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Employee School Supply Drive

Parents rejoice! It’s officially back to school time. For us that means it’s time for our annual employee school supply drive. Each year we split the company into teams and assign point values to different school supply items. The top two teams win gift cards, and everyone enjoys helping students get the school year off to a great start. We’re just a bit competitive around here, so there’s lots of strategy, secrecy, and (mostly) friendly competition.

The supplies collected are distributed to Teachers Warehouse and a remote school corporation in our service area. Teachers Warehouse provides free supplies to public school teachers in Brown, Greene, Lawrence, Monroe, and Owen counties. This year our remote school corporation was Greater Jasper Consolidated School Corporation. In prior years we’ve donated supplies to school districts in French Lick, Hymera, and Lizton.

After we used our fingers and toes we determined 4,641 school supply items were donated and our Facilities & Fleet and Central Office Engineering team was victorious! We delivered these as a group and it was great to see the immediate impact the supplies will have. We’re proud to live where we work and support the communities we serve. If you’d like to help you can donate school supplies year-round to Teachers Warehouse to support local teachers and students. Here’s to a great school year!

Ellettsville North Fiber Project Kickoff

We’re happy to announce we’re bringing fiber to more Hoosiers! Ellettsville North is our newest fiber project, bringing the best connection to homes directly across from our headquarters.

Hilda Fry, Smithville Project Manager, explains why bringing fiber to area residents is so important. “Why fiber? We get asked this a lot and here’s why. Gone are the days when people are using the internet to check their maybe email messages. With the explosion of internet devices like “Hey Google,” Amazon Echo, and porch cameras that connect to wifi, and smartphones everywhere internet usage is a part of daily life.”

Check out the Facebook video from our Construction and Project Management teams to learn more about the project: https://bit.ly/2GkTRdN

 

Smithville Spotlight: Theresa B., Event Planning Manager

Being an active and involved community member is one of the guiding principles here at Smithville, and there’s no one better to lead that charge than Theresa B., Event Planning Manager. We spent a day with her to learn how she plans and executes events and community involvement. Before we got started for the day, we got to know Theresa better by asking some hard-hitting questions:

  • Hometown: Loogootee, IN
  • Favorite TV Show: Anything on Discovery or History channels
  • Favorite Movie: The Secret Life of Bees
  • Favorite Food: Anything home cooked
  • Best Part of Working at Smithville: Definitely the coworkers I get to interact with on a daily basis. They make work fun!
  • Dream Vacation Destination: Yellowstone
  • Favorite Quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

Theresa has many different duties and wears many hats on any given day. She plans events for both residential and business customers, works with Indiana University on our corporate partnership, and collaborates with many different business organizations, such as chambers of commerce, economic development groups, and community teams and charitable organizations. Some of the events she organizes include golf scrambles, local fairs and festivals, industry conferences and conventions, and business lunches. She also serves on Smithville’s Spirit Partners Team, a team focused on increasing employee communication and collaboration through events and charitable initiatives.

We started our day by loading Theresa’s van for the City of Bloomington Touch a Truck event. As part of the planning she arranged for a bucket truck to be at the event and staff available to help with the day. She also prepped giveaways, including frisbees, plastic construction hats for kids, and tote bags. We arrived at the Southeast YMCA around 9AM and setup a tent and the giveaways. Theresa has everything planned in advance, including a checklist to make sure everything is ready, as we’re away from the office and not able to quickly run back for something forgotten.

The weather was perfect with low humidity, and that led to lots of attendees! We had the bucket truck on display and kids could stand in the bucket and see all the controls, levers, and switches. Many walked away with a signature “S” plastic construction hat that helped protect them from the sun. Theresa had some fun with the other vehicles as well, as she got behind the wheel of a school bus, street sweeper, race car, and tank! If you know Theresa at all you know she likes to have fun while working, and she’s been known to tell some jokes from time to time. “I really enjoy working with everyone here at Smithville and they make it so fun to come to work every day. Getting out in the community is fun and I enjoy representing Smithville. So many people tell us how much they love us, and it’s great to work for a company with that reputation. Events like these help us stay in front of customers and demonstrate our commitment to the communities we serve, and that’s important to me.”

By the end of the event we had distributed 600 construction hats and 550 frisbees. More importantly, we had interacted with many families in the community who will remember our dedication to the event. Once finished we packed up the tent and tables, prepped the bucket truck to go back to work, and returned to Theresa’s office in Ellettsville, where no time was wasted. She immediately began preparing for the next event, a golf scramble in Columbus to be held the next day. While the work never ends, it’s always interesting. “Each day is a new experience and a new way to reach our customers. I love what I’m doing and wouldn’t have it any other way.”

 

Smithville Spotlight: Kevin B., Warehouse Technician

Smithville Spotlight: Kevin B., Warehouse Technician

Our technicians in the field work to connect Hoosiers every day to what matters. A crucial part of that process is ensuring they have the supplies and tools they need. That’s the task of Kevin B., Smithville’s Warehouse Technician. We spent a day learning more about him and his role at Smithville. Before we got started for the day, we got to know Kevin by asking him some hard-hitting questions to get to know him better:

  • Hometown: Union, KY
  • Favorite TV Show: When not watching Cincinnati sports he enjoys watching Game of Thrones as well as binge watching Friends and The Office
  • Favorite Movie: The Sandlot
  • Favorite Food: Lasagna
  • Best Part of Working at Smithville: Working for a great company who continually helps to serve our community
  • Dream Vacation Destination: Ireland
  • Favorite quote: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” II Corinthians 5:17

The busiest times are 8-9 AM and 4-5 PM as technicians are getting ready to head out or return for the day. A normal day involves receiving in deliveries, organizing stock, and managing purchase orders and paperwork. Another task is using the forklift to move deliveries and inventory, although he wouldn’t let me behind the wheel (something about safety).

We started our morning in the Ellettsville warehouse. This day was planned to deliver supplies and perform inventory at remote locations. Our route took us to Brownsburg, Lizton, Sharpsville, and back to Ellettsville. All in all, we ended up traveling 230 miles! With a wide service area, it’s even more important to make sure remote technicians have what they need so customers don’t experience delays in getting service. Kevin explains the importance of managing inventory: “Shortly after joining the company, my main goal was to begin implementing new inventory strategies for our warehouse. Once I was able to complete a steady and accurate flow at our warehouse, it was time to focus on our remote locations. Recently, I began traveling monthly to our remote locations; including Lyons, Sharpsville, and Lizton, Indiana. By doing so, I’m able to maintain a more accurate inventory count of all locations.”

Another big goal was getting everyone on board to understand the importance of inventory. “One way to maintain a more accurate warehouse was by communicating with our technicians. We were able to come together and find a way to keep track of our inventory. I created a section in our warehouse where our guys can ‘grab and go.’ For other areas, I created a sheet where the techs can mark off what they are taking for our records.” Gaining buy-in has led to more accurate inventory counts and a better customer experience.

His passion for organization and constant process improvement serves him well in his role. He’s also a member of Smithville’s Wellness Team and is helping to motivate and encourage employees to live a healthier life.

Follow us on Instagram (@MySmithville) for the next Smithville Spotlight as we look forward to sharing our story with you.

 

 

6 Surprising Secrets to Get a Stronger WiFi Signal

No WiFi

via GIPHY

Remember a time when you experienced a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? You flopped down on the couch that evening preparing to escape from reality by binge-watching your favorite TV series. Then you got comfy with your go-to snacks and drink.

Ahhh! Life seemed as though it might be heading toward an uptick. That is until you discovered a weak WiFi signal disrupting the series you were watching. At this point, aw-shucks was not the first phrase that escaped from your lips.

When your WiFi is underperforming, “it’s tough” may resemble the biggest understatement of the year. Take heart. Reversal of worry, irritation, and exasperation remains possible. Below are six surprising secrets to strengthen that signal and drop potential frustration.

TIP 1: Reboot your router.

Just like people, routers need a reset from time to time. Reboot your router. Reboot means to unplug your router from its power source and any other equipment to which it may be connected. Next, wait 60 seconds. Then plug the router back into the power source and reconnect the router to anything else that it was attached to earlier. Pause for two minutes to give the router ample time to establish a wireless connection.

TIP 2: Update your router firmware through an app or by using the router IP address and your computer browser.

Routers also need updating because occasionally manufacturers make improvements or add features such as settings for parental controls. Update your router firmware through an app or by using the router IP address and your computer browser. If the phrase router firmware sends you into a frenzied “what is that?” or “how do I do that” panic, secure a long, deep breath. Think of router firmware as the device’s operating system. Then review these steps to update your router’s firmware.

TIP 3: Adjust your router antennas to reflect a perpendicular position.

If your WiFi router includes adjustable antennas, embrace both horizontal and vertical positioning. Pointing antennas both ways maximizes reception. Adjust your router antennas to reflect a perpendicular position.

Routers without an adjustable antenna contain an internal built-in antenna. Generally, that built-in antenna sends signals in all directions. Consider adding an external, directional antenna to bolster your WiFi signal. Then, point that external antenna wherever your weakest signal appears.

TIP 4: Keep your router out in the open for a strong signal.

It can be tempting to hide your router in a dusty nook, behind a couch or under your favorite pet. Other obscure places include a closet or back office. But, such concealment contributes to signal interference. Move your router away from extra interference culprits akin to baby monitors and microwaves. Keep your router out in the open for a strong signal.

TIP 5: Place your router in the room where you use your devices most.

The farther away your devices are from the router, the weaker the signal. Place your router in the room where you use your devices most.

Consider purchasing a WiFi extender. It will give you solid connectivity in many rooms. WiFi extenders prove valuable in large rooms and in structures with thick walls. Have a look at the best WiFi extenders for 2019.  

TIP 6: For better performance, connect your gaming console to your router.

Some apps like video chatting and gaming on a bunch of devices monopolize your network speed. For better performance, connect your gaming console to your router.

Running out to buy a new router solves WiFi problems if you purchased your existing router years ago. Yet, more often than not, cheaper and quicker solutions exist. Start with these simple tips to make life a little sweeter on a tough day.

New President Focus: Delighting Our Customers

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Since joining Smithville in mid-November of 2018 as its new president, I’ve been focused on taking Smithville’s already high level of service and seeing where we can elevate it to an even higher level. As many have experienced firsthand, we have a great team here at Smithville who consistently go far above in creating a high level of customer satisfaction and superior customer experience. We know that our customers have a choice and we are focused on rewarding our customers who choose us.

Smithville has already made a number of major investments, including building a new 100 gigabit-capable network to better serve both our residential and commercial customers. That technology vaults us up into the top tier of Indiana internet providers.

New, Effective Ways to Expand Best-Speed-Available Service

You may already be familiar with our ongoing project to transform the city of Jasper into Indiana’s first true “GigaCity” with symmetrical 1,000 Mbps (a gigabit) speeds and a very high degree of reliability. Smithville earlier completed a multi-million-dollar investment to upgrade our legacy copper-based customers with fiber-to-the-cabinet service, which has also improved speeds and reliability. We continue to look at new and effective ways where we can expand our services in the fiber arena.

We still are the state leader in providing “best-speed-available” residential service, which means you receive our award-winning home service at one price, wherever you are.

All these innovations are designed to bring you the best service we are capable of delivering.

Fast and Reliable. Great Value. Legendary Service.

And we’re not stopping there. As Smithville’s new president, I am privileged to let you know that we have a number of new innovations now being considered. We continue to actively explore how we can improve our service to our customers in every facet of our business. Darby and Cullen McCarty, our owners and executive leaders, positively built this business on the shoulders of a family that emphasized that customers come first. That tradition will be enhanced and continued. You will continue to see us focus on delivering fast and reliable internet, offering great value, and providing legendary service.

Thank you for choosing Smithville. I hope we have an opportunity to meet personally at community events to come.

Best Last Minute Deals on Affordable Stocking Stuffers

Do you need some festive and fun stocking stuffers for the kids (or the kids at heart) in your life? Come visit us at our Technology Powered by Smithville stores for affordable bestsellers to delight and entertain the family. Seven of our favorites stocking stuffers standout below. Also, remember that a gift card endures the test of time for those hard-to-buy-for folks on your list. #smithvillestockingstuffers

Product Name | Description

1

Whoosh Screen Shine Wipes

Did you know your phone is 10x dirtier than a toilet seat? Ewww!

Whoosh cleans devices, makes them shine, and resists fingerprints

Safe for all screens, and even works with glasses and sunglasses

Includes 30 individually packaged wipes and 2 polishing cloths

2

Holiday-Themed Popsockets

Expandable phone grip and stand

Secure grip so you can text with one hand, snap better photos, and watch cat videos hands-free

Repositionable and sticks to most devices and cases

Mount attaches to any flat surface with strong adhesive

3

PowerCube

Turns one electrical outlet into five

Includes surge protection

Doesn’t block other outlets

Modular system: so you can add as many cubes as you’d like to make a custom power strip

4

USB Notebook Travel Light

Powerful light source plugs directly into USB port

Flexible neck to adjust for the perfect amount of light

No batteries required

Great for travel, home, or office

5

Portable Power Bank

Available in 4400 mAh larger style or 3000 mAh smaller style with built-in device cradle

Includes USB cable for recharging

Never be caught with a dead cell phone or electronic device

Recharges a phone at least two times before it needs recharging

6

Wallet Ninja

Flat multi-tool that fits in your wallet with credit cards

Made from 4x heat treated steel

Lifetime guarantee to never rust, bend, or dull

Includes can and bottle opener, screwdriver, ruler, box opener, and more

7

USB Holiday Decorations

Available in Christmas Tree and Snowman

Plugs into any USB port

Color changes for festive holiday decor

Your 6 Practical Tech Tips for Thanksgiving

tech tips

Thanksgiving: a favorite holiday for many that serves up delicious secret-family-recipe-driven comfort food, followed by intermittent afternoon naps punctuated with football and family time. But like every holiday time, holiday travel, food prep, and the occasional family drama may add a tad too much stress. Try these six practical tips to improve your Thanksgiving experience.

1 Use voice assistants to help avoid touching your iPhone during turkey preparation. When using an iPhone, say “Hey Siri”. For Android users, “Ok Google” will activate your voice assistant. Once activated, convert recipe measurements like ounces to cups. Source: CNET
2 Let an easy-to-use cooking app simplify your life and reduce stress. Timer+ assists you in managing multiple cook times for different dishes. Set the timer to count down one time for boiling and mashing potatoes, another for roasting turkey and yet a separate time for heating sides. Source: CNET
3 Google Maps help you avoid Thanksgiving traffic delays and congestion points by identifying the fastest route and an alternate route. Source: CNET
4 Upgrade your kids’ (or kids@💗) games with hands-on technology that both educates and entertains. Check out the Tech Will Save Us products that allow you to build a robot, create a fitness tracker or invent touchpads and controllers. These products use everyday items like bananas or moldable clay. Source: Forbes
5 Soothe your soul with the best free streaming music apps. These include Pandora, Shazam, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Slacker Radio, TuneIn, SoundCloud, Google Play Music, Musi, Playlist, and 8tracks. Spotify’s Turkey Timer offers unique customization including entering your bird’s weight, selecting your favorite type of music, and voila – your favorite music plays for the length of the cooking time. For additional details on any of these apps, check out Lifewire. Source: Forbes
6 Modernize a family member who struggles with social media. Help Grandpa figure out Facebook. Take time to help a relative tweet on Twitter. Involve the teens – they’ll have your Instagram account up and running with memorable memes, goofy gifs, and fabulous family photos almost instantaneously. Source: CMIT Solutions

Whatever you end up doing on Thanksgiving, let technology simplify the day so you can celebrate and relax more!

Cares about Product Selection and Your Technology Needs

Ryan Lentz

Most store managers agree: the task of choosing the right products to sell carries with it a daunting connotation. After all, sifting through a smorgasbord of mind-numbing variables such as marketability, profit margin, consumability, popularity, quality, diversity and more requires some intense mental fortitude.   

Call it what you will: an uncanny skill or a quasi-sixth sense enabling selection of stellar technology products for the stores. Whichever description you prefer, Ryan Lentz has it.

Ryan manages both of the Technology Powered by Smithville stores, located in Bloomington (Clear Creek Crossing) and French Lick. Since May 2012, he and his teams have transformed the stores into technology treasure chests.

“My momentum is fired up when a mom stops in on a whim, hoping to find something that will encourage her daughter’s love for coding and robotics,” says Ryan.

“Selecting quality technology products challenges me. The continuous play involved in finding the exact product fit for the local guy who comes in to pay his bill and shop keeps me energized.  My momentum is fired up when a mom stops in on a whim, hoping to find something that will encourage her daughter’s love for coding and robotics,” says Ryan.

Who Else Wants the Best in Tech Products?

Technology Powered by Smithville stores carry (or carried) four of the five top products named earlier by a tech retail publication as moving the needle for tech retailers. Have a look at the top five winners below.  

Mobile Holders and Stands Any guesses on the leading product in this category? One word. Three syllables. Rhymes with swap rockets. Popsockets win for the correct answer!
Smart Home Doorbells, light bulbs, sensors. Offered in-store and online, Smart products such as the Skybell video doorbell, Smart LED bulbs, and the Champ water sensor alarm protect both our homes and families.
Instant Film/Cameras Not found in our stores. Based on comments from industry advisor Stephen Baker of The NPD Group, the popularity of instant film and cameras continues to trend down.
VR/AR Hardware & Accessories Available in our stores and online for watching 3D movies and playing video games, the Xtreme virtual reality headset provides hours of fun for kids.
Drones Though Smithville previously carried drones, the market shifted and intentional inventory depletion occurred on this formerly trendy product. Now, drones take flight toward specific commercial opportunities and niche hobby markets.

“When stacked up to the competition, our local stores are holding their own. I find that rewarding,” says Ryan. “Listening to customer feedback, regularly attending conferences and shows, and keeping an eye on what store products are moving contributes to that success.”

“At the end of the day, hitting a homerun depends on both play and work,” says Ryan.

The Secret to What Makes Ryan’s High-Tech World Fascinating

Outside of work, you may find Ryan at a baseball game cheering on his Cincinnati Reds. Passionate about fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of his grandma, Ryan participates in the annual Bloomington Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Generally, he enjoys the familiar and simple when it comes to food, like a tasty tenderloin or hot dog.

However, he occasionally trades in the familiar for something new like a cereal milk milkshake while making his annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. “At the end of the day, hitting a homerun depends on both play and work,” says Ryan.

Introduce yourself to Ryan and his team members when you stop by either of the stores to pick up your tech essentials.