Business

"Silverlink, Donobi announce merger"

"Subscribers to the local Internet service provider Silverlink recently received e-mails from the company informing them about the company's merger with Donobi, another local tech firm.Silverlink subscribers won't have to change e-mail addresses, but there will be other changes, according to Donobi President Bill Wright.It was good timing for both and I think we've created kind of a win-win-win situation. Its been a win for us in that we've been able to execute our business plan. It's been a win for the owners of Silverlink ... as we are maintaining all of their employees and the customers will win because not only will there be no disruption of service, but they should see additional services down the road.Changes customers can expect in coming months include the ability to access billing accounts online.(The billing system) will automate and streamline things that caused us problems before, said Steve Stuart, former vice president of information technology and a co-owner of Silverlink, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Donobi. Stuart now serves on an advisory board for Donobi, whose office is located on Linder Way in Old Town. Donobi also has contracted for installation of an OC3 fiber optic line to be laid in July, according to Mike King, the director of network operations for Donobi. The project will cost about $80,000 but it will bring broad-band and DSL to local customers.Donobi's focus in the past has been hosting and building Web sites and finding business solutions for small to mid-size firms. But recent mergers signal a diversification of the firm's goals. The merger with Silverlink is Donobi's second in the last 6 months - a move consistent with the business plan to grow the ISP part of the firm, according to Wright. Last September Donobi merged with NWInet, a local ISP. Silverlink carries about 2,700 subscribers and NWInet carries about 1,000, according to a source within the company. Wright and Stuart declined to disclose the financial details of the Donobi/ Silverlink deal.While mergers are seldom completed without a hitch, this deal was made easier by the fact that the two companies have similar corporate philosophies, according to Wright and Stuart. Philosophically we fit very good in that we put the customer first. We have a business to run but ... we're not just corporate. We have a family atmosphere as far as employee relations, Wright said.All six of Silverlink's employees were kept on with the new firm, which also eased tensions.It was a mixed response at first because nobody likes change ... People were concerned about where they should fit in, Stuart said. But they are starting to see that they do fit in. One of the big advantages of the merger with Donobi is that the firm had the capability to handle Silverlink's real estate accounts, which include Prudential, Windermere, Century 21 Anchor and others, Stuart said.Donobi already carried other real estate accounts and had the technological capabilities to take on others.One of the challenges for Donobi is meshing companies equipment.As we bring on other companies we find their equipment and technologies are different than ours, King said. Sometimes we take it and sometimes we buy new equipment to support the company.Donobi is committed to preserving Silverlink's dedication to customer service and Wright would like to see the firm expand into the area's premier service provider. "

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