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The New Cable Guy

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  • | 10:32 a.m. February 18, 2011
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Tom Ward has garnered plenty of sales experience during the past 30 years, with widely recognized companies such as AT&T, Lucent and CommScope. His latest mission brings him to the Gulf Coast to sell a basic component of most everything from telecommunications to defense.

Ward is the new president of Tampa-based Custom Cable Industries Inc., which has three decades of history producing a broad range of cables for use by industries in network, voice and data transmission. His hiring follows the company's restructuring after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last summer, then emerging after just three months.

Custom Cable continued operations throughout the bankruptcy period, in which Ward credits the privately held company's 135 employees with holding the line on sales and production. He says its past problems mostly entailed cleaning up the balance sheet and making necessary management changes.

The challenge now before the company, he says, is generating stronger revenue as spending for its products budges from the sidelines. While he won't disclose the company's recent revenue, which reached at least $40 million annually prior to the recession, it's no secret what it has to do now, he says.

“Our strategy is a simplistic view: How do we get deeper and broader with our clients, and look for new opportunities,” says Ward, a Miami native who happily returns to Florida after living in so many other places across the country. It also involves building and motivating new teams in the company's various segments, including sales, engineering, manufacturing and customer service, he says.

Custom Cable's reorganization culminated with its senior lender and majority shareholder, West Palm Beach-based ComVest Capital LLC, taking over full ownership. Ward points out that ComVest never lost confidence in the company's ability as an ongoing concern, outbidding several other prospective buyers.

“The resultant asset purchase has set the stage for Custom Cable's future growth and Tom is the right person to lead that,” Gregg Stewart, who served as general manager and chief restructuring officer in the predecessor company, stated in a release. “I am pleased to hand the reins to Tom and am confident that his track record of global strategic growth in the technology and telecommunications industries is the perfect match for Custom Cable's market potential.”

Ward is credited with driving growth and delivering stakeholder value with domestic and global divisions of Fortune 1000 companies, proving success in sales, marketing, business operations, finance, manufacturing and supply chain. He has bachelor's degrees in industrial technology and journalism from Central Michigan University, and also earned his MBA from Florida Atlantic University.

Ward says his journalist skills have come into play at times throughout his career, using the five W's to find out what clients need to solve problems or address issues. He plans to carry out those interrogatories with Custom Cable customers in an effort to maintain an edge over domestic or overseas competitors.

“Our opportunity is to provide a value-add service with rapid response,” he says. “When we understand our customers well, they feel more comfortable working with us.”

Fortunately, Custom Cable didn't have to worry about rebuilding its customer base after bankruptcy. Ward says more than 90% of its clients stuck with the company during the reorganization process.

One of its key customers, Verizon Communications Inc., gave Custom Cable its 2009 Supplier Recognition Award in the network product and services category.


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