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Smithville Spotlight: Michael H., Lead Telecom Technician

Michael H. came to Smithville in 2016 with extensive telecommunications experience. He had a desire for a career that was rewarding at a place where it was fun to go to work. Nearly four years later, he’s found that and more and was honored with a prestigious employee-nominated award at Smithville’s annual award dinner.

Before we learned about his background and skills, we asked some hard-hitting questions:

    • Hometown: Oblong, IL
    • Favorite TV Show: Bob’s Burgers
    • Favorite Movie: Back to the Future series
    • Favorite Food: Steak & Potatoes
    • What he likes to do in free time: Married with 2 kids I normally have free time from 11:00pm-6:00am and I sleep
    • Dream vacation destination: Caribbean some day
    • Favorite quote: The whole family likes to randomly say “Roads… where we’re going we don’t need roads” -Dr. Emmett Brown

Michael started working in the telecommunications industry with Nortel Networks in the late 1990s. After their bankruptcy he worked at Toyota Manufacturing in Princeton, IN. While the money was good, he was looking for something more rewarding in other ways and looked to get back into the telecommunications industry. “I started looking into telecommunications again and looked at several different companies all over the country. Then I found a Telecom position in Jasper for Smithville. I must admit I was caught off guard that a family business in telecommunications had such a large reach in Indiana with the latest technology available. I had spent a lot of years working in Indiana with Nortel but never crossed paths with this company. I talked to my wife about the position and we searched the town of Jasper to see what could be offered to our kids. After looking, we knew this was a direction we both wanted to take our family.”

A normal day for Michael involves making sure customers get connected to our service in an efficient manner. He often assists other technicians to help make the customer’s installation appointment go quicker. He understands that customers are the reason we come to work each day and makes it his mission to ensure a great customer experience. These efforts and dedication have not gone unnoticed.

Each year, Smithville holds an annual awards dinner to recognize the hard work of Smithville employees. In addition to honoring those with milestone service anniversaries, employees nominate coworkers for three Champion awards. Michael was nominated by three coworkers, and won the 2019 Above & Beyond Champion award, which he says is the biggest thing he’s accomplished since joining Smithville. To better understand the impact Michael has made at Smithville, here’s part of his nomination from a coworker:

“Michael consistently goes above and beyond to do the best for the Smithville Team and our Customers. He is the first one to volunteer help to his peers and the first one to sacrifice his time when trouble arises. He is always on the lookout for potential issues that might cause a customer to be upset. He then is proactive and will address them to find a solution. He makes sure he is in communication with the customer and whatever department he thinks may be able to ease the situation. When there is an absence, he picks up extra work before his Supervisor or Manager has a chance to ask. Michael on many occasions has brought attention to areas that can help the sales team with potential leads. It is common for Michael to come in on a Monday and pass along things that he has seen over the weekend to make the Team more efficient or to help us stay a step ahead of the competitors. In a lot of ways, it has just become the norm for Michael to go the extra mile.”

The dedication and passion he exhibits each day definitely shows how he goes above and beyond. This award meant so much to Michael because it was nominated for and selected by fellow coworkers. That feeling of family, in addition to new growth opportunities, has led Michael to recommend others look into Smithville. “Anyone has the opportunity to do more at Smithville if they choose.”

Smithville Spotlight: Julie P., Collections Specialist

When asked to describe her time at Smithville Julie P., Collections Specialist, immediately said “transformation, humanitarianism, and partnership.” For the past 17 years she’s grown and adapted to new positions while Smithville progressed with new technology.

Before talking about her background and experience we asked some important questions to get to know Julie better:

    • Hometown: Came to Indiana from California at age three and called Bloomington home until moving to Ellettsville over 18 years ago
    • Favorite TV Show: All NCIS show
    • Favorite Movie: West Side Story
    • Favorite Food: Mexican and steak
    • What she likes to do in free time: Spending time with grandkids and pups and cooking
    • Dream vacation destination: Australia or Africa
    • Favorite quotes: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” and “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill

Julie joined Smithville in 2003 as a Customer Service Representative. She then helped launch our fiber optic upgrade project before returning to Customer Service. In 2012 she transitioned to Collections Specialist, where her focus and attention to detail is used every day. As this was a new position for Smithville, she was able to provide feedback and adjust job duties and procedures as time went on, which was an exciting project for her. “Creating the position to be what it is today has been the most rewarding thing for me while at Smithville.”

When asked to describe a normal workday, Julie said “My day is never normal, and that’s why I enjoy it so much!” She helps process customer payments, answers Accounting questions for other departments and customers, and processes credit refunds to customers. She also manages our past due amount process which entails running reports for old balances, contacting customers for payment, and moving to advanced collection strategies if required. She is Smithville’s go-to person for all things related to payments and past due amounts.

Throughout the years Smithville’s family feel and focus on the community have been what has stood out to Julie. “Smithville does so much for our surrounding area, like community food drives or even helping to build a home with Habitat for Humanity.” That community focus also relates to employees, as Julie explains. “My favorite part of working at Smithville is the feeling that we are a team with a goal we are all working towards.”

Julie has enjoyed the last 17 years at Smithville and learning new skills along the way. She feels motivated to always do more, and that keeps her going. “Compared to other places where I’ve worked Smithville strives to be the best they can be and inspires employees to do the same.”

Viewership strong for Smithville Media video of Edgewood High School virtual graduation ceremony

As with previous years, Smithville Media has produced a video of the Edgewood High School graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020. The event took place on Saturday, May 16. Response from the community has been very positive, with personal notes of thanks and viewership of the ceremony reaching above 1500 within the first four days.

“GREAT JOB on putting together the Graduation for all of us to view on Saturday! It will be one of the BEST keepsakes to have for years to come! Our Seniors should definitely feel proud of all the hard work that was put into that presentation!”–Judy

“We appreciate the creative 2020 commencement ceremony for Edgewood High school graduates provided via Smithville. Thank you!”–The Langs

This year’s ceremony was very different from previous iterations with students coming in at designated times in groups of 20 and standing six feet apart. Only the students and a few faculty members were present for the ceremony. Students also wore protective masks as well as their caps and gowns until walking on stage to get their diplomas. At that time, students were allowed to remove their masks for a photo and short “rose dedication” speech. The rose dedication is an Edgewood tradition where students present a rose in recognition of someone significant to their academic journey.

Smithville Media’s Rob Ramsey said that while this year posed additional challenges when compared with other years, he is proud of the final product, which was edited in a way to give it a look and feel of a traditional graduation ceremony. “I think it will be a very good substitute for something that otherwise may not have happened,” Ramsey said. Families were pleased with the final product, and many sent notes directly to Ramsey expressing their appreciation.

“My family would like to thank you for putting together the virtual graduation video.  When Alyssa learned that she would have the opportunity to walk across the stage (even if it was in front of an empty audience), she cried.  She said, ‘mom I didn’t think I would get to formally walk across the stage.’ The videotaping of the kids accepting diplomas was much better than a static photo of them.  We were able to have her grandparents here to watch, and as a family, we celebrated Alyssa’s accomplishments. Given the circumstances, I think you delivered the next best thing to being there in person. We are beyond grateful for you, Smithville Telephone, RBBCSC, teachers, administrators, and the community.  The outpouring of support for these students was amazing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”–Tina

Anyone interested can purchase a two-disc DVD of the video as a keepsake for $10. To order a copy, contact Edgewood High School Secretary Susan Shockney via email or call her at (812) 876-2277 ext. 2207.

The DVD has various extra features in addition to the graduation ceremony, including a senior montage video compiled by a student and a class celebration video put together by the staff. The video also includes traditional graduation elements like speeches by the class president and valedictorian, as well as a commencement address. This year’s commencement speaker was recently retired Edgewood English teacher, Larry DeMoss.

To see more Smithville Media features, visit the company’s YouTube channel. To read more about Smithville’s video production services, click here

Your home is talking…Are you listening?

Your home is a complex network of systems. From your HVAC system, to electric, water, and home security, your home has a lot of information to share that could save you money and help you avoid a catastrophe. The issue? There hasn’t been a way to tell you…until now. In this issue, we highlight the four main categories that make up a Smart Home and discuss how a Smart Home system can help keep you informed and make your home a safer, more comfortable, place to live.

Awareness

Did I forget to lock the door? Is my garage door closed? Did my important package arrive? Did Suzie get home safe? I wonder what my pets are doing. Is there a security threat at home?

We all live busy lives and staying connected to your home and family can sometimes seem like a struggle. Luckily, with today’s technology, the difference between wondering what’s happening at home and knowing what’s happening is a smartphone app away.

With the Total Connect 2.0 app offered by Smithville you can get important notifications sent directly to your smartphone allowing you to take action quickly and know what’s going on at home. Now you don’t have to wonder if you forgot to close the garage door or worry about Suzie getting home from school. With Total Connect, the information is at your figure tips allowing you to make smart decisions that improve the safety and wellbeing of your home and family. 

Control

Having the ability to control devices around your home like thermostats, lights, locks, and garage doors has been around for a while. Typically, these are sold as separate systems with several apps. What if these systems could all tie together to create a unified experience? With Total Connect 2.0 it can…

Total Connect 2.0 ties all your devices together allowing you to control your whole home from a signal app. Total Connect even makes your devices smarter because now they can work together. For example, say your smoke detector goes off. Your smart home system can unlock the door to let the fire department in, turn on the lights allowing you to see in the smoke, shut off your thermostat so you are not feeding the fire with fresh air, and notify the fire department and your family to danger. 

No need to rush home, with Total Connect you have full control of your home from anywhere. You have the ability to automate your home so lights, locks, thermostats, and other smart devices can work together and adapt to your schedule so you can keep your home just how you like it.

Life Safety 

Life safety equipment such as smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, medical alert pendants, and water leak sensors are designed to alert you and/or the authorities to events that threaten the life of your family and pets. These devices are professionally monitored 24/7/365 so you and the authorities can take action quickly to mitigate the threat.

Smart Home systems not only keep an eye on threats from fire, carbon monoxide, and water leaks but they may also help you save money on your home insurance. Insurance agents know that having your home professionally monitored reduces their risk and many times they are willing to pass on these savings to you.

Security   

Security equipment is designed to alert you and/or the authorities to security threats from burglaries and other events happening around your home. With professional security monitoring, Smart Home systems are designed to alert you and the authorities to these threats so your family and property stay safe and protected.

Putting it all together with a Pro

Your home is a complex place. Let the Pros at Smithville help you design and install the perfect Smart Home system for your home. Our robust smart home packages our designed to tie all four of these categories together to create an all-in-one smart home solution for your family. In one system, your home can be professionally monitored against life safety and security threats, you can access a wealth of information and alerts that keep you informed, and you have a way to manage and control your home from anywhere through one easy to use app.

The best part, these systems are affordable, and for a very limited time we are making it even more affordable by offering free installation and starting equipment* on our popular Smart Home security package! Just mention promo code June Newsletterwhen you call. 

Worried about having people in your home due to COVID-19? No worries! We’ve developed a unique approach that allows you to get all the benefits of professional design and installation without any physical contact with people in your home.

Call us today at 800-742-4084 or visit us online at SmithvilleSecurity.com and let us help build the perfect Smart Home solution for you.

*For new customers only. Free installation and equipment on our “Pro Security Starter Package”. Additional equipment sold separately. Requires “Smart Home Security” subscription with 5-yr monitoring agreement. 

Smithville Spotlight: Ryan B., Help Desk Technician

Ryan B.’s connection to Smithville began when he was in elementary school while using our internet. He was able to play games and watch movies while staying in touch with friends online. His knowledge of the service Smithville provided prompted him to apply for an open position, and that has led to advancement opportunities and career development.

Before we learned about his experience and journey to Smithville, we took some time to learn more about Ryan:

    • Hometown: Bloomington, 2015 graduate of Edgewood High School
    • Favorite TV Show: Psych
    • Favorite Movie: Unsure, but of recent movies Knives Out
    • Favorite Food: Wings
    • Favorite Free Time Activity: PC gaming
    • Dream Vacation Destination: Osaka Japan
    • Favorite Quote: “A diamond is merely a lump of coal that did well under pressure.” -Unknown

 

Ryan joined Smithville as a Customer Service Representative in 2018, where he learned all about Smithville services and our dedication to providing an excellent customer experience. When an opportunity opened in the Corporate Information Technology department six months later, he jumped at the chance. Although he didn’t have prior experience, he felt supported and motivated by the trust others had in him. “Coming from a background with no IT experience, it was a monumental achievement for me to be able to pursue my career with the backing of Smithville. I don’t think I would have been able to get into anywhere else with my experience. I believe that Smithville really saw the potential in me and decided to invest in my abilities and that has to be the best feeling to have from your employer.” Ryan has been able to utilize his customer service skills to help internal customers while learning more and more about the technology field each day.

A normal day for Ryan involves helping employees with technology issues. He helps troubleshoot computers, desk phones, cell phones, printers, and all other technology. It’s important that our technology works so employees can take care of customers, and that’s not lost on Ryan. “My position is relied upon daily to enable the workers of Smithville to do their jobs. I take pride in that responsibility and put it towards my job every day.”

The culture at Smithville is something important to Ryan, and something he hasn’t seen anywhere else. There’s a common goal of serving customers as we’re a part of their community. “I have worked in a place where the only goal is to make money and the company could not care less about the customer. It is disheartening to see how common that is in business these days. But Smithville really does care about their customers and strives to provide only the best.”

Part of the culture involves things that go above and beyond daily job duties. These things include company events, contests, and policy changes from one of Smithville’s three teams. Our Culture Team works to make change to make work better, Smithville Engaged works to unite employees from all areas through events and charitable initiatives, and Smithville Strong works to ensure employees are healthy and well. “Smithville spends a lot of time and money trying to bring people together to have a good time, both inside and outside of work. They have events with the intent of forgetting about work and being friends. Things like the Night of Champions award dinner and Fun in the Sun company picnic. I think the focus on culture and employee morale is extremely important. And judging by the way Smithville approaches it, I can say they feel the same.”

That culture has helped make employees comfortable communicating with each other and ensured everyone is working towards the same goal. “Being able to talk and communicate on the same level with everyone in the company, whether they are a technician, receptionist, accountant, or executive makes everyone more motivated to work together and keep doing their best. We have a common goal throughout the company, and instead of being tons of small groups working for themselves, we are one big group working together.”

Through making sure employees have the technology they need to serve customers, Ryan is an integral part of the team. He’s focused and determined on learning and growing with Smithville. “I am now focusing on a career path in the IT field and it is thanks to the flexibility and investment Smithville has in its employees.”

5 Tips for Telehealth

Thanks to USTelecom for these helpful tips:

As communites work to support the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic, broadband-powered telehealth helps ensure the doctor is always in.

  1. Coverage Expanding:
    1. Medicare has lifted restrictions on telehealth coverage and medical professionals across the country are expanding their offerings.
  2. Be Tech Ready:
    1. Testing your webcam and other equipment, closing unnecessary programs on your computer and using a wired broadband connection can help improve visits.
  3. Virtual Triage:
    1. With hospitals overloaded, telehealth plays a vital role in triage–providing guidance on when to recover at home and when to seek in-person care.
    2. Experiencing potential symptoms? IU Health is offering free online screening 24/7.
  4. Online Rx Refills:
    1. The CDC recommends talking to your doctor or pharmacist about creating an emergency supply of prescription medications during a pandemic.
    2. Many providers are waiving refill limits, and major pharmacy chains are offering free prescription delivery in support of social distancing.
  5. Connected Resources for Health Care Professionals:
    1. Cisco tutorial on transitioning to virtual health care
    2. Twilio artifical intelligence chatbot helps answer common COVID-19 questions
    3. Online CDC COVID-19 FAQ for the medical community

We hope these resources are helpful and we’re here to help support your connectivity needs. We’re in this together.

Smithville Spotlight: Matt N., Small/Medium Business Sales Executive

 

You’ve probably heard “always be closing” as the mantra for those working in Sales. Matt N., Small/Medium Business Sales Executive, believes Sales is more of a personal connection to help find solutions. He’s been able to make a lot of connections with his experience in multimedia and telecommunications sales over the years.

We asked some questions to get to know Matt better before digging into his experience and time here at Smithville:

 

    • Hometown: Ellettsville, IN
    • Favorite TV Show: The Walking Dead
    • Favorite Movie: It’s a tie! Original Terminator and Braveheart
    • Favorite Food: Porterhouse Steak
    • What you Like to do in Your Free Time: Play or watch sports. Play = Golf and Softball, Watch = NFL, NBA, MLB, NCAA and Golf
    • Dream Vacation: Hawaii or a Cruise ship
    • Quote: “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

Matt joined the Smithville team February 2019. He helped launch our dedicated small and medium business sales initiative, focused on providing simple solutions for keeping local businesses connected. He had his eye out for positions with Smithville and jumped on the opportunity to apply. “With over 20 years in the telecommunications industry I had always felt that Smithville would be a great place to work. I kept checking the Smithville job website until I found a position that matched my skills.” After working at another internet company, he knew the service we provide would make a big difference for customers.

Being active in the business community is important to Matt. He’s on the board of the Bedford Chamber of Commerce and enjoys being out in the areas we serve and meeting with customers. On a normal day he’s talking with customers, either over the phone or in their offices or storefronts, and showing how Smithville’s Internet, Cloud Voice, and Security services can help them grow. “The most rewarding aspect of my job is giving new and existing customers the service and products needed in today’s competitive environment for them to exceed and be better than their competition.”

While in the field for most of the time, Matt also appreciates the team environment for all employees at all locations. “The comradery that all Smithville employees show to each other is something that outsiders would appreciate yet they really don’t know is there. The whole team, from top to bottom, make Smithville the best company it can be for employees and customers.”

Matt looks forward to talking to local businesses and seeing how we can meet their needs. You can reach Matt at 812-320-8319 or matt.narey@smithville.com.

6 Tips to Thwart COVID-19 Cyberscams

Thanks to USTelecom for these helpful tips.

What can you do to help stop online scam artists from taking advantage of the global pandemic? Here are some tips to keep you connected–and secure.

 

  1. Think Before You Click
    Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could
    contain viruses.
  2. Turn to Official Sources
    Watch for emails claiming to be from public health experts.
    Here are the official websites of the Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention and the World Health Organization.
  3. Vaccine Hoax Alert
    Ignore online or phone offers for vaccinations. There currently are no
    vaccines or other products—prescription or over-the-counter—that
    treat or cure COVID-19.
  4. Think Before You Give
    Do your homework before giving to charities or crowdfunding sites.
    Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation.
    If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money,
    just say no.
  5. Don’t Share Personal or Financial Data
    Via email or unsolicited phone call.
  6. Turn on Auto Updates
    Keep your software up-to-date on your computer, smartphone and
    tablet to defend against viruses and hacking attempts.

 

Behind it All, There’s the Internet

Before COVID-19 hit so close to home, the internet generally seemed like a handy tool. Depending on your job or interests, the world wide web might not have been something you gave any thought to. The internet was just there.

Now, as we practice social distancing, that “handy tool” may be becoming a central part of our lives. While it certainly cannot replace good old-fashioned conversations at the neighborhood bakery or hands-on learning in the classroom, it does have the ability to keep us connected in many ways. And let’s face it, generally, we are social beings. The internet provides that outlet.

Here’s a handful of creative ways people are using their internet connection to connect:

 

 

 

 

  • People are watching Netflix content together through Netflix Party. The service syncs up the streaming playback at different locations and includes group chat so you can comment as if you’re in the room together. https://www.netflixparty.com/

 

 

  • Many gyms and other fitness outlets are offering free online classes and daily physical challenges. Planet Fitness is offering free classes on Facebook Live at 7 pm for anyone. https://www.facebook.com/planetfitness.

 

We want to make sure you are having the best experience with your internet. Feel free to give us a call to troubleshoot issues you may be having with WiFi or to increase your bandwidth as your needs grow during this time.

10 Tips for Working from Home in a COVID-19 Environment

While some are more familiar with working from home, we recognize many of you may be new to working from home while we are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. To help you be successful while working from home, we’ve compiled these tips to help you stay productive, set expectations, and have some fun.

 

  1. Cleanliness is next to godliness: You know what they say, cleanliness is next to godliness. Now more than ever, personal hygiene is important. Even though you are at home, washing your hands frequently and thoroughly is important. While there’s many guides out there on proper handwashing techniques, these two are some of our favorites. Also, did you know, your cell phone has 10x more germs than a toilet seat? So, while you’re washing your hands, consider washing your phone, too. Here is a handy article on some ways to go about disinfecting your phone.
  2. Give yourself structure. Sure, working from can be awesome. Working in your PJs and all that. But that said, it is important to treat a work from home scenario as though you are working from your office. We recommend you wake up early and go through your routine as though you are preparing to go into the office. Get showered and dressed (no one wants to see you in your PJs, regardless of how cute they are). Similarly, we recommend take short breaks and a lunch break like you would as though you were in the office. This structure will help you keep your normal rhythm and keep your day from getting away from you.
  3. Have a dedicated workspace. Working from home allows you to have a more mobile office than you might be used to. Suddenly working from your bed, your kitchen table, or your couch all seems enticing. Setting up a designated workspace will help you eliminate distractions and stay focused during your office hours. There’s nothing worse than working from your kitchen table with a pile of dirty dishes staring at you. Trust us.
  4. Have a reliable internet and phone connection. Being and staying connected while working from home is paramount. We recommend running an internet speed test to assure you are able to maintain productivity with a number of new devices being connected on your home network.
  5. Be available and set expectations. Working from home means you should still be working during your normal office hours, even if you aren’t in your normal office environment. Set expectations with your team around your availability and make it clear when and how people can best get ahold of you. Phone calls, text messages, instant messaging, emails, and video conferencing are powerful ways to stay connected with your team during this time. We recommend using video conferencing tool like Zoom to stay connected in a “face-to-face” format (just don’t forget to mute your audio when you aren’t talking). An instant messaging tool like Slack is a great way to communicate with your team via direct instant messages or group messages.
  6. Check in with each other. Working from home is not always easy on everyone and your team may be struggling with uncertainty, loneliness, their workload, or more. Now is the time to be a good neighbor—reach out and check in, and check on, your team.
  7. Get a good playlist. Matching your playlist to your task at hand can be a great way to get motivated, stay focused, and conquer your task list. We recommend Metallica and Mozart.
  8. Maintain your mental health. Working from home and social distancing can be hard. Maintaining your mental health is important for creativity, productivity, and your overall well-being. Check out this list of ways to support your mental health during COVID-19. We like the idea of getting out in nature, reaching out to venerable neighbors, and of course, being (and demonstrating) gratefulness.
  9. Plan activities for your kids. If you are like us in Oregon, schools are temporarily shut down as a means to slow the spread of COVID-19. Working from home with littles (or pets) can be challenging. We recommend planning activities to keep your kids entertained so you can remain productive. Here are a few resources to check out:
    1. Outschool is offering classes for free for kids affected by the shutdown:
    2. If you have kids or grandkids in kindergarten – 8th grade at home, this is an excellent free math resource during the pandemic. Thanks, Dreambox Learning!
    3. Check out this survival guide for being stuck at home with your kids.
    4. Or this INDY’SCHILD article on 70 fun things to do with your kid while we are all stuck at home!
    5. Disney+ added Frozen 2 to its lineup three months earlier than expected and is now available for streaming.
  10. Stay educated. There is a LOT of information out there and it can be hard to follow what is happening. Staying informed is crucial to your health and safety so we recommend checking in (and sharing, when appropriate) resources with your team on new developments in your area or that affect your organization. We recommend following sites like the CDC’s Coronavirus page or the World Health Organization’s page to stay aware.

 

We hope this time for you working from home is safe and productive. And once you’re done working for the day, check out this list of shows to binge watch while stuck inside.