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Growing strong

Connie Steiert and Kathy HeicherVail, CO, Colorado
Kristin Anderson/kanderson@vaildaily.comKelly Church Bontempo talks to a client at Teltec Communications' office in Edwards.
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EDWARDS They are known as the Charlies Angels of the telecommunications industry. But to most of the valley, Lisa Hanlon and Kelley Church Bontempo are the girls next door. Like most working women in the valley, they can be found chauffeuring kids and walking dogs while juggling jobs and homes. But they do more than most. Church Bontempo, the mother of two, and Hanlon, a 1988 Eagle Valley High School graduate, run a quiet, award-winning, multi-million dollar business.Both women are petite and pretty, but their brains, determination and attitude have carved out a niche in the telecom world.Hanlon and Church Bontempo have proven that women can succeed and excel in this male-dominated industry. Teltech Communications counts industry giants Motorola Canopy, Nokia, Ericsson, Cisco Systems and Lucent among its partners.Chance and chutzpahThe Teltech Communications office in Riverwalk is well appointed, with wood finishes, sunny workspaces and enviable views of the Eagle River and the valley.Yet, dog leashes are just as likely to lie on the reception counter as business portfolios. Clients are often advised to dress down for meetings and three big dogs are likely to greet visitors. But the duo means business.Were very relaxed, but its a productive office, Hanlon said.Teltech Communications specializes in providing new and remanufactured equipment for use in wireless, wire line and data networks .But dont jog down there to pick up the latest iPhone. Teltech doesnt sell cell phones. Rather, it supplies all the other components in the telecom industry, including transmission stations, mobile switching centers and power systems.The two women got into the telecommunications business by happenstance. They were working for a man who ran a similar business. When he left the business, the duo had to make a decision: They could either find jobs working for someone else or take over what was essentially a solid business idea, and do it their way.Hanlon and Church Bontempo called former clients to find out what they needed. They promised that if clients took a chance with Teltech Communications, they wouldnt be disappointed. A few clients gave the women a chance, and that was all they needed.First working out of Church Bontempos Singletree home, they initially did everything themselves, from sales to shipping. They broadened their knowledge by talking with engineers and clients and studied the market.Clients came to know Teltech as a company they could depend upon.Youre not just selling a product, youre selling yourself, Church Bontempo said. We do what we say; and we say what we do.By 1999 the partners moved their offices into a 700-square-foot space in Riverwalk and hired a salesperson. Two years later, they did $20 million in sales. In 2004, they were in Hollywood to receive the Supplier of the Year Award for Womens Business Enterprise.This year, Teltech expects to do $30 million in business. The company employees 18 people, including the third angel, marketing director Kelly Jo Gray, also an longtime Eagle-area resident. They have a new, 18,000-square-foot warehouse in Grand Junction, run by Hanlons brother, John McIlveen. The company is also creating an engineering team.The productTeltech specializes in asset recovery services, inventory management and sales. Teltech will evaluate surplus used equipment for original equipment manufacturers to see if it should be moved, refurbished, or scrapped.They dont have to deal with it, said Hanlon.If a client no longer wants the equipment, Teltech purchases it, refurbishes it and sells it to business looking to maintain or update older systems. Often, clients will see as much as a 30 percent savings over purchasing new equipment. Buying and selling used equipment isnt easy. The women recall getting used equipment, sight unseen, in deplorable condition, with snakes and rat nests inside. They suspect one piece of purchased equipment went through a hurricane. But Teltechs customers receive equipment thats in tip-top shape and it comes with a warranty.We sell to all the wireless service providers like Sprint, Verizon and Cingular/AT&T, Hanlon said. We help them save money.Teltecs local clientele includes the Brightwater Club at Gypsum, Eagle Ranch, the Ritz Carlton hotel and Bachelor Gulch.Last September, Teltech signed a deal with Alcatel-Lucent, becoming the only business that can sell used, but warranted, Lucent equipment.Last fall the company branched out, adding a couple of new products to the portfolio.Spotwave equipment can be used in a business or a home to boost weak cell phone signals. The system can be placed in a building and fine-tuned to work best with specific carriers equipment.Additionally, a deal with Proxim enabled Teltech to sell new microwave equipment. AdvocatesWhile both women travel to trade shows and meetings, Hanlon is the road warrior. Church Bontempos specialty is sales.Neither woman has forgotten how it feels to be the only women walking into a room filled with men. The telecommunications industry was a bit of a good old boys network when they started.At first it was intimidating, Hanlon said. Now, we see it as a challenge. Weve surrounded ourselves with good people, Church Bontempo said. They dont have to really do anything but look at our references.The Teltec partners like to see other women experience the same sense of confidence and job satisfaction in business. Teltech is recognized by Womens Business Enterprise National Council, and by the California Public Utilities Commission. Being women opens doors, but we have to deliver on our product, Church Bontempo said. The key to operation is product, persistence, pricing, knowledge of product, quality of product.


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