Adtran CEO Tom StantonQuick, describe ADTRAN CEO Tom Stanton (pictured). Chances are you're silent. The VAR Guy has spent nearly two decades covering the networking industry. He knows quite a bit about ADTRAN and its SMB networking strategy. But our resident blogger must concede: He's never met Stanton -- until today. Here's the scoop from Stanton, and his vision for ADTRAN partners.

ADTRAN has spent the past two years developing and introducing more than 60 products, notes Stanton. The 1700-person company offers a range of Ethernet, switching, routing, VoIP and other gear for SMBs, enterprises and carriers.

Instead of inviting media to the company -- again and again -- for each product launch, ADTRAN held off, says Stanton.

Ultimately, the company wanted to have a higher-level discussion -- mixing media with customers and partners -- at ADTRAN's headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama. That discussion started last night and continues through Wednesday.

Good News, Bad News

Stanton sees plenty of opportunity for ADTRAN. But he also sees a key problem: lack of brand and name recognition.

"Our win rate is close to 70 percent when we're on the shortlist of vendors considered," said Stanton. "But our challenge is we're only involved in 1o percent of [networking business proposals]."

Instead of focusing on speeds and feeds -- where new routers and switches from multiple companies can constantly leapfrog one another -- ADTRAN is focusing on customer usability, service and support. "It's tough [for rivals] to shift from first gear to fourth gear in usability," says Stanton. "That's a sustainable advantage for us."

On the support front, ADTRAN treats customer support with one thought in mind: "You need to always assume it's your fault when your customer support phone lines ring," says Stanton. "We have the industry leading warranty program and we offer free bug fixes and I think that sets us apart."

More thoughts from Stanton and ADTRAN to follow later today and Wednesday.

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