Leach to Replace Bantoft as PAETEC Channel Chief

John Leach, South region president for PAETEC Communications (PAET), is taking over the top channel spot at the Rochester, N.Y. CLEC. He will replace Chris Bantoft, who was a casualty of the layoffs the company announced Dec. 5 as part of cost-cutting measures in light of the worsening U.S. economic climate.

PAETEC lost $355 million net in 2008’s third quarter, despite higher sales numbers. Total losses for the first nine months of this year came to $373 million. Much of that stemmed from the McLeodUSA acquisition. The CLEC still expects to spend $30 million in 2009 on “cost-cutting” measures.

Bantoft, who will leave the company at the end of the year, headed up PAETEC’s channels as executive vice president for alternate channels, for a number of years before being named West region president at the beginning of 2008. He continued to provide national leadership for the channel in his new post while the other three regional presidents held responsibility for channels in their regions.

While Leach will assume Bantoft’s channel leadership duties, Regi Scales will become West region president. Scales previously was senior vice president leading sales in the West region and reporting to Bantoft.

PAETEC planned to notify partners Wednesday of the change through a letter as well as notices on its online agent portal and in its agent newsletter.

“We really thank Chris and his leadership over the last number of years that he has lead the program,” said Leach. “I’m looking forward to stepping into his big shoes and carry on the leadership that he has provided over the last number of years here at PAETEC.”

Leach has a long history working in the channel, starting partner programs at BTI Communications (now DeltaCom) and Telco Communications Group in the ‘90s. Before joining PAETEC in 2007, he was president and CEO of Covista Communications, another channel friendly company with about half of its revenue coming from agents. PAETEC purchased certain Covista assets in fall 2004. Prior to becoming president of the South region, Leach previously oversaw PAETEC’s authorized agent sales channel program in the company’s South, South Central and Mid-Atlantic regions. He said he worked closely with Bantoft to integrate and channelize the sales force from PAETEC’s acquisition of US LEC in 2007.

This isn’t the first change in leadership for the PATEC channel this year. In October, Jeff Howe, the company’s vice president and general manager for the PAETEC agent channel, was named president of PAETEC subsidiary Allworx, an IP PBX maker. “Even though Jeff was in and contributed in the short time he was here, Chris was the leader of the group. Now, it will be a transition to me. So, we think it’s been fairly stable,” said Leach, commenting on the personnel changes in the PAETEC channel leadership.

At the time, the company also said Dan Harper, vice president/general manager of agent sales for the West region, would extend his role to supporting national master agents to aid Bantoft. Harper will continue in his expanded role under Leach.

Leach said there are no other layoffs impacting the indirect channel support staff. “We will continue to provide indirect channel support that we have in the past,” he said. “We are looking at ways to allow agents through an agent portal to do more things on their own, which will hopefully better the support they have gotten from PAETEC and they won’t see degradation as we go forward in 2009.”

Leach also said PAETEC plans to role out in 2009 a unified product set and commission structure including the services and geographies it gained through the acquisition of McLeod in 2007. This will include a bundle service targeted at smaller businesses; PAETEC historically has served medium-to-large businesses.

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