In April of 1973, while a telecommunications employee stood on the busy sidewalks of New York calling a rival company from the world’s first handheld cellphone, Bill Exell Sr. was launching himself as an entrepreneur in the world of communications on the streets of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario. The brand that has evolved from Thunder Bay Communications to TBComm to Touch Unwired proudly celebrates its 50th anniversary this spring.
Bill Exell Sr., the patriarch of this family business, started his career in communications with Marconi Co. Ltd., busy in marine communications. His new enterprise took off quickly when he secured contracts to provide two-way radios for the City of Thunder Bay and to establish a communications system for The Great Lakes Paper Co. Woodlands division throughout the region, among many others. In the early 80’s City-Wide Paging was added to their services, followed by Radio Common Carrier communications throughout the region.
Later rebranded to TBComm Wireless, the company tapped into the world of Cellular and Satellite phone communications in 1990 and became a dealer for the very first local cellular providers. The next generation of the Exell family was on board and they rebuilt the brand to what we know today as Touch Unwired. With their 30-plus year partnership with TbayTel and three Touch Unwired locations, they now provide services like Connected Home and Tbaytel TV along with Cellular Phones and accessories and offer Satellite communications from Infosat like Zoleo.
Bill Exell Jr. says “We are a one-stop shop for people and businesses to stay connected. Whatever your communications needs, we have you covered! It has been an awesome journey so far and we are excited about whatever the future holds”.
The Exell family is undeniably proud this year as they celebrate 50 years of service and success. Karen Bagdon, daughter of Bill Exell Sr. says “We are happy to be recognizing the five decades of business since our parents set out on this journey. We are celebrating them, our family, our customers, our staff, the communities we’ve serviced and especially our collaboration with TbayTel. For 5 decades we have been able to adapt to new technologies in the world of communications! We’re definitely ready for what’s next!”
Bill Sr. remains available to help in any way and continues to offer sound advice, though sometimes it’s from his garage where he continues to pursue his hobby of working on classic cars. When asked about his success, Bill Sr. said, “I’d like to thank everyone for their support for all these years. I’m grateful for the customers that came with us from the beginning, giving my wife Jackie and me encouragement and support. It makes me proud to see the family business continuing to be successful today.”