SBJ: What has been key to your recent growth?
Jeven Russell: No. 1, we’re in the technology industry and it’s constantly evolving. In the last year, 5G comes to mind – it’s been deemed the next industrial revolution. We’re just tapping into that. We’re across 39 states and in a couple markets that have 5G. We really believe Verizon has the best network out there and as we continue to build out, it’ll be better as 5G comes to market. The second thing is the Verizon partnership. That’s the carrier and the network we get to sell. We’ve focused a lot on making sure we’re a partner of choice for Verizon. We’re one of their top retail distribution partners across the U.S. and that’s positioned us to be in a spot for more opportunities. As they look at growing distribution into a new market or new store, we want to be a partner that comes to mind. Third, we believe it’s our core values and our culture that really has driven our success. We have four core values: expertise, initiative, service and integrity. Those always have been a part of who we are.
SBJ: What are your top issues when it comes to managing growth?
Russell: Staying connected with your team and not deviating from your roots. Your team members every single day are building on and impacting culture, but we do it together, collectively. So, as we’ve gone from 1,000 employees to 1,500 to today we’re over 2,200 employees, making sure we’re staying true to who Russell Cellular is has been one of our biggest challenges. We’ve been able to navigate that.
SBJ: What has the company’s growth enabled you to do?
Russell: We are always reinvesting back into the business. We’ve been able to invest into new markets and new locations and continue to grow our core business model, which is Verizon retail outlets across the nation. The second thing is being able to invest in new departments and infrastructure. A good example is the new home office we moved into. We were under four different buildings and now we’ve been able to all move into one. About six months ago, we launched a new department that is a customer-facing call center. We still had our old corporate office we’d been trying to sell; we renovated it, and now, we’re using our old location to open a new call center that’s going to have 50-plus employees in Battlefield.
In the last two months, we launched our agent partner program. This allows us to work with independent owners to open their own Verizon location or will allow an agent that maybe has four or five Verizon locations, they can come under the RC umbrella and represent themselves as Russell Cellular and Verizon. We mutually partner to help them find success, but they still own and operate their own business.
SBJ: What is the best business advice you’ve received?
Russell: Our CEO and president [Jeff Russell] says this on a normal basis: Controlling what we can control and addressing your circumstances. I think too often people get caught up in the symptoms of a situation rather than controlling what you can. Address your circumstance head on – focus on what matters and focus on what you can to get out from those circumstances and overcome.
A project that is now hitting its stride on the west side of Bolivar includes a retail strip and storage units.