Data Center POST interview with Todd Foje, CEO, Great Plains Communications
By Contributing Editor Michael Egan
Todd Foje is Chief Executive Officer of Great Plains Communications, the largest privately-owned telecommunications provider in Nebraska. The company delivers high speed internet, cable television and voice services to over 90 communities throughout the state, and at the core of its service offering is an extensive 9,500-mile regional fiber network, including over 400 fiber miles in the Omaha Metro area. As a certified public accountant and attorney, Todd has a BSBA degree from Creighton University, a Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University and a Masters of Law in Taxation (LLM) degree from Georgetown University. In addition to serving as CEO of Great Plains, he also serves as CEO of certain affiliates.
With ITW 2019 under his belt, Todd sat down with Data Center POST to talk about the company, discuss how they’re keeping pace with the greater industry and give us insights into what they achieved at this year’s event.
Data Center POST, Michael Egan (DCP-ME) Question: What does Great Plains Communications do and what problems are you solving?
Great Plains Communications, Todd Foje (GPC-TF) Answer: Great Plains Communications has over a century of experience providing telecommunications services to more than 90 communities across Nebraska. We offer business services, including traditional and cloud-based voice, data and network installation, as well as support services like managed Ethernet. In addition, the company provides wholesale and network transport services over our 9,500-mile regional fiber network, which is monitored and maintained from our Network Operations Center in Blair, Nebraska.
In today’s digital world, there is an ever-increasing need for more bandwidth, and the demand will continue to increase as technology advances and consumers look for always-on connectivity. We want to bridge that gap by continuously investing in our network to create fully scalable, unique routes that not only position our company and our clients to be successful today, but also to be prepared to meet future demands. We build our network to be ready for tomorrow.
DCP-ME Q: What do you attribute to Great Plains Communications’ success?
GPC-TF A: We provide our customers a high-performing network run by high-performing people. We build our network with a high level of redundancy and diversity to ensure our customers do not experience a hard down time. Our unique routes help carriers reliably connect and reach customers on regional, national and international levels. We also offer a unique level of personalized service. Our clients work with one team from design to turn up to maintenance to achieve their communication goals.
DCP-ME Q: That sounds like an attractive value proposition. Tell us, what milestones did you achieve in the past year and how will these developments help Great Plains Communications keep up with the demands of the quickly growing and ever-changing telecommunications industry?
GPC-TF A: During the past year we were acquired by Grain Management, a private equity firm focused on the telecommunications industry. This provides us with the capital we need, from an experienced telecom partner, to grow strategically to meet the ever-changing needs of bandwidth demand and advancing industry and technology trends. Their expertise, coupled with our century of experience, will help us grow our network to the next level and will in turn help us meet and exceed our clients’ goals.
DCP-ME Q: What are you most looking forward to accomplishing over the next year? The next 3-5 years?
GPC-TF A: Over the next year, we will complete our acquisition of InterCarrier Networks (ICN) and continue to improve and expand our network into the markets of Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. In Kentucky we will begin construction on two much-needed diverse fiber routes that will help provide more opportunity to area businesses, wireless and wholesale customers in these currently underserved areas. We will also continue to expand our offerings in the Nebraska area, where we will be extending our footprint deeper into Omaha, Fremont, and Columbus.
In the next 3-5 years we will continue to grow organically in our current markets, as well as in those we are acquiring with ICN. Additionally, we will continue to use the expertise and analytical approach of our partners at Grain Management to acquire additional companies and expand organically where it makes sense. We also expect that the needs of our current customers will take us to new places in terms of ongoing upgrades in our network and to new geographies.
DCP-ME Q: What do you think is the greatest challenge in the industry and how are you working to overcome it?
GPC-TF A: The greatest challenge will be continuing to meet the need for bandwidth and ensuring we have the innovative products and services in place. We have added key members to our team this year, including Josephine Bernson, Chief Revenue Officer, Mark Boulay, Vice President of Enterprise Services, and Bryce Miller, Products Manager. These new experts join our already highly-experienced leadership team, working strategically and continuing to identify and meet the needs of our clients.
DCP-ME Q: What did you accomplish at ITW 2019?
GPC-TF A: At ITW 2019, we touched base with our current clients, and we developed new relationships and educated the industry on our capabilities and our ever-expanding network. It’s a great venue to ensure we understand the needs of our clients, and it also allowed us to monitor trends and happenings in the industry.
DCP-ME Q: Thanks so much Todd for all the great info, we look forward to seeing what Great Plains Communications accomplishes. To learn more about the company and its services, please visit www.gpcom.com.