Windstream, which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February, plans to cut 15 percent of its partners while increasing commissions for the remaining partners for selling strategic products.
That’s according to Curt Allen, Windstream Enterprise’s president of strategic channels. Previously senior vice president of channel, his role has been expanded to include its reseller group, its inside sales teams that sell into the channel, and enterprise resale, which includes the remnants of Windstream’s acquisitions of Mass Communications (MassComm) and American Telephone Co. (ATC).
Windstream filed for bankruptcy protection after losing its court battle with Aurelius Capital Management, a Windstream bondholder, and last month its stock was delisted from Nasdaq. Its second bankruptcy court hearing is this Tuesday.
Windstream Enterprise also has hired Cardi Prinzi, previously Telstra’s senior vice president of the Americas, as executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He has been focused on making sure customers and agents, and others are “getting the right message from us about the status of the company and what we’re doing from a growth perspective on the product side and the network side to make sure everybody feels comfortable about the future.”
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“That’s kind of a short-term thing that I got into sooner than I expected to,” Prinzi said. “But then I think the next focus is going to really be on how do we start getting the marketplace and especially the channel to really see the vision of what it is we’re doing and what we can bring.”
During a Q&A at last week’s Channel Partners Conference and Expo, Allen spoke for the first time about the bankruptcy filing and what partners can expect in the months ahead.
Channel Partners: What’s your job been like since the chapter 11 filing?
Curt Allen: The partners understand kind of how bankruptcy works, so that uncertainty is our enemy. They can sit there wondering within the bankruptcy — the accept and reject provisions, “is my contract going to be accepted,” “are we going to continue to pay commissions?” and continuity. I’ve said a lot of “trust mes,” and after the second-day hearing we’ll be able to say, “Trust me, and oh, by the way, here’s your post-petition agreement — you’re covered and secure,” and all that. So we’re going to remove a lot of that uncertainty. This thing all came at us as a surprise. We thought we were going to win that court case … so we had to scramble and we made some decisions going into bankruptcy that materially impacted our ability to take care of partners in a good way. So we filed on a Monday and we paid commissions to every partner that we have on Thursday night, and those are pre-petition dollars … that was a herculean task and we did it. And right away we were able to say to them …