Harry Brown Featured

6:09am EDT December 22, 2004
What do you call an operating telecommunications company?

"Survivor" is one term that comes to mind. "Lucky" might be another.

It's been a tough several years for the industry. Telecommunications companies of all kinds have taken their lumps, and a lot of them took the bridge after the speculation and overbuilding that took place in the 1990s.

North Pittsburgh Systems Inc. has managed to survive the bust, even while testing the waters of newfangled ventures born out of the information revolution.

For North Pittsburgh Systems, the difference between success and oblivion may partly be Harry Brown, the company's president. The plainspoken executive who worked his way up through the company his grandfather founded demands candor, even when there's bad news to deliver, from his subordinates. Brown has been able to help guide the company through the telecom revolution by adding two divisions to North Pittsburgh Telephone Co., a local exchange carrier that stood to lose ground after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 deregulated the industry.

To counter the shrinking market the local exchange business was bound to experience, the company started Nauticom, an Internet service provider, and PennTelecom, a long distance carrier. Both of those ventures have boosted the public company's fortunes and delivered profits to its bottom line. With fiscal discipline and sound business acumen, the company has survived and thrived.

Says Brown: "We don't want to buy market share, we want to make money."

How to reach: North Pittsburgh Systems Inc,. www.northpittsburgh.com.