In The News
Karaman Communications sponsors Western Harnett Red - Pintsized Sports
Originally published on Wednesday, June 18, 2008 in the Business category.
By Alice Thrasher
When Mike Karaman started The Phone Network about 20 years ago, part of the job was collecting coins from pay phones.
How times have changed.
Karaman sold off his pay phones in 1991 and jumped into the rising cellular business. Now, as the Internet emerges as the future of communications, his business is once again evolving, this time, with a new name: Karaman Communications.
General manager Dave Foster said the old name was too limiting as the company expanded.
“It didn’t tell the whole story of what we do,” said Foster, who handles marketing while Karaman oversees the technical side of business.
The company still installs and services telephone systems for offices — and has embraced the new technologies of talking over the Internet with VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) and SIP (session initiation protocol). But it has expanded into computer sales and service and audio-video technology for office conference rooms.
The name change took effect in December.
The Phone Network had been an agent for Sprint cell phones, operating a retail and service store on Bragg Boulevard.
Karaman was a former agent for Cellular One and then SunCom before opening the Sprint store. He sold his Sprint business to another firm, which still operates the Sprint store in a suite in Karaman’s building at 4424 Bragg Blvd. His company occupies about half the building; the rest is leased.
One of Karaman’s tenants is a firm called Brain Box Development, which designs Web sites and works closely with Karaman’s customers.
Karaman said he welcomes the changes to his business.
“We always had the phone system side,” Karaman said. “Dealing with business customers is just a lot easier than the traditional retail.”
Karaman sells, installs and repairs Panasonic telephone systems for business offices in Fayetteville and surrounding counties. He said he is the only local dealer authorized to sell the TDA-TDE model for Panasonic.
The Phone Network was named by Panasonic Communications Systems in April 2007 as one of the top three dealers in the U.S., Foster said. The award was based on actual dealer sales of Panasonic TDA telephone systems.
When the company decided to sell its Sprint business, Karaman said, he made a financial investment in the software and equipment to expand into the information technology business. Technicians on the staff have specialties and get some cross training as well.
Karaman said his company works with small- to medium-sized businesses who can’t afford to have an IT person on staff.
“They pay a monthly fee and we can do this remotely for them,” Foster said.
“And we can partner with companies who have an IT person by giving them another tool in keeping everything up and running,” Karaman said.
Karaman said his customers appreciate having technicians who make service calls.
“It’s easier to have a relationship with a local person,” he said.