Frontier Communications dials in its focus

EVERETT — The CEO of Snohomish County’s new phone company visited Everett on Wednesday to get employees excited about a new way of doing business.

Maggie Wilderotter, the leader of Frontier Communications, talked with about 1,000 workers from the region in meetings at the downtown Holiday Inn, telling them they’re all ambassadors for the company.

“I’m trying to get out and meet with all the employees,” Wilderotter said in an interview. “They have a lot of great ideas and my focus is to get them to implement those great ideas.”

Frontier recently purchased Verizon’s wireline operations in 14 states, mostly in rural areas. It now operates from Snohomish County to the Canadian border in western Washington and also serves areas near Wenatchee, Omak, Pullman, Newport, Kennewick, Aberdeen, and Vancouver.

With about 600 employees working at its Everett regional headquarters, Frontier is one of the city’s largest private employers.

Wilderotter said customers should see a different company with the switch from Verizon to Frontier. She said she wants Frontier employees to be much more service-oriented and to be more involved in their communities.

Denise Baumbach, president of the company’s western region, said Frontier is committed to “a new customer experience” where people only need to make one phone call and “we do business when it’s convenient for you.”

She said the company offers a two-hour appointment window for service and will fully install all its products. “If you’re new to the Internet, we’ll show you how to use it,” she added.

Wilderotter said good service is vital to the company wherever it does business. But she added that Snohomish County is a little bit different than many of its service areas.

“It’s more of a high-tech corridor,” she said. “In many of our areas, it’s not that way.”

She said there’s more demand here for broadband Internet service and for gadgets and applications. “We have to make sure our tech support helps people in a different way,” she added.

She noted that more people in the region want to work at home and that more businesses here are technology-based.

Frontier will work to expand its customer base for broadband here.

“We’re spending a boatload of money to improve the quality of our network,” Wilderotter added, noting that Frontier plans to spend $45 million in Washington state during the next three years.

Frontier sees strong business opportunity in the landline business, but Wilderotter noted that the economy has business at a standstill now.

“There was a dive in 2007 and 2008, but things have been pretty stable since 2009,” she said of Frontier.

She said businesses have been in a holding pattern recently, waiting for the economy to improve.

“We’re seeing nothing happening anywhere,” she said. “If the government is going to help, it needs to deal with a stimulus for job creation. There’s a lot of uncertainty for business.”

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