Cablefax The Magazine - July 2011 - 34

INDIE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Doug Fuller
NPG
In the late 1970s, Missouri-based NPG
Cable was expanding its territory and
growing like mad in the then-burgeoning
cable TV business. But the system-built
in the mid-1960s-needed
a makeover. " It was off as much as it
was on, " recalls Doug Fuller. As the top
operational exec at that time, Fuller was
stuck with the potentially sticky job of
informing NPG-owner David Bradley
Sr. that the system was showing its
age. Worse than that, Fuller crunched
the numbers and found it would cost a
then-princely sum of $1.5 million to get
it up to speed. As he stood in Bradley's
offi ce awaiting an answer, only a
few moments passed before Bradley
shrugged. " Well, do it right, " he told
Fuller. And that was that.
No hand wringing. No bureaucracy.
Just a gut decision, and one of the
thousands of such gutsy calls that
built the cable industry into the multibillion
business it is today. Fuller was
there for the ride, joining NPG in 1967
and growing the small operator from
about 2,000 subs in St. Joseph, MO,
to 100,000 customers in three states
FAST FACTS
■ In the 1960s, NPG's St. Joseph system was one of the largest in
Missouri--with only 25K subs.
■ Fuller was inducted into the Cable Pioneers in 1988.
■ Fuller convinced NPG to let him " work half the time for half the
money " in Florida where he still resides.
34
cablefaxmag.com
July 2011
CableFAX: The Magazine
by the time he was done. Through
it all, Fuller exhibited the grit, steely
decision making and appetite for risk
that makes his lifetime in cable worth
recognition in these pages-and makes
Cable Pioneer (Class of 1988) Fuller
one of the industry's true forefathers
and infl uencers. And while Fuller is now
retired, he remains active with ACA and
other industry groups, including the
Midsize Operators Group, or MSOG, a
small group of midsize ops that started
getting together a few years ago to
talk about industry issues and problems
(everyone signs a non-disclosure
agreement). It's not only a great way
to stay in touch with old friends, but a
serious learning opportunity. " It's very
helpful for everyone, " Fuller says.
Fuller spent his career at NPG but
also served on several state cable
associations, which faced the tough
task of fi ghting huge telcos on pole
attachments, fees, taxes or any other
roadblocks thrown in cable's way. " It
was always something, " recalls Fuller,
" and that hasn't changed in 20 years. "
Fuller sees a bright future for cable,
but he admits that small ops face
some of the biggest challenges in
a consolidating world, especially as
they grapple with even bigger stakes
and bigger spending decisions than he
faced in the 1970s. " The smaller guys
really have to watch what they're doing, "
he says, noting, however, that new
areas like business services, wireless
and home security are huge opportunities
for ops of all sizes. And as he
spends a lot of time these days sailing
from port to port in his home state of
Florida, Fuller also urges the entire
cable industry to give back in ways that
are good for business. One example:
Allowing telecommuting to retain the
best workforce. " Cable is missing
somewhat of an opportunity with that, "
he says. " You best overfl ow CSR could
be someone at home in a wheelchair. "
After a lifetime in cable, Fuller's still
thinking about the business. ■
-Michael Grebb
http://www.cablefaxmag.com

Cablefax The Magazine - July 2011

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