On Nov. 1, competitive service provider Integra Telecom will roll out the MasterStream quoting and commissioning platform to its agent and reseller partners.
"It's something they've been asking for, for a long time," Ken Smith, Integra's vice president of sales, told Channel Partners this week.
Indeed, it is standard to offer pricing and proposal capabilities to partners, prompting Smith to concede that Integra's MasterStream deployment comes late.
"It should have been in place years ago," he said. "It was not."
There are reasons for the delay. Since about 2008, after the Eschelon Telecom purchase, Oregon-based Integra has fought quarterly losses. The company was not making the most of its fiber assets or introducing as many next-gen services as its peers, and it continued to target smaller customers even as it knew it needed larger ones.
Circumstances began to improve when, in 2011, the Integra board ousted co-founder Dudley Slater in favor of Tom Casey. Yet, not long after that shakeup, Casey left the company. The Integra board then asked fellow member and former Level 3 Communications president Kevin O'Hara to step in. Since that time, Integra has upgraded its services portfolio, customer base and channel program. For example, it has added products including hosted VoIP and wireless backup. It is focusing more than ever on multilocation enterprise customers and said this week that 70 percent of new sales now come from this demographic. Finally, Integra also is beefing up its wholesale footprint and signing resellers who want to white-label services. Thanks to those efforts, among others, Integra's financial fortunes appear to be bouncing back – the privately held company says its revenue, gross profit and unlevered free cash flow all are increasing.
The changes, however, have cost some people their jobs. Earlier this month, Integra enforced about 30 layoffs, according to The Oregonian. And one of the recent casualties was channel chief Ken Worcester.
"We looked to where we needed to go and some of those decisions led to needing different personnel with different perspectives and résumés," Smith said of Worcester's departure. "I made the decision to make a change in the leadership."
Smith is in the midst of interviewing candidates for the indirect channel vice president role; he wants someone who will help centralize Integra's once-regional sales model as the provider focuses on spread-out organizations. For now, Integra's channel structure consists of two sales directors, an operations director and, of course, managers throughout the company's markets.