"Red 5 48 Z out" has little to do with the long-distance telephone business, but the football lingo is likely to be heard at Access Long Distance, 215 S. State, a long-distance telephone company that has shown steady growth in the past two years.
That's because several of Access' employees are former University of Utah football players and "Red 5 48 Z out" is straight out of the football playbook. Scott F. Cate, a former quarterback for the Utes, knows all about that particular pass play. He and James R. Greenbaum Jr., president and chief executive officer, are partners in the firm.Greenbaum attributes much of the company's success to the football players who have been taught a team concept since they started playing football. Also, their competitiveness is essential for a small company like Access to survive against the "biggies" in the long-distance telephone business.
After participating in two-a-day drills during the football season, having their helmets grabbed by a coach for missing a blocking assignment and butting heads with gigantic people on the other side of the line, the former football players feel their job is "a piece of cake," according to Greenbaum.
Cate said several former U. football players are managers of the Access sites in Idaho, Portland and Seattle, and he doesn't worry about the operation because the ex-athletes are interested in seeing the team succeed rather than putting themselves in the spotlight.
While many college graduates worry about how much money they'll make on a job, the former football players are concerned about the team, and their competitive nature means they will give 100 percent for the team, said Cate.
The former players and the other 110 employees at Access are responsible for the company's growth every year since it was founded. Access has 20,000 customers, with just over 50 percent of those in the business area, which accounts for 90 percent of sales.
In 1991, Access earned $2.3 million on sales of $16.5 million, and for 1992 the company is projecting sales of $24 million. Part of the projected $24 million will come from an operation in Colorado, where a deal was struck recently and calls will be handled within four to six weeks, said Greenbaum.
Access, which operates each site as a separate corporation, has offices in Boise, Port-land, Ore., and Seattle, in addition to its headquarters in Salt Lake City, which has been combined with the Las Vegas operation.
Greenbaum said the company's strategy is to grow slowly and steadily and keep up with technology to give customers the best possible long-distance service.
A native of Monroe, La., Greenbaum graduated from the University of Virginia in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and wanted to attend law school. Later that year he founded Level Seven Inc., in Charlottesville, Va., a company that did silk-screening on textiles and sold them to department stores.
The company also designed and manufactured a portable respirator for hay fever sufferers, a product that was featured on the cover of National Geographic Magazine in October 1984. Greenbaum said that endeavor didn't work out because the marketing costs were high and the com-pany only broke even.
In 1983, Greenbaum founded Work Processing Centre, a 24-hour company that provided training in personal computers for university students and local business people.
About this time, Greenbaum's family in Southern California invested in Telemarketing Communication of Las Vegas Inc., becoming a minority partner. When the joint venture fell apart, the family took it over and operated it.
When Greenbaum's brother got married and went on an extended honeymoon in June 1985, James was asked to help run the business, ended up writing a business plan and started Access Long Distance in Salt Lake City. Before long he took over control of the Las Vegas operation, and by November 1987 the company was in the black.
In January 1988, the two operations merged, and in 1989 he was approached by some investors in Idaho to start a long-distance company in that state. That company became profitable in one year, and later offices were opened in Seattle and Portland.
Because Access doesn't do any advertising, the company must rely on referrals and an aggressive sales force that stresses the service and good prices Access offers for long-distance telephone service.
Holding the title as senior vice president and chief operating officer, Cate is a prime example of Access' way of doing business. Cate's aggressive nature is one of the reasons he was able to work his way through the company to his current position.
The Cambria, Calif., native was recruited to play football for the U. and arrived in the summer of 1982 full of expectations. In a nationally televised game against San Diego State, Cate injured his knee and broke his jaw and his nose but was voted the most valuable player, even in a losing cause.
Injuries, including a separated shoulder, cut his career short, and he didn't play a down in his senior year. Still two classes shy of graduating, Cate started with Access working at night trying to sell long-distance service to companies.
After three months he switched to daytime selling, outdistanced the other sales people and asked Greenbaum to make him sales manager. Greenbaum complied. Cate added several large accounts and soon was appointed operations director with responsibility for buying the telephone lines, customer service and billing. His efforts resulted in a 25 percent to 30 percent reduction in costs.
When the Idaho operation became a reality, Cate and Greenbaum became partners. Cate is also a partner with Greenbaum in the Washington, Oregon and now Colorado operations.
It was Cate who discovered the advantage of hiring the football players. "They are very loyal, and I have never lost one of them to a competing company. They are a key to our success," Cate said.
After being an entrepreneur starting businesses, Greenbaum had to make an adjustment to being an administrator. He likes employees who know their job and can help him understand the job also. "I like to help employees reach their full potential," Green-baum said.