From rotary phones and party lines to mobile devices and broadband Internet delivered via fiber-optic technology, Matthew Crites has seen a lot of changes in the telecommunications industry while at Hardy Telecommunications. After more than four decades at the company, Matthew is retiring in 2022, capping a career that began in 1980.
Hardy General Manager Scott Sherman gave special recognition to Matthew at Hardy’s 2022 Annual Meeting October 7 at East Hardy High School. His fellow employees gave Matthew a standing ovation.
“It’s extraordinary, really, to think about how different our business is now versus when Matthew began at Hardy,” said Hardy Assistant General Manager Derek Barr. “He’s been here through it all and has been a key player in getting our cooperative to where it is today.”
When Matthew started with Hardy, the cooperative was known as Hardy Telephone Company. Hardy’s service territory didn’t include Moorefield. The Internet and cellular service didn’t exist, and TV technology was limited to just a few channels on bulky TVs. In his tenure, the company changed its name to Hardy Telecommunications, opened up several new areas for service, began offering Internet first through DSL and then fiber-optic technology, and added IPTV to its services.
Matthew said the transition from offering a single service to many services and seeing customer preferences adjust to new technologies have been the biggest changes he’s seen in his career.
“When I started, the most important thing was getting a telephone into people’s homes. That’s what everyone wanted,” he said. “Now telephone doesn’t matter to most people. It’s Internet and TV. Those are most important to most people.”
Perhaps more than any other industry, telecommunications requires a person to continually adapt and adopt new technology. Matthew’s experience reflects that, having started as an outside plant worker and doing various things over the years, from quoting business system installations to helping plan expansion projects. That full perspective allowed him to really see the results of his efforts.
“I liked building things, watching the company grow. When you bury cable, when you build a tap to someone’s home, you see those results,” he said. “Along the way, you keep moving forward and keep learning new things as they come out.”
Even though his Hardy career is ending, Matthew will have plenty to keep him busy.
“I like being out on the farm. I like the idea of being able to pick up and travel on a whim if I want,” he said. And most of all, he’ll have more time to spend with his grandchildren, he said.
Then again, being retired means you don’t really have to do anything. When asked directly what he’ll do with the extra time after 42 years of working, Matthew has a simple answer.
“Whatever I want to do.”