Dave Staszewski of Wireless Zone: “Listening to your customers is critical”

At Wireless Zone, we have had to quickly shift our business model to adapt to the current state of the country, and the changes in what consumers expect from us. By adding curbside delivery, contactless payment options and Retail Direct Ship, we’ve thrived during this pandemic and have been a trusted resource for people in […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

At Wireless Zone, we have had to quickly shift our business model to adapt to the current state of the country, and the changes in what consumers expect from us. By adding curbside delivery, contactless payment options and Retail Direct Ship, we’ve thrived during this pandemic and have been a trusted resource for people in the communities we serve.

As part of our series about the future of retail, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Staszewski, Executive Vice President of Wireless Zone.

Dave Staszewski joined the Wireless Zone® team in 2006 as the Vice President of Business Development with more than twenty years of business and sales management experience. In April 2007, he was promoted to Vice President and General Manager, joined the Executive staff in 2010 as Senior Vice President of Sales and promoted to Executive Vice President of Sales in 2013. His duties as EVP of Sales include overseeing all Field Sales and Support Organizations to the franchise organization, Franchise Development along with the National, Regional and local Verizon relationships.

Dave’s career began with the development and management of the regional finance department of start-up wireless carrier Metro Mobile CTS. From there went on to build the Indirect Distribution and Reseller(MVNO) Channels a niche that allowed Mr. Staszewski to excel as a manager and developed a number of successful organizations for two of the nation’s largest wireless carriers.

Staszewski holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Post University.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I’ve been fortunate to have a Walter Mitty type of career. I’ve been in the wireless industry since 1988, when the first poles were put in the ground. My first job was at Metro Mobile, and we were having a hard time competing with the Bell companies. We didn’t have a roaming agreement in place at the time, which was a big problem. I was just a punk kid that was asked to be part of the roaming agreement team. At the first meeting, I was sitting at a table with people who became titans of the industry. I was clueless at the time, but looking back, it was a history-making moment for our company and for my career.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?

When I was working at Metro Mobile, we were merging with Bell Atlantic, and I was picked to run the transition team. The Bell Atlantic team was at our office for a minute, and I stopped by my office and saw a man sitting at my desk. I unceremoniously threw him out of the office and he graciously left. When I showed up to the meeting with Bell, I was introduced to my new boss, Dennis Strigl, then-CEO of Bell Atlantic, who was the very same man I had just kicked out of my office. The incident turned into an ongoing joke — every time we saw each other, he would ask, “Mind if I use your office?”

Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to look at ways to pivot our business. Because Wireless Zone offers products that require hands-on support, we needed to find a way to continue to offer an awesome customer experience in this “new normal.” We quickly implemented curbside pickup and touchless payments, which has been working well. We also began offering Retail Direct Ship, which allows customers to get the support they need to make a buying decision over the phone, avoiding a trip to one of our stores.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

The wireless industry has been changing every 60 to 90 days since 1988. If I wasn’t able to change with it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My advice is to evolve with the industry, and adjust your mindset to accept that things are going to change, and you have to be flexible enough to be ready to adjust accordingly. Before you’re feeling burnt out, plan a vacation or just use your PTO. I don’t necessarily practice what I preach, but taking time away to rest and recharge is really important.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful, who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’ve been fortunate to work in one of the most amazing industries and mentored by people who became titans in the industry. The education and experience I’ve received in my career was better than if I had a Harvard MBA. Gary Schulman, who eventually became the president of Verizon Wireless Data Services, gave me the opportunity to get into the wireless industry at Metro Mobile, and I learned a lot from him. Tom Robillard taught me the value of loyalty and pushed me to succeed by giving me the chance to move from the finance department of Metro Mobile into a role running a distribution department. In that role, I oversaw a team of people, all of whom have grown in their careers into president roles at various companies.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’ve sat on the board of the Wireless Zone Foundation for Giving for many years, which I consider to be my favorite aspect of my business and the best part of my job. Through that work, I’ve become very close to the Ehrli family in Orlando, Florida. Joe Ehrli has Neurofibromatosis, and through the support of the Children’s Tumor Foundation and advancements in research and treatment, recently graduated from the University of Central Florida. It’s been incredible to see him grow despite his disorder, and he and his family have become lifelong friends of mine. We recently donated 25,000 dollars to the cause, and it’s been really rewarding to see firsthand how our foundation helps people.

We recently reworked the format of the foundation, and made it more localized, so that our franchise owners feel empowered to make a difference in their local communities. We put a percentage of our gross profits into the foundation, which is typically about 600,000 dollars per year, and have created programs for our franchisees to partner with local organizations that they care about. This isn’t just a feel-good corporate program; it’s designed to make everyone in our entire system feel good and give back to the community.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share five examples of different ideas that large retail outlets are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?

Amazon obviously comes to mind as a brand that has really perfected the online ordering and customer service experience — to their advantage during the pandemic. Walmart recently launched a similar membership service which has been hugely successful.

At Wireless Zone, we have had to quickly shift our business model to adapt to the current state of the country, and the changes in what consumers expect from us. By adding curbside delivery, contactless payment options and Retail Direct Ship, we’ve thrived during this pandemic and have been a trusted resource for people in the communities we serve.

In your opinion, will retail stores or malls continue to exist? How would you articulate the role of physical retail spaces at a time when online commerce platforms like Amazon Prime or Instacart can deliver the same day or the next day?

For us, even though we sell a lot of technology products that can be purchased online, we are a customer service business. Our products require education — and our customers want to make sure they’re investing in the perfect product for their needs. That type of support is critical and I don’t see that going away anytime soon. Malls were struggling before the pandemic and I can’t say that I see a real future for traditional malls. Our standalone stores are positioned for the future and have been doing really well.

The so-called “Retail Apocalypse” has been going on for about a decade. While many retailers are struggling, some retailers, like Lululemon, Kroger, and Costco are quite profitable. Can you share a few lessons that other retailers can learn from the success of profitable retailers?

Listening to your customers is critical. Their needs and preferences change, and you need to be nimble enough to reinvent, or at least refresh, your brand to continue to earn their business. Do not be afraid of change — in a rapidly changing world, brands that are continually innovating are the ones that are succeeding.

Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise to retail companies and e-commerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

Again, this ties back to a really amazing customer experience. Of course people want to get the best deal on a product, but there has to be more value to their purchase than just a cheap product, which puts Wireless Zone at an advantage. We’ve always done well with customer service, and that has fueled our business. People come to us because they trust our products, they trust our expertise and they trust our team. We’ve been nimble in shifting our business alongside what our customers want, and that keeps them loyal to us. 5G will also create opportunities for our franchisees and our customers.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I already feel like I’m part of a movement. Scott Moorehead, the owner of Round Room, Wireless Zone’s parent company, created a Culture of Good — which focuses on people feeling good about coming to work and doing good by others while we’re there. I’ve been very fortunate to work for an organization that walks the walk and cultivates a culture that is focused on doing the most amount of good that we can every day.

How can our readers further follow your work?

Readers can follow my work by connecting with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-staszewski-845037a/.

They can also check the Wireless Zone website for details: https://wirelesszone.com/.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

You might also like...


Michael Combs On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

by Karen Mangia

Alison Lindland On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

by Karen Mangia

George Holmes of Resonant: “Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know”

by Fotis Georgiadis
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.