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From left: Nathan Mindeman, Robert Lister, Jeven Russell and Darin Wray
Heather Mosley | SBJ
From left: Nathan Mindeman, Robert Lister, Jeven Russell and Darin Wray

2023 Dynamic Dozen No. 4: Russell Cellular Inc.

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SBJ: What has been key to your recent growth?
Jeven Russell: Being in the technology industry, it’s been fun and exciting. We’ll celebrate 30 years in business this December, and we’ve seen quite a bit of change in this industry. 5G technology continues to grow. Outside of that, I really attribute a lot of this to our RC leadership team and really the culture that our team fosters in our national footprint.

SBJ: We’ve seen you grow through acquisitions, most recently Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based CellOnly earlier this year. Talk about the strategy that goes into that.
Russell: Acquisitions have been a big part of our growth strategy for many, many years. Last July, we acquired a company called MDI, with a really heavy footprint in Texas. This January, [Russell Cellular] acquired CellOnly. That was really almost three different companies. They had Sioux Falls, they had Wyoming and they had some Texas distribution. At this point, there’s around 20 other Verizon agents, but at one point in time there was well over 100. I think through partnership with Verizon, there’s been a good opportunity for us to network and work with some of these other business owners. For us, it’s really about trying to find the right fit for both sides. We’ve been a growth-minded company, but it’s always been smart growth. There’s a lot of opportunities that we’ve turned down, some acquisitions that we’ve turned down, as well. These last two ones, we added about 100 locations of our corporate-owned stores and, [it was] just the right cultural fit for us, the right time for those partners to exit the business and right time for us to be able to come in and help serve some new communities and bring some of those smaller organizations into our national footprint.

SBJ: Is your fast growth sustainable?
Russell: I think so. One testament is, I think, this is maybe our 10th recognition in Dynamic Dozen. We’ve had a lot of sustainable growth over the years. We’ve really just focused on smart growth, and there is a strategy behind making sure that we are aligning with other businesses that we’re looking to acquire, but also new distribution, as well. There’s always challenges going into a new market. I think that’s the risk that we have. We also try to do a really good job with making sure that we’ve got the right back-office infrastructure, the right field leadership, quantity of positions and then really assessing market conditions. That’s a big risk for us when we’re going into a new market or buying a new store. There’s always some unknown factors, but I think for us, we’ve done a good job finding our niche area where we think we can do well.

SBJ: What is the best business advice you’ve received?
Russell: Focus on the controllables. Be thoughtful. Have a plan and really focus on the things that just you can control. That’s definitely something that we’ve seen, especially in our industry … the last three years.


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