Philip Yawman ’87 was featured in a recent interview with the Democrat and Chronicle on being named the new vice president and Rochester general manager of Frontier Communications Corp. in Rochester, N.Y.
Yawman, a Rochester native, discusses the new direction that Frontier – the area’s long-time phone company – is headed given the evolution of technology. He notes that the company must be willing to embrace the changes taking place and adapt the business plan around these changes.
At a time when residential phone services are on the decline, Yawman comes to the Rochester market to head up various initiatives such as bundling, Internet business and other progressive attempts to counteract these declines.
Graduating from Hobart College with a degree in economics, Yawman was a member of the golf team, basketball team and was named to the Dean’s List while in college. Following graduation, he went on to earn an MBA from the University of Rochester before working in a number of executive roles with various telecommunications companies.
The full article follows. A video of the interview is available online.
Democrat and Chronicle
Frontier’s new Rochester market head sees evolution
Matthew Daneman • staff writer • July 9, 2013
Frontier Communicators Corp. has roughly 3.1 million customers, most of them in rural areas and small towns across 27 states.
But its single-largest market is Rochester, where it has 1,300 workers and a new top boss.
Frontier this spring announced it named Philip Yawman vice president and Rochester general manager.
A Rochester native and Hobart and William Smith Colleges graduate, he received an MBA from the University of Rochester and then worked for a succession of telecommunications companies in executive roles – eight years with Frontier followed by a stint at ACC Long Distance, seven years at Choice One Communications, which he co-founded; nearly four years as CEO of Rocket Broadband; and then a return to Frontier in 2009.
The Rochester market had been overseen by a number of Frontier executives for close to a year after Northeast Region President Ann Burr was made president of new product trials and integration.
Yawman comes to head up the Rochester market at a time when Frontier – long the area’s “phone company” – is seeing the same trends hitting other incumbent local exchange carriers, as the numbers of homes subscribing to residential phone service declines. As of the first quarter of 2013, Frontier had 2.86 million residential phone customers compared to roughly 3 million in the same quarter last year. Its number of broadband subscribers, at 1.78 million, was roughly flat over that time.
And Frontier has said it sees its business as trying to slow or stop that residential decline while also focusing increasingly on its Internet business and on bundling various other offerings to its customer base.
“It’s evolution,” said Yawman, 47, of Perinton, as he sat for an interview. “You can wait for that stuff to happen to you, or you can embrace the changes taking place around you and morph your business plan and meet those changing requirements.”
What follows are excerpts from that discussion:
How does your job work? How much power or ability do you have vs. execution of things set at the corporate level?
I have responsibilities for all of sales and operations across all the greater Rochester area now. We do operate Frontier with some very key differentiators. One is our commitment to the local communities and driving data and high speed services into those markets using a 100 percent U.S.-based workforce. Under those tenets, at the local level, the execution around some of those elements is really up to that individual market. That’s where the opportunity resides for us, us being the Rochester team, to clearly move the needle in this market. Through those great customer experiences will come continued growth and that growth is going to come from the data side of the business. The world is becoming data driven and Frontier is clearly data services driven.
The $19.99 broadband offer … that’s a national offer but we’re executing on that locally under the cover of Frontier’s national brand. Frank the Buffalo, our new national branding campaign, the elements in how we utilize and leverage Frank in the local market … we have some flexibility on and control some of those placement decisions.
On the legacy voice-line business, are there ways to slow that decline, to reverse the decline?
The voice business is continuing a decline. There are ways in which you bundle services and look at an overall solution for that home that encompasses voice, data, Internet, television…. When you package all that together, you become the infrastructure and the pipe going into a person’s home that allows them to connect to the world either through voice or electronically. The voice becomes part of what you’re providing. It’s through that bundling you slow down that rate. There’s still an enormous amount of voice revenue generated in this market and that will be continue to be generated in this market. Clearly wireless substitution has impacted and changed the world in terms of how we communicate.
Are there other bundling opportunities? Do you see the product array broadening further?
It’s important for us if you own the customer relationship and you own the pipe that customer is using data if you understand how they’re wanting to communicate and be connected to the outside world, you then put the right bundle of services together. Today that’s been voice, data, Internet and television. We’ve started to do some things with home security. As the world moves to more and more home automation, I think there are opportunities to get in there.
The driver of communications used to be copper voice lines. Now it’s much more fiber optics, DSL.
DSL goes over copper. There are a lot things you can do to enhance the throughput of that copper. (The company in March said it spent more than $123 million in capital investments in New York State last year.) We’ll continue to do those things, recognizing the demand for data continues to grow. In all segments of the market, residential, small business, commercial enterprises. There used to be a voice network and a data network. In today’s world those largely have converged and it’s a single platform. Voice becomes just another piece of traffic on the data network. Copper has a very important role in that.
Frontier’s biggest push, strategy-wise, it has this infrastructure, it goes past plenty of potential customers, and it’s looking for greater penetration, looking for more homes.
How do you do that in the Rochester market?
The way you go about that in any market is you create a great customer experience and that starts from the first time they call into one of our call centers to the time we go out and install that service to the time they get the bill to the time if and when there’s a blip on the network and they call into Frontier with a service matter, it’s addressed quickly and efficiently and we do it right the first time. We have hundreds of techs in the field that no other company in this market can claim, that are experienced, committed, knowledgeable and really can elevate and enhance the customer experience. Ultimately that’s how you build a very powerful brand and that’s what will enable you to grow your market share.
What are the biggest challenges for the Rochester market? The things that’ll be keeping you up late at night?
Rochester’s general rate of economic growth is not that robust. We’re a stable economy but we’re not one growing rapidly. For Frontier to significantly grow its revenue, we’ll have to do it by growing our market share. And bringing new markets and new solutions to customers in a cost-effective and timely way. That’s an ongoing challenge that will always drive us to be sharp and represent its own sets of challenges.
Being able to grow from here is a challenge, but it’s an exciting challenge.