Client Case Study: Illinois Soybean Association

COMPANY: Illinois Soybean Association

INDUSTRY: Business Association, Agriculture




  • Consolidated Communications Network
  • Polycom VVX 601 Phones with Video Add-on
  • Hardware Leasing Options
  • Dedicated Support Specialists

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) represents more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois through the state soybean checkoff and membership efforts. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, promotion, issues management and analysis, communications, and education to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable, and competitive in the global marketplace.



Headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois, but expanding into a new Chicago office, the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) was pressed to find and implement a communications solution that would cost-effectively provide phone services to the second branch.

Since the ISA already leveraged an on-premise PBX system in Bloomington, IT Manager Stephen Underwood and his staff had to decide whether to implement an additional PBX system
in Chicago, or find a hosted VoIP solution that would replace the existing PBX and power both ISA locations under one unified communications network.

Detailed in this case study are the challenges the ISA faced when choosing their phone system, how they decided on a hosted VoIP solution with DOTVOX, and what services DOTVOX implemented that solved their communications challenges.



Added management and support responsibilities brought on by a separate phone system were a major area of concern for Underwood, especially with his relatively small staff. “Nobody wanted to manage a five-phone cloud system, and we didn’t want to purchase an on-premise system for a two to five person office.”

At around six years old, the ESI-brand PBX equipment used in the Bloomington office needed occasional repairs. Unfortunately, the only technicians certified to service ESI equipment were over and an hour away from HQ – a serious logistical issue if a communications emergency were to arise.

Capital expenditures were also a concern for ISA. Based on an estimate they’d received from another VoIP provider, the ISA faced between $5,000 and $10,000 in upfront equipment costs. “We’re a small business,” Underwood remarked. “Five to ten grand is a lot to put up for just a few components of a phone system.”



After several discussions and interviews with the DOTVOX team, Underwood decided the ISA could kill two birds with one stone via a DOTVOX hosted communications system. With DOTVOX, he could: 1) replace the aging PBX equipment in Bloomington without significant upfront costs, and 2) provide phone services to the new branch in Chicago without adding any on-premise equipment or management responsibilities. The solutions implemented and highlighted benefits are as follows:


The outdated ESI PBX equipment was quickly removed and new DOTVOX services and hardware were implemented into both offices – effectively consolidating the two branches into a single VoIP network. The ISA can now manage all aspects of the system from any location through a web-based portal.

With the hosted system, the ISA doesn’t have to worry about updating or repairing legacy equipment again. All monitoring and maintenance now fall on the shoulders of DOTVOX, where system upgrades and hardware replacements are handled automatically at no additional cost.

Consolidated Network – Rather than paying for two separate phone systems, the ISA only pays for one. All network charges are included in a single monthly bill.
Equipment Leasing – DOTVOX offered the ISA the option to lease their communications equipment rather than incur prominent capital expenditures upon implementation.

Polycom Phones with Video Add-on – Underwood is particularly impressed with the new equipment capabilities DOTVOX afforded the ISA. “It’s super simple to turn the webcam on and actually have a face-to-face conversation with someone 2½ hours away. They’re just an extension away.”
Universal Access – The DOTVOX network looks and functions identically at each ISA branch. “You go into the Chicago office and get on the Internet and it feels like you’re in Bloomington,” Underwood states. “All of our network shares, printers – all these little things are accessible wherever we are.”

DOTVOX included their Managed and Professional IT Services team during the implementation, which allowed the ISA to complete their robust IT project other VoIP providers would not have been able to handle alone. “I had needs that were beyond just a phone system,” Underwood said. “I didn’t have to depend on two different companies to get one job done. That’s pretty important.”



In short, the ISA now has a cost-effective communications solution that provides modern services to both company branches on the same fully managed VoIP network. Replacing their on-premise PBX equipment with DOTVOX has taken significant management burdens off Underwood and his team while also adding 24/7/365 US-based technical support the ISA can call if any issues arise. The ISA also gained a hosted VoIP provider that is not only capable of managing and maintaining their communications system, but is equipped to handle other aspects of their IT if needed.


Looking for a quote? Fill out the form to get a free quote or call (888) 534-4955 to get in touch with a DOTVOX representative directly. Please have your most recent phone bill handy.