To Our Team
We are committed to providing our teammates a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Above all, teammates will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every A Wireless Customer.
Founder and Executive Chairman
Richard (“Rich”) Balot founded ABC Phones of North Carolina, Inc. (DBA - A Wireless) in October of 1996 as a freshman in college. Under his leadership, the company has grown from one location to over 1,145 locations with sales exceeding well over $1 billion. As one of only six National Premium Retailers for Verizon Wireless, Rich has made a name for both himself and the company as leaders in the industry.
Rich is an active member in Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and on the local council board of the Boy Scouts. He also volunteers with numerous local charities, participating with his family. Rich holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from East Carolina University.
Rich is married and has four children. He enjoys spending time with his family; watching his children play sports and gymnastics.
Chief Operating Officer
Gene serves as the Chief Operating Officer of A Wireless and is responsible for overseeing all retail operations for the Company’s 750 + store base. Gene was promoted to COO in 2015, and previously served as Executive Vice President of Sales and Operations for Z Wireless since joining the Company in October 2014.
Prior to Z Wireless, he served as President of the retail division of EZ Corp from 2012-2014, responsible for all aspects of a $750 million financial services company. Gene also served in senior roles at Radio Shack from 2009-2012 including Senior Vice President of US Operations and was responsible for leading the integration of the Verizon wireless partnership into Radio Shack. Gene started his career at Blockbuster where he held roles of increasing responsibility including Vice President of Operations in the United Kingdom and Senior Vice President of U.S. Operations responsible for 4,500 US stores. Gene earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Toledo.
Gene is married and has four children. He enjoys spending time with his family, vacationing and watching his children play sports.
Chief Financial Officer
David joined the A Wireless team in May, 2015 as our Chief Financial Officer. David previously worked for Planet Fitness as Senior Director of FP&A. In this role, he championed the effort to successfully file a confidential S-1 SEC filing in preparation for an IPO event.
Prior to Planet Fitness, David served as Vice President of FP&A for JC Penney. At JC Penney, David coordinated the annual budgeting and monthly forecasting processes for the entire organization representing annualized revenues of approximately $13 billion.
Prior to JC Penney, David spent seven years with RadioShack as Vice President of Finance. In this role, he was responsible for FP&A, treasury, tax, inventory management (planning, purchasing and allocation) and risk management.
Prior to RadioShack, David served as Chief Financial Officer for Cosmedicine (dba Advanced Aesthetics Inc.), a $160 million revenue manufacturer of hair and skin care products. David was one of the three founding members of this company in 2002 that brought the company from start-up ($0 in revenue and three employees) to more than $160 million in annual revenue and 700 employees. David also led the effort to successfully take the company public in 2006.
David holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Bentley University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Babson Graduate School of Business. David also possess a CPA license that is currently in inactive status (too busy with all the roles above to keep up with all the CPE requirements!!)
David is married with a nine year old son and spends most of his weekends with the family at home or at the little league baseball fields urging his son to get baseball ready!
Chief Merchandising Officer
Karen currently serves as the Chief Merchandising Officer for A Wireless and oversees all aspects of inventory and logtistics. Karen assumed this responsibility in March 2015. Prior to this she was Senior Vice President of Merchandise and Demand Planning for Z Wireless and was responsible for vendor management, procurement/supply chain, merchandising, and marketing.
Prior to Z Wireless Karen served as Partner for Arete Global Partners, LLC., Vice President of International Operations for Accretive Health and GNC. Karen also served as Vice President of Commercial Operations for Best Buy. Previous experience includes Director roles for Nordstrom and Saks Inc.
Karen hold a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from University of Wisconsin and a Master of Business Administration from Marquette University.
Karen enjoys playing golf and watching movies.
Chief People Officer
Lee is an accomplished HR executive with 24+ years of experience in the retail industry. He recently joined A Wireless as the Interim Chief People Officer with responsibilities for all Human Resource activities for the 6,000 associates.
Most recently, Lee served as the Senior Vice President, Head of Human Resources for Tuesday Morning Inc., a $950M publicly traded off-priced home goods retailer with 780 stores in 41 states. Previous roles include Vice President, Head of Human Resources at Steak ‘n Shake Enterprises, Inc. (revenues of $800M and 550 restaurants), Vice President Human Resources at J.C. Penney Corporation (revenues of $15B with 117,000 employees and 1,100 locations), and Vice President Human Resources at Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. (revenues of $4B with 17,500 employees and 58 stores). Earlier in his career at Neiman Marcus, Lee held several buying and merchandising roles as well.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, VA.
Lee is married and has two children. The family spends most of their time off in Northern New Mexico, where they are passionate about the culture and outdoor activities it has to offer.
Chief Customer Officer
Michael is a transformational executive who offers a unique combination of retail, ecommerce and consumer products expertise. Michael serves as Chief Customer Officer, and is responsible for customer insights and analytics, marketing, customer relationship management, merchandising, visual merchandising and ecommerce.
Prior to joining A Wireless, Michael most recently served as Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President at Lowe’s Foods, a grocery store chain with approximately 100 locations in the Carolinas. Michael’s responsibilities included the rebranding effort across the store base and the redesign of the store brand product portfolio. Michael led innovative marketing capabilities within traditional media, digital media, grassroots marketing, and personalization. Michael also owned creating a distinctive omnichannel experience, and led the complete reinvention of the ecommerce business. This included building a new company infrastructure, technology platform, order fulfillment process, curbside and delivery experience, and a new business-to-business model. Lowes Foods generated explosive growth and led the industry in new digital innovations and applications. Retail Touchpoints honored Michael as the 2016 Innovator of the Year, and the Category Management Association honored Michael with the 2016 Best Practice Award for Omnichannel Experience.
Prior to Lowes Foods, Michael served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at SUPERVALU, which was the third largest grocery company in the United States. Michael also served as Chief Strategy Officer for LoyaltyOne, a company specializing in loyalty marketing and advanced retail analytics. Michael began his career at Procter and Gamble, the world’s largest and most profitable consumer products company. During his career, Michael held executive roles within sales, customer business development, marketing strategy and planning, global beauty care, and M&A.
Outside of work, Michael is an active board member with several non-profits, and serves as a featured public speaker at major industry events ranging from branding to omnichannel development. Michael has been married to his wife Teri for 30 years, and they have three grown sons. Michael enjoys competing in triathlons, golfing, wine tasting and music.
John Crolle has served as the General Counsel of A Wireless since July of 2011. John handles the drafting, review and negotiation of all leases, supplier, vendor and insurance contracts, contracts with Verizon Wireless, due diligence and mergers and acquisitions. John also manages outside counsel, provides counsel regarding employment and litigation matters, manages A Wireless’ lease administration department, provides counsel with respect to company policies, procedures, business issues and is actively involved in business discussions and strategy development for A Wireless.
Prior to joining A Wireless, John had a general business practice with Ward and Smith, P.A. where he gained significant experience in entity structure and formation, corporate governance, complex contract drafting and negotiation, start-up businesses, capital raises, mergers and acquisitions, and construction contracts.
Before joining Ward and Smith John served as a legal clerk for Judge Barbara Jackson at the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
John received his Juris Doctorate, Cum Laude, from Georgia State University College of Law and his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Cornell University.
John also served in the United States Marine Corps infantry and as a police officer in Metro-Atlanta prior to attending law school.