Glen F. Post III, President and CEO of CenturyLink, is somewhat of an anomaly in the telecom world: he has been with the same company in various management roles for over 34 years.
After rising through the management ranks and becoming president of the former CenturyTel in 1990, Post led CenturyLink on a quiet path of snapping up other smaller telcos, including parts of the old GTE (now Verizon), Ameritech (now AT&T), and Central Telephone Company.
CenturyLink's growth through acquisition had always been a heritage of the company dating back to the 1930s when the service provider, which was purchased by William Clarke and Marie Williams, bought the Oak Ridge Telephone Company for $500. At the time, the company had 75 subscribers and a switchboard that was run out of their living room except between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sundays, "when the office closed for church and dinner."
What drove Post and CenturyTel into the large service provider spotlight was the company's move to acquire the former EMBARQ in October 2008. The acquisition tripled the company's network reach in terms of access line count and network presence.
Thus far, the purchase of EMBARQ has gone without any publicized hiccups and has already been paying off. For CenturyLink, the big growth driver has been broadband, bringing on 70,000 customers in Q1 2010 alone. On the integration front, the service provider last month completed its new IP-based long distance network.
With the network and operations integration of EMBARQ on pace, the service provider has gone to the acquisition bucket again. This time it struck a deal to acquire Qwest Communications for about $10.6 billion.
With much of its EMBARQ integration done, CenturyLink will likely be turning its attention to Qwest. Chief among Post's concerns through the rest of 2010 and into 2011 when the Qwest deal is expected to be completed is the integration of that company. What's more, he'll have to deal with a new of customer relationships to manage, including large enterprises and government-two areas foreign to CenturyLink.
Given Post's careful, yet aggressive M&A approach and the promise to keep Qwest's operation local, the challenge will be just in keeping that local service model alive.