Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018 - 29

201 8 TOP OPS AWARDS
INDEPENDENT LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Steven Cochran
While lifetime achievement awards
may seem to signify a finale, they
can also be a beacon of the next big
achievement to come. Such is the case
with Steven Cochran, our 2018 indie
honoree, who earlier this year closed
out his 15-year executive run at WOW!,
and at press time had a freshly inked
deal to join Cable ONE as svp/CFO.
" Steven's deep understanding of our
holistic business-from a financial, operational, competitive and
strategic perspective-make him a great fit for Cable ONE, " Julie
Laulis, the company's president/CEO, tells Cablefax. " When we
looked at Steven's extensive career experience in total, we knew
that he would not only be a tremendous asset but a key driver as we
continue to focus on our growth and long-term strategy. "
" Extensive " is a spot-on word for Cochran's involvement in cable.
Although he's only 47, he's an industry veteran with both breadth
and depth of experience. Cochran got his start in the industry in
1994 when he began working on the Charter account as an auditor
at Arthur Andersen, and through stints at Millennium Digital Media
and his lengthy leadership at WOW!, he's been a vocal proponent
for indie operators via the American Cable Association and other
platforms.
Cochran's early years coincided with a growth spurt for cable. He
was on the inside during Charter's spiral from 60,000 to one million
customers, and his tenure at Denver-based WOW!, beginning
in 2003, is marked by a series of ascensions for the burgeoning
company: a rise in markets served from four to 20, employee growth
from a few hundred to 3,000-plus, and his own rise from CFO to
COO to president to CEO in 2014. " There are not too many seats at
the WOW! organization I didn't have at one point or another, " he says
with a chuckle.
FAST FACTS
uCochran will assume his post as svp/CFO of Cable ONE on
Aug 6, replacing outgoing Cable ONE CFO Kevin Coyle.
uWOW!, where Cochran had a 15-year executive run,
serves portions of Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kansas,
Maryland and the Southeast.
uCochran is a former board member of ACA. He has a
master's degree in accounting science and a bachelor's
degree in economics from the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign.
Cablefax: The Magazine
July 2018
He tips his hat tip to former WOW! chief Colleen Abdoulah, who
brought Cochran into the fold and nurtured his potential " to do so
much more than the box financial people are often put in " as the
company spread its wings in the Midwest and Southeast. " When
I came to WOW! I got the chance to really be part of a team that
was focused on running the business, competing aggressively and
talking care of people. For me it was as much about going from a
numbers person to becoming an operator and a people person, "
Cochran says. " I did a ton of both individual personal development
and team development, and it really allowed me to grow. "
On the financial side, Cochran's business acumen has helped guide
the majority of WOW!'s major dealings thus far. " The reason I went to
WOW! is I saw a great platform that wasn't delivering at the time. So
my first focus was on how to maximize what we had, with somewhat
limited resources, and drive operations across all services, " he
says.
His strategy included early rapid-fire growth into new markets, such
as the 2006 purchase of a smaller incumbent operator in Evansville,
IN, and the annexing of tangential communities and customers
within WOW!'s existing footprint, including around Chicago and
Detroit. Among the most salient deals was WOW!'s acquisition of
Knology, completed in 2012, which Cochran says felt more like a
merger because the companies were roughly the same size. He says
it was an exercise in steadfastness.
" We had good intentions, but we ran into some timing issues. That
one caused us to take a step back for a while, and I was so proud
of how the team rallied to dig out of that, " he says. " You realize the
importance of having a strong culture when you're going through
something like that. "
Cochran takes great pride in that culture, the people part of the
equation, as he looks back on his WOW! tenure. " We did a really
good job of making sure every employee felt like they had a stake in
the company, " he says. " No one ever got a bonus unless everyone
got a bonus. We pushed equity deeper than most private equity
companies did and focused really hard on rewards and recognition
so that when we had success everyone felt like they celebrated the
success. "
Today, Cochran is ready to embrace a new aesthetic in Phoenix. " After
a nice break, I am excited to extend my career in this wonderful
industry by joining another great team at Cable ONE, " he says. n
- Cathy Applefeld Olson
cablefaxmag.com
29
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Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018

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