Monday, August 15, 2016

5 Misconceptions About Telecom Distributors

1. Distributors are basically warehouses and offer no true differentiators

While some distributors simply offer customers the ability to buy or store products, true distribution partners like Comstar Supply offer something more. Strategic communication between a distributor and customer allows for continuous value exchange. Compelling business factors from both the distributor and customer should be communicated appropriately for crucial support of each other’s respective business goals.

2. Customers lose margin to the distributor

According to a study conducted among vendors by the Global Technology Distribution Center (GTDC), economies of scale from distributors result in vendor cost savings considerably higher than 3-5%. From logistics to credit infrastructure, distribution vendors are in fact much more valuable to buy from than a direct model.

3. Advent of the cloud and other Internet-related tools de-value distributor model

According to the GTDC, as more and more transactions occur on the Internet or through the cloud, there is no substitute for the specialized skills and capabilities of distributors to drive the sales and fulfillment processes. While an e-commerce model makes sense in industries such as software, outside plant and telecommunications products require physical logistical infrastructure, storage, and inventory to support demand for one-stop shopping.

4. Distributors just take orders

Within the OSP and Communications marketplace, distributors not only offer products, but also machine tools and technical support. Distribution plays a vital role in ensuring customers are fully informed on technical specifications of products, as well as advising on configuration issues and compatibilities. Without this role, many new technologies would move far more slowly through the adoption cycle and resellers would struggle to realize their business potential.

5. Carriers and Subcontractors Would Prefer to Deal Directly with Manufacturers

While some want a direct relationship, most carriers and subcontractors have such demanding logistical requirements they insist on distributors handling the supply chain and providing the related transaction processing infrastructure, including credit provision. Large accounts want the ability to connect with vendors at a strategic level backed up with day-to-day account management to be able to resolve issues with the right level of priority. In some instances, the customer will deploy sales support that works directly alongside distributors to develop end-customer relationships.

Monday, August 8, 2016

How to Leverage Strategic Partnerships with Telecom OSP Distributors

Traditionally, distribution partners are thought of as Costco-like wholesalers, with a large inventory and little to no differentiation from competitors. Customers simply buy from a company that would break down bulk product and handle freight. But a few telecom distributors are creating a paradigm shift in the industry by playing a more critical role in the planning and delivery of outside plant materials.

Specifically, Comstar Supply differentiates ourselves by building partnerships with our customers vs. just being a logistics mechanism for their business. Our customers desire tailored inventory, control over inventory position, storage, logistics, and access to our employees - who know their business. And most importantly, they want communication. Our goal is to be build a consultative relationship with customers by focusing on capabilities and outcomes. This emphasis allows us to orchestrate multiple relationships with suppliers, while distilling customer business needs and prioritizing them for our customers.

"Our biggest challenge and opportunity is to educate our partners and potential customers on current market conditions and work with them to provide solutions tailored to their specific needs," said Todd Rhen, SVP Sales for Comstar Supply. "We’ve done a great job securing allocation and capacity with our supplier partners and allowing our customers to prioritize their needs for maximum results."

It’s that constant stream of communication, sharing of ideas, and building customized programs which gives our customers a competitive edge over their competition by providing speed to market for their services.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Comstar Supply Adds Industry Veteran to Leadership Team

COLLEGEVILLE, PA MAY 27, 2016Comstar Supply, Inc., a national distributor of network products and services, today announced Dan Clifton has joined the company as senior vice president of marketing. In this role, Clifton will lead the development and execution of all marketing and communications programs for the company.
“I’m extremely excited to welcome Dan to the Comstar family,” said Chad Punchard, President and CEO of Comstar Supply. “He has extensive experience working across a wide range of specialty areas in communications and marketing within the telecom industry. I’m certain his wealth of experience will only enhance the direction and growth of Comstar.”
Prior to this appointment, Clifton was the senior director of marketing at Soleo Communications. He also spent more than 14 years in a similar position with Fibertech Networks. His previous experience also includes roles with Mpower Communications, Frontier Communications, and the William E. Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester.
Clifton earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is a Rochester 40 Under 40 recipient and has served on a number of Board of Directors including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – Upstate NY Chapter; The First Tee of Rochester, NY; the Fairport (NY) Soccer Club; and the e-business Association of Rochester.

About Comstar Supply
Comstar Supply, Inc., was founded in 1994 with the goal of providing the communications industry with the necessary materials and tools to successfully complete projects in a timely and cost-effective manner. Through its Collegeville, PA, and Raleigh, NC, facilities, the company serves a diverse customer base that includes telephone and electric utilities, CATV companies, CLEC local/long haul fiber-optic companies providing combined internet, telephone, and CATV services. Further information about the company can be found at

Thursday, September 10, 2015

M&A Alphabet Soup

Exciting Telecom Transformations

There is no doubt that we are in a very transformative time in our industry. Network operators are in an arms race of epic proportions to bring as many assets online to stay relevant. We are well past the dawn of packet switching, but the growth behind the cloud and IoT are still in their infancy. The M&A activity going on now goes much deeper than sharks taking the minnows. We are seeing Wireless Integrators consuming Wireline assets. We also have a wireline company consuming a satellite giant. These sharks are significantly diversifying their portfolios beyond where they have been before—adding more than just minnows to the dinner menu.

Not only are we seeing a large movement to merge networks, but several suppliers are in the mergers and acquisition mode as well. I could feel a high level of nervous excitement in the air walking the floor at the OSP Expo in Denver this past week. If change is the only constant, it was very palpable at the Colorado Convention Center. Several big changes are happening with some of our key suppliers, and I wanted to highlight each of those here.

CommScope & TE Connectivity CommScope Holding Company formally announced on August 28 that it completed its acquisition of TE Connectivity’s telecom, enterprise and wireless divisions. In a letter to their industry partners, Peter Karlsson of CommScope states, “To compete and win globally, we know that we must continually help our customers meet the world’s growing demand for network bandwidth.” The blending of product portfolios from these two companies sets the bar extremely high for any supplier to match the level of quality, performance and service that this merger brings to the table. Karlsson adds, “With this transaction, we are confident we will achieve that objective with greater efficiency, performance, agility and technology innovation.”

At Comstar Supply, we are excited to be a part of this transformation. As TE Connectivity is a preferred partner of ours, we are very motivated to sustain a high level of service to our customers through the transition. We are confident that the resources and solutions in front of us will strengthen our partnerships. Comstar Supply’s dedication to efficiency, performance and agility are in line with the current goals of CommScope, and we feel this will be a successful partnership as a result of those common bonds.

Pentair & ERICO On August 17, Pentair announced its agreement to purchase ERICO for $1.8 billion in cash and repayment of any outstanding ERICO debt. This deal will combine Pentair’s Hoffman Network Solutions division with a leader in bonding and grounding products. Comstar Supply is very excited about this union of service and product solutions. As we are already a distributor for both suppliers, this merger will provide a more cohesive approach to enclosures and equipment protection for telecom outside plant, enterprise and wireless markets.

JDSU Testing Instruments is now Viavi Solutions, Inc. Although this corporate change is by a split rather than a merger, this transformation is no less important. As of August 3, 2015, the change from JDSU Network Enablement to Viavi Solutions became official. Viavi had a large presence at the OSP Show in Denver, and their new name and logo was prominently displayed at their booth. They also have launched their new website,

As a supplier for Viavi Solutions, Comstar Supply looks forward to the new growth and developments that will result from this corporate spinoff. Tom Waechter, President and CEO of Viavi Solutions said, “Viavi is poised to capture the opportunities created by the industry’s transition to new network architectures and the need for increased network and application visibility.” Any network transformations require a new approach to test methods, and certainly innovations are a major part of adapting to these transformations. Comstar Supply is proud to be a partner of Viavi, a leading innovator in testing technologies. Just as we have done with JDSU, Comstar Supply will continue to support our customers through all of the network transformations to come with Viavi.

The best way to stay on top of any new product developments from these and all of our key suppliers is at our Network Virtual Tour, No matter where your network falls on the map, let Comstar City, USA be your guide to complete solutions including cable, connectivity, pathway and installation equipment.
Whether you're adding more fiber in your HFC plant, or taking GPON by the horns, we have a full breadth of diverse suppliers to cover you on every component of your NetworkX. Comstar City, USA is an evolving tool to assist with your network advancement from a high altitude.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fiber Blowing Road Show

Comstar Supply Takes Fiber Blowing on the Road

Fiber Microtechnology is an evolving sector, and the last few years have seen a flurry of new equipment, fiber and pathway. To stay ahead of the curve, Comstar Supply installed micro fiber pathways at both its Collegeville, PA and Raleigh, NC locations. This allows us to conduct modern fiber blowing demonstrations that combine multiple manufacturers for a complete solution.

Our goal is to educate contractors and end users alike on the new technologies and suppliers on the market.

Can't make it to one of our locations for a demonstration? We can come to you! Recently Comstar held a remote fiber blowing demonstration in Dublin, Ohio. A few key suppliers as well as several local companies participated making it a very successful day.

Sherman Kranz of Condux International prepares a 144 Count Micro Cable to be blown using the Gulfstream 400.
We've seen a renewed interest in Microtechnology, and there is still much to learn. The results are proven and the cost advantages are well documented.

Whether you want to know more about the fiber blowing equipment, pathway, cable or connectivity, we offer a hands on demonstration catered to your needs. Speaking of catering, we can provide food and beverage at the event as well! Contact our sales team today for information on setting up your fiber blowing demonstration.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Microtechnology in America

Are we there yet?

As a result of the renewed interest in Microtechnology, Comstar Supply recently installed a 4-Way 18/14mm FuturePath raceway on our property where we plan to conduct demonstrations and training sessions. Contact us if you are interested in seeing the FuturePath solution up close and in person.

4-way Futurepath Microduct installation at Comstar Supply
You can also find more information on Microtechnology in the Underground Construction section of our Network Virtual Tour, Comstar City USA, which is found at

While the product developments in MicroDuct fiber optic cable finally are breaking into the mainstream in the United States, these products are still new to many of you. I want to take a step back and replay much of the market spin from the last 15 or so years regarding Microtechnology. Before I fire up that hype train, I would like you to consider a couple of things.


 Industry Standards

Today our networks are built on the foundations set by Telcordia, ASTM, BICSI, ITU and many others. From keeping network performance high, protecting your outside plant from the elements or maintaining safety for your technicians and the public at large, standards are tremendously important. Since there are many new players in the microtechnology sector, you must consider your product options from a standards perspective.
  • Who does third party testing for the manufacturers, and what are they testing for?
  • What tests should they for your applications? 
Don't let price alone be your sole motivation, but insist on products that adhere to the standards and recommended practices.
Comstar Supply's Bob Hipp demonstrates Hubbell's EZ-Locate


Another great benefit to standards is interoperability. This allows multiple manufacturers to play in the same sandbox, which in turn helps drive down costs and minimizes lead times. If you want to explore a new micro cable or pathway solution, I encourage you to evaluate the impact of all the products associated with that change.
  • Will this cable require expensive, specialized fiber terminations?
  • Will I have to stock new microduct fittings or tools in addition to the ones I already use?
  • Does this product increase technician workload and training requirements, or decrease it?
At the end of the day, products used in your physical layer must work together from multiple suppliers to maintain the overall integrity of the network.
The concept of shrinking the size of your pathway and cable is easy to swallow, but the myriad of manufacturers and solutions can be the horse pill. At Comstar Supply, we can offer a complete microtechnology solution that maintains the standards of your network, and it would be supported across multiple vendors.
So what is the purpose behind the big micro push again? This value-added proposal is nothing new, but it is proven technology in the United States and around the globe. Utilizing a Multiple MicroDuct pathway system such as Dura-line’s FuturePath, you can realize the following benefits while expanding your network today.

More Cost Effective

FuturePath can provide up to 8 pathways for cables to be placed at roughly the same price of 4 individual 1-1/4” Conduits. Placing more pathways at one time also reduces the costs and headaches associated with permitting. Also placing more pathways at once allows for future growth at a significantly lower cost because you will not need to hire a contractor or place new conduits. You simply place another cable in the existing pathway.

Superior Deployment

Air Blown MicroDuct Cable through Dura-line’s FuturePath is a faster, easier and much less expensive installation method for fiber optic cable. Further distances can be installed at one time reducing the number of handholes required. The process of blowing fiber optic cable puts much less stress on the cable during installation, as well as requiring fewer consumable items on the job such as pull lines and lubricant.
4-Way Duraline Futurepath


Microtechnology is Green! FuturePath can provide more fiber capacity with less overall plastic. FuturePath also takes up less space during transit and storage, which translates to lower fuel consumption and reduced labor. Having multiple pathways already in the ground for future use reduces the need to dig up that pathway again, thus providing a positive impact on the environment as well.
These are only a few of the major benefits to a multiple MicroDuct pathway system. More could be realized in many other applications even inside the building.
You are probably aware of a few jobs where you wish at the end of the day you would have implemented Microtechnology. If you have not implemented a FuturePath solution yet, the key is to get your engineers and consultants in the loop now to plan this for your next project.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Comstar Supply, Inc. Hires New Regional Sales Manager for the Southeast

Leading Telecommunications and Utility Industry Supply Company Strengthens Key Resources

Collegeville, PA Comstar Supply, Inc., a leading stocking distributor of Fiber Optic Cable Supplies for the telecommunication, electrical and utility industries, announced today that Travis Winn has joined the sales team as the Regional Sales manager for the Southeast region.

“We are delighted to welcome Travis to the Comstar Supply team. He is an industry veteran with over 25 years of experience in the Telecommunications/Broadband industry” says Todd Rhen, SVP of Sales for Comstar Supply. “Our expansion in the Southeast and new opening of our Raleigh, NC location was the perfect fit for Travis who is a graduate of NC State and resides in NC. Comstar Supply’s growing team will accelerate our current efforts to better support our customer’s needs.”

Travis comes to Comstar Supply after 25 years of service to the Prysmian Group (formally Alcatel and later Draka) and served as their Regional Sales Manager for the NE for the past 11. Before that, Travis held various positions in sales and engineering including the Bell South Account Manager and Southeast Channel Manager.

About Comstar Supply, Inc.

Founded in 1994, Comstar Supply, Inc. is a full service Communications industry wholesale distributor, which offers customers a range of quality materials to successfully complete projects in a timely and price effective manner. Comstar Supply provides a large selection of materials and tools for immediate shipment from a state-of-the-art Collegeville, PA and Raleigh, North Carolina facilities. Comstar Supply delivers materials direct to the jobsite, or ship domestically through our various freight channels or freight free from the manufacturer. More information on the company’s services provided, key leadership, or history is provided at