Frontier Communications Corp. has chosen a local telecom industry veteran to head its Rochester operations.
Phil Yawman, a former executive at ACC Corp. and Choice One Communications Inc., will serve as vice president and general manager of Frontier's Rochester market.
Yawman takes over a post previously held by Ann Burr, who became president of new product trials and integration for Frontier late last year. Kevin Smith, Frontier senior vice president and general manager for New York State, said Burr will remain integral to the company's strategy on a global level.
"Ann has a tremendous background in the telecom and cable industry in tons of leadership roles," Smith said. "Now she's looking at things across the whole company, which will play a huge part in our growth going forward.
"The day-to-day business itself falls back to me for New York State and to Phil for the Rochester focus. When you look at Phil's background and everything he has done, we're very lucky to have him leading things in Rochester."
Prior to being named general manager for Frontier in Rochester, Yawman served as regional vice president of commercial sales for the company. It was his second stint with Frontier.
Yawman first joined Frontier in 1989, working his way up to director of investor relations. He left in 1997 to become vice president of investor relations for ACC Corp.
From there, Yawman went on to become a co-founder of Choice One Communications Inc. with fellow ACC Corp. alumni Mae Squier-Dow, Kevin Dickens and Steve Dubnik.
Choice One became one of the area's fastest-growing telecom firms during the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, Choice One's meteoric rise eventually came to a halt as the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2004.
Yawman left Choice One in 2005. He became CEO of another startup company, Rocket Broadband Networks Inc. The company provides bundled telephone, high-speed Internet and satellite television services in bulk to apartment complexes.
Yawman remained with Rocket Broadband until May 2009, when he returned to Frontier as regional vice president.
"I don't really look at it like I'm returning to a company," Yawman said. "Frontier doesn't look anything like the company I worked for from 1989 to 1997. The industry has evolved."
Shortly after Yawman signed on as Frontier's regional vice president of commercial sales, the company announced it had signed an $8.6 million agreement to acquire Verizon Communications Inc.'s landline assets in 14 states.
Verizon was eager to shed its declining traditional phone accounts and concentrate on its booming wireless business. Frontier saw the acquisition as an opportunity to boost revenues by increasing its service offerings and broadband penetration.
Frontier closed the deal in July 2010 and spent the next two years integrating Verizon's operating, financial and human resources systems into Frontier's own IT network.
With the integration done, Yawman said, Frontier now is reintegrating control of its operations and sales on a local and regional scale. The move gives more oversight to regional and local leadership like Yawman and Smith in hopes of advancing Frontier's local engagement, which has been a key focus of Chairman and CEO Maggie Wilderotter for the past few years.
"Our focus will be to continue to drive a great customer experience, residential and commercial, and continue to drive improvements in our network to meet the growing demand for data services," Yawman said. "The world is moving from voice to data. Frontier is very much a data-services-driven company."
Frontier also has increased its marketing efforts. In late 2012 the company began targeting cable customers by offering new subscribers a $500 Apple gift card.
More recently, Frontier launched an ad campaign for print, broadcasting and online that features the character "Frank the American Buffalo" and offers new subscribers DSL service for $19.99 a month with a three-year contract. Yawman said "Frank the American Buffalo" is Frontier's first national marketing campaign in years.
Yawman said the Rochester market remains a big part of Frontier's growth plans. The company has roughly 1,360 employees in the area.
Rochester represents one of Frontier's largest markets nationwide. Smith said the local market makes up roughly 50 percent of Frontier's New York operations.
Recently, Frontier detailed network enhancements and capital investments in New York totaling more than $123 million. The company said Rochester was an integral part of the investment with funding for software upgrades and engineering projects being made locally that will benefit Frontier's operations in 27 states.
"I'm honored to be named the lead for Frontier's largest market," Yawman said. "Our performance in this market still drives a lot of the success in New York State. I'm committed to this market and really looking forward to working more closely with our Rochester employees and customers."
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