Westelcom Expands And Grows During Pandemic: Acquires Washington State telecommunications company

Paul Barton, president and general manager of Westelcom Family of Companies.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY WESTELCOM

BY: Alex Gault
Local telecommunications company Westelcom has expanded its operations nationwide over recent months, as the COVID pandemic has made telecom services more important than ever before.
 

    On July 15, Westelcom announced its purchase of Teo, a telecommunications service and manufacturing company based out of Washington state. 

    Paul Barton, president and general manager of the Westelcom Family of Companies, said that in purchasing Teo, the company has acquired a national sales team, manufacturing capacity, a line of commercial and military-grade phones, and a communications service platform that can bring together multiple forms of communication into one suite of services. 

    “It made sense from a technical standpoint to acquire that technology,” Mr. Barton said. “The other thing that made a lot of sense is that Teo had been working through a series of partners throughout the country. They’d developed what we refer to as channel sales organizations.” 

    Mr. Barton said that these national relationships allow the company to sell both the TEO products and Westelcom services across the country, massively expanding the company’s reach. 

    Teo offers a suite of products targeted towards businesses that require teams of employees to collaborate and work together while not necessarily together in a shared office space, but the company also has a long pedigree in manufacturing. 

    Since 1972, Teo has manufactured phones and phone systems for the United States military, and currently manufactures three tiers of VoIP desk phones with military-grade security features and the latest in business communication features. 

    Mr. Barton said that the process of merging the companies together has taken months, and is far from over. The spread of COVID-19 slowed the process, as office spaces across the country closed for fear of viral spread. Jill Van Hoesen, director of business development for Westelcom, said that the company was easily able to adapt to a world out of the office. 

    “When COVID came in March, Westelcom didn’t even skip a beat,” she said. “I mean, we were literally able to pick up our laptops, our desk phones, and bring them home. Already we were provided with all of the tools, and quite honestly I’m probably more productive at home than I am at work.” 

    Acquiring a company in the unified communications space couldn’t come at a better time. With more and more people working from home, and with many companies considering keeping employees out of the office long-term, employers are looking for ways to keep their workers connected. Unified communications services integrate business communications including email, instant messaging, calling and video chat into one suite of products that interact with one another. Many services, including the TEO platform of services, include services that enable workers to access business communications, like phone calls to their work extensions, on their cell phones. 

    “[The platform] allows us to provide mobility,” Mr. Barton said. “Now that a lot of our business, locally, regionally and nationally, working from home, with the unified communications platform that we can now offer, they can unplug their phone and take it home, or they can download an app on their cell phone or on the computer and work from home. They have that mobility, that presence.” 

    Westelcom has been expanding its services in its hometown of Watertown. Over the past few months, Westelcom’s linemen have been upgrading the local fiber optic network, which connect businesses in Watertown’s downtown region to super high-speed internet. Mrs. Van Hoesen said that the expansion was largely done to accommodate the growth in telehealth services. 

    “We expanded our fiber capacity up here because we needed to meet the telehealth needs of the Northern New York community,” she said. 

    Westelcom offers what is referred to as “mission critical” services, meaning that its products and platforms are integral to the operations of the companies they serve. Because of how much local businesses and health systems rely on the Westelcom networks, Mr. Barton said that the company often builds in layers of redundancy and backups when working on their network. 

    In the coming months, Mrs. Van Hoesen said that Westelcom will be expanding its network in Carthage, to service Carthage Area Hospital. 

    “That will be another expansion of our network into that area,” she said. 

    Mr. Barton said that the growing process has been methodically conducted, and that while the acquisition of Teo and expansion of the companies networks in upstate New York have been “significant commitments,” financially, all have been financed from the company’s regular cash flow. 

    “We made a significant commitment in terms of acquiring the company,” Mr. Barton said. “The company is doing well; it’s nice and stable right now.”