Comprehensive Communications celebrates 15 years
Brad Larson never expected a career in retail. But after 15 years of owning Comprehensive Communications, a wireless product and service provider, he said it has all been a blessing.
Larson has set the week of June 23 for an anniversary celebration with in-store specials. June 27 and 28 events include hourly merchandise giveaways and an outdoor cookout of hot dogs, brats and refreshments. Larson said it's basically a way to say "thank you" to loyal customers and celebrate the years Comprehensive Communications has been operating.
Larson started the business out of his home in 1993 and originally focused on consulting companies with communication devices. At the time, the everyday consumer couldn't afford tools like cell phones, but that has changed over the years. As a result of this, Larson was able to fade away from business consultation, progress into retail and open a store.
"They [cell phones] have become a necessity versus a luxury item," said Larson, explaining his customers lead busy lives and need easy communication with children, spouses and co-workers.
Larson mainly works out of the Hudson location but owns two other stores in Baldwin and New Richmond. His general store manager, Justin Seidel, oversees the three locations but each store has its own in-store manager and sales staff. Comprehensive Communications still does outside sales to businesses in the St. Croix Valley area, but Larson said the regular consumer industry has increased substantially because wireless costs have decreased.
Larson and Seidel said they take pride in their customer service and it's what sets them apart from the large wireless companies, acting as a liaison between them and the customer.
"We can't send someone out of here unresolved. It just doesn't fly," said Seidel, mentioning how some companies will leave a customer stuck with an 800 number and nothing else. "We value our customer care here and provide in-house support."
Part of the dedication to customer care may be due to the way Larson operates his business. His philosophy is to encourage employees to be ethical and honest by giving customers their full range of options, as opposed to persuading them to buy specific products.
The employees seem to be happy with their jobs, too. Most have been with the company for over five years. It's been nearly 10 years for Seidel, who's worked with the company since age 17. He graduated from Metro-State University with a degree in business administration.
Additionally Larson has hired Hudson high school employees through the school's program Partners in Education. If the program sees a student with potential to work in the communication and technology field, they are recommended to Larson. He said they've been a great fit and he enjoys employing members of the community.
Over the years Larson and Seidel said they've seen a number of changes in communication. Phones continue to get smaller in size but add more features. Data phones like Blackberrys are becoming more popular, especially for business people. Larson said these types of customers rely greatly on data products and has seen them go into "panic-mode" if their phone malfunctions.
The increase in wireless coverage has also improved he said, especially since the move from analog to digital. Since then, providers can put more users on a tower.
The company concentrates on the strongest providers in the area, T-Mobile and Verizon, but aren't limited to anything. They've sold most wireless providers including AT&T, Cellular One and Sprint. Larson said they have the ability to bring whatever is in high demand to their stores.
"It's going to be interesting to see where this industry goes in the next 10 years," said Larson. "It changes so fast."
The celebration includes prize drawings and merchandise discounts. No purchase is necessary to be eligible for prizes.
Comprehensive Communications is located at 1250 Crestview Drive in Hudson. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call (715) 381-2100 for more information or visit http://comcominc.com to see other store locations.