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Verizon WirelessVerizon WirelessYou have likely seen the Verizon Wireless kiosk in the Pyramid Mall or their new store in Ithaca across from Lowe's.    They cater to individuals who want cell phones and services from the company.  A third location, situated in the Cornell Business & Technology Park near the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, handles business accounts.  "We are the business sales side of Verizon Wireless," says Corporate Sales Manager Tracey Austin.  "We handle corporate accounts, and employee-liable accounts (accounts for employees who get discounts on the service) out of this office."

Austin says her company's local presence gives them an edge over the competition that allows her team to forge personal relationships in the community and provide better, more personalized service.  "We're right here," says the Lansing resident.  "We know most of the people that we support and work with."  Being part of the community and involved with people and events here is important to her.

The company matches the right business rate plans and services to their clients as they get to know them.  Austin says that big or small, companies want the same thing.  "They want good customer service.  They want to be able to get hold of somebody when they want that person.  They also want to have somebody to contact if they have a billing question."

Companies' needs depend on the kind of business they do.  Technicians may need text messaging services on a PDA handset.  An HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) company may need to be able to take photos on their phones so they can send them back to their office.  Larger companies with numerous departments have more diverse wireless needs.  Some companies need air cards for their laptops.  A wireless continuity product helps businesses stay in touch if the power goes out or land lines are down.

The Ithaca corporate team: (left to right) Kevin Moss, Tracey Austin, Karen Porter, Mark Dietrich, John Ebel, (not pictured) Bonnie Brutsman

The Ithaca office has six employees who cover Tompkins, Schuyler, Chemung, and the northern Pennsylvania  counties.  The office is all business, but the atmosphere is friendly and energetic.  Everyone is enthusiastic about their products and services, showing what their products can do and how they personally use them.  Kevin Moss is the Business Sales Support Representative.  Karen Potter, Bonnie Brutsman, and Mark Dietrich are Account Representatives specializing in corporate, government and education accounts.  Joel Ebel is the Data Manager.   

They travel through the region, getting involved with the local communities and business people in them.  They learn about a business's mission and offer services that help realize them.  "We try to meet those needs and those demands, to help them get better return and investment, to help them find what works best for them to make their employees more productive, and, obviously, to gain more business for them as well," Austin says.

Everyone gets involved with local Chamber of Commerce events in Tompkins County and the other communities they serve.  "One of the strongest chambers I've been involved with is the Tompkins County Chamber," Austin says.  "They do a lot for the businesses in our community.  They like to inform people about what's going on and they give us the opportunity to do that."

Austin finds that invaluable.  "For me to be able to go to a Chamber event helps me as a person in this company.  It helps me understand this community," she says.  "I learn a lot about economic development, what's going on within our county and the surrounding counties.  I not only learn what's good for my business as a business person, but personally you develop relationships which then help you in business."  That community connection goes beyond just business.  The company sponsor's the annual Taste of the Nation, participates in Chamber of Commerce events, and hosts golf events that help support 4H, and are involved with the United Way and the Red Kettle Drive.

Austin studied horticulture at Cornell with a business and hotel minor.  She worked as a florist and in the hotel industry before joining Verizon Wireless.  "This was off the beaten track for me," she says.  "But I loved sales.  I loved going out and meeting other business people and I found this is the type of thing that I enjoyed."

That's what Austin likes about her job now.  "This business is ever changing," she says.  "It's never boring."  She says she likes technology and how it changes, and likes explaining it to customers who may be afraid of it or unsure how it can help them grow their own business.  And she loves the people.  "You meet new people every single day.  That's the most exciting part of this business."


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