Combined Communications was purchased in 1982 by Larry Kinder. At that time it was serving less than 100 local customers using two cord switchboards and five employees. All messages were hand-written and held for the client to call in to be verbally given by the operator.
By 2003 the company had upgraded systems no less than five times. The latest system being the StarTel SoftSwitch interfaced to T-1 PRIs and SIP trunks.
Today we have over 50 agents with 15 remote operator stations. Our customer base has grown to over 750 customers across the United States. From coast to coast we are “People Answering People”.
In 1982 Michael Jackson released Thriller, the movie E.T. debuted, actor John Belushi died, the books Schindler’s List and The Color Purple were released, the space shuttle Columbia makes its first mission and the most important to us; Larry Kinder purchased Combined Communications, Inc.
Over the years major U.S. & world events have occurred, technology has changed, but our focus continues to remain Customer Satisfaction driven. We are “people answering people”.
We are proud to participate in the ATSI & CAM-X Award of EXCELLENCE programs. These programs are similar to “secret shoppers” in that random calls are placed over a six-month period and multiple judges evaluate their call experience with our agents on many levels; confirming that Combined Communications offers EXCELLENT customer service.
Combined Communications is the only company certified by ATSI in the state of Kentucky. The certification process is an industry peer-to-peer review program of best practices and policies to ensure a certified site’s ability to achieve a 99.99% annual run time. To qualify, a site must meet or exceed more than 60 criteria in this rigorous program. The adopted requirements represent a collection of best practices and guidelines to which sites must adhere.
Don Berry - Award of Excellence
The Don Berry Award of Excellence was created to honor individuals who gave of themselves for the betterment of SNUG and the industry. This Award was initiated by Startel the year Don Berry passed away. I wanted to honor and remember Don for his enormous contribution to this industry. Don took an automation dream and made it a reality. In the early days with his leadership, Startel grew the system over the years and provided many businesses an opportunity to grow and become prosperous. Because of his commitment and dedication to his beliefs, he never stopped working for his customers. We have come a LONG way from the cord boards we started with in this industry 20+ years ago. Don believed in hard work, knew of no time clock, and was always concerned for his customers and employees. His visionary insight provided the foundation on which Startel has been able to grow and prosper through the years. Don always had time for others, was willing to help them solve any problems, fix any customer issues or just willing to provide an ear for general moral support. I have been very proud over the years to see the individuals, who have been selected for this award, including: This year’s Don Berry Award winner is Larry Kinder, owner of Combined Communications. Larry’s tireless efforts to help his fellow SNUG members with his technical knowhow made the selection committee’s job a no-brainer. Larry Kinder developed Starlink reports which harness the power of the CMC’s SQL Database to create informative and detailed reports that have helped countless other SNUG members get the data they need to run their call centers. Thank you Larry for all that you have done and continue to do for not only our organization, but the industry as a whole!
- Past Don Berry Award Winners
- 1994 Larry Goldenberg
- 1995 Herb Chinoski
- 1996 Susan Krems
- 1997 Dan L’Heureux
- 1998 Peter Orvis
- 1999 Gwen Corbett
- 2000 Randy Singh
- 2001 Dan L’Heureux
- 2002 Barbara Willis
- 2003 Chris Bell
- 2004 Donna West
- 2005 Mary Jones
- 2006 Larry Kinder
The plaque reads:
“The Startel National User Group bestows the DON BERRY AWARD to individuals who exemplify excellence in the advancement of SNUG and its members. We honor the enormous contributions Mr. Don Berry made to our industry.”
Site Certification - Jan 2007
SNUG recognizes that up until now, excluding the CAM-X and ATSI Award of Excellence Programs, there have been no standards in our industry for measuring quality or assessing a call center facility and system readiness. One of the primary goals of 24/7 Site Certification Program is to identify and then require, through a peer review program, the best set of procedures and policies so that a certified site has a high probability of achieving 99.99% annual run-time. This is less than fifty-three minutes of unplanned downtime per year. The 24/7 Site Certification Program developed by SNUG has merit outside of the Startel platform as well and the SNUG Board will be visiting this issue later this year. The program sets more than sixty criteria that need to be met or exceeded in order to qualify. Overall, the adopted requirements represent a collection of the best practices and guidelines to which sites must adhere. Part of the challenge of undertaking and participating in this peer review and inspection program is in the actual preparations and groundwork that your center will need to complete in order to qualify. Upon receiving Site Certification status, your operation will have demonstrated a high level of proficiency in recovery techniques, good business practices, procedure documentation, and levels of redundancy necessary for true 24/7 preparedness. Currently there are two levels of certification available: Silver and Gold. There are many reasons to consider enrolling in the program:
- To differentiate your operation; being site certified enables you to change your basis of comparison from price to quality.
- To increase the level of professionalism both within your market and within the entire industry.
- To demonstrate 24/7 proficiency as well as incorporation of the best recovery techniques available.
- To improve your standing in the marketplace, positively impacting existing clients and employees as well as prospective clients and employees.
- To adopt the best policies and procedures, thereby minimizing the business risk associated with downtime.
- To become the first to receive recognition in your city, state, or region.
- To increase the probability of greater stability.
- To better prepare and document your system maintenance procedures.
- To add an excellent evaluation tool to your organization.
Subjecting yourself to a peer review is a difficult decision for some to make. To ease the process, you can request either a qualified (certified and board approved) colleague or the SNUG executive director, Dan L’Heureux, to conduct the inspection. The program is designed to not be intrusive, but to be part of a learning experience that you and your organization will benefit from. The Connections Magazine interview with Chris Bell, the program’s pioneer is available here.
2018 Award of Excellence
6 Consecutive Years
2019 Award of Excellence
5 Consecutive Years
Starlink 2007 Larry Kinder