November 30, 2017
New York State’s Citizens Telephone Company first reached out to RTFC in 1999 to help expand its business and finance the acquisition of Vermont-based Topsham Telephone Company. Eighteen years later, the lending relationship is still strong as RTFC continues to assist Citizens with service and territory expansions.
“We’ve reached out to RTFC repeatedly over the years because of the high quality of their loan officers,” explains Controller Mark DePerrior. “They have always demonstrated they really understand the telecommunication business.”
Citizens Telephone is the flagship of the family-owned business based in Hammond, New York, that provides a full suite of telecommunications products across two states. Other enterprises include Topsham Telephone Company and Topsham Communications in the Green Mountain State, and Castle Cable TV, Citizens Long Distance, Citizens Cablevision and Citizens New York Access in the Empire State.
“RTFC has been critical over the years in helping us finance acquisitions,” DePerrior adds. Beyond Topsham, RTFC financed the acquisition of Castle Cable TV in 2001, including later providing funds for upgrades to the company. RTFC also supplied interim loan funds over the years for Citizens-Vermont Acquisition Corporation (CVAC) and, more recently, financed NTCA pension prefunding payments for Citizens and Topsham telephone companies.
In 2016, RTFC played a key part in helping Citizens Telephone qualify for two New York State broadband grants that will help the company implement a multi-phase fiber-to-the-home project throughout its rural New York county along the St. Lawrence River on the U.S.-Canadian border. The company’s service area of more than 180 square miles will benefit from the buildout that will provide consumers access to high-speed Internet connections.
“Our biggest challenge is providing our subscribers with great Internet speeds at reasonable prices,” DePerrior comments. “RTFC is helping our employees bring excellent products to our customers by financing this critical project.”
Citizens Telephone received a Phase I grant of $4.1 million and, later, a Phase II allocation of $1.7 million for the broadband project, while Castle Cable TV also received a Phase II broadband grant for nearly $800,000. For all three grants, the company and RTFC financed the 20 percent self-funded portion required by the state.
DePerrior credits Governor Andrew Cuomo and his staff at Empire State Development, along with the Citizens directors, Vantage Point, John Staurulakis and the Ceresoli family who owns the company for the success of the latest venture.
“Also, without the help of our account manager Irina Tumanova, some of these projects never would have happened,” DePerrior compliments. “Irina and RTFC are excellent.”