As seen in the April 15, 2019, INCOMPAS eNewsletter
Q: Please tell us about your company history.
A certified, woman-owned business, Comstar Supply is a national distributor of outside plant product and expertise for the telecommunications and utility industries. Since its founding in 1994, the company has built an extensive inventory from industry-leading suppliers to help carriers and contractors deliver high-speed broadband and power networks. Through its facilities in Philadelphia and Raleigh, N.C., the company serves a diverse customer base, including contractors, broadband and electric utilities, transportation and government entities.
With more than 20 years of experience, we’ve learned that the most important secret to our success is providing a customer experience like no other. Our dedicated employee base provides outstanding customer satisfaction, unique attention to detail, and a focus on making it easier for customers to work with us.
The company has built an experienced management team with extensive telecom and OSP knowledge in distribution, manufacturing, marketing and customer care to support its end-user customers. With a goal of providing the communications industry with the necessary materials to successfully complete projects in a timely and cost-effective manner, Comstar Supply is uniquely positioned as a true distribution partner.
Q: Who are your company’s top executives?
Comstar Supply has built an experienced executive team with extensive telecom and OSP knowledge in distribution, manufacturing, marketing, and customer care, to support its end-user customers. Our senior-level executive team has extensive experience at companies such as Graybar, Prysmian, Draka, Global Crossing, Level 3, Fibertech Networks and Frontier Communications.
Q: Where do you provide services?
Comstar Supply provides service throughout the United Stated with major distribution centers located in Philadelphia and Raleigh, NC; with a planned expansion of a new facility later in 2019.
Q: What types of products and/or services do you offer your customers?
Comstar Supply offers a full range of telecom outside plant products, tools and solutions from a wide-ranging list of hundreds of manufacturers. Our comprehensive solution set consists of supply chain management, warehousing, and logistics services – providing the right product, at a cost-effective price, available at the exact moment our customers need it.
Q: Who are your target customers?
Comstar Supply supports numerous customer types, including telephone and electric utilities; cable TV providers; CLEC local/long haul fiber-optic companies with Internet, telephone, and/or cable TV services; network construction subcontractors; and enterprise clients including the government, financial, education and healthcare sectors.
Q: What are the biggest challenges that your company faces and how is your company overcoming these challenges?
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. 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 will give our customers a competitive edge over their competition by giving them speed to market for their services.
Q: What sets Comstar Supply apart from other companies?
We serve many diverse verticals, but each have similar expectations. They want a distribution partner that can not only deliver products, but also value. The way we differentiate ourselves is 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 consultative and provide the capabilities they want and deliver outcomes they demand.
At the end of the day, we want to exceed customer expectations. Period. Every order, no matter the size or scope – is treated the same. If there’s an issue – we’ll fix it. If there’s a need, then it’s all-hands on deck. As a distribution partner to some of the largest broadband providers in the country, trust and communication play a huge part in our ability to build strong, lasting relationships.
Q: How is the evolving communications marketplace impacting your business model?
With some 2020 predictons of 40-50 billion connected devices to the Internet, the current telecom network infrastructure is under severe pressure to support this growth. We’re seeing cellular backhaul and front haul builds that are very robust, with small cells and 5G technologies driving enormous fiber demand. Also, the appetite for dark fiber has come back in a significant way and data center builds continue to support all cloud operations.
This race for mobile customers has created an environment where rural isn't so rural anymore and it's not just your major metropolitan cities and major interstate arteries being built up to handle demand. There are new builds and pathways happening across the country and abroad to capture the new world customer that is not tied down by a land line. With so much new fiber cable plant being built, the demand is seen across all suppliers for all products used to construct and maintain fiber networks. We are at the point today where even the demand for contractors is high and supply is getting tight.
In 2019, production levels are at the highest they’ve been in history, and that’s globally. I’ve heard from many people I respect very much say this is the strongest market in the history of the industry. When you see companies making significant capital investment in fiber manufacturing, it’s meaningful.
Comstar Supply is well positioned with fiber and all of the major product lines that accompany installation. We have created a customized solution that takes the guesswork out of outside plant needs and allows for a smooth transition from planning to construction. We work with our customers to tailor a system that allows us to distribute fiber facilities based on need, while allowing for additions or subtractions on orders.
Q: Have you recently acquired new customers? Entered new markets? Added new services/products?
Comstar Supply is constantly adding to its product portfolio, working with the world’s leading suppliers and manufacturers to ensure it has the latest in technology for its customers.
We don’t give out specific customer information, but we did recently enter into an agreement with a super-regional fiber provider to supply fiber cable and associated hardware in support of a 6,000-mile expansion plan. In addition to this customer, Comstar Supply supports thousands of customers ranging from network and utility contractors, broadband providers, electric utilities, transportation and government entities, as well as commercial users.
Q: Describe your relationship with INCOMPAS. How long have you been a member? Why did you decide to join the association?
We just recently joined INCOMPAS because of its involvement with advocating for competition policy, promoting competition and innovation. We believe in greater choice for consumers and are proud to support our customers, both large carriers and smaller regional companies and contractors, that extend the reach of fiber optic networks across the U.S.
Q: How have you benefited from INCOMPAS membership?
We just recently joined INCOMPAS but expect to benefit from it through building strong relationships with policy advocates, business associates and member companies. We look forward to becoming an active participant in the organization and add value where ever we can.