Cellular South committed to Franklin County

Published 1:17 am Sunday, March 2, 2008

MEADVILLE — From its humble beginnings as a few trailers stationed on Main Street in Meadville, Cellular South has blossomed into one of the largest privately owned wireless companies in the nation.

Though large companies tend to sell out, merge or even move their offices to large cities, Cellular South is content just where they are.

Jim Richmond, director of corporate communications for Cellular South, said 2008 is the 20th anniversary for the company, something Richmond said is unique because they are still privately owned.

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He said although they have had chances to merge or sell out before, they decided against it.

“That’s not our strategy; that’s not our plan,” Richmond said.

Richmond said it’s also common that when businesses expand the way Cellular South has, they move their operation center to a larger location.

But he said Meadville and Franklin County are important to the company.

“Franklin County has been very good to us,” he said.

Laura Miller, senior call center manager for Cellular South, said there are several benefits to being in Meadville.

“It’s kind of two fold,” she said. “We still have roots in this home grown company but we’re still at the cutting edge of technology. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Franklin County has been good to Cellular South and Cellular South has been good to Franklin County, in turn, Richmond said.

Richmond said the company is one of the largest employers in Franklin County.

Miller said the office in Meadville employs around 100 people. And that’s one of the things that the company is proud of — being able to provide jobs in the local area.

Miller said part of her job is recruiting employees. One thing she said she uses to draw in employees is telling them about “career pathing” in Cellular South.

It’s basically training within the company so employees have the ability to move up the ladder of success.

Richmond said it is important that employees grow in the company.

“There’s opportunity for further growth here,” he said.

He said many people will start off in a remedial position but will quickly move to higher positions. In fact, he said, Miller is an example of this.

Miller started out as a sales representative for the company four years ago and she has worked up to her current management position.

“I feel very blessed to have started where I did at an entry level position and worked to where I am today,” she said. “I know several other testimonies just like mine.”

She said that’s just the philosophy of the company, investing in their employees.

“They’re willing to invest in you and make sure you grow in the company,” she said. “We are where we are today because Cellular South invested in everyone that works for them.”

And employees have an opportunity to invest in the company, Richmond said. This is possible through the employee stock option program.

That’s just one of the benefits of a privately owned business, Richmond said.

Another? Feeling like you’re part of a big family.

Sonya King, customer care coach for Cellular South, said sometimes they spend more time at the office than with their actual families depending on shifts. But they don’t mind long hours because they have ways of making it fun.

“It’s a family environment,” King said.

King, who has been with the Meadville office for 13 1/2 years, said she likes the challenge the job presents.

As for what can be expected in the future?

Richmond and Miller had the same answer.

“We’ve been very successful here so there really are no plans to change,” Richmond said.

Miller echoed the same sentiment.

“You can expect that we’re not going anywhere,” Miller said. “We’ve been there in Meadville from the very beginning. We have deep roots there and we are not going anywhere, that’s for sure.”