Business owners plan to stay in Danville after sale
DANVILLE — Longtime business owners Neal and Melody Ehrlich plan to continue living and working in Danville after the sale of their family business.
Russell Cellular, a family-owned company headquartered in Battlefield, Mo., took over the Ehrlichs' two Verizon stores in Danville at 22 N. Jackson St. and 2802 N. Vermilion St. last week.
Meanwhile, Jim Chittick, a longtime manager for the Ehrlichs, has purchased their Car Stereo and Home TheaterCenter portion of the business at North and Jackson streets in downtown Danville.
Late last week, the Ehrlichs were moving some items out of the downtown Verizon store, where Neal Ehrlich's parents, Marcia and Marvin "Bud" Ehrlich, opened the original electronics supply store in 1952 to sell parts for a relatively new technology — televisions.
The late Bud Ehrlich built the business into a wholesale distributorship serving East Central Illinois and West Central Indiana. Neal Ehrlich eventually took over the family business over, expanding in 1987 into another new technology — cellular phones. The car stereo and home theater part of the business opened in 1978.
Neal Ehrlich said he saw an opportunity to grow the business in those early days of cell phones.
"There wasn't even a cell tower yet in Vermilion County, but we knew this was the direction to take the business, so we reached an agreement with Ameritech Cellular, which later became Verizon Wireless," he said.
The Ehrlichs said there are several reasons for selling the cellular business at this time, including changes within the Verizon organization. Neal Ehrlich said the cellular communication field has become highly competitive, and that he and Melody believed the time was right to seek new opportunities.
"As those changes increased, we decided that it was time to take our lives in another direction; we are excited by the opportunities ahead for us and for the business," Melody Ehrlich said.
Both of Bud's Express Cellular stores will remain open under the ownership of Russell Cellular. Russell also opened a new store in Champaign last month.
The three current employees at the car stereo operation will continue under new ownership, and six of the eight Bud's Express Cellular sales representatives will continue with Russell Communication, according to the Ehrlichs.