Monday, September 20, 2021

Meet Comstar's Ralph Del Conte

As Vice President of Sales Operations, Ralph has worn many hats throughout his career. Today, he’s our customer’s most important ally for fiber cable as the industry navigates the most disruption to manufacturing and the supply chain that he’s experienced in his 17 years working for the company. Let’s learn more about Ralph, his career, his family, and being a part of the sea of red in downtown Philadelphia during the Fall of 2008.

 Question: How did you get into telecom or outside plant distribution?

Ralph: I got into telecom back in 1999 when I started out strand mapping for Blair Park Services. I got a ton of experience during my five years there in many different areas of the telecom world. Not only did I learn strand mapping, but was able to learn make ready, AutoCad drafting of pole lines, and a telecom technician where I had a chance to learn some old school method of fiber termination called fiber tipping.

Q: When did you join Comstar?

Ralph: I worked for a customer of Comstar’s and met Chad back in 2002 when he was the salesmen calling on our account. Chad and I talked about Comstar and his business every time he was calling on us at our facility. Everything he told me was interesting, and really intrigued me.  I left there and came to work for Comstar in 2004. We were a much smaller company back then, and at that time, we had to learn to wear many hats. I was lucky enough to learn how things work operationally from the ground up, giving me a ton of experience in many different areas at Comstar.

Q: In your opinion, what’s the best thing about working at Comstar?

Ralph: Hands down the best thing about Comstar are the people. I know there are many companies that call themselves a family environment, but it does truly feel that way here. The people at Comstar get along with each other and care about each other. You can just see it and feel it when you’re with them and in the building.  It’s truly a different experience than anywhere else I have worked.

Q: You’re our point person on fiber cable at the company, tell me about your experience in the market and what is your take on fiber as we start to move into 2022?

Ralph: Where to begin. I have managed Comstar’s fiber allocation for over 10 years. Over that span I have seen some tough times with some major disruption. For instance, the tsunami in Japan back in 2011 wiping out the 1/3 of the worlds glass production, to the glass shortage in 2013-2015, and none of that compares to the disruption we are seeing today.

Right now, fiber demand is higher than ever before. Add to that the raw materials and transportation shortages and you have one of craziest times our industry has ever seen with longer lead times on fiber than ever before. Most manufacturers have gone strictly allocation based at this point.

We are seeing manufacturer’s adding capacity to plants, and all its doing is keeping their market share the same. The demand is growing much more than the capacity being added. The future for fiber will be tight for a few years to come.

Due to the extended fiber lead times, we are seeing customers looking further ahead with forecasts than they have ever done before. This is a must for them to continue building without disruption.

Q: You’re a big sports fan. Do you have story or a memory of your favorite Philly sports moment?

Ralph: Yes, I am a big sports fan and love my Philly teams. As a Philly sports fan, we have had some tough years while I was growing up. There was a long 26-year period with no titles at all. The two moments that stand out the most would have to be the 2008 Phillies World Series title and the 2017 Eagles Superbowl title.  While the Eagles would rank #1 on my Philly teams list, the Phillies title was is the one that I will never forget. It was the 1st title I was able to live through and remember. The parade was the greatest thing ever. There were people everywhere. It was like a sea of red in the city that day. Something I will never forget seeing and being a part of that day. 

Q: You have a framed picture of Brian Dawkins, former Eagles safety, in your office. Was he your favorite Eagle and why? 

Ralph: Yes, Brian Dawkins is without a doubt my favorite Eagle of all time. He was a hard-hitting safety that wore his heart on his sleeve. You knew, and could see, he was always giving it everything he had out on the field. Philly sports fans love the guys that give it all they got. You do that in Philly, and you will have the respect of the fans.

Q: I also know that family is extremely important to you. 

Ralph: I've been married for just over 8 years to my wife Danielle and we have a 6-year-old daughter named Peyton. Both mean everything to me and are my world. I come from a big Italian family that spends a lot of time together. From vacations and holidays with cousins to just simply spending time together, those memories are special and it's how I grew up. My parents taught us at a young age that family was extremely important. I do my best to instill that same mentality with my daughter, her cousins, and extended family. I hope my daughter will grow up with those same values and have that same special time with family that I was able to have growing up.

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