Wireless Zone, the Middletown based franchiser of 421 Verizon-licensed cell phone retail locations, has been acquired by a Canadian company for $83.3 million.
The takeover gives Glentel Inc., which is publicly traded, 1,180 stores in Canada, the United States and Australia, under several names.
Wireless Zone, which was founded in Wethersfield in 1988 as The Car Phone Store and took the Wireless Zone name in 1999, will keep its name and continue to operate as an independent business, said Kevin Sinclair, who was CEO and now has the title managing director.
Glentel, of British Columbia, operates Diamond Wireless stores, with what the company said is little geographic overlap.
Wireless Zone expects to keep and expand its headquarters staff of 108 employees, Sinclair said.
“Clearly they bought us to expand us and they really bought us for the staff that works here,” he said.
Glentel’s core business had 12-month operating revenues of $618 million ending June 30, compared with $546 for Wireless Zone, but was far more profitable, with $49 million in operating earnings compared with $15 million at Wireless Zone. The difference, Sinclair said: Glentel does not typically operate as a franchisor.
The acquired company is Automotive Technologies Inc., which did business as Wireless Zone. It was owned by Russ Weldon, the founder; Michael Geer; and Richard Nunez, all of whom had previously run the company.
Wireless Zone has grown quickly in Connecticut and other Eastern States in recent years, mostly with franchised locations but it also has 21 company-owned stores.
Connecticut has 42 Wireless Zone locations, two company owned.
“Glentel has a futuristic look at the business and a direction of growth as being a large player,” Sinclair said. As a free-standing company, he added, “Wireless Zone still had a far more regional presence.”