Jim Somerville, left, is talking over as president of Steamboat Springs-based My Wireless, a Verizon Wireless retailer. Founder Andy Brown, right, will focus on marketing, expansion and Web-based services as chairman and CEO.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Jim Somerville, left, is talking over as president of Steamboat Springs-based My Wireless, a Verizon Wireless retailer. Founder Andy Brown, right, will focus on marketing, expansion and Web-based services as chairman and CEO.

My Wireless founder hands over role as president

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— Jim Somerville said he sees "no caps" on My Wireless' ability to grow across the West.

Somerville said he thought the Steamboat Springs-based Verizon Wireless retailer could open as many as 10 stores a year. Somerville took over April 1 as president of the company. His predecessor, company founder Andy Brown, will remain as chairman and CEO.

Somerville hasn't worked in the cell phone industry before but has decades of experience in retail.

"The principles of retail management which I intend to apply here are the same no matter what product you're offering: Have a good product, offer it at a good value and the customers will follow," he said.

Somerville has been in Steamboat since about 1990. According to a news release, Somerville has been president and CEO of PDC, an information technology and distribution firm; chairman, CEO and president of Factory 2U Stores, a retail chain of more than 300 stores; and executive vice president of BET Plc., a nearly $3 billion services conglomerate headquartered in London.

Somerville will oversee day-to-day operations, and Brown will handle marketing, expansion and a new Web-based service My Wireless is offering. The 5-year-old company is about to open its 23rd store.

"We have a pretty wide region we have capabilities of adding stores in, including most of the western states," Somerville said. "If we plan well and execute well, I think we can probably open as many as 10 stores a year, and doing that would take us pretty close to 50 stores in the next three-year period."

Brown said he would remain involved in the business.

"As the business grows, there's more and more things that need to be watched and implemented, and I simply just can't handle it all," Brown said. "I'm good at negotiations and expansion, and I feel that I'm qualified to help with the marketing and to oversee that."

Brown said he expected My Wireless to end the year with six or seven new stores or store relocations. He and Somerville noted that although the cell phone industry isn't immune to the economic recession, it has fared better than some others.

"We've been blessed in that we're more recession resistant than a lot of small businesses in the U.S. : but we still have our challenges," Brown said.

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