Mary Tyler Moore came to the big city and made it after all. Doug Frank did the reverse, leaving the crowded conurbations of his native east coast and finding a home for himself in Mediacom’s Cedar Rapids, IA, offices.
For our Independent Regional Executive of the Year, who runs Mediacom’s Central Region in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Kentucky covering some 250K customers, his happiness derives from several things. First, his son and wife love Iowa. “The schools have been great,” the native of New Jersey says, “although I miss going to the beach and delis, of course.”
In addition, coming to Mediacom has allowed Frank to reunite with former boss, Ed Pardini, whom he met when the two were at Comcast. Most important from a business standpoint, he believes in the product. “The head office in Middletown, NY, gives us great direction and terrific business opportunities,” he says. “We’re a relatively small company, but some of the things we’ve been able to do, in terms of being on the edge with technology, really help us” against competitors.
And while Frank’s territory includes Ottumwa, IA, the rural home of laid-back Radar O’ Reilly of “M*A*S*H*” fame, Mediacom faces plenty of competition now, at least on the video, HSD and voice front. “We have 35 competitors, ranging in size from major telcos to municipal overbuilders,” he says. And instead of using short-wave radio as he did during the Korean Conflict, the Radar of today could go online and enjoy a download speed of 105 Mbps and 10Mbps upload, thanks to Mediacom doubling the speed of its fastest Internet service in Ottumwa earlier this year.
A key to success, Frank believes, is treating each market individually. “You have to examine each market’s characteristics and see where your sweet spot is,” he says. Often it is Mediacom’s speedy Internet offering. And while Frank advocates this differentiated approach, he believes cable customers throughout the country are united on a several things. “They all want value for their money, convenience and plenty of choice,” he says. And Frank knows of what he speaks. He’s been in cable for nearly 30 years, worked in various regions of the country for small, medium and large operators, and in a variety of positions from sales and customer care to operations and senior management.
Frank also likes that Mediacom provides some of the advantages of a large operator but with many of the intangibles of a small company. “A lot of companies talk about their employees being members of their family,” he says. “At Mediacom, I really feel like it’s a family.” That’s because Mediacom is small enough to be nimble operationally and able to reach out, in good and bad times. Frank recalls that after a loss in his family he had received a note of condolence from Mediacom’s senior brass. Frank also appreciates how Mediacom responded so generously to the Iowa City flooding in June 2008. “Ed Pardini told me to get water. I told him we have way too much water, there’s flooding here. But he knew what he was doing. We later took trucks with water to shelters and families who had lost their homes.” In addition, the company, through [EVP] Italia Commisso and [EVP] John Pascarelli, raised about $200K for the Red Cross and small businesses.
For Frank, “being visible” to his 600+ employees is key. He travels throughout his region periodically. “It’s a jaunt,” he says. “Everybody says they have an open-door policy, but I realized that very few people take advantage of that. I find you sometimes learn more during breaks than during staff meetings.”
Related to being visible, Frank’s also on the board of the Community Resiliency Project, which responded to three teen suicides a few years ago by attempting to build strong communities and creating an environment that deters teen suicide. “[Mediacom] is a natural vehicle for spreading the word. I’ve been on boards in the past, but none touches me like this one does,” he says.
Mediacom Chairman/CEO Rocco Commisso puts it well: “Whether managing Mediacom’s first DOCSIS 3.0 market launch or forging innovative and long-lasting partnerships with institutional customers, Doug has always upheld Mediacom’s commitment to bringing advanced services and superior customer care to our local markets.” – Seth Arenstein