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Smithville Spotlight: Rusty S., Training Coordinator

A foundation for success is training and development, and Smithville is lucky to have an enthusiastic and dedicated Learning & Development Department. As Training Coordinator, Rusty Shields manages training initiatives and ensures employees have the adequate skills and knowledge to succeed. We followed him for a day to see his focus on growth and development. Before we got started for the day, we got to know Rusty better by asking some hard-hitting questions:

  • Hometown: Osceola, Arkansas
  • Favorite TV Show: Golden Girls
  • Favorite Movie: The Greatest Showman
  • Favorite Food: Steak
  • Best Part of Working at Smithville: Delivering world class products and service to the best customers a company could have!
  • Dream Vacation Destination: Ireland
  • Favorite Quote: “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” -James Dean

In addition to his role at Smithville Rusty serves as the VP of Communications for the Central Indiana Chapter of the Association for Talent Development. The organization offers development and networking opportunities for workplace learning, training, and talent development professionals in Central Indiana. On this day Rusty was busy helping with ATD-CIC’s annual Learning Summit in Indianapolis, where training professionals from across the state convene to share ideas and resources. Rusty hosted a breakout session called “Training with a Twist – Marketing Your Learning Program’s Value Throughout the Organization.” He offered many different strategies to market training programs to gain employee buy-in and participation. These included content marketing, personalization, engagement, and social media strategies. He also encouraged attendees to consider guerrilla marketing to grab employees’ attention and break through the noise and busyness of day to day work.

The most engaging part of the presentation was when Rusty had everyone work together as a team to develop marketing strategies for a new training initiative. This was a great opportunity to think outside the box on ways to market new training programs to capture employee attention and participation. Some interesting ideas included ice cream socials, lunches with leaders, and using technology like Google Glass to train new hires. At the end of the session all attendees left knowing the importance of marketing their training programs. If you can make it exciting and engaging, rather than just emailing that there’s an online training module to do, the results will be huge!

Rusty practices what he preaches, and uses a lot of videos to market new training initiatives. Smithville recently launched an employee development online training opportunity and Rusty sent out a sneak peek preview using an online video. This helped to create hype and interest, and has led to many employees registering for the personal development opportunities. He’s always monitoring trends to see what’s working in the training industry and adapting for the best results.

After his session was over he attended other sessions on creating intentional experiences and networked with vendors and attendees. This long day that started at 7AM finished up around 6PM and he left energized and ready to apply what he learned. Here’s to a great year of learning and development for the Smithville team!

Dimension Mill exec talks Smithville internet/brand in Media Department video

Smithville Media recently produced a video highlighting the Dimension Mill and Executive Director Pat East.

“The Mill” is 19,000 square feet of coworking and business incubator space, allowing startups and small businesses to start and grow their brands. Located in the Trades District in downtown Bloomington, The Mill is a recently renovated 103-year-old building. Once a factory that housed a furniture manufacturing facility, the location is now a bustling technology-driven shared space of innovation, powered by Smithville internet.

As East explains in the video, Smithville supports The Mill in two extremely invaluable ways: with the best internet available and with brand recognition.

The first, gigabit speed internet on Indiana’s most reliable network, makes a collaborative, remote work environment possible. Since all of the members of The Mill are “knowledge workers” focused on getting their startups off the ground, internet connectivity is critical. With the uninterrupted connectivity Smithville provides, members don’t have to put resources in maintaining and fixing this business necessity.

“It is extremely important that we have the internet available literally 24/7,” East said. “Without having this anchor of really fast, reliable internet, I honestly don’t believe that we would have as many members as we do now.

“When you look at other spaces, they may not be designed as well, and while they may have fast and reliable internet, when you have the fastest and most reliable, it truly makes a difference.”

The second way Smithville has impacted The Mill involves our standing within the community, which East calls a form of “moral support.” According to East, Smithville’s status as a widely-known employer in the area and reputation of extensive community involvement, significantly elevates The Mill’s brand.

“Having Smithville’s moral support is a huge, huge win for us,” East said. “When we are embarking on a project like this it takes so many people and so much effort and energy. Without really great partners like Smithville, we couldn’t get our business up and running.”

With Smithville Media now providing video services to local businesses, having an audience of entrepreneurs looking to get startups off the ground in a facility that promotes our product and partnership is a big win for Smithville.

For details on creating a cost-effective video for your business, email media@smithville.com or call (812) 935-2284. To see more Smithville Media features, visit the company’s YouTube channel.

Click here to learn more about Dimension Mill memberships and programs.

Smithville recognized as national “Top 100” broadband company for 11th consecutive year

Praised for introducing “innovative technologies with game-changing potential”

ELLETTSVILLE, Indiana – Reflecting its proven innovative qualities as a U.S. broadband technology industry leader, Smithville has again been named a national Top 100 broadband company by Broadband Communities magazine. Achieving this national recognition for an unprecedented eleventh consecutive time, Indiana-based Smithville was recognized as a top fiber technology service leader by a panel of experts through a comprehensive, competitive process.  As noted by industry experts, Smithville has firmly established a reputation for providing fiber broadband and fiber-to-the-premise service (FTTP) in Indiana (particularly in traditionally neglected rural areas). The company was named together with major national firms such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and others in receiving the 2019 honor.

Smithville is again the only Indiana-based company to be named this year to the Top 100.

“We strive for high standards of customer service and performance at Smithville, so it is humbling and gratifying to be nationally recognized for excellence by our industry peers,” said Darby McCarty, chairman and CEO of Smithville. “This national honor truly reflects the quality and performance of our Smithville professionals, who are among the best in the business.”

“This year’s FTTH Top 100 reflects a healthy and growing fiber-to-the-home industry,” said Masha Zager, editor of Broadband Communities magazine, which sponsors the Top 100 award. “There was no shortage of strong candidates for the Top 100 slots in 2019, and winnowing the list to 100 was more difficult than ever – for Smithville to be on this list reflects the company’s ongoing commitment to high standards of performance and innovation.”

To receive the honor, companies must effectively demonstrate the capacity to “transform local economies or improve communities’ quality of life,” or by “introducing innovative technologies that have game-changing potential,” or provide other outstanding performance factors, according to Zager.  Editorial and technical experts in fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployment make the final decisions.

Zager continued: “Smithville stood out as an early adopter and provider of commercial and residential fiber service. Smithville takes risks and aggressively seeks fiber-based innovation and transformation, which is what one would expect from a company that demonstrates national leadership.”

“Based on Smithville’s private investments totaling upward of a quarter of a billion dollars in its fiber network in Indiana, our vision going forward reflects a renewed commitment to advancing fast and reliable high-speed broadband and related product offerings in our service areas,” said Paul Quick, president of Smithville. “We create value by providing legendary service, embracing innovation, and creating partnerships that can transform communities. This is reflected in Smithville’s national recognition as a Top 100 broadband company.”

Founded in 1922, privately owned Smithville was the first in Indiana to offer up full gigabit service for all residential fiber customers and is unique in that Smithville service has no data and speed caps, and every residential customer is served with the best available speed on the local network. In addition to its nationally recognized residential service, the company provides enterprise-level high-speed fiber-based connectivity and network consulting for businesses, university campuses, biotechnology companies, health care providers and government offices. The company is actively engaged in supporting telehealth expansion.

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About Smithville

Nationally recognized for more than a decade as a Top 100 Broadband Company, privately owned Smithville is Indiana’s largest independent telecom company with more than 200 employees. As a fifth-generation, family-owned business, Smithville has been committed to delivering fast and reliable connectivity and legendary service to its customers for nearly a century. The company is well-known as an industry leader and community supporter for rural Indiana.

Since the early 1990s, Smithville has constructed more than 2,800 miles of high-speed, high-capacity fiber across more than 22 Indiana counties, representing private investments totaling upward of a quarter of a billion dollars, including recent completion of a $4.5 million, 100-gigabit fiber ring.

In addition to its residential services, Smithville provides commercial fiber-based connectivity for businesses, university campuses, biotechnology companies, healthcare providers, government offices, residential centers, communities, and other entities, including the WestGate@Crane Technology Park and the Purdue Research Park. The company currently serves about 23,000 businesses and residences in southern and central Indiana. For more information, please visit www.smithville.com.​

Smithville Media now offering video production service to business customers

With over a decade of video production experience, Smithville Media, for the first time, has opened its production services to local businesses for commercials, features, and event coverage.

Since 2008, Smithville Media has created in-house content for Smithville One, the company’s television channel. Programming has included, among other things, local high school sports, Hoosier Foodie programs showcasing Bloomington eateries, short healthy habits series such as “Carin’ for your Health” with local chiropractor Karin Drummond, and documentaries like “Tales from the Greatest Generation” that detail the real-life tales of a World War II veteran (in his own words).

These pieces gained much praise within the community, eventually reaching a point where companies have reached out to the crew to work on commercial projects. To meet this demand, Smithville Media now offers media production services to produce high-quality, personalized content at a competitive price.

“Offering our media services to corporate companies gives the local business community an opportunity to showcase and promote their products and businesses in a very cost-effective manner and in video format allowing them to reach more potential customers in the digital age,” Content Producer Rob Ramsey said.

With those services comes Ramsey’s expertise with more than 20 years experience in the field of video production, including music and film celebrity interviews and features from his time in London, England. Since 2008, Ramsey has managed Smithville’s team of media professionals, creating local interest pieces as well as many other video productions.

“Smithville Media can produce commercials, product promotions, business showcase features or longer company overview pieces,” Ramsey said. “Every project is different, but we can discuss the exact needs and create a solution that works for every customer.”

Offering standard package rates or customized packages tailored to customer needs, bundles include full editing, basic motion graphics, concept video treatment and script, professional voiceover, audio for interviews, and video formatting. These services can be provided on-location or in studio depending on the customer’s needs.

For those that wish to have Smithville Media focus on particular aspects of an existing project such as directing, filming, voiceover and narration, or editing, hourly rates are also available.

For samples of Smithville Media’s work, see their YouTube channel, youtube.com/smithvillemedia.

For estimates on custom video services, email media@smithville.com or call Smithville Media at (812) 935-2284.

Smithville and IU Athletics: Reflecting on 50 years of sponsorship

Fall in Bloomington holds special meaning for IU fans with football games on weekends and basketball season on the horizon. As a strong supporter of IU Athletics, Smithville is proud to be part of cheering on our hometown team.  With teamwork providing the foundation for both our success and that of the IU athletic program, it is no surprise that the partnership has grown stronger over the years.

IU’s bicentennial provides an opportunity to reflect on our shared history.  While IU remains one of the state’s oldest institutions of higher learning, Smithville (founded in 1922) will soon celebrate 100 years and is recognized today as the state’s largest, privately held telecommunications company.

Though the partnership doesn’t go back quite that far, Smithville has supported IU Athletics for more than 50 years. In addition, Smithville owner and CEO, Darby McCarty, has held season tickets for football and men’s basketball for more than 40 years. Avid fans of the home team, the McCarty family has made support for IU Athletics a top priority.

That lasting relationship was strengthened in 2009 when the company signed on as the telecommunications partner of IU Athletics. A first-of-its-kind agreement, this prestigious collaboration has had a profound, positive impact for sports across the board and has led to strong visibility of our brand. This has proved to be a premier way to showcase our business and has helped grow our customer base, while also giving back to the university.

Over the years, Smithville’s contributions have helped fund student athletes’ scholarships and critical facility projects like the communication infrastructure of Cook Hall, the state-of-the-art headquarters for Indiana men’s and women’s basketball. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing Smithville makes an enormous, lasting difference in the lives of students who compete for IU Athletics.

IU’s approach has connected us with fans, students, and alumni in an engaging and meaningful way all while enjoying the sports for which we deeply care. The durable relationship that we have developed with the IU community is one built on mutual appreciation. Whenever we are at events, staff makes sure that our presence is felt. It gives us a sense of great pride when we attend an event and hear the announcer acknowledge that “today’s game is brought to you by Smithville” or to see our name in a game day program or on the scoreboard.

For Smithville, and especially Darby McCarty, the IU Women’s Basketball Team holds a special place in our hearts. When that group of women took home the 2018 Women’s NIT Championship, we couldn’t have been prouder. Hanging that banner with the Smithville logo displayed prominently around Assembly Hall made it even better.

With Hoosier Hysteria on the horizon, we are excited about the potential that this year may bring for IU Athletics. At events like this, or football’s Cream & Crimson Game, which we also sponsor, we are reminded of our own focus on the goals and exciting challenges ahead for Smithville in the next year. In all of these endeavors, teamwork remains a foundation for building success. Together, our teams are making a difference. As a part of the IU family, Smithville is honored to invest in the future of Hoosier athletes and to help shape IU Athletics as both parties emerge as winners.

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.