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GTT's Rob Westervelt explains the types of partners and customers the company will target.

Edward Gately

January 11, 2019

7 Min Read
Midmarket

GTT Communications‘ new Americas channel chief has big plans for targeting the midmarket and beefing up the company’s back-office operation.

Rob Westervelt, who joined the company in in 2017, has been named senior vice president for channel sales for the Americas division. Prior to this appointment, he was vice president for channel sales for the East. He will lead GTT’s indirect channel sales across the Americas, including partner-program strategies, initiatives and relationship management.

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GTT’s Rob Westervelt

Westervelt brings more than 25 years of experience to his new role. Previous jobs include vice president and general manager of global solutions at NTT America, senior vice president of indirect sales at Broadview Networks, and president of alternate channels at XO Communications.

GTT has acquired and successfully integrated more than 30 companies in the last 10 years, resulting in a revenue run rate approaching $2 billion. In addition to acquiring communications services provider Access Point, GTT last year bought Interoute, a U.K.-based company known for its fiber network and cloud-networking solutions, and Accelerated Connections, a managed networking, VoIP and colocation service provider.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Westervelt talks about his expanded role with GTT and what he hopes to accomplish in the coming months.

Channel Partners: How is your role with GTT expanding?

Rob Westervelt: The role that I have right now is going to be running the channel on a national basis, and currently we’re focused on enterprise customers, but we’re adding a new team that’s going to be focused on the midmarket … so our growth is in enterprise as it has been, but we’re adding additional sales folks and an additional vice president to go after the midmarket. So the next level down in subagents is where we’re heading right now to really increase and get that market share.

CP: In this expanded role, are you going to have more of a say in terms of channel strategy and partner program? If so, what’s your take there and do you see a need for changes?

RW: I’m going to be responsible for the strategy. I’m also going to be responsible for all the marketing dollars and events that we do with regards to master agents, obviously the channel partner events that we attend and then also with a focus on how we get into more events that are focused on the subagents that we’re actually trying to get — that subset of subagents. We’ve had a lot of really good growth in the channel from 2018 to 2019 – almost fourfold – and we’re looking to continue to do that as well.

We acquired a company called Access Point [in October] and they were 100 percent focused on channel, so with Access Point coming on, I also have the back office, which is the quoting and building the proposals, so I’m looking at how we support our agents a little bit differently so that we can really scale this thing up.

CP: GTT has acquired and integrated more than 30 companies in the past 10 years. More acquisitions likely are coming. How does that impact your role with the channel?

RW: The great thing about GTT is …

… obviously we do a lot of M&A, but we integrate the companies in a relatively quick fashion where we integrate network and then we also have one system that we use … and every single customer that we acquire goes into the same system.

So from a customer and agent perspective, you’re able to do reporting … and there’s one system to look at for better customer service. So we are really good at M&A and obviously we do a lot of them, so we’re not like some of the other telecom companies out there that have different-colored networks that they call and there’s confusion over when a customer calls in of where they are … because we’re in one system. So we’re totally integrated, which is great.

CP: What are the biggest challenges facing GTT and its partners, and what will be your role in addressing those?

RW: Our biggest challenge right now is [that] we’ve had substantial growth in the channel, and then with adding the new midmarket team in, my biggest task that I want to accomplish in the first quarter is to, with the Access Point folks coming in, revamp the back office so that I can support the growth and be able to give those partners the ease of doing business and at a quicker pace. We’ve had really good growth up to now and we need to continue to accelerate that.

CP: What have you been hearing from partners in terms of what they like or don’t like about working with GTT, and what they would like to see changed?

RW: I think it goes back to, can we support them? Can we have more support folks that are agent-facing so that they have somebody to call in and talk to when working on proposals — and things of that nature. And we also went out and hired a marketing manager dedicated just to the channel (Mary Ann Chudina, national partner programs manager, channel marketing). She started just a week ago and so she’s going to help us with all those initiatives so that when we work with a master agent we’re getting the messaging out and working the events, and really helping us to be able to scale. So I’m really excited with revamping the back office, adding the team for midmarket and then having this channel person come in to really help us put this thing together.

CP: What’s your take on the overall competitive landscape and where GTT fits into that?

RW: We are extremely competitive domestically as well as internationally, and we fit really well into multilocation deals. And the reason I say domestically as well as internationally is a lot of folks look at us as an international provider with our acquisition of Interoute, but we do as much business domestically as we do internationally. The exciting thing about it is when you [become] a domestic company that has an international presence, the competition drops down. There [aren’t] as many people who are out there that are doing that, so we’re winning a lot of these big global deals that are U.S.-based companies that are manufacturing companies and have a presence outside of the United States, and that’s a really big sweet spot for us today, as are …

… SD-WAN and [dedicated internet access].

CP: What do you hope to have accomplished a year from now?

RW: A year from now, I want to have the back office that is more scalable than we are today with the Access Point folks. That’s one of my key initiatives. And then getting and ramping up the team that comes in, and being able to have that double-digit revenue growth that we had in 2018. So I want to do what we did in 2018 and put it a little bit more on steroids.

It’s a really exciting time, especially at GTT, with the opportunities that we’re seeing in the channel. We’re really moving the ball downfield on SD-WAN opportunities. That seems to be a really big play. A year-and-a-half ago, people were kicking the tires on SD-WAN and they’re actually buying it today. And that’s exciting to see.

CP: What do you envision in terms of GTT’s channel strategy three or so years from now?

RW: I think we’re going to continue to obviously grow, especially as we add in new companies. Our product set will grow so we’ll be able to go deeper in these companies. I’m also seeing more of the master agents in the United States start to branch out into Europe and opening offices in London. I’ve gotten calls from several of my counterparts around the world saying we’re interested in starting this program so I think that the program is just going to expand on a global basis.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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