Hardy Hosts National Marketing Group

Marketing executives from telecommunications companies all over the United States enjoyed the beauty of Hardy County recently when they were hosted by Hardy Telecommunications.

The group came to West Virginia on September 14 as part of the annual fall meeting of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association’s Marketing Committee.  NTCA, “the voice of rural telecommunications,” is a non-profit organization representing almost 600 small and rural telephone cooperatives and commercial companies across the country.  Its national headquarters is in Arlington, Va.

Hardy Telecommunications Marketing and Human Resource Director Derek Barr currently is serving as Vice Chair of the NTCA Marketing Committee.  The group typically visits a member’s company for its fall meeting.  This year, the committee met for two days at NTCA’s Arlington offices, then traveled to Hardy County to see the operations of Hardy Telecommunications, which is the closest NTCA member to the Arlington headquarters.

The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association Marketing Committee enjoyed the beauty of Hardy County during a visit to Hardy Telecommunications. Front row, left to right: Marla Stebens from Pioneer Telephone Cooperative in Oklahoma; Lisa Winberry from BPS Telephone Company in Missouri; and Dustin Schlaefli from Nex-Tech in Kansas. Middle row, left to right: Carrie Huckeby from Ben Lomand Connect in Tennessee; Janell King-Squires from Heart of Iowa Communications Cooperative in Iowa; and Don Shaw from NineStar Connect in Indiana. Back row, left to right: Kyle Randleman from Star Telephone Membership Corporation in North Carolina; Rod Kusser from Venture Communications Cooperative in South Dakota; Wendy Mann from NTCA in Arlington, Va.; Kurt Gruendling from Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom in Vermont; Robin Anderson from Dakota Central Telecommunications in North Dakota; and Hardy Telecommunications Marketing and Human Resource Director Derek Barr.

Marketing committee members making the trip to West Virginia hailed from Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee, Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, North Dakota, and Arlington.

“It was very exciting to showcase our area,” said Derek, a Moorefield native.  “All of the members remarked on the beauty of our mountains.  Each time we visit a member’s company, I get to see another wonderful part of the United States, but this time I was able to show the other committee members why I’m so proud of being a West Virginian.”

The group stopped by Hardy’s Lost River headquarters first, where they spoke with Hardy General Manager Scott Sherman.  After a drive to Moorefield and a visit to Hardy’s office there, the committee enjoyed some sightseeing.

“We went to Smoke Hole Caverns, and the group was captivated by the scenery,” Derek said.  “Many of them wanted souvenirs to take back to their states.  If they had been here longer, I would have had to take them trout fishing, because they couldn’t get over the size of the trout in the ponds.”

Returning to Moorefield, the visitors enjoyed a tour of McCoy’s Grand Theatre and Museum.  Derek is a member of McCoy’s board of directors and frequently appears in productions.

“Wendy Mann, NTCA’s director of communications, had come all the way from Arlington to see me perform in ‘Harvey’ last year, and she just loved the atmosphere of the theater,” he said.  “She asked if I would give the committee a tour for this trip.  Mrs. McCoy’s antiques and the original film equipment made quite an impression.  One member remarked that he had visited the National Museum of American History a couple of days earlier, and McCoy’s had some items that were just as fascinating as anything he saw there.”

The excursion also served to illustrate to the other committee members the difficulties of providing a modern telecommunications network in an area as sparsely populated and with such rugged terrain as Hardy County.

“As rural telecommunications companies, we share many of the same problems with maintaining our networks in areas where the major national carriers don’t want to build, but each area also brings its own unique geographical challenges.  Several members commented on how difficult it must be to reach some of the more remote areas of Hardy County,” Derek said.

Derek said that overall, the visit was very successful.

“I have tremendous respect for my fellow committee members, so it was especially gratifying to be able to share our area with them,” he said.  “And of course they mentioned (the John Denver song) ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads.’  That’s a must when you visit West Virginia.”

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