Three partners revive TeleSystems a decade after its sale

04/23/2014 5:38 PM

08/08/2014 5:55 PM

TeleSystems is back in business after a decade in which a lot has changed in the communication business.

The company’s focus will be the same as before: Toshiba business telephone systems.

“We have one client who’s had his for 30 years,” said Earle Brown, one of three partners in TeleSystems.

TeleSystems also offers voice mail, surveillance cameras, access control and phone and computer cabling services.

Brown and partners Brian Howerton and Buddy Truesdell were all involved in TeleSystems’ first go-round. Founded in 1983, the company was sold in 2003 to another company that went out of business about a year later, Brown said.

A chance encounter last year led to its revival.

“I was leaving the Downtown YMCA and saw Brian in the parking lot,” Brown said. “We talked about getting the band back together.”

Brown had spent most of the intervening decade as administrator of a medical facility. Truesdell and Howerton had formed separate phone companies.

“I laughed and thought that was kind of funny, then thought about it and said let’s talk about it,” Brown said of restarting TeleSystems. “Maybe it was meant to be.”

TeleSystems officially resumed operations Jan. 1.

During its first two decades in business, the company sold about 1,000 phone systems ranging in size from three extensions for small businesses to hundreds of phones for large school districts. That history gave the revived company a leg up.

“The thing that’s made it easy – and I don’t want to imply that it’s been easy – is that Brian and Buddy formed their own companies and continued to service 75 percent of those clients through the years,” Brown said.

Plans call for Howerton’s and Truesdell’s companies to be merged into TeleSystems eventually, Brown said.

Brown said his focus is sales while his partners “are the phone whisperers. They have incredible talents for making phone systems work.”

Brown, who also worked as a TV sportscaster in Wichita in the early 1980s, noted that when he started at TeleSystems, business clients were much more likely to have typewriters than computers in their offices and cellphones were almost unknown.

TeleSystems eventually became one of the state’s first cellphone companies, he said – selling them for $2,000 each, hard-wired into vehicles with an antenna on the trunk.

“That was mobility in those days.”

These days, he said, business service is all about immediacy, with many clients expecting calls to be routed to their cellphones when away from their place of business.

While much has changed, the trio of owners were happy they didn’t have to search for a new name. TeleSystems was still available.

“That’s always been important to us,” Brown said.

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