Lightyears Luau in Louisville

By Stu Johnson, Director of Sales, National Energy Services Co. Inc.

More than 100 agents and special guests of Lightyear Network Solutions from across the country converged on the Horseshoe Casino & Hotel near downtown Louisville, Ky., for two days of golf, banquets, awards and training, for the company’s annual partner event.

Long-time Agent John Alexander, left, with Sherm Henderson, long-time Agent Frank Marro and Kevin Shady, VP of sales and operations. Alexander and Marro both received Lightyear’s Top Seller Award for MPLS.

The 2008 Lightyear National Agent Sales Conference, held Sept. 24-25, also featured a carrier panel with senior representatives from Verizon, Sprint, Qwest, PAETEC, Level 3 Communications and others, as well as training on Lightyear’s top-selling Dynamic T1, EnterpriseIP, MPLS and brand-new Lightyear Wireless products. The lively and informative panel discussion was led by Dr. Judy Reed Smith, CEO of Boston-based industry research firm Atlantic-ACM.

Three former senior Lightyear executives posed for a photo with founder, president and CEO Sherman Henderson, center. From left, Jeff Davis, a 15-year Lightyear agent; Bruce Widener, former SVP of business development; Henderson; Stu Johnson, former SVP of agent sales; and John Nierzwicki, former SVP direct sales.

On Sept. 24, the Horseshoe hotel’s Showroom was transformed into the Lightyear Luau. It was complete with flowered attire, leis, festive Hawaiian decorations and Luau dishes to promote Lightyear’s President’s Club Retreat to the prestigious Mauna Lani Resort in Hawaii next May; however, as the conference progressed, a very different theme emerged: Loyalty, Integrity and Tradition.

Dr. Judy Reed Smith received an appreciation gift (a Louisville Stoneware decorative plate and mint julep cup) from Henderson. Smith was the moderator for the Carrier Panel Forum.

You see, this year’s sales conference marked the 15th anniversary of Lightyear (originally called UniDial), arguably the first and most successful agent program in the telecommunications industry and one of the few to ever pay out on an equity agent distribution.

Attendees at this conference started in the business before equal access when long-distance was a bargain at 25 cents and network maintenance entailed replacing a dialer. They rode the incredible highs and have survived the recent storms. They have seen other companies collapse and never emerge from investigations, lawsuits, bankruptcy and, sometimes, convictions. They have had business colleagues and “friends” fall into desperate times and take desperate measures, many disgraced and never to be seen again.

Lightyear teammates and agents enjoyed the Lightyear Luau!

But not this Lightyear group. They insist on success, and they remain intact by their sheer character — poised and determined to return to the glory days, and not just for themselves or their families, but for their fellow agents and the Lightyear employees and their families.

Among the current and former Lightyear team members on hand for the conference were four former senior Lightyear executives including John Nierzwicki, senior vice president direct sales; Steve Seier, senior vice president information services; Bruce Widener, senior vice president business development; and yours truly (Stu Johnson), senior vice president agent sales. All of us have moved on, but remain loyal and involved with Lightyear and its agents.

Lightyear agents Don Yates and Dale Cooper with Lightyear’s Henderson, Deb Unterreiner and Jennifer Arnold at the conference.

Unfortunately, it may be impossible in the telecom industry to find a core group this large that has stayed together 15 years and remain absolutely committed to their mutual success. Others may talk about it, but Lightyear is a living example of loyalty, integrity and tradition.

As Lightyear’s founder, president and CEO, Sherman Henderson, says, “Never look back!”

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