Windstream Job Cuts Claim Channel Chief


Windstream's latest round of layoffs included at least one well-known telecom channel presence: Dan Sterling, who exited his job as Windstream's vice president of dealer sales a few weeks ago.

Jeff Howe, president of Windstream's central region, has assumed Sterling's national channel responsibilities and will also maintain his current role. Details of the executive moves were first reported earlier this week by Channel Partners magazine.

John Leach, Windstream executive vice president of business sales, told CRN that Windstream is removing middle management layers because it wants to shorten the distance between its senior executive team and street-level sales decisions. Sterling's was the only channel executive position affected in the current layoff, Leach said.

"It had nothing to do with Dan's performance," Leach said. "He was a very well-established and successful executive prior to Windstream. He's well respected and will be missed."

[Related: Windstream Charts Channel Opportunity After Paetec Purchase]

Sterling had been with Windstream since its 2010 acquisition of NuVox, where he'd been vice president of indirect sales and held other positions for more than 14 years.

Leach said Windstream's sales management structure already reported up through regional presidents, including Howe, and that Sterling's role was outside of that structure. Sterling's previous reports now report up either to regional presidents or through Windstream's sales operations, which come under Leach's purview.

Howe, who is a former Paetec executive and ran its Central region before the 2011 acquisition by Windstream, should now be considered Windstream's national channel chief, Leach said. There shouldn't be any disruption in Windstream's channel business, which accounts for about 35 percent of its revenue.

"I think partners will see business as usual," Leach said. "We think that by having a flatter and leaner organization, that's going to be a real positive."

Windstream in early June said it would cut up to 400 management jobs as part of a restructuring aimed at saving up to $40 million in expenses. Ongoing layoffs have been widely expected at Windstream since it acquired fellow service provider Paetec last year, and Windstream cut an initial 280 employees earlier in 2012.

The 400-or-so management jobs planned for this round of cuts comprise about 3 percent of Windstream's 14,500 employees.

Leach said progress continues on Windstream's integration of Paetec, including platform consolidation that includes the previously separate organizations' compensation planning and back office systems.

"Those things are on track," Leach noted.

PUBLISHED JULY 18, 2012