Fiber Optic Cabinets, Cables, Pedestals and Terminals

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In August, Kevin Morgan joined Clearfield as Chief Marketing Officer at our Minnesota headquarters. (He admitted that before that time, he had never lived further north than Huntsville, Alabama.) I met Kevin through the Fiber to the Home Council . In fact, he was a board member for six years, and was the Chairman of the Board in 2015. As a way of an introduction to Kevin, here’s a brief Q&A. I think you’re going to be as impressed with him as we are.

Do you have a 30 second elevator speech on your background?

I grew up in Pensacola, Florida and went to college at Auburn University, where I got my electrical engineering degree. I went to work for BellSouth (now part of AT&T) in Birmingham in the Network Planning & Engineering Organization for about 5 years. After that, I worked in the Science & Technology Department’s product evaluations for many different elements of their network. I then earned my MBA from the University of Alabama. (There’s somewhat of a conflict between Auburn and Alabama, I realize…) After that transition, I went up to ADTRAN, an equipment maker based out of Huntsville, Alabama. I worked there for 20 years and did a variety of marketing functions, including product management, product marketing and international marketing.

This summer, I learned about this position at Clearfield and pursued it. Even though the farthest north I ever lived was Huntsville, I thought I’d come on up and take a shot at the Great North.

Why Clearfield?

Clearfield has a solid reputation in the industry. It’s known for its great brand, products and support. Before I came on-board, I talked to several folks to figure out what was the special sauce that makes Clearfield different. Everyone raves about the ease with which they can use the products in their networks, and the types of support they get from Clearfield to make their fiber networks more innovative and work more efficiently. They also raved about how Clearfield did a good job of really listening to what the needs of the customers were – even sitting down with a whiteboard to map out a tailored solution, even if the product wasn’t on the market yet.

Before Clearfield, I worked for a company as an OEM supplier of Clearfield products. I asked the product teams, “Why did you choose Clearfield?” They said, “It’s an easy choice. There’s no barrier to entry when you’re trying to sell the products into a new company.” It made the overall sell easier when you had the Clearfield branded product in your solution.

What do you hope to do at Clearfield?

Clearfield is the ideal partner that can speed up fiber deployment in many different environments. Clearfield was built in a very practical manner and has achieved great success. I really think we can have even greater reach with the products we have today and where we’re going. We can get more and more operators in the game with this easy-to-use fiber deployment product including municipalities and folks that have not traditionally been in the networking business. We can reach different markets, bigger companies, and can provide even better customer experiences. There are some great stories to tell here. I want to build upon what’s already here, in terms of the tools and programs that allow our service provider customers to continue to get great service and products.

I feel like the culture of the company is one that I can fit into very easily. There are a lot of misconceptions about fiber deployment related to costs. With all the advances that have been done recently, there’s a lot of confidence in how much you can get deployed in a lower cost environment. It’s fun to start developing some of these stories and case studies internally. I’m looking forward to develop a lot of relationships going forward.

What do you think is the greatest value you bring to Clearfield?

I’ve got a lot of experience in marketing. In high tech companies, marketing needs a little bit of a different approach. I really do feel my experience in working with the largest service providers in the world, as well as international service providers, gives me an understanding of the process of how to go to market, and how to construct a campaign that can help Clearfield build the brand, and become a trusted advisor to the customers it serves.

Which of Clearfield values really resonate with you?

To listen. As a new person coming into a company that has had great success, I’m very careful not to just force-fit everything that I’ve done into this environment, and say, “This is how I’ve done it in the past, and it seems to work there.” It’s much more impactful for me to come in and listen, and to understand. To understand our culture. To understand our customers. Understand where our technology is going. And then apply my lens of experience and marketing principals that I’ve developed through the years to help to get the most out of the Clearfield brand.

Part of that is understanding the market, and where our technology is going. I bring a broad view to the table. With my engineering background, I can convert the feedback we’re getting into marketing campaigns as well as funnel it back to the product development teams to get things done.

What are you surprisingly good at?

One of Clearfield’s values is to celebrate. I enjoy celebrating in many different ways. One of the things that people may find somewhat surprising is my ability to sing. I’ve been known to take the stage at various events with bands, and get up and sing a song or two.

What genre? I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, so I’m still stuck there.

OK, are you prepared for your first Minnesota winter?

I cannot wait until the day that I can answer the question “Have you lived through a Minnesota winter?” with a very firm “Yes.” It’s one of those questions I get every time I introduce myself to someone new. That, and “Why are you here?’ or “Do you really know what you’re getting yourself into?” I’m looking forward to it. I figure if millions of people can survive it, I can too.

Are you getting advice on how to prepare for the cold and snow?

Oh yes. A high school friend from Florida, who is now up here, gave me a rundown of everything I need, including a grain scoop shovel – not just a regular shovel – and blankets and candles to put in my car. I don’t know if it’s a scare tactic or what, but I’m ready.

What’s your favorite movie?

Whenever there’s a Bourne movie on, I have to watch it.

What’s your favorite book?

I enjoy the John Grisham series. I like his writing style. He’s from the south.

What’s your favorite type of music?

Anything from the Eagles, Prince and Stevie Wonder.

What are you passionate about professionally/personally?

Professionally, I’m a constant learner. I enjoy reading and taking webinars on what’s going on in the industry. I enjoy speaking at industry events. In fact, I was just a moderator on a panel this morning. I enjoyed it.

Personally? It’s gotta be golf. You’re only limited by the seasons up here, and I found that there are a lot of really good golf courses in the area. Just two weeks ago, I entered a scramble tournament through our church and actually won!

It sounds like Kevin is off to a good start.