Established in December of 1993, as a home based business, owner Jeff Russell began as a lone sales representative selling Alltel Wireless from the trunk of his old Dodge Omni. Formerly a turkey farmer, Jeff was intimidated by big business and large towns. His fear of cold calling caused him to develop a strong referral program with the farmers and small business owners that were his first customers. Jeff developed his sales technique and soon hired a few outside sales representatives, all of them selling from the trunks of their cars.
By the end of 1994, a customer base had been established and two retail locations were opened. Kym, Jeff’s wife and partner, began managing the home based office allowing Jeff to focus on sales, marketing and finances. The Corporate Office was moved out of the Russell’s home into a new Springfield, Missouri location, and three new rural offices were added. Russell Cellular was recognized as Alltel’s top selling agent. Additional administration staff were hired, and a sales manager was brought in to focus on the rapidly growing sales force.
Sales continued to soar, and Jeff Russell was awarded the 1998 Small Business Association Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Kansas City District. Russell Cellular continued into 2002 with their first acquisition of a long standing competitor in Springfield, Missouri. Several new locations were added as Russell Cellular expanded into new markets. The Springfield Business Journal named Russell Cellular as the area’s fastest growing company of 2004. 2007 and 2008 were record breaking years in sales as the company continued to grow into new states, including an acquisition of an 18-store company in Ohio.
In 2008, the Alltel Wireless and Verizon Wireless merger was announced. This merger created a daunting task for Russell Cellular: converting over 100 Alltel stores to Verizon stores in a matter of months. At the same time, the company was completing construction on a brand new Corporate Office in Battlefield, Missouri, just a few miles south of Springfield. By December 2009, 16 years after the company was founded, all stores were converted to Verizon and the new headquarters facility was opened
in Battlefield. The organization’s success was again recognized with the Springfield BusinessJournal’s 2010 “Dynamic Dozen” award, as the fastest growing company in Southwest Missouri.
One of Russell Cellular’s greatest challenges has been to respond to the pressures of the wireless industry while maintaining the operation of the company in a way that is true to the foundational core values of the organization. In 2012, the company’s leadership team focused on creating a more positive Customer Experience and Employee Experience, adding a Vision Statement and implementing the three pillars of Employee Experience: Opportunity, Value, and Team.
Russell Cellular celebrated their 20-year anniversary in December 2013. This 20-year milestone was followed by a year of exponential growth and record-breaking sales, including 6 consecutive months of record sales from July 2014 through December 2014. In 2015, the organization continued its pattern of growth into new states and Verizon markets. The fall of 2015 ushered in the acquisition of stores in the northeastern U.S. Stores in New York City, and locations in central Pennsylvania, marked Russell Cellular’s easterly expansion, and its first growth into major metropolitan markets.
2017 began with Russell Cellular’s entrance into Verizon’s “Big 6”, the retailer program for the six largest Verizon Authorized Retailers in the U.S. This recognition provided the company with the opportunity for accelerated growth in new markets, including the organization’s first locations in California. By the first quarter of 2018, Russell Cellular maintained over 400 stores in 30 states. The company’s future includes continued growth of same store sales, as well as new locations that strengthen the company’s nationwide partnership with Verizon. Regardless of the changes the company may experience, Russell Cellular will always strive to maintain its core values and founding principles that helped drive their success for nearly 25 years.