40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Todd Demers

Todd Demers

Age 35: Owner, Family Wireless

Todd Demers figures he’s been working for himself since he was about 12.

Actually, his working life started even earlier, when he was essentially digging ditches for the church he belonged to and making about $1 an hour.

“I decided this was nuts,” said Demers, who proceeded to start what amounted to his own landscaping business. Later, after getting a job as a DJ at 13 years old, he took some seed money from his father and started another business spinning records, and did that for a dozen years before a series of events put him at the helm of a mobile-phone franchise that he has since expanded into the 11-store chain known as Family Wireless.

“I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug early,” said Demers, noting that he segued into the wireless-communication business as an employee, but simply wasn’t comfortable, or happy, in that role. “I’ve always liked working for myself.”

While growing Family Wireless into a regional chain, with locations in Agawam, Amherst, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Lee, Northampton, South Hadley, Southwick, Westfield, and Wilbraham, Demers has also become an entrepreneurial role model of sorts as he sets a tone for his employees.

“As CEO, I don’t really have a job description,” he told BusinessWest. “I do whatever has to be done, from painting walls to cleaning toilets to answering the phones — which I do from 9 to 10 a.m. every day. I like to stay involved in all aspects of the business; that’s how I stay grounded.”

As the name on the business venture might suggest, family plays a big part in Demers’ life. Much of his non-working time is devoted to his wife, Tessa, and his two children, Tanner, 9, and Sydney, 7. He doesn’t miss any of the kids’ sporting events — and there are many — and since he’s bought them both guitars, they spend ample time jamming together.

You might say he’s tuned in — and in about every way possible.

—George O’Brien