Consumer Cellular hooks up seniors

| Print |  Email
Articles - July/August 2013
Monday, July 08, 2013

BY LINDA BAKER

0713 Tactics 01
// Photo of CEO John Marick by Adam Bacher

The wireless-communications industry thrives on the latest and the greatest; witness the masses who camp out in front of Apple stores every year or so anticipating the newest iPhone. Consumer Cellular, a Tigard-based wireless service and phone provider, is not one of the trendsetters.

“There are a lot of wireless companies that get really excited about the youth, business users, those early adopters,” says CEO John Marick, 48. “We’re the boring category. We target people who want cellular phones for the safety and convenience.”

Most of those people are seniors. Founded in 1995, Consumer Cellular has carved out a niche targeting older users with simple, inexpensive and no-contract cell phone plans — with basic service starting at $10 a month. The company grossed about $263 million last year, up from $44.6 million in 2007.

Almost 20 years after Marick and co-founder Greg Pryor identified a void in the marketplace — “the cell phone was a luxury item then; nobody was trying to make it affordable,” Marick observes — Consumer Cellular is growing strong yet faces a few challenges ahead. More competitors are entering the low-cost wireless space. Plus, Consumer Cellular’s target market, the over-50 set, is becoming increasingly tech savvy, “making it harder for us to get our message out,” Marick says.

To stay competitive, Consumer Cellular is setting its sights on an initiative that might seem a contradiction in terms: adapting the ultimate tech status symbol for customers who care little about tech or status. That device would be the smartphone, a product Marick says “could be our next big thing.”

Consumer Cellular
CEO: John Marick
Employees: 800
Headquarters: Tigard
Factoid: In 2012, Consumer Cellular subscribers used a total of 1,920,845,339 talk minutes

Consumer Cellular — which employs about 800 people, including Marick’s wife, Tami, and sister, Jill Leonetti (both are part of the management team) — has enjoyed its share of next big things. During its first 10 years, the company focused almost exclusively on the Oregon market. That changed in 2005, when Consumer Cellular signed an agreement with AT&T to buy and resell space on the wireless conglomerate’s network. “That’s what really made us a true national player,” Marick says.

In 2009 the company forged a partnership with another big player, the AARP, giving Consumer Cellular a direct line to the association’s 40 million members. That relationship helped grow the company’s customer count from about 30,000 in 2006 to more than 1 million today.



 

More Articles

Bendafornia: What’s driving the Northern California migration?

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
bendiforniathumbBY KEN MAES

A huge migration from Northern California has contributed to average 16% growth per year since 1990.


Read more...

Ranking the airlines that fly PDX

The Latest
Friday, August 14, 2015
airlinesthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

17 airlines make stops at Portland International Airport, but not all are created equal when it comes to customer service.


Read more...

Aim High

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

We get the education we deserve.


Read more...

The 10 most successful crowdfunding campaigns in Oregon

The Latest
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
081915-crowdfundingmainBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

One of the hottest new investment trends has proven quite lucrative for some companies.


Read more...

Reader Input: Fair Play

May 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.


Read more...

Photo Log: Waterfront Blues Festival

The Latest
Thursday, July 09, 2015
bluesfestthumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The sweltering weather didn't keep the crowds away. Although the numbers were down slightly from last year, the Oregon Food Bank raised $850,636 to fight hunger.  About 80,000 people attended despite temperatures in the upper 90s.


Read more...

Reader Input: Road Work

March 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oregon's roads are crumbling, and revenues from state and local gas taxes are not sufficient to pay for improvements. We asked readers if the private sector should help fund transportation maintenance and repairs. Research partner CFM Strategic Communications conducted the poll of 366 readers in February.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS