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Still Strong: 30 Years and Counting!

By Amy Oldham
August 15, 2016

Back in September 1986, Wayne Lowe and Byron Middendorf wanted to create a great place to work. And that’s how Equinox Information Systems came into existence. We’ve not only survived the 30 years since our founding; we’ve thrived! The primary reason we’ve been able to do so is our investment in relationships—we sincerely appreciate our customers and the trust they have in us, we love this industry, and we respect our colleagues. This winning combination has paved the path to where we are today and serves as our roadmap for the future.

One of the mainstays of our company’s history is our involvement in INCOMPAS (formerly Comptel). Equinox has been a member and active participant of that organization since just a few months after our founding 30 years ago. Equinox recently had the opportunity to be interviewed as part of INCOMPAS’ Featured Member program. Although coincidental, the timing of that interview relative to our 30th anniversary made me realize this time is perfect for explaining how we got where we are and how we plan to stay strong for the next 30 years.

Q: When was Equinox founded? How has the company evolved since its founding? Have your services changed? Are there key history and growth milestones that you can highlight?

Equinox Information Systems was founded in 1986 on a simple, yet clearly-defined vision: to be a great place to work and always do the right thing for our employees and customers. As a result of this founding mission, our goal is not to measure our success in terms of revenue growth. Instead, we focus on providing exceptional service and fostering long-term relationships with our customers at all times. And this philosophy has stood the test of time—Equinox has shown a profit for 29 consecutive years, average employee tenure is 15+ years, we have served over 350 companies, and the number of customers who has ever declined to serve as a reference for us is zero. Measured by these statistics, our success stands as a testament to the founding principles.

When Equinox first opened its doors in 1986, we developed custom software for the rapidly emerging and competitive telecommunications industry. By 1991, we had developed expertise with Class 5 switch databases and the collection of usage records from multiple switching platforms. In 2011, version 10.0 of Protector was the most widely installed fraud management system in the country, and the company’s TeleLink platform emerged as a leader in the revenue assurance market space. In 2013, TeleLink broke new ground in the mediation arena—processing a billion records per day. Today, Equinox is the dominant supplier of Fraud Management Systems (FMS) to telecommunications companies in the US market, and the company has deployed TeleLink to address the usage analytics and reporting requirements for least 50 other carriers for an unparalleled depth of experience in the telecom business assurance arena. In 2015, company ownership transitioned to the employees as part of an employee stocked owned program (ESOP), whereby every employee is a stakeholder in the company’s success.

Q: Please tell us about company’s top executives and the work that they are doing in our industry.

The members of our management team have been part of Equinox Information Systems for an average of nearly 25 years each.

Byron Middendorf is Equinox’s CEO, owner, and founder. With over 30 years’ experience in the telecom industry, Byron provides vision and long-term strategic development for the company and its complete suite of software solutions. As an active participant in many industry organizations, Byron contributes articles and white papers to many trade journals. Although he enjoys those tasks, he is most passionate about his mission to ensure that Equinox is a great place to work.

Wayne Lowe founded Equinox in 1986, and as the company’s President has continued to be actively involved in daily operations. Applying his three plus decades of industry experience, he oversees the development staff and also handles all HR and finance tasks for the company. Wayne regularly contributes his time and resources to a number of local charities.

David West joined Equinox in 1996 with a focus on sales and strategic planning. He continues in this role today, overseeing all sales and marketing efforts as well as working closely with customers and developers to ensure that Equinox solutions evolve to meet the ever changing needs of the telecom industry. As the company’s Executive Vice President, David actively participates in multiple industry organizations, serves on several such committees, and regularly blogs on industry trends and topics.

As Vice President of Support, Joe Herron oversees all aspects of customer support, including testing, documentation, installation, training, and help desk. Since joining Equinox in 1996, Joe has worked tirelessly with our customers to be sure that they all not only benefit from using our products but that they also describe their experience with us as extraordinary.

Q: Explain Equinox’s geographic reach. Where do you provide services?

Since 1986 we have worked with carriers located around the globe. Equinox solutions scale to accommodate any sized company in any location. We currently have installations in the United States, Canada, Australia, several Caribbean countries, Mexico, and Singapore, to name a few.

Q: What types of services does Equinox offer its customers?

Equinox specializes in business assurance solutions that help telecom customers stop fraud, mediate usage data, manage expense, and optimize revenue. We do so via two key solutions that address profitability and network efficiency issues, both of which can be tailored to address custom needs:

  • Protector, the most installed fraud management system in the U.S., is a comprehensive, scalable solution that distinguishes telecom fraud from legitimate customer usage to help combat even the newest fraud schemes. Protector has well earned its reputation by saving carriers hundreds of millions of dollars in annual fraud losses.
  • TeleLink solves business assurance challenges by making usage data actionable. Its advanced usage detail analytics, call reconciliation, invoice reconstruction, routing assurance, and margin analysis tools provide essential revenue management, expense management, and network management benefits.

Q: What is your target customer base?

Since 1986 we have worked with more than 350 carriers around the world. Our TeleLink and Protector solutions currently process a billion usage records every day for customers across all market segments of the telecom industry, including cable/MSO, wireless, wireline, ILEC, CLEC, VoIP/UCaaS, IXC, peering, teleconferencing, and wholesale providers around the globe. While we focus on tier 2 and smaller companies, our solutions scale to accommodate any sized company in any location. We currently supply mission critical software to companies like Armstrong, AT&T Mobility, Charter, CenturyLink, Cox, Frontier, FairPoint, RingCentral, Time Warner Telecom, Windstream, and a host of others.

Q: What are the biggest challenges that Equinox faces and how are you overcoming these challenges?

We recognize that the profit margin is extremely tight in the telecom industry, so it’s critical for our customers to protect and optimize their bottom line. Therefore, a solution is valuable only if it creates benefit for a carrier in one of those two areas. Our challenge is to engineer solutions that respond to technological advancements rapidly, efficiently, and most importantly cost effectively so that it positively affects the customer’s revenue. To do so, we develop all applications in partnership with customers to address specific business needs. By driving product innovations based solely on customer feedback, we ensure that features provide true value for existing customers as well as appeal to prospective customers. Additionally, we offer solutions a la carte, for maximum flexibility and cost-efficiency in addressing specific revenue assurance challenges.

Q: What are Equinox’s competitive opportunities and threats?

During our 29+ years in the industry, we’ve served most tier 2 U.S. carriers, 6 of the top 10 ILECS, 6 of the top 10 cable companies, and over a dozen wireless carriers. Yet, in the million-dollar advertising age and a highly competitive industry, many folks may not realize all that Equinox has to offer or that we are able to help companies of all sizes. While some may view this situation as a competitive threat, we view it as an opportunity—we make sure all customers get personal service from the entire Equinox team and that our solutions offer reliable, market-proven results. In fact, our marketing strategy involves taking care of and listening to our customers. We do not advertise in traditional ways. We take care of our customers and employees, and they, in turn, take care of marketing our solutions.

Q: How is technology/new products and services impacting your business model?

Our ultimate goal is to make sure customers are satisfied and possess the tools needed for protecting and growing their revenue. We listen to and let our customers’ input drive product development. Because features are designed to address their specific needs, our business model remains the same—educate ourselves about new technology and products in the telecom industry, stay abreast of policy/regulatory changes, and most importantly, continue to take care of our employees so they can create and deliver the best telecom solutions in the industry.

Q: Have you recently acquired new customers? Entered new markets? Added new services/products?

In the last year, we’ve welcomed several new customers to the Equinox family, including AccessOne, BCM One, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, Call One, Comporium Communications, Evolve IP, Grid4 Communications, InterCall, Midco, NTS Communications, TDS Telecom, Telesystem, United Wireless, and Wave. We’ve also deployed new or additional Equinox solutions at scores of our existing customers, including Armstrong, Broadview, Carolina West, Consolidated, Frontier, Inteliquent, MediaCom, North State, ShoreTel, Telem Group, Transbeam, and WOW.

We constantly optimize our Protector and TeleLink applications to meet customers’ real-world business challenges. Some of the recent product additions include:

  • Adding dozens of event-based and statistical fields for advanced reporting and usage analytics.
  • CDR pass-through mediation solution processing usage records from multiple vendors/switches for delivery to multiple downstream data targets.
  • Risk Management System (RMS) for one billion records per day. Together Risk Factors, Rules, Watch List, and Policies assess potential risk of calls and traffic on the network, generating alerts when violations are detected.
  • RMS Viewer tool for investigating suspicious activity at the phone number or trunk group level.
  • Web-facing dialed number blocking console.
  • Voice and data roaming audit to identify policy violations that cause financial loss, including real-time reporting by account of roaming imbalances (comparing on-net and off-net usage for non-roaming users) and validating roaming invoices to actual usage.
  • Revenue management tools for analysis of calling patterns for land-to-mobile, mobile-to-mobile, and mobile-to-land usage.

I speak for everyone at Equinox when I say thank you to all the customers we’ve had the privilege of serving during the first 30 years of our history. This anniversary would not be possible without your support, friendship, and project collaboration. Equinox is excited about what the future holds and looks forward to working alongside the fine folks in the telecom industry for the next 30 years!

About the Author

Amy Oldham is in Corporate Communications at Equinox Information Systems, where she creates and maintains the company’s technical documentation as well as all other customer-facing publications. Amy is also responsible for the company’s newsletter, email campaigns, press releases, and social media presence. When not writing, Amy enjoys spending time with her family, playing tennis, and swimming.
To learn more about Equinox, its products, and the people who power them, visit www.equinoxis.com or call (615) 612-1200.