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Windstream Plans to Build On NuVox Channel

Windstream Corp.’s plans to expand its commercial services business includes an indirect sales channel, a strategy that would be accelerated by the company’s pending acquisition of NuVox Corp.

Windstream announced Tuesday that it would acquire NuVox in a cash and stock deal valued at $643 million. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2010 subject to regulatory approvals.

John Leach, senior vice president of business sales and support, told PHONE+ this week that one of the attractive aspects of acquiring NuVox was its existing agent program, which accounts for about 40 percent of the companies revenue.

NuVox has 1,150 agents across its markets, which are in the Midwestern and Southeastern United States. In addition, the company has a vice president of indirect sales, five regional vice presidents, 52 district dealer managers, 13 dealer support specialists and one channel marketing manager dedicated to the program.

Leach, a former channel executive for PAETEC, was hired on at Windstream in mid-September in part to help develop an indirect sales channel to sell the company’s business services, indicating a executive mandate. The NuVox acquisition will jumpstart that effort, he said.

“What we would have built is similar to the NuVox program,” Leach said. “It gets us into the market quicker and allows us to expand the program into Windstream’s markets.”

Windstream and NuVox operate in 16 states each, with crossover in 11 of those. In the five Windstream only states, Leach plans to add channel managers to extend the NuVox-built program. And, he said the company will begin “aggressively recruiting where they don’t have agents.”

In addition, Leach said that NuVox’s existing agents will benefit by being able to sell the Windstream footprint.

Adam Edwards, president of Telarus Inc., one of NuVox’s largest agents, said he is excited about the prospect of a larger footprint and more resources for the agent program as a result of the Windstream-NuVox pairing.

“We hope Windstream understands the NuVox agent program is one of the finest in the nation and that Windstream should seek to build on it rather than seek efficiencies by folding it into their own,” Edwards said. “Having John Leach on staff is a good indication that Windstream values the channel and will retain the best people to keep the NuVox channel growing.”

Edwards added that NuVox’s integration experience also could benefit the new company. “NuVox was involved in one of the only company merger/integrations we’ve seen (NuVox/FDN) that didn’t cause operations to grind to a halt and sales to plummet,” he said. “If Windstream can tap into that experience this should be a fantastic combination.”


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