PeAk Communication Systems keeps you plugged in

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Steve Rubin has made a successful career out of finding affordable phone service solutions for his customers.

Steve Rubin has made a successful career out of finding affordable phone service solutions for his customers.

PeAk Communication Systems

Info: 6180 Lake Shore Court, 590-PEAK

In business: Since April 1995

Number of employees: 7

In the past 20 years, telephone technology has progressed from using a tangible switch box in the office to using the intangible cloud for storage.

Having been in the telephone servicing business more than 40 years, Steve Rubin, co-owner of PeAk Communication Systems, has been part of those changes.

In the past, it was standard for a business to have to pay up to $9,000 for the switch and the system.

“If something happens to that phone switch, you’re out of business,” said Rubin.

Now it’s different.

“In the hosted environment, as long as you have connectivity to the Internet, you have four cloud-based switches across the country” to rely on for continuous phone service, Rubin said. “The phone switch is in the cloud.”

In the event of an unlikely failure of the system, the program would forward calls to the client’s cell phone.

PeAk offers a cloud-based phone system for $35 a month plus taxes per phone. Rubin charges a $50 one-time installation fee per phone. There is no minimum order; a client could order one phone and pay only the $35 per month plus taxes, Rubin said.

Some competitors require their clients to purchase the phones.

“Ours is included,” he said. “What that does for the client is, if this phone fails, we just get you another phone. If I’m going to sell you a service, it’s service, not service plus hardware.”

The system includes 1,000 minutes of long-distance and unlimited local calls a month.

Using the Mitel system, a business could have offices in multiple cities. Like a traditional phone system, each employee would have his or her own extension. Unlike a traditional phone system, instead of calling long-distance to the Denver branch, the Mitel system allows a user to call just the extension number.

The phones are custom to the user. If an employee wanted to work from home and there was Internet connectivity, he or she would need only to take the phone home and plug it in there. In that event, the phone would work, just as if he or she were at the office.

“The data comes out of the cloud,” Rubin said. “It would work the same as if you were working at your desk in the office.”

Rubin is working with a client that has two buildings in Colorado Springs, one in Denver and one in Virginia.

“The three that are here are all networked together,” he said. “You pick up a phone and dial an extension. That’s it.”

The system connects the offices, and “they don’t have as much in long-distance [costs],” Rubin said. He added the industry estimates 60 to 80 percent of new installations this year will be cloud-based.

Evolving over time

Since inception, PeAk’s annual revenues have remained between $900,000 and $1.3 million, Rubin said. During the economic recession, “our expenses went up,” but business revenue “was more level than anything else,” he added.

At one point, the company had 11 employees, but that has since been trimmed to seven, and “we’re doing things more efficiently,” said Rubin.

Now, PeAk looks to increase its sales team. The company’s goals are to bring into service 150 new Mitel phones per month.

In the old switch system, the company had made a 15 to 20 percent margin on sales of $7,000 to $9,000. Now PeAk makes 30-35 percent margin on the $35 phone sales, Rubin said.

“What puts us head and shoulders above everyone else is that we’re not telling you that you have to buy any hardware. It costs you $50 to install the phone and 35 bucks a month. From a technology perspective, that’s pretty cool,” he said.

How it started

While working for Interwest Communications in 1995, Rubin was fired.

“In seven days, I went to work for another guy out of Denver,” working as a technician starting a job at the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. There, he talked with the chamber’s finance officer.

“She asked, ‘Why aren’t you doing this for yourself?’ ” Rubin recalled. His response was that he could go bankrupt. She told him the worst thing that could happen if he went into business for himself and failed was that he would have to find a job, he said.

“She was right. I went down the next day and got a business license, no business plan, no nothing,” Rubin said. “My first customer was the chamber.”

That was in April 1995, and the organization now known at the Colorado Springs Regional Alliance is still a PeAk client. His second and third customers, the Pikes Peak Board of Realtors and the Better Business Bureau, also are still clients today, he said.