Brown owns All Wireless, 1601 Turner McCall Blvd., which also has locations in Calhoun and Cartersville.
She is planning to add two more locations in Kennesaw.
“Then I’m through,” Brown said.
All Wireless is a distributor for AT&T. “When you come in here, it’s more hometown, definitely tuned in to customer service,” Brown said. “In just about every town that I’m in other than Calhoun, there will be a corporate store and what we call an owner-operator store. The difference here in Rome is that the owner lives here in Rome. I love Rome.”
A winding career path
Brown started her work life in the cosmetics industry, working in sales at the old Miller’s department store in Riverbend Mall. Her professional career took her to Nashville as a makeup artist, then back to Atlanta where she turned briefly to the banking industry.
A move to Cartersville was followed by a job layoff, which Brown said turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“I just started knocking on doors,” Brown said. One of those doors was opened by Terry Lewis, owner of Teledynamics, who at the time, was primarily in the pager business in Cartersville.
Lewis turned out to be a mentor to Brown.
“Any young person needs a mentor. He taught me how to start my own business,” Brown said. He also convinced Brown that the wireless industry would be the wave of the future.
In 1991, Brown opened her own business, Page-Cel, in Calhoun, again selling pagers out of a 10-foot-by-10-foot office space.
“At that time, the pagers were dominant. That’s where I made the majority of my money,” said Brown
Then as the decade was waning, Brown realized cell phone rates were dropping and the companies were almost giving away phones. Quite a change from those 3-watt phones that were installed in cars. Then came the bag phones and as the cellular infrastructure grew, the handheld devices began to explode on the scene.
Nine years later, in 2000, she bought out Lewis in Cartersville and continued to grow.
Embracing wireless future
“I had many people tell me to get out of the industry, it’s saturated and never going to last,” Brown said. “These handheld devices are going to be the things that control our house, our everything.”
Brown said as long as the engineers continue to come up with creative things to do through a phone, the industry would never be saturated.
“When you look at wireless, there are so many branches, so many services within one device,” said Brown. In 2003, Brown brought All Wireless to Rome.
For the last couple of years, her shop was located in the Riverbend Shopping Center.
“In a roundabout way, I ended up right where I began. That felt like deja vu all over again,” Brown said. “Rome is my hometown and it’s always been a special place in my heart.”
Ironically, when she came to Rome, she had her eyes on the property she recently purchased.
“When Verizon moved out, I tried to move in, but at that time I didn’t think I could afford the rent,” said Brown. “When Corr Wireless moved out, I said that’s it. I live here now and with me being out and about I can definitely grow the business.”
Today, the Rome location has six employees.
She changed the name from Page-Cel to All Wireless about three years ago.
“We didn’t even do pagers anymore, so I realized that it was time to get the name of the company more in line with what we really do,” Brown said.
Brown feels like the success she has enjoyed is not something that is particularly complicated. She credits Lewis with a lot of her success.
“As long as you’ve got a product people want — and I knew I had an item that people sought and wanted — that’s the biggest part of it,” said Brown.
Strangely she originally wanted to be in the insurance business. “God led me in this direction and it worked out so much better,” Brown said.
Brown said the future for the wireless industry is virtually endless. “We’ve got so many creative minds out here and people are constantly coming up with new applications. These phones are already quicker than our home computers,” Brown said. “I see no reason in the future, for having a home computer. It’ll all be through your cell phone.”
Her business success, coupled with an almost unimaginable personal tragedy, has also led Brown to a new purpose in life.
In July 2003, Brown lost her son, Joshua Brown, in a car wreck. Brown and her husband worked with then Sen. Preston Smith to enact Joshua’s Law.
The law requires that for a 16 year old to get a Class D drivers license, the teen must complete a state sanctioned driver education course and complete a total of at least 40 hours of supervised driving experience, with six of those hours at night.
She is disappointed with the direction the state took with Joshua’s the law, creating an on-line course. “It’s pathetic at best,” Brown said.
The family put a large amount of their own money into a simulator system that is being used at Cartersville High School. Six years later, Cartersville High has not lost a teen driver. “If we had those kind of technologies, he’d be alive today,” said Brown.
“We are in negotiations with Rome High to bring 21st-century driver training to the school,” Brown said.
The family is working with lawmakers to make sure proceeds generated from Joshua’s Law get back to real hands on driver training that has proven to save lives.