Thursday, July 19, 2018

Q&A with the President of Comstar Supply

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5 Questions with Comstar Supply President Chad Punchard

Chad Punchard
Chad Punchard
President, Comstar Supply

The network construction season is in full swing and Comstar Supply President Chad Punchard recently reflected on what the company has experienced over the first six months of 2018 and what he expects moving forward the rest of the year.

Q1. We're about at the half-way point of 2018, can you describe your thoughts on the telecom industry and distribution after 6 months.

Chad: The construction of telecommunications networks continues to accelerate at a rapid pace. As almost everyone has heard at this point, 5G continues to be the largest of the many drivers behind the growth of our industry. Ironically, we are not seeing the true impact in construction and building of the networks just yet due to set backs across the country with pole license agreements and other legal hurdles that must be worked out before the true impact of the growth will be felt across our industry. It’s a true “hurry up and wait” period we are all in. The wave is coming, it’s just a matter of time.

Q2. What are some of the concerns or trends you're addressing for customers?

Chad: In addition to the issues previously mentioned, carriers are being impacted by recent consolidation within the industry. Because of these transactions, carriers are struggling to keep contractors busy when growth is this wide spread. We feel our ability to advance information and training directly to our customers is now even more critical.

One growing concern for customers is the uncertainty of OSP material availability as the construction of networks really breaks loose. Comstar’s position and partnership with leading suppliers in the industry allows us to instill confidence with our customer base that they will be taken care of when the market get tight.

Q3. Have there been any recent surprises Comstar has experienced?

Chad: Consolidation is never a surprise, but it continues to impact our industry.

As we talk to suppliers, manufacturers and customers, one surprise is how many people are starting to heed the warning signs that our industry is just in an awkward period. As I mentioned, network builds are being held-up with issues such as pole attachment agreements. Once theses get worked out we are a few large network builds away from materials and labor becoming the bottleneck again. If and when this happens, we’re asking our customers – are you in control of your materials or not? With the shear amount of builds on the table over the next 3 years, having the project critical labor and materials will become increasingly important.

Q4. Several large network projects have been announced, even Dish has publicized its intention to build a network that will support 5G and their IoT efforts. How has that affected customers and Comstar?

Chad: To a degree we have talked around a number of them in previous answers here. Verizon One seems to have the most visibility and press associated with it and the one that will impact our industry the most in terms of materials and labor. And certainly other wireless carriers are all aggressively building out markets for 5G rollout as quickly as they can.

Other types of project are also on the rise. From major MSO builds across the country to municipalities joining the network ownership club - all are making fiber-optic network construction the next gold rush. Content providers are significantly impacting opportunities for FTTX projects. And there are massive amounts of fiber diversification efforts in larger Tier 1 cities active. All of these infrastructure builds are leading to supporting 5G and the Internet of Things.

The affect of these are huge for the entire industry. The supply chain will become taxed with keeping up with this growth. It will take strong partnerships across business lines to ensure network growth keeps up with customer demand. 

Q5. What's up next for Comstar?

Chad: Comstar has been very fortunate in our history and that is we go where our customers go. That includes markets and territories. We have adapted well over time and it has proven successful for both Comstar and our customers. Our growth story will continue to be predicated on how we differentiate ourselves in terms of flexibility and being a nimble entrepreneurial company focused on customers. Nothing is more important, especially today, than having a flexible partner that understands how to navigate the relationship between manufacturer, distributor and customer.

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