During the month of March, we had a chance to sit down with Pete Kraehmer. He is well known and respected by many providers and partners in the channel, as well the customer base that he serves.
Pete is our Vice President of sales and has been with the company for 17 out of his 27 years in the telecom industry.
During our chat, we explored the changes that he has experienced in the industry as well as the growth of Comtel Communications and Simplicity VoIP. Here’s what we learned:
Q: How long have you worked at Comtel and Simplicity? Why did you choose to work at Comtel?
A: I’ve been at Comtel for almost 17 years - it will be 17 years in October. I was previously working at a CLEC and was frustrated with the typical corporate infrastructure and wanted a change. A friend who was working with Comtel spoke very highly of Ben and the organization and suggested that I inquire. When I was offered a chance to work with the Comtel team, I took it – this organization allows me the flexibility to bring ideas to the table and is the opposite of a ridged corporate environment yet maintains high standards of customer service and professionalism.
Q: What is your role at the company? How has it evolved over the years?
A: My current role is Vice President of sales. I manage the sales organization of direct and agent sales agents as well as do my own selling into larger enterprise customers. I also support carrier relations and management. Originally, I was primarily just in sales, but now I play an integral role on the leadership team.
Q: What is your favorite part about your position?
A: What brings the most meaning to me is working directly with our customers and developing solutions that have a positive impact on their business.
Q: What roles have you played in the company?
A: I have been in sales since day one. My role has evolved into one of support to assist our sales team close business. In addition, I work very closely with Ben and the leadership team developing company strategic initiatives.
Q: What is the most stressful part about your position?
A: The most stressful part of my job is trying to deliver when customers request extremely tight deadlines for service implementation. There is a lot that I can do because of our strong relationships with providers, but there are some services that just take time. I always strive to set the proper expectations with my customers.
Q: What is the first thing you do during the day?
A: No two days are ever the same, but for the most part, the first thing that I do is check email. I then focus on customer priorities, and any and all deadlines.
Q: What is your key to success?
A: What has served me well over the years is listening to what the customer really wants and needs, and by staying relevant - knowing the current solutions to support my customers’ businesses.
Q: How does a commitment to customer service fit into your daily work?
A: This is a daily requirement. I have always lived by the “customer first” motto because without customers you don’t have a business. An executive at a previous company once told me, it was about two things - revenue and customer service.
Q: Where else have you worked and what roles were you in?
A: Before Comtel, I worked at MCI in sales, marketing and finance. I was also a director at KMC Telecom in role which encompassed sales, customer service, marketing, finance, and construction.
Q: How has the business changed over the years?
A: The business has changed dramatically in a variety of ways. When I started in 1991, it was voice centric and it is now a data centric business. In addition, we used to primarily handle telecommunications, and now we have moved into technology.
Q: What is your favorite event that the company does?
A: My favorite annual event is Comtel’s Presidents Club trip because we do it a lot differently than most companies. Since Comtel is a family-oriented company, we schedule the trip in the summer and have encouraged our winners to bring their children - it has become a true family affair.
Q: Is there anything you would like to share about your time at Comtel?
A: My time with Comtel has been an exciting and challenging journey for almost two decades, and I look forward to at least another decade.
Simplicity VoIP, based in Richmond, VA, provides hosted PBX, VoIP and business telephone solutions nationally to small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses for a comprehensive unified communications experience. Two distinct Class 5 geo-redundant VoIP platforms are offered in addition to fax-to-email, phones and equipment, and managed services. Named as Richmond’s 11th fastest growing company by Richmond BizSense, Simplicity VoIP’s key to success is its on-site service, installation and training supported 24/7/365 by a world-class client services team.