Vincent Oddo, President and CEO, Birch Communications, has been able to achieve what has often eluded many past leaders of fallen competitive telecom network providers--how to create a profitable company.
Like many competitive telecom leader hopefuls, Oddo and his partners took advantage of the FCC's landmark 1996 Telecommunications Act and founded Access Integrated Networks, but the one striking difference was that unlike other CLECs they weren't dependent on venture capitalists that were anxious to get a quick exit strategy.
Known for his ability to turn wireline and wireless companies around, Oddo and his partners purchased the much larger but financially weaker Birch Telecom, which went through two bankruptcies, in 2007. In 2008, Access Integrated Networks rechristened the integrated company as the Birch Communications in 2008.
Targeting primarily SMBs, Birch currently offers a suite of traditional standalone and bonded T1 services, DSL, VoIP and even a wireless service called Birch Breeze mobile broadband Internet. As a competitive provider, Birch has had the benefit of being able to build a network built on IP-based technologies.
Sticking to the philosophy that you don't buy anything unless you have the money on hand, all but two of the acquisitions that Birch has made over the past decade have been funded through its own profits and from the bank accounts of Oddo and his partners.
Out of the 12 acquisitions it has made over the past decade, only Cordia and Texas-based Accutel have leveraged funding from the $77.5 million it secured from Bank of America.
Despite just completing its acquisition of Florida-based Cordia, it appears that more acquisitions are in Birch's near future. With Cordia, Birch instantly gained about 55,000 business and residential broadband, long-distance access lines across 24 states.
In considering companies to purchase, Oddo said in a recent Connected Planet article that the service provider's acquisition approach follows what he calls a "tuck in" strategy. This "tuck in" acquisition strategy targets service providers that offer similar services and geographic coverage.
With plenty of service providers buying one another or waiting for another more financially stable company to merge with Birch has plenty of options to choose from to expand its footprint to target more SMB customers and move up market into serving more large businesses.