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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Jefferson Telecom

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Tell us about Jefferson Telecom.

Jefferson Telephone Company (DBA, Jefferson Telecom) was formed in 1938 in Jefferson, Iowa by the Daubendiek family.  Since its inception, Jefferson Telecom strove to be an industry leader in providing the latest in technology. Some of these include: being one of the first in Iowa to furnish full metallic common battery, full selective ringing to its farm subscribers; being the first in the United States to install a ringing converter known as the K-5, a machine which allowed ringing any one of ten parties on a farm line without ringing other telephones on the same line; and the first commercial telephone company in Iowa to receive a two way radio permit in 1945. In 1982, Jefferson Telecom installed a digital switching system, which placed the company in the first 15% nationally to convert to digital.

In 1991, Jefferson Telecom realized the future in cellular services and became an agent for U.S. Cellular and today, 27 years later, remains an agent for the company. High speed internet service was deployed in 1999 and fiber buildout was started in 2001.  Rounding out the telecommunications services, Jefferson Telecom offered cable TV starting in 2004.

In 2010 an expansion project was completed providing a 5,200 square foot retail center.  The space caters to the customer by offering a large selection of cellular smartphones and accessories, while showcasing a mini “Cabela’s” wall with animal trophies of the CEO, Jim Daubendiek’s hunting expeditions. In the lower level of our facility is a museum, one of the first in the nation dedicated to the preservation of telephone history, started in 1957. Many of the items were collected by the Daubendiek family and the museum, which was recently renovated, is open daily for tours.

Jefferson Telecom is now in its fifth generation of involvement by the Daubendiek family. The family has great pride in the communities in which they serve, and they look forward to bringing the latest upgrades in technology to the customers in the exchange.

What’s your biggest or most recent corporate accomplishment?

In 2018, our service area will be 100% fiber as the last customers in our rural area will be finished this summer.  We realize broadband is our future for Jefferson Telecom customers and we want to be the pipeline to provide the reliable, dependable services that our customers demand.

As a company, Jefferson Telecom has always felt strongly regarding giving back not only financially but with the gift of time to our local community.  We are proud to say that our community, of 4,500 people, is stronger than ever.  We have been heavily involved in Economic Development efforts over our history and I am currently Board President for Jefferson Matters: Main Street which focuses on downtown revitalization.  We feel it is imperative to be ‘at the table’ for the discussions that will affect our community for future generations.  Most recently we have been involved since initial conversations on a technology company that has approached Jefferson to have a partnership with a community college and build a facility in our community.  We continue to be amazed by the opportunities that are brought to our community and we will do everything we can to support the growth initiatives to help our community become stronger every day.

When you think about your company’s future, what, if anything, keeps you up at night?

How does our rural market continue to stay relevant with the next generation and attract new families to our area?  Jefferson Telecom’s fiber broadband capabilities provide the opportunity to position ourselves as a great place to live, work and play.  By promoting telecommuting, we can start to attract people that don’t want to live in a larger city but they still want to keep their big city job but live in a nice, small rural community.  We feel that we can provide the perfect environment in our community to get the best of both worlds in a small rural community.

The other concern for our organization regards employee succession and building the pipeline for future leaders in our company.  We are fortunate in the fact that we have dependable, loyal employees, but how are we preparing ourselves for upcoming retirements?  We have an employee that retired this month with 42 years of service and that is unheard of in today’s working environment.  How do we instill that same loyalty in the next generation of leaders and empower them within their position?

What do you expect will be the major trends to affect the industry next year?

Daily we hear of advances in OTT products and the consumer is looking for ways to reduce their expenses while still receiving the content that they demand.  Customers are wanting solutions to provide the entertainment that they desire yet they are not willing to pay high dollar for the service.  As a cable TV service provider, we will have to become creative in our offerings to be able to provide alternatives for our customers that meet their needs whether that is OTT, traditional cable TV, or a combination of both.

Also, Wi-Fi management will become the expectation of our customers in the near future.  Customers want their Internet service to work, and they expect the Telco to solve their Internet connected problems.  By offering a strong Wi-Fi management solution we can be seen as the partner to solve the customer’s frustrations and keep them satisfied.

What are two websites that you can’t get through the day without checking?

Daily I read the Wall Street Journal online to read breaking news and current headlines from the US and around the world.  Another form of media consumption that I really enjoy is podcasts from business guru Gary Vaynerchuk.