Surf Internet snags Windstream, WOW! vets to bolster revenue, customer operations

Surf Internet, a Midwest-based fiber provider, has hired telco veterans from WOW! and Windstream as it continues to expand its network across Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.

Kevin Bush joins Surf as chief revenue officer, meaning he will be responsible for overseeing all the company’s revenue streams, including sales, marketing and revenue operations. He boasts over two decades of sales experience in the telecom industry, including 10 years at the now-defunct Time Warner Cable and nearly three years at WOW!.

Kevin Bush surf internet
Kevin Bush (Surf Internet)

Michael McDaniel, Surf’s new VP of customer operations, will be responsible for strengthening customer service touchpoints as well as managing Surf’s overall service delivery strategy. Notably, McDaniel spent 14 years at Windstream, serving as director of product development engineering and system support engineering, respectively.

The hires, both of which are new roles at Surf, come as the provider’s on track to reach 120,000 fiber passings by the end of 2023, according to Surf CEO Gene Crusie. And as of this month, Surf hit 20,000 fiber-to-the-home subscribers.

“We realize that in order to continue to scale and grow and keep our very high standard for customer experience, we needed to expand the team,” he told Fierce. “One of the things we looked for was ways to make it easier for potential customers to become customers.”

The idea behind adding a CRO was to improve Surf’s field sales team as well as make it easier for consumers to sign up for service via the website. On the customer operations side, Crusie touted McDaniel’s “vast experience” in running customer service operations.

“We wanted a proven leader to come in and help take our customer experience to the next level,” he said. “That means things like making sure the customer’s fiber gets [there] very quickly after the install, making sure the fiber optic install is done with the highest quality.”

Michael McDaniel surf internet
Michael McDaniel (Surf Internet)

Crusie added Surf has lately been on a “hiring tear.” The company currently has around 165 employees, and it’s taken on new network engineers, construction workers, among other roles. While some jobs have to be local, he noted “a large percentage” of Surf’s team works remotely.

“We have people in probably 10 different states that work in sales and marketing, network engineering, customer operations, etc.,” Crusie said.

As for where Surf is focusing its expansion, he said the provider is “very focused on transforming the Great Lakes region through fiber.”

In Michigan, for instance, Surf is building fiber near the town of Fowlerville. It’s also expanding its network in Morrison, Ottawa and Toronto, Illinois. And in Indiana, Surf has active projects in the Elkhart, Goshen and Valparaiso markets.

“All in, we have about 30,000 passings actively under construction,” Crusie stated. “And then we’re going to add another 20,000 that will start construction between now and the second half of the year.”