Two SLO telecommunications companies will merge in November

Two San Luis Obispo-based telecommunications firms are merging, a move the companies say will strengthen service for Central Coast business customers.

Blue Rooster Telecom is combining with Norcast Telecom Networks to form a new company, which will be known as Norcast, although the company will adopt Blue Rooster’s mascot and logo.

Customers have already been notified of the merger, which is expected to officially close in mid-November. The merger, which involved no exchange of cash, means the new company will serve nearly 2,500 customers, ranging from mom-and-pop businesses to banks throughout the Central Coast.

Michael Gayaldo, chief executive officer of Norcast, will continue to be CEO under the new arrangement. Gayaldo's business partner, Jacquie Johnston, will remain in her role. Blue Rooster Telecom president Jeff Buckingham will serve as president and Cheryl Lovell, vice president of Blue Rooster, will be chief operating officer.

Norcast employs roughly 20 people; Blue Rooster about nine. Together, the company will employ about 30 people.

“Right now, everyone would like to stay on,” Gayaldo said. "We need every employee and more."

While clients will not see any change in service, in the months and years ahead, the company plans to focus on introducing new products and ramping up innovation, said Gayaldo, who invested in Norcast a decade ago but took over leadership of the company about five years ago.

Norcast Telecom Networks has provided telephone service since 1999 and telecom services, including phone, Internet access and data transport, since 2003.

“Occupationally, our goal is to offer high bandwidth to as many businesses as possible, and to offer the absolute best telephone service as possible,” Gayaldo said. “Together, we will be able to do it more effectively than apart.”

For Gayaldo, Buckingham and Lovell, merging the companies made sense because they already shared infrastructure, as well as history. The trio had worked together at Call America in the 1990s. Buckingham had been president of Call America in 1983 and became Gayaldo’s employer at the telecommunications firm when Gayaldo was hired out of college in 1990.

Call America was eventually sold in 1997 to GST Telecommunications. When GST went bankrupt, Buckingham resurrected Call America with business partner Lovell. They left Call America in 2009 and started Blue Rooster a year later.

“We’ve been occupationally, relationally and emotionally connected for 25 years," Gayaldo said. “These are two companies with comparable values. Jeff and I would call each other to discuss things and ask for advice and strategize. We go to the same external training seminars. We love working together, so it made no sense for us not to work together.”

The private companies declined to disclose financial information, but each was experiencing double-digit growth and was independently profitable, Gayaldo said.

The merger was not undertaken for financial reasons, according to Buckingham and Gayaldo.

“Neither of us had to rescue the other,” said Buckingham. “People keep asking me, ‘What do you think about the big changes?’ For us, it’s not a big change. We’ve been working together for a long time.” - Julie Lynem

Firestone will temporarily produce Pliny the Elder

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles will temporarily brew Pliny the Elder next February as Russian River Brewing Co. upgrades the equipment at its Santa Rosa brewery.

Firestone Walker will brew Pliny for draft distribution only, and bottled Pliny will continue to come from its existing inventory in Russian River’s fermenters, according to a blog post by co-owner Natalie Cilurzo.

Russian River brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo will work with Firestone Walker’s brewmaster, Matt Brynildson, during the temporary production to maintain consistency of the very hoppy Pliny the Elder, the 14,000-barrel brewery’s most popular beer.

--from The Santa Rosa Press Democrat