Business View Magazine interviews William and John Beg of AT&T Portables, as part of our focus on best practices in the retail wireless industry.
We come from a long line of merchants,” explains William Beg, CO-CEO and founding partner of Portables, a family-owned National Authorized Retailer of AT&T. “My two brothers and I wanted to open our own business. We had worked in our uncle’s electronics store in high school and decided to go out on our own.” From there, William and his brother John Beg built a business that includes 45 retail locations and provides access to one of the nation’s leading wireless network providers.
For nearly three decades, the founders of Portables have shown an innate ability to tune into their market, their potential partners, and potential locations. The story of the company’s growth begins in 1991, inside the Potomac Mills Mall in Woodbridge, Virginia. Shortly after opening as an electronics store, with an inventory of cameras, video cameras, televisions, and stereos, “we saw a great number of customers coming in with wireless devices,” explains William Beg. “So we connected with Cellular One at the time to start selling their products and services. Within a year, we transitioned our business out of electronics and into wireless communication.”
The brothers hit the ground running. They also laid ground for the foundations of a regional sales network. With operations in six states; Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania, the company begs for, and boasts about, its management structure. As one of ten national authorized retailers for AT&T, Portables knows the importance of accountability. The company’s management structure operates within four layers: store managers report to district managers, who then report to regional directors, who are overseen by the Vice President of Sales. This organized approach to management has led to ample opportunities for growth. Last year, Portables landed in the 36th Annual Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies.
John Beg, CO-CEO/CFO, believes it is the company’s organizational culture that has attributed to its three-year sales growth of 122 percent. He explains that everyone at the firm enjoys and finds pride in their work. He describes the investment in employees with, “We reward people who work hard. There is nobody here who can get in your way of succeeding except yourself. Every level of this organization gets the same type of treatment. He explains that he can validate Portables’ organizational culture, as he’s held many of the company’s roles.
In order to maintain success and fuel further growth, the company founders tap into the same intuition that helped them build their business. Because of their success in opening 45 retail locations to date, the company enjoys the trust of AT&T. As William explains, while the firm does seek out and bid on new endeavors, “AT&T usually comes to us because we are such a great operator. They have us look at new opportunities where they feel they need distribution.”
But it’s not just about the real estate acumen. For Portables, it’s also about understanding their partner’s needs and next steps. William describes the situation, “AT&T’s needs change on a day-to-day basis. We learned early on that to have the best relationship with your partner, you first have to identify your partner’s needs. Then you must address those needs and deliver. We’ve done that pretty well, and we feel that’s why AT&T continues to give us more opportunity.”
Like AT&T, Portables has embraced the recently purchased Direct TV as an asset to their consumer offerings, delivering the product to customers who walk through their doors. In order to do so, Portables manages grassroots marketing endeavors to stay front and center within the communities where they operate. Portables partners with other small businesses in the communities they reside within to drive business and earn repeat customers. When it comes to direct marketing, the endeavors are in partnership with AT&T. Not only does partnering with the communications company save in marketing and advertising dollars, it requires minimal staff time and ensures brand consistency across all mediums. With AT&T behind the wheel of marketing media, Portables’ time can be spent planning future growth. William says, “We hope to hold 150 locations within three years.”
Portables is currently the Number 1 choice for AT&T customers in the Mid-Atlantic region. The company’s success, growth, and future prospects are paired with employee appreciation. John acknowledges that vision and preparedness have been key to succeeding in the high-paced, ever-changing environment of wireless communications. John extols the company’s employees. Upon being named among the fastest-growing private companies in 2017, William responds with: “The formula to our success lies within our people. It is their determination, drive and desire for achievement that has fueled Portables’ growth and success. Our people own this honor and achievement.”
It is obvious that the company’s commitment to hard work and strong partnerships, paired with intuitive decision-making and organization, will facilitate the coming years’ growth. Portables is well on its way to meeting its mission, which is to be the leading provider of AT&T’s products and services in the communications industry by offering an extraordinary experience to all of its customers.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: AT&T Portables
WHAT: AT&T National Authorized Retailer
WHERE: Based in Lorton, VA
iQmetrix Software Development Corp. – iQmetrix provides Software-as-a-Service (SAS), retail management and customer experience technology solutions to the retail industry. Its solutions bring elements of online and mobile shopping experiences into the physical store to engage and educate shoppers during the purchase process. It also allows it retailers to effectively manage back-of-house operations and the in-store customer experience. iQmetrix was founded in 1999, and is based in Vancouver, Canada with additional offices in Canada, the United States, and Australia. – www.iqmetrix.com