful moment for the entire RC team, verification that our hard work, camaraderie and team efforts were being recognized. We’re still going to continue to provide the best wireless experience to every customer, every time, and show our customers how technology can benefit their lives.”
26 RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
vice president of sales operations. “We learned it’s just not enough to be willing to invest the capital. We have to have the continued mindset that we are committed to doing things the right way and taking care of our customers.” The slowdown might have hurt in the moment, but oddly enough it ended up helping the company make sure it had the right team members on board. “We have been careful about when we bring on new leaders and new managers,” Mindeman says. “They have to have that same mindset. We learned when we work as a team, we can accomplish great things.”
Photos courtesy Russell Cellular
FROM GOOD TO GREAT Russell Cellular focused on these initiatives to get even better: Continued to take care of customers as well as employees. Listened to employees through employee surveys. Made sure the team felt valued, from managers to sales reps. Represented Verizon better and stronger. Invested in signage and relocated stores to more prominent spots in town, and upgraded stores. Challenged team members to step up performance to compete with bigger retailers. Focused on building relationships with Verizon across all markets. Partnered with Verizon on projects, drove initiatives. Represented the brand and drove production.
Continued to build strong relationships with vendors. Drove sales performance. Ensured all stores were up to Russell Cellular and Verizon standards.
Candice Ford and Carey Urquilla celebrated the Russell Cellular anniversary last year at the company party.
Made sure the customer approach was consistent and transcended in every market in which RC does business.
opportunity for accelerated growth in new markets including RC’s first locations in California. “It helped us interact better and more closely with Verizon, which increased doors and staffing sizes and allowed us to
Created a Leadership and Development Program. Created an Employee and Community Outreach Department. Implemented third-party Mystery Shoppers. The Mystery Shoppers Initiative is used to ensure customer experiences are consistent with both Verizon’s and RC’s brand standards.
continue to grow,” Boman says. Within the first 24 months of being part of the Big 6, the company grew nearly 20 percent, but it’s about more than growth. Being part of the Big 6 has benefited RC in several ways. “Really having a single voice from Verizon HQ is helpful,” Hyder says. “We
By 2008, Russell Cellular had more than 100 stores. When the Alltel Wireless and
have a Verizon director that is dedicated to RC. We get insight into promotions, pricing, more information and more support. We get
Verizon Wireless merger was announced,
The core principles of the company that
deals to help us help our customers. A lot of
Russell Cellular had to quickly convert all
helped Russell Cellular grow also caught the
the benefit is the single point of contact with
those locations to Verizon stores in a matter
attention of Verizon headquarters. In 2017,
running the business. There are 450 stores,
of months. It wasn’t an easy task.
RC was added to the Big 6— a program at
three Verizon markets, then submarkets, so
Luckily, the RC team is always up for a challenge. By 2009, all stores had been
Verizon that highlights its six largest Verizon
there are a lot of conversations going on.
authorized retailers in the country.
This way we get a consolidated voice.”
converted, and a new HQ facility was
Verizon headquarters reached out and
But entry into the Big 6 was just the
opened in Battlefield, Missouri, just south of
said RC drove production and represented
beginning of new opportunities for Russell
the brand well. According to Hyder, Verizon
Cellular. The company was now motivated
A few years later in 2014, Russell
headquarters spent six months evaluating
to compete at an even higher level.
Cellular celebrated its 20th anniversary—It
Russell Cellular. “They had to review our
“When we joined, I remember Jeff
also enjoyed a growth spurt. That year, RC
headquarters, ask a lot of questions, make
saying, ‘We don’t need to be the largest Big
pulled off six consecutive months of record
sure our framework was up to par from
6 agency with the most stores. We have to
sales. In 2015, the organization continued
finance to inventory to business practices in
be the best,’ and that is exactly what we did,”
its history of growth into new states includ-
general,” he says.
ing its first eastern expansion and growth
Badalamenti says. In 2018, all that hard work
Verizon executives visited RC stores
paid off, and RC was named Partner of the
into major metropolitan markets including
around the country. In January 2017, Russell
Year by Verizon. It was a big honor for the
Manhattan. The continued success caught
Cellular officially entered Verizon’s Big 6. The
company and a chance to see the team’s
the attention of Verizon headquarters.
recognition provided the company with the
efforts be recognized, says Hyder. From a
Photo courtesy Russell Cellular
business standpoint, the award has given
who worked at Russell Cellular. “He was like ‘I
Joining the Big 6 and being named
Russell Cellular even more credibility in a
am at this company now. It’s family oriented,
Partner of the Year were exceptional
and they have a Regional Sales Manager po-
honors for Russell Cellular. Here are what some executives say they learned from the experiences. “It takes a lot of commitment, and it takes everyone headed in the right direction. It takes a big vision and from vision, it takes execution. It takes every individual doing their part to reach a goal of this magnitude. It wasn't one person, or just one department. We all had to work hard.” —Daniel Hyder “Working here and being a part of the culture and working with Jeff as closely as I have has helped me be a better father, husband, friend and leader, and that is the only thing I’ve ever wanted.” —Brad Boman “We all have the same mission no matter which part of the country you are in. Be flexible and nimble. Get creative when there is an initiative. You have to align with the people you do business with.” — Anthony Badalamenti “One major takeaway was that even as we gain recognition throughout Verizon circles, it’s really important for us to be who we are. By that I mean, be the type of organization we have always been. Be the leaders we know we should be and not change ourselves because we are in a different program. That is a big challenge as you grow. As you grow, dynamics change, and things are different. Back in the day, we could drive to all our stores in one day, but that is not possible now. We succeed and do well when we stick to our core values.” —Nathan Mindeman
Jeven Russell spoke at the company’s 25th Anniversary celebration.
“When Verizon looked at the list of part-
sition opening in your market of New York,’”
ners from a KPI perspective and a business
Badalamenti says. “I was traveling five days a
relationship, I would say we stood out in all
week every week. I was home only on week-
categories,” Badalamenti says. “If you are
ends and missed out on my kids’ activities.
looking for a partner, you want the best of
Albeit, I had a tremendous career, title and
position, but that doesn’t mean everything.”
The recognition will only continue to help the
Badalamenti decided to interview for the job
company grow. This was a company-wide
and flew out to meet with Jeff. “I kept hear-
effort, Hyder says. “From our teams in the
ing all these great things about the RC family
store to leadership in the field to leaders at
atmosphere,” Badalamenti says. “You hear
HQ to partners at Verizon, it took everyone
that all the time, and then you quickly find out
pulling together. To call out individual names,
that is not the case; however, here that is the
it’s hard to narrow down, because this was
case.” Badalamenti eventually jumped up to
a team effort. Everyone here has a job to
area vice president and travels more with the
do, and we asked everyone to do their job.
new job. But all that travel hasn’t interrupted
When people do that, you can truly achieve
the balance between family and work life he
was looking for. That
loved also attracted Brad Boman, a fellow RC area vice president of sales. Boman previously worked for Starbucks, another
You’ll hear the same thing when you talk to a
company known for having a positive work
RC employee: The company values its team
environment. While at Starbucks, a vice
members, strives to create the best customer
president of sales once told Boman the
experience, continually invests in training and
customer experience will never be better
leadership and cultivates a team and family
than your employee experience, so put your
atmosphere. Anthony Badalamenti, an area
people first. “I realized Russell Cellular was
vice president of sales, was unhappy at his
an organization that, even if they had never
former company when he talked to a friend
heard the quote, had been living it for more than 20 years,” he says. When Boman landed the job at Russell
Cellular, Daniel Hyder shook his hand and
2 Everyone at the event was in a celebratory mood at the anniversary party including James Perez. 3 Event planner Lee Holland put the 25th anniversary together and joined the celebration.
28 RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
Photos courtesy Daniel Hyder, Brad Boman, Anthony Badalamenti, Russell Cellular, by Linda Huynh
1 Jeff and Kym Russell received Verizon’s Partner of the Year Award and recognition for 25 years in business. 2 The greater Verizon team presented Jeff and Kym an award for 25 years of Russell Cellular. 3 RC’s COO Darin Wray was a keynote speaker at RC’s 25th Anniversary celebration at the October Summit.
said, “Welcome home.” It took Boman about six months to realize that is how he should welcome all new team members. Boman and Badalamenti both echoed they feel they have friends and colleagues in the company, not bosses. They aren’t nervous when meeting with Jeff and leadership team members because they feel like family and are a team. The term “team” is key in this company. You won’t hear people boasting their individual accomplishments. Credit is given to the entire team. It can take a lot of effort to make 2,000 employees feel like they are part of one entity, but that is what the management team at RC is focused on, and it has a trickle-down effect. One thing that makes the company stand out from other Verizon retailers is how involved Jeff and Kym are in the company, Badalamenti says. “Just the fact the owner of
Photos courtesy Russell Cellular
“ ‘WE DON’T NEED TO BE THE LARGEST BIG 6 AGENCY WITH THE MOST STORES. WE HAVE TO BE THE BEST,’ AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE DID. ” — ANTHONY BADALAMENTI, AREA VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES, RUSSELL CELLULAR
the organization still plays a major role. Many organizations of this size have investors who are motivated by one thing,” he says. “Jeff is not, and he still has a say. It’s a constant conversation of what we need and how can he help us. He’s truly looking at what do you need to be successful; what do we need to do at a local level with each Verizon partner to strengthen relations and be the best for them. To me that is very valuable.” Despite the company’s growth, the Russells have never forgotten their core values, which Hyder says continue to lead the company. “The family atmosphere has taken on a life of its own in just the last couple of years,” Jeff Russell says. “I believe this is a great testament of how our employees are feeling as part of the organization. We strive to make them feel OVT—opportunity, value and team.”
FAMILY GATHERING The RC home office team gathered for the ground breaking of the new building in October 2018.
HOME SWEET HOME A cramped support staff will soon find relief in a brand new building
Cellular first began. “It’s where we
are adamant that one thing will
designed with the larger company in mind.
put our roots down,” Valentine
never change: Russell Cellular
BY JULIE SEDENKO DAVIS
says. More than 25 years ago,
will always be a family-based and
the company launched nearby
a family-owned company. And
Supporting 2,000 of the best
25 people at the home office.”
in Springfield, Missouri. During
they plan to welcome new family
salespeople in the cellular world
Today, nearly 2,000 people work
its first chapter, RC bounced
members as the company con-
is no small task. But there are
at RC. Of those, a little more than
back and forth between Jeff and
tinues to grow. To do that, the
some 100 miracle workers do-
100 work at the four buildings
Kym’s home and the trunk of their
company needs to complete the
ing just that while trying not to
that make up the RC home office
car. Now that the company has
headquarters it’s been working
trip over each other in a building
in Battlefield, Missouri.
grown significantly, Kym says it’s
on since December 2018.
they’ve outgrown several times.
RC co-founder Kym Russell
time once again for RC to invest
Right now there are almost
Russell Cellular’s Operations
remembers how different things
in its home office so the growth
100 Russell Cellular headquar-
Manager Nicole Valentine has
were when they first opened the
can continue. “It’s time we can
ters employees at the current
been rearranging and making
Battlefield building. “We would
invest in a appropriate facility to
building in Battlefield. That ca-
room for more the past eight
bring people in and they’d say,
represent our growing compa-
pacity will more than double af-
years. “We have to come up
‘how nice,’ and ‘there’s all these
ny nationwide and the hub that
ter the new 40,000-square-foot
with more space all the time,”
people to take care of us.’ Now
takes care of everyone else from
building is completed. On top
she says. Just a few years ago
our new hire managers are
coast to coast,” she says.
of being able to handle the sud-
the call center and IT team were
shocked that we can even run the
booted out and moved to rented
company like this.”
space. Even the executives and
Many RC team members
den boost in employees, there
know the incredible story. In 25
is enough property to expand
years the company has grown to
an additional 20,000 square feet
the Sales Operations Team had
conditions are coming to an end
one of the nation’s largest Verizon
down the road when necessary.
to move. “It’s just an extremely
thanks to a new home office in
Wireless retailers with more than
Valentine says it’s just going to be
fast growing company,” Valentine
Battlefield, Missouri, that’s being
400 stores in 31 states. But
nice to have everyone together
says. “When I came there were
built not far from where Russell
owners Jeff and Kym Russell
again instead of in four separate
30 RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING
Photo courtesy Russell Cellular
DEFINING THE DETAILS H Design and Russell Cellular collaborated for six months to create every detail of the design and floor plan of the new home office. Construction began September 2018, and it’s scheduled to be completed in December 2019.
BREAKING GROUND Kym Russell and her sister Nicole Valentine celebrated the groundbreaking of the new home office.
buildings. Fifteen departments
our support team has the more
are moving into the home office,
empowered the entire team will
including human resources, IT,
be. I’m adamant that the reason
payroll, inventory, the call center
we exist at the home office is for
and the executive staff, will all be
under the same roof again once the new building is finished.
Instead of more traditional carpet-covered
Valentine admits people are
home office will have recreational
looking forward to moving into
spaces including a game room
their own space again. “Right
for employees to use to unwind
during their lunch breaks. They’ll
share office space with each
also have a full kitchen and a
other. There’s no privacy to have
marketplace where they can buy
conversations,” she says.
snacks and drinks.
Aesthetically, the building’s
Staff work spaces will be
plan is for a modern design, but
state-of-the-art as well. There will
the Russells also want the new
be conference rooms (something
space to look like it belongs in
lost in the current building to make
Missouri by having organic and
room for more team members).
The current home office is less than 20,000 square feet. The new facility will be 40,000 with the ability to grow an additional 20,000 square feet when necessary. The Battlefield location will sit on 4.72 acres at Republic Road and FF in the Wilson’s Creek Marketplace. Around 115 employees will be working at the home office when they move into the new building in December 2019. The plan is to grow that staff to 235 over the next five years. There will be eleven conference rooms and one training center in the new home office. Other amenities will include: full kitchen for employees, marketplace to purchase food and drinks, outdoor patio with grill, catering kitchen for the training center, quiet room for employee breaks and two recreational spaces for the team to use. Fifteen departments will call the new building home: Operations, Sales Operations, Learning and Development, Marketing, Employee Relations, Human Resources, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Employee and Community Outreach, Inventory Operations, Inventory Purchasing, Solution Center, IT Help Desk, IT Networking/ Projects, and Software Development.
outdoorsy elements. In contrast,
But these new conference rooms
fast-changing and often stressful
good businesspeople, but they’re
the interior of the building will
will also double as virtual meeting
jobs. “They deal with challenges
also just really good people,” she
be a comfortable, homey but
spaces to help the home office
all day long without the rewards of
says. “You want to work for them.
modern feel. Valentine says, “We
field communications and trainings
a salesperson,” Kym says. “They
There really is a lot of heart in the company in general.”
don’t want to just put cold, office
nationwide. Speaking of training,
need to be in an environment
furniture in there.”
plans for new building include
where they are happy and proud of the company they take care of.”
Although Russell Cellular has
Details matter, whether it’s
a training center where Russell
a cell phone or your workplace,
Cellular can train as many as 30
people at a time. “We bring them
made a big effort to take good
partners, Jeff says they’ll always
Kym admits there’s no measur-
in for professional and leadership
care of their employees. Valentine
keep the heart of the company.
able return on the RC’s sizeable
gone from a husband-and wifeteam to one of Verizon’s “Big 6”
has worked for them the past
“It’s that singular interaction with the
investment, but, she says, “it
“We invest in them.” Much like the
eight years but, as Kym’s sister,
customer,” he says. That’s the core
feels like the right thing to do.
sales team, the associates who
she’s been around the business
of the business, and that’s one
We believe the better facilities
work at the home office deal with
since the very beginning. “They’re
thing he says will never change.
Photo courtesy Russell Cellular, Illustration by H Design Group
The Russells have always
SAY WHAT Ready to tap into the EEF or reach out to your AVP? Or, maybe, learn what the heck these terms even mean? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Even senior members of the Russell Cellular family find themselves sometimes scratching their heads and wondering what some of the company’s three-letter acronyms stand for. That’s why each issue, we pick a few different acronyms to define and explain. BY ETTIE BERNEKING
OVT - Opportunity, Value, Team
RSM - Regional Sales Manager
If these sound familiar, good! These are the
Every sales rep at RC has a RSM. Each
three pillars of RC. The executive team created
RSM manages a handful of stores in one
the pillars about seven years ago to make sure
RC territory. RSM’s territories vary in size,
RC team members knew the company has a
and sometimes regions change when new
heart and a mission beyond sales. RC is not
acquisitions occur. RSMs manage district
just about sales and numbers, it’s about the
sales managers and report to one of the
team the company has built, and it's about tak-
three company area VPs of sales. The goal
ing care of one another. That means providing
of the RSM is to lead their entire team, help
opportunity for team members to grow profes-
each store meet its goals and coach their
sionally, expressing value in each member’s role
and taking the time to recognize company and individual successes.
EEF - Employee Emergency Fund
JAMES - Jump up, Ask questions, Make
turn to p.5 to learn more. The EEF is an
recommendations, End with a sale, Setup
emergency fund employees can qualify for
when disaster strikes. It's funded by em-
This came about 5 years ago when leadership
ployees and the Russell Cellular company
was looking for a way to explain the sales pro-
itself. Funds go to qualifying employees
cess associates should use when talking with a
experiencing an unexpected emergency
customer. A five-step process can be hard to
like a house fire, death in the family, or an
remember, so leadership decided to come up
acute medical situation. Russell Cellular first
with the acronym JAMES. (James is actually
launched the EEF in December 2013.
If you're not already familiar with the EEF,
the most common customer name according to a database research.) JAMES is essentially
KPI - Key Performance Indicator
a conversation process. It’s a way to greet the
KPI is actually simple. This refers to the key
customer, get to know their needs, then make
performance indicator, which is just a swanky
recommendations about devices and protec-
way of talking about an important number RC
tion plans. The last step of JAMES is to set the
tracks that indicates growth and success. RC
customer up for success so they know how to
has five KPIs that matter most including: total
use their device before they leave the store.
sales (devices sold with an agreement), pull
ECO - Employee & Community Outreach
customers can purchase), accessories (all the
This is the heart of Russell Cellular. It’s a new
stuff you get to go with your device including
department that started in the summer of 2017.
screen protectors and batteries), insurance
through (products beyond the handset that
The ECO department focuses on employee
take rate (handset or device insurance that
care and investing in communities. Programs
can be purchased to protect your devices) and
or initiatives housed under ECO include RC
pre-pay (activating a phone on a service that’s
Cares, EEF, employee recognition, employee
pre-paid instead of a billed contract).
birthday and tenure celebrations, even getting new name tags. 32 RCCONNECTIONS / SPRING
Illustration by Alex Wolken
CORPORATE GIVING Atlanta District Sales Manager Drickson Toussaint has created a culture of giving back. BY LILLIAN STONE Drickson Toussaint is proof that even the briefest interactions can lead to a lifetime of inspiration. Toussaint, Russell Cellular’s Atlanta District Sales Manager, has a passion for giving back. According to Toussaint, that passion started in the fourth grade when he was encouraged by a substitute teacher’s positive, uplifting attitude. “His name was Mr. G,” he says. “We only had him for two days, but I can still remember the positive impact he made on me.”
According to Toussaint, that interaction
Drickson Toussaint hung out at Hill Elementary where RC sponsored Math Bingo for the 3rd grades. The company gave away 10-plus educational games.
was a key factor in his passion for inspiring young men—young men that remind him of himself. Toussaint moved from Brooklyn to Atlanta with his Haitian immigrant parents.
ter building a lifestyle he loves, he hopes to in-
According to Toussaint, programs like
Despite growing up in a low-income house-
spire young men walking a similar path. That’s
Hedgie’s Hometown Heroes set Russell Cellular
hold, Toussaint was able to thrive with the
why Toussaint launched The Pathway to
apart from other wireless companies. He notes
encouragement of his parents and influenc-
Success, a nonprofit benefiting at-risk youth,
that, after leaving a steady job at Sprint to focus
es like Mr. G. “My parents worked hard and
earlier this year.
on launching his nonprofit, he wasn’t sure if re-
got me into good schools,” Toussaint says.
The Pathway to Success focuses on
turning to the wireless world was for him. “I was
“That’s why I am where I am today.” Now, af-
teenage boys growing up in single-parent
initially hesitant about going back into retail,”
households, and encourages them to pursue
Toussaint says. “But I got the call from Russell
education, career opportunities and a healthy
Cellular, and I quickly realized that RC is all about
lifestyle. The program also focuses on life skills
the community—all about helping people. That
like resume writing, college applications, inter-
made it easy to say yes.”
viewing and networking. Toussaint also hopes
It’s all in a day’s work for Toussaint, who
to connect program participants with commu-
spends the rest of his free time focusing on
nity leaders after they graduate high school.
fitness and spending time with family. What’s
It’s an ambitious program but for Toussaint,
next for this community leader? “Just seeing
serving others isn’t just an after-hours en-
the kids grow,” he says. “I look forward to
deavor. Since joining the Russell Cellular team
helping the kids in my program learn to ask
in August 2017, he’s been able to channel
questions, stay focused—helping them get to
his dedication to community service through
that next level.”
Russell Cellular’s corporate giving initiatives— including the Hedgie’s Hometown Heroes program. Last December, the program allowed Toussaint and other Atlanta area staff to spend
GOOD SAMARITAN SQUAD Drickson joined other RC team members to help with a Habitat for Humanity project. Photo courtesy of Drickson Toussaint
a day at a local elementary school, where they served a free lunch to nearly 100 families and provided a variety of holiday gifts to students.
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
2018 TOP SALES PERFORMERS REGIONAL SALES MANAGER
DISTRICT SALES MANAGERS 1. Jamie Morehouse 2. Susan Lelik 3. Holly Fain 4. Carrie Minton 5. Carey Urquilla 6. Jason Goodloe 7. Michael Cotter 8. Amanda Mayberry
STORES 1. Monahans, TX 2. Crestview-1, FL 3. Jasper, TN 4. Odessa-3, TX 5. Berryville, AR 6. Ruskin, FL 7. Niceville, FL 8. Wauchula, FL 9. Pecos, TX 10. Stow, OH 11. Ava, MO
12. Midland, TX 13. Perryville, MO 14. Big Spring, TX 15. Byron, IL 16. Villa Rica, GA 17. Englewood, FL 18. Newnan, GA 19. Mineola, TX 20. Carrollton, GA 21. Madisonville, TN 22. Kings Plaza, NYC
23. Crestview-2, FL 24. Sulphur Springs, TX 25. Fort Stockton, TN 26. Chattanooga-2, TN 27. Mifflinburg, PA 28. Artesia, NM 29. Mt. Pleasant, TX 30. Willis, TX 31. Bremen, GA 32. Mocksville, NC 33. Paragould, AR
34. Tyler-1, TX 35. Danville-1, IL 36. Weaverville, NC 37. Ocean Springs, MS 38. Nashville, IL 39. Mansfield, LA 40. Allendale, MI 41. Gainesville, TX 42. Byron Center, MI 43. Clare, MI 44. Durant, OK
TEAM MEMBERS 1. Fernanda Frajia – Akron, OH 2. Christopher Kozma – Stow, OH 3. Nancy Gibbons – Byron Center, MI 4. Nykole Castro – Monahan, TX 5. Brent Waits – Sulphur Springs, TX 6. Jessica Simon – Ocean Spring, MS 7. Michael Tibbits – Crestview1, FL 8. Tonya Harris – Jasper, TN 9. Kevin Kuznar – Venice, FL 10. Brandon Schnitzer – Tahlequah, OK 11. Christy Wall – Berryville, AR 12. April Taylor – Madisonville, TN 13. April Kummerle – Weaverville, NC 14. Daniel Forrester – Livingston, TN 15. Josh Rivera – Venice, FL 16. Adam Wolfgang – Mifflinburg, PA 17. Barbara Pritchett – Mineola, TX 18. Alexei Sumskoy – Englewood, FL 19. Maria Serrano – Odessa3, TX 20. Brian Mastin – North Port, FL 21. Brent Bailey – Tyler1, TX 22. Stephanie Smith – Willis, TX 23. Herb Gardner – Ruskin, FL 24. Jeffery Shayan – Byron, IL 25. Phoebe Chadwick – Newnan, GA 26. Justin Klatt – Berryville, AR 27. Teresa Pyle – Mineola, TX 28. Kristopher Weston – Ruskin, FL 29. Mayra Guirado – Big Spring, TX 30. Ben Winterton – Ava, MO 31. Chantel Rutledge – Roanoke, AL 32. Thomas Stump – Englewood, FL 33. Gabriel Stamey – Sugar Mountain, NC 34. Austin Alsup – Springfield2, MO 35. Kayla Venable – Middlesboro, KY 36. Angela Barraza – Newnan, GA 37. Ashley Taylor – Fort Stockton, TX 38. Rebecca Rodriguez – Wauchula, FL 39. Brittnee Thompson – Perryville, MO 40. Nancy Vital – Wauchula, FL 41. Amanda Healey – Canton, NY 42. Jacob Toussaint – Casa Grande, AZ 43. Adam Grandt – Weaverville, NC 44. Sharon McGee – Mena, AR
45. Pedro Camacho – Sulphur Springs, TX 46. Merry Adkins – Clare, MI 47. Jennifer Hallonquist – Mineola, TX 48. Houston Cheek – Greenville, M 49. Elisa Aguirre – Willcox, AZ 50. Daniel Dameron – Grundy, VA 51. Mayra Medina – Tyler2, TX 52. Kimberly Robles – Midland, TX 53. Chavelle Hicks – Kings Plaza, NYC 54. Joshua Dowda – Rogersville, TN 55. Brandon Hewitt – Allendale, MI 56. Leonard Diebold – Dresden, TN 57. David Medley – Griffin, GA 58. Hunter Brock – Crestview1, FL 59. Kiefer Benson – Chattanooga3, TN 60. Stephen Rawls – Fairhope, AL 61. Teri Young – Crestview2, FL 62. Ricarda Gonsalez – Wauchula, FL 63. Brian Weaver – Bremen, GA 64. Patrick Parker – Blakely, GA 65. Seth McCoo – Norton, VA 66. Shana Turner – Cookeville, TN 67. Jordan Adams – Cookeville, TN 68. Nathan Franco – Pecos, TX 69. Isaiah Short – Rome, GA 70. Georgina Cuevas – Artesia, NM 71. Chantel Olds – Carrollton, GA 72. Emmanuel Smith – Newnan, GA 73. Matthew Morgan – Bossier City1, LA 74. Ashley Maxwell – Fayetteville, AR 75. Hayden Seegert – Adrian, MI 76. Antonio Espitia – Englewood, FL 77. Christy Johnson – Dresden, TN 78. Daniel Demand – Stow, OH 79. Ashley Devylder – Danville1, IL 80. Lacey Kellogg – Bartlesville, OK 81. Samuel Atkinson – Shreveport1, LA 82. James Sheckler – Greenville, MI 83. Adam Kita – Coal Township, PA 84. Casey Solomon – McMinnville, TN 85. Hayden Swinford – Danville1, IL 86. Tricia Smith – Lindale, TX 87. Ian Buchanan – Spruce Pine, NC 88. Amanda Tudor – Kewanee, IL
89. Alex Hoessle – Millersburg, OH 90. Jason Vanalmen – Mocksville, NC 91. Alex Berry – Adrian, MI 92. Mariah Dailey – Perryville, MO 93. Jennifer Allen – Cedartown, GA 94. Shandi Willis – Bremen, GA 95. Aliayh Fillmore – Coldwater, MI 96. Clint Derrick – Artesia, NM 97. Jessica Stone – Canton, NY 98. Omar Mbye – Midtown East1, NYC 99. Robbin Collins – Johnson City, TN 100. Joshua Walker – Villa Rica, GA 101. Jennifer Smith – Gulf Breeze, FL 102. Kimberly Newman – Roswell, NM 103. Alexander Thorn – Springfield3, MO 104. Walter Tilman – Mt Pleasant, MI 105. Michelle Rye – Stilwell, OK 106. David Hash – St Pete, FL 107. Stephen Knefely – Greenville, MI 108. Sara Hallahan – Coldwater, MI 109. Cathy Snider – Danville2, IL 110. Eddie Guel – Lamesa, TX 111. Jared Haight – Allendale, MI 112. Brandi Braddock – Cleburne, TX 113. Katrina Calia – Paola, KS 114. Pam Cantrell – McMinnville, TN 115. Torrez Kelly – Tilton, IL 116. Johnta Wilson – Greenville, TX 117. Chad Spears – Sedona, AZ 118. Dana Ramsey – Woodbury, TN 119. Nikki Amerson – Mt Pleasant, TX 120. Robby Dingler – Winnsboro, LA 121. Shawna Tyson – Newport, PA 122. Dakota Seymour – Rockford, MI 123. Jenna Odom – Thomasville, GA 124. Tammi Campbell – Crestview2, FL 125. Jessica Moreno – Mt Pleasant, TX 126. Amira Sofyan – Bossier City1, LA 127. Adrian Elmore – Ruston, LA 128. Jonathan Shepherd – Paragould, AR 129. Susan Gage – Mena, AR 130. Kelli Hart – Sulphur Springs, TX 131. Dawn Hambelton – Madisonville, TN 132. Thor Hughes – Rantoul, IL
133. Brianna Skurat – Cheshire, CT 134. Brandon Holmes – Griffin, GA 135. Carla Walker – Madisonville, TN 136. Misty Cannon – Poteau2, OK 137. Brandon Benoit – Springfield2, MO 138. Chanda Turley – Grants, NM 139. Lashonda White – Marshall, TX 140. 140. Blake Lusby – The Villages, FL 141. Courtney Brown – Grants, NM 142. Amanda Andrews – Springfield2, MO 143. Brandon Brown – Byron Center, MI 144. Rich Gail – Gallup1, NM 145. Amber Morales – Willcox, AZ 146. Trisha McCloskey – Mill Hall, PA 147. Chad Wilkins – Niceville, FL 148. Victor Guzman – Douglas, AZ 149. Victoria Lira – Gainesville, TX 150. Gabrielle Vega – Midtown, NYC 151. Sabrina Acosta – Roswell 2, NM 152. Adnan Kassem – East Harlem, NYC 153. Alexa Kantout – Tilton, IL 154. Kimberly Norwood – Paragould, AR 155. David Bailey – Bay Minette, AL 156. Jamie Putansu – Prudenville, MI 157. Natalie Sabin – Benson, AZ 158. Domanic Anderson – Tahlequah, OK 159. Shanell Carter – Mt. Pleasant, MI 160. Jackie Mitchell – Bentonville, AR 161. Francisco Munoz – Bossier City 2, LA 162. Oralia Reyes – Willis, TX 163. Rebecca McCormack – Gulf Breeze, FL 164. Aaron Miller – Lafayette, GA 165. Crystal Goddard – Buffalo, MO 166. Joshua Compton – Carlsbad, NM 167. David Schwennesen – Allegan, MI 168. Justin Padilla – Thomasville, GA 169. Benjamin Brown – Camden, AR 170. Michael Grantham – Camden, AR 171. Alexander Oswald – West Branch, MI 172. Raquel McAlister – Milan, TN 173. Matthew Mann – Navarre, FL 174. Gary Fifelski – Paw Paw, MI 175. Merissa Crosby – Freeburg, IL 176. Amanda Szakacsi – Belleville, IL
AND A SINCERE THANKS TO ALL OF THE RC FAMILY
Across the Generations: Learn how the Russells grew their family business into a national operation that still feels like home.
Published on Mar 1, 2019
Across the Generations: Learn how the Russells grew their family business into a national operation that still feels like home.