ALBION - Decked out in their favorite high school jerseys, members of the Heart of Iowa Communications Cooperative gathered at the Albion Fire Department Thursday night for a "tailgate celebration."
Representing rural townships from Laurel to Steamboat Rock, and New Providence to Beaman, they gathered for an evening of food, fun and prizes.
"We've had this celebration for several years. It's a great way to talk with our members and to get their feedback," said Janell King-Squires, marketing director for Heartland of Iowa.
T-R Photo by Craig Moon
Heart of Iowa employees Brent Gunderson, Rob Hauser, and Lezlie Reel prepare to start the prize drawing, Thursday, in Albion.
As members enjoyed a meal of barbecued hamburgers and sides catered by Albion's Market Off Main, the first tickets for the door prizes were drawn. Before the event ended more than 40 prizes were awarded including a high definition television, digital camera and Kindle Fire.
With few exceptions most people automatically become members when they sign up for telephone service. Unlike customers of traditional companies, Heart of Iowa's members receive a financial return. All decisions are locally made under the governance of an elected board of directors.
"We are passionate about our members, and pride ourselves in providing the best service with a personal touch," said Customer Service Manager Heidi Mitchell.
Installations and repairs are not sub-contracted. Telephone calls are not outsourced. There are no long hold times or complicated menus to navigate through. Service is provided by employees who live in the communities they serve. The main office for the cooperative is located in Union. For the convenience of members satellite offices are also located in Eldora, Conrad and Laurel.
Heart of Iowa was founded more than 50 years ago because large companies were underserving rural Iowa. Currently the member-owned cooperative provides more than 3,500 members access to telephone, television and high speed internet. Additionally the cooperative offers members computer sales, service, repair, networking and online back-up.
As communication has changed in this high speed world, Heart of Iowa has remained abreast of those changes ensuring members are not isolated by a digital divide.