Earlier this month, partners received an unexpected shock in the form of a letter saying their current agreements are null and void, and they are required to sign new agreements or risk being cut off from commissions. During a briefing at last month’s Channel Partners Conference and Expo, Curt Allen, Windstream Enterprise’s president of strategic channels, said the partner program included 31 standard agreements, “so the bankruptcy court has made it real[ly] clear that you’ve got to clean this up, this is a mess — and I firmly agree with them. So we’re going to consolidate everybody onto a single agreement.”
One smaller master agent representative, who asked not to be identified, said he has been working with Windstream for many years and his agreement included evergreen protections that are not part of the agreement he is being asked to sign. He also said the new agreement includes new sales and revenue requirements, and if they don’t sign, Windstream could either stop paying commissions or pay less than what was previously agreed upon.
However, larger masters like Avant, Telarus, Sandler Partners and WTG say they were treated fairly and received a good deal from Windstream. Not every master agent contacted would comment on their new agreements.
Shane McNamara, Avant’s executive vice president of sales for the East, tells Channel Partners that Windstream is “doing everything right with the trusted adviser channel.”
“We are very happy with the new agreement and believe our trusted advisers will be happy with it also,” he said. “Avant continues to close business with Windstream regularly. Along with the same protections of ongoing residuals that their partners have always enjoyed, Windstream has also increased the residuals tied their strategic products such as SD-WAN, UCaaS, CCaaS, and security solution like DDoS mitigation and SEIM. These enhanced commissions, coupled with the ability to sell the underlying network, makes the program financially compelling for Avant and our partners.”
Windstream’s combination of network assets in key markets, and services such as its SD-WAN offering and hosted Avaya solution offer customers a “portfolio of solutions few can match,” McNamara said.
Adam Edwards, Telarus‘ president and co-founder, said his company has signed an amendment to its agreement with Windstream that reaffirms the existing agreement and makes some improvements.
“We’re under nondisclosure about the specifics of the amendment and the agreement, so we can’t comment on specifics without the consent of Windstream,” he said. “[But] we view the amended agreement as a statement that Windstream values the partners who continue to produce in volume — and that the courts agree with this. It’s also our belief that Windstream will continue to invest in the channel, and although [the company] was forced by the court to cancel some of its partners, the intent of the Windstream channel and of the organization is to grow the partner channel program.”
Alan Sandler, Sandler Partners‘ managing partner, said “we’re grateful that Windstream and the bankruptcy trustee honored the terms of our existing evergreen agreement.”
“The go-forward agreement with Windstream extends all of our existing evergreen protections for partner residuals and adds enhanced residuals for their strategic products (UCaaS, CCaaS, SD-WAN and security),” he said. “We’re confident in Windstream’s ability to …