Delis Resigns as XO Channel Chief

XO Communications Inc. (XOHO.OB) confirmed that Jim Delis resigned from his post as the company’s vice president of business operations, which includes oversight of the indirect channel, effective Feb. 5. Delis had served as channel chief since 2005.

Tom Gorey, national director of the Business Partner Program, will take over as interim channel chief and will report to Mike Toplisek, chief marketing officer for XO Business Services.

Toplisek told PHONE+ XO plans to replace Delis’s role overseeing the channel with a vice president of indirect channels, but will not replace his operational position. Operations personnel who reported to Delis temporarily will report to Toplisek, but those reporting lines will be realigned over time with existing operational departments.

Toplisek said the company hopes to fill the channel chief post within a month and is looking at candidates internally and externally.

“We are going to be looking for a vice president that will do nothing but think about the channel and make sure the partnerships are there, and we continue the momentum we have with that distribution of our products and services,” Toplisek said, noting that channel revenues grew profitably in 2009. He was unable to elaborate as the company has not announced its 2009 earnings results. Those are expected to be released in March.

“We have momentum [in the channel] and we have a business plan that calls for continued growth in 2010 and beyond. It’s a very important part of our overall strategy here at XO,” he added. “We have to have the right resources aligned. We have to have enough resources aligned and we have to make sure that we are delivering to the partners what they need so that they can deliver to their customers what they need.”

Toplisek told PHONE+ Delis tendered his resignation Thursday. “We are saddened by that here at XO,” he said. “Jim has done great work for a number of years here and he will be missed. We are happy for him that he has an opportunity he thinks is right for him and his family. We wish him all the luck in the world, but we are certain he won’t need it. He will do a great job.”

E-mails to Delis about his plans were not returned immediately.

Toplisek and XO COO Wayne Rehberger spoke with its top agents via conference call early Friday to announce the leadership change.

Ted Schuman, CEO for master agency PlanetOne Communications, which was named the top partner for sales and retention in 2009, told PHONE+ Delis’s departure is an “enormous loss.” “He deserves to be recognized and applauded for putting together a tremendous team and structure at XO,” Schuman said. “Their channel has been highly successful under his leadership. I personally wish him tremendous success in his new position.”

Greg Praske, CEO of independent agency ARG, another XO top 10 partner, agreed. “Jim Delis is truly one of the good guys in the telecom business,” Praske said. “I’m sad to see him leave XO as he was one of those people with high integrity and ethics, which is so critical to those of us that work speculatively with our carriers. We depend on carriers acting honorably to secure our residual compensation. Jim is one of those people you can be confident to act honorably. We wish him the best in his future endeavors and sincerely thank him for his contribution in revamping XO into a solid channel partner.

Delis was a finalist for The PHONE+ Channel Executive of the Year in 2008 and 2009.

XO currently has about 250 indirect sales partners. “We are continuing to add to this number as we come across agents and VARs that are a good fit with what we do, and how we go to market,” Gorey told PHONE+. “We continue to support both two-tier distribution via master agents and direct agent accounts as appropriate to each business.”

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