Page 1

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

1


FEATURES

18

24

30

25TH ANNIVERSARY

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.

2

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

12/ COMMUNICATION

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.

32

KIDS

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

1

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

246

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

3

A NOTE

FROM

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

TIPS

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

3


LIFE

SPOTLIGHT

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—

“Being

surrounded

by

such

positive,

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

LESSONS LEARNED

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 great!”

4

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

Q&A

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

Medrano’s

team

members

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.

Any

full-time

employee

For

Medrano,

the

EEF

is eligible to apply to the EEF

means

after a 90-day introductory

to go when you feel like you

“having

somewhere

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-

RCcares@russellcellular.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

company.”

contributions from colleagues throughout

the

company.

Employees

can

He’s seen the EEF fill the gap for practical needs, like

contribute

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-

cellular technology?

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

Employee

we have questions. And if there’s ever anything I’m not sure about,

Outreach Advocate. “There is

and

Community

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

huge need.”

Photo courtesy Holly Fain

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

5


LIFE

RC CARES

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

HEDGIE LOVE

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

DONATION

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.

6

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


LIFE

RC CARES

$100

The money Carlton and Adkins raised in just seven days from selling the Hedgie PopSockets.

$297

The total amount of money raised for the Lambert family.

WELL DESIGNED

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.

ORGANIZATION

IMPACT

RC’S HEART

GET INVOLVED

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.”

their communities.”

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

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

7


LIFE

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.”

8

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

confidence.

living with the employee’s household), being a victim of a crime causing financial hardship (could include crimes

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

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

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE:

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

week’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

maximum assistance.

still subject to normal employment tax.


EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

PILLAR TALK

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

BONDED TOGETHER

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

TEAM

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.

VALUE

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.

10

RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING

Photo courtesy Russel Cellular


EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

TIPS OF THE TRADE

BEST PRACTICES At Russell Cellular,

1

establishing and maintaining a relationship with customers is key. Thankfully, there are

2

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

3

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

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

11


EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

COMMUNICATION

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.”

12

RC CONNECTIONS / SPRING

Photo courtesy Kurt Reinhart


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PLUGGED IN

ROUND TABLE

THE PROS Nathan Mindeman and Tina Crewse started in sales before moving up the RC ladder.

THE POWER OF SALES

14

After 25 years, a lot has changed

THE NOVICE

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


PLUGGED IN

ROUND TABLE

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

our stores.”

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

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

15


PLUGGED IN

GROWTH SPURT

1,200

NEW EMPLOYEES

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

246

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

STORES ADDED

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

5

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

41,929

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


PLUGGED IN

TECH TALK

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

good reason.

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

testimony.

wonderful feeling.”

they are part of something big

R.C.: What excites you about

tion matters because our people

and know that what they do ev-

this project?

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

magazine accomplishes?

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

17


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

ness market.”

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.”

18

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

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

19


RAPID EXPANSION

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.


1

2

7

6

8

UNITED STATES MAP OF RUSSELL CELLULAR COVERAGE

3

4

5

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

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

21


RC VALUES

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

dure.

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

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM 23


ICE ICE BABY This massive ice sculpture was created for RC’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

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM 25


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.

LIKE FAMILY

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

BIG SIX

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

Springfield.

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

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM 27


LESSONS LEARNED

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

competitive market.

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

1

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

the best.”

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

great things.”

was looking for. That

CULTURE

company

culture

Badalamenti

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

1

Cellular, Daniel Hyder shook his hand and

2

3

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.

1

3

2

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.”

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM 29


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

Fortunately,

Many RC team members

den boost in employees, there

know the incredible story. In 25

is enough property to expand

cramped

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

the

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

our salespeople.”

under the same roof again once the new building is finished.

Instead of more traditional carpet-covered

cubicles,

the

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

now

managers

during their lunch breaks. They’ll

department

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

and

investment.

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.

that

means

able return on the RC’s sizeable

development,”

gone from a husband-and wifeteam to one of Verizon’s “Big 6”

says.

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

Valentine

The Russells have always

RUSSELLCELLULAR.COM

31


LAST WORD

GLOSSARY

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

associates.

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

for success

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


LAST WORD

LIFE OUTSIDE

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.”

GETTING SCHOOLED

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

CHRIS LUCIDO

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

Profile for 417 Magazine

Russell Cellular Connections | Spring 2019  

Across the Generations: Learn how the Russells grew their family business into a national operation that still feels like home.

Russell Cellular Connections | Spring 2019  

Across the Generations: Learn how the Russells grew their family business into a national operation that still feels like home.

Profile for 417mag