The Journal Gazette
Sunday, June 16, 2019 1:00 am

Store owners see huge leaps in technology

Couple run Verizon brand franchises

Janet Patterson | For The Journal Gazette

Technology keeps growing by leaps and bounds, and Brian and Rachel McMeeking are doing their best to stay one step ahead with their Wireless Zone stores in Fort Wayne, Columbia City and the newest in Wabash.

“The future of wireless is going to be amazing,” said Brian McMeeking, who got into the industry about 15 years ago starting as a small-business representative with Centennial Wireless.

McMeeking met his wife when both were studying business administration and management – she was at IPFW and he was at Indiana Tech.

The couple's passion for the growing industry led them to look for a franchise opportunity. Ten years ago, they opened their first Wireless Zone store.

Wireless Zone is the largest franchiser of Verizon products with more than 360 locations in the United States, McMeeking said.

“When I started researching for a franchise, I found that Wireless Zone was a good company, and Verizon was the largest wireless carrier. They have put billions of dollars into their network.”

Combining that with a commitment to quality customer service, the McMeekings seem to have hit on the perfect combination for their business.

“We promised ourselves that we would never let a customer leave angry, and I think it's helped grow our company.”

Along with a solid customer base, the couple have won honors from the Wireless Zone franchise.

Honors include being named Midwest Franchise of the Year in 2011, earning the company's President's Cabinet award twice, and serving on the Wireless Zone Franchise Advisory Council.

And if three Wireless Zone stores, a heap of awards and four children under the age of 12 isn't enough, McMeeking points out proudly that Rachel also owns and operates Lane and Lavender, a women's boutique in Columbia City.

Among the couple's three Wireless Zone stores, there are 20 employees, including Rachel's mother and part-owner, Peggy Adams, working to bring a full line of wireless products to personal users and business clients.

In addition to cellphones and tablets, McMeeking said his stores sell mobile broadband, wearable devices and home phone services.

The latest in wireless technology is the 5G network.

“And, oh yes, it is much faster,” McMeeking said. “You can download an entire season of 'Game of Thrones' in 3 to 5 seconds.”

In the next 20 years, the world of technology will look very different, McMeeking said. Home automation is a growing trend “that will change the way we live our lives.”

Devices like Google's Nest help keep homes running with features from temperature control to security cameras.

“The new Hum is a safety device for cars that if you are in a crash and rendered unconscious, it will dial 911 for you to get help,” McMeeking said. “Technology will be ingrained in every piece of our lives.”

He noted that rural areas of the country will see a trend toward more technology as well.

“Wabash is a new market for Verizon. They didn't have the rights to the area before purchasing it from US Cellular,” he said, referring to their newest Wireless Zone store that opened in March.

Since buying the rights to the area, Verizon has invested in new equipment and towers, which will help bring home automation to areas McMeeking said have been underserved.

McMeeking said he and his wife try to provide valuable service to the communities where their stores are located.

“We believe in doing the right thing for our customers,” he said.

And sometimes that's just providing a cup of coffee when a customer stops in the store.

“That's the way we do business,” McMeeking said.

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