New Fusion Channel Chief Q&A: Fair to Integrate MegaPath, Birch Channel Assets


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Fusion Connect‘s new channel chief has a big task ahead of him.

Fusion Connect’s Michael Fair

Michael Fair, the company’s recently hired senior vice president of channel sales, says he’ll work to combine the channel assets of Fusion with those of its two latest acquisitions: Birch Communications and MegaPath.

Fair tells Channel Partners that this “melding” doesn’t only involve the product sets of the three companies, but their personnel and their support. Fair says he’ll explore “best-of-breed” partner program practices, including contracts and rules of engagements.

Fair, who led partner programs at Charter, EarthLink and Qwest, spoke at length with us about why he joined Fusion and how he plans to lead its channel.

We have edited the transcript for length and clarity.

Channel Partners: You’ve led numerous partner organizations. How do you think this job will be different?

Michael Fair: My prior channel experiences have been primarily taking over very small programs and then growing them very rapidly. In this case you have three relatively well-known and developed programs that all need to come together into a cohesive new channel. That’s one unique difference compared to the channels I’ve managed most recently.

CP: Tell us more about the consolidation process.

MF: It’s really a matter of taking what is best-of-breed between the different programs and then melding that with what are industry best practices out there. That’s one of the major benefits that I bring to the table. I’ve been involved in M&A activity a lot and have done a lot of consulting for or managed programs that have been part of acquisitions. Often everyone keeps focusing on hitting the sales numbers and not really worrying a lot about the integration elements, which are really important to build a really cohesive program and to scale. Part of the real goal here is to take the best-of-breed of these existing programs and then to meld them together to grow it more rapidly than the sum of each of those three put together. It’s really to create synergies and to accelerate the growth.

CP: What are some of the best-of-breed offerings that each company offers?

MF: Fusion is really known for cloud services — mostly SIP trunking and UCaaS services. Birch is most known for more traditional services today. That’s the majority of the sales, so it’s really more of a legacy voice world that’s migrating into the cloud. Also with the MegaPath services, which are a principally a combination of UCaaS, security, and multilocation bandwidth management to provide that single source to the cloud.

CP: What should we expect to see going forward from the combined partner program?

MF: We really want to accelerate that industry growth — the company’s focus on the cloud services universe, which is growing in excess of 20 percent per year. Our goal is to grow beyond that and faster than the industry average.

CP: What’s the traditional partner profile of the three combined companies?

MF: To be honest with you, it’s kind of all over the map. A number of partners are common to all three companies. Even when that’s the case, you can see patterns where they tend to focus on one solution set versus another. So one of the areas we really look to on the growth side is to understand what may have been sold by a channel partner down to a customer — to have you cross-pollinate and…

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