Answering the call Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2010
Finalist

When Jerry Howe put together a team in 2000 to acquire the nearing-bankrupt LDD, his decision was based on a vision he knew that, with just a little time, he could make people see.

As CEO of Big River Telephone Company, Howe, in just a decade, has taken the rural long distance reseller and turned it into a technology provider in 15 states. The path to success has been achieved by sticking to the principles and vision that Howe laid out in the beginning. He wanted to build a company centered on customers’ needs, and he has done just that.

Big River’s internal systems and business processes — from whom the company hires to the products it offers — all aim to enhance the customer experience. Howe’s insight into industry trends has led Big River to jump into arenas from which other small companies might shy away. For example, while still a young telephone company, Big River followed cable providers and entered the VoIP space. Now it’s a leader in the market. Howe’s foresight and direction also led the company to acquire Advanced Wireless Spectrum, which set Big River up for growth in wireless service. The moves have transformed the company from a telephone business into a technology provider.

The customer approach is ingrained in the company culture. Big River wants to be able to relate to its customers and stay connected to the community, so the company only hires people who are born and raised in the community they serve.

The vision has worked, and it has been proved by the numbers. Big River has a 97 percent customer retention rate. Since Howe took over, revenue has grown 500 percent and the company’s number of employees has doubled. And even in this economy, Big River has grown revenue and profitability year over year.

How to reach: Big River Telephone Company, (800) 455-1608 or www.bigrivertelephone.com