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Much more than a name change for Tech Valley Communications

Kevin O'Connor, CEOTHE BUSINESS REVIEW (Adam Sichko) — September 23, 2013 — An Albany, NY, telecom company has more than tripled annual revenue since selling a majority stake in the business.

Tech Valley Communications—now operating under a new name (more on that below)—had $15 million of revenue when co-founder Kevin O’Connor and others struck the deal with Riverside Partners, a private-equity firm in Boston.

O’Connor, who does not normally reveal revenue, told me during a phone call that his business is now more than three times as large (or, at least $45 million of annual business).

The company controls 190,000 miles of fiber-optics that provide voice, data and Internet service to the private sector and most major cell-phone carriers. About 1,300 buildings are “lit,” in industry terms, with those fiber optics.

“I always said I was trying to run a capital-intensive business without much capital. It’s been transformative, what has happened since Riverside,” said O’Connor, calling me from a trade show in Orlando, Fla.

That transformation includes a rebranding that becomes official Sept. 23. Tech Valley Communications is now called FirstLight Fiber.

The old Tech Valley name dates to the company’s inception in 1999. O’Connor, who is the past president of the Center for Economic Growth in Albany, and other prominent investors pooled $5 million to get it off the ground.

CEG is among the business groups trying to foster a “Tech Valley” brand to internationally market the eastern part of upstate New York.

O’Connor’s business has grown rapidly in recent years. He now with a presence in five Northeast states.

This summer, O’Connor picked up his first market share in Canada, by purchasing a competitor. He also relocated his company to larger, renovated offices in downtown Albany.

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