Steamboat Springs Fort Collins-based FRII has acquired local Internet provider SpringSips.
Officials from FRII, Front Range Internet, said they do not plan to change SpringSips fees. SpringSips customers can keep their e-mail addresses, mail their checks to the same place, call the same numbers and deal with many of the same staff members.
"It's not any kind of hostile takeover or kicking out the local mind-set," FRII spokeswoman Amy Madden Copp said. Customers still will buy products through the SpringSips location, though FRII will appear, for example, on their credit card bills. New customers can get SpringSips or FRII e-mail addresses, Copp said.
Two Colorado State University students and one of their fathers started FRII," she said. It serves mostly Colorado customers but does some national work.
Stephanie Reineke and Lori Bourgeois started SpringSips in Steamboat Springs about 10 years ago. They own GEEKSgarage and Cellar Liquors at 730 Lincoln Ave. Reineke said she was happy to turn the company over to FRII.
"They have the same kind of regard for the community," Reineke said. "They really want to see Steamboat grow; they want to do good things for the area as well."
Reineke is a Steamboat native and said SpringSips had rejected various buyout offers throughout the years. The deal with FRII, which went through at the end of May, occurred naturally, she said.
"It was kind of mutual," Reineke said. "We talked to them a couple years ago. : It just kind of came up last fall. I don't know, chicken or egg, it was just kind of organic. Things just happen. It felt very much like that."
FRII already works with the city, Routt County and the Steamboat Springs School District, CEO Bill Ward said.
"We saw coming to Steamboat as a strategic move, both being able to serve those clients more easily and to expand our business into the resort area," Ward said.
FRII has about 8,000 accounts to SpringSips' 1,500 to 2,000.
FRII can offer expanded services because it is a larger company, Reineke said. She and Ward mentioned FRII's capacity to add voice-over-Internet protocol, which allows users to talk to each other voice-to-voice through computers. Customers also will see higher bandwidth, more business packages and faster Internet, Copp said.
She said the company would like to get to know the Steamboat community.
"We're trying to plan some sort of July or August event where we can just come up and have an open house where all the customers have a chance to meet us," Copp said. "We want everyone to have a chance to see us in a full light. We're people, too - we just happen to live in Fort Collins."
Reineke said she and Bourgeois are going to focus on improvements they have been meaning to make at GEEKSgarage. They would like to expand the cybercafe into a wine bar.
She thanked her customers.
"We've appreciated their support through all the years, and we know they'll be well taken care of in the future, as well," Reineke said. "That's the only reason we would do it."