Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018 - 20

201 8 TOP OPS AWARDS
INDEPENDENT OPERATOR OF THE YEAR
ImOn Communications
In 2007, when ImOn Communications first launched in Cedar
Rapids, Iowa, it was operating with fiber assets bought from another
company that was going through bankruptcy. Meanwhile, its very old
headend and leased switchboards operated on an old switch. Today,
ImOn owns its switch, has an upgraded headend and delivers fiberto-the-home
offerings to residents and businesses with anywhere
from 10 megabits to 10 gigabits of internet service.
In the 11 years since its debut, ImOn has adopted a different approach
to the business. " We changed our emphasis from leading
with cable to leading with internet. We're really known more as an
internet provider that also will do cable and telephone, " says CEO
Patrice Carroll. " We've gone from predominantly residential service
to about 80% residential and 20% business. It's from small business
to the very largest businesses in town. "
At first, ImOn operated under the radar, but that changed after a couple
of years as a pretty significant price war raged on with competitors,
Carroll says. Over time, ImOn decided to step away from the discounting
and focus on its connections with customers and communities. " From
there, everything started falling into place. Things like giving the installers
an extra 15 minutes [for appointments] so that they can explain to
the resident absolutely everything that's going to go on and get their
feedback, " she says. " We decided our service wasn't defined by the
demarc. It's defined by the customers' experience using it. "
The shift in mindset has helped ImOn's team make some tough
decisions, such as ending its carriage deal with Viacom a few years
ago because of price. It turned out to be the right bet, with ImOn losing
400 customers vs the 1000 expected with the drop, Carroll says.
Twenty three of ImOn's 35 original employees, including Carroll, are
still with the company. Today, ImOn has 115 employees and growing-just
recently adding Dubuque to its service footprint.
" We talk a lot about not getting out in front of our headlights. Patrice
has done a nice job of allowing us to grow and take risks, but
FAST FACTS
uImOn purchased infrastructure in 2007 from the former
McLeodUSA.
u UImOn was the first to bring fiber optic technology to the Cedar
Rapids area with the introduction of 10Gig business Ethernet
services in 2009, followed by the introduction of fiber-to-thehome
services in 2011 and residential gigabit service in 2015.
uImOn has provided free community WiFi service to various
communities, including downtown Cedar Rapids, various
parks in Hiawatha, Iowa, and the Iowa City Ped Mall.
20
cablefaxmag.com
making sure our cash is in a position to do so, " says vp, finance/CFO
Jeremy Wild. " It's really been an effort by the management team to
make sure we're growing at a rate where we can maintain hold and
remain cash aware. "
A pivotal milestone in ImOn's history was the historic flooding in
Cedar Rapids in 2008. With the town underwater, ImOn helped some
businesses get back online, telling customers to just let them know
when their regular provider could get them back up and running
and they'd switch it off. " Many of those people liked the service so
much they said, 'hey, can we just keep you as our provider,' " recalls
Bernard Dutchik, vp, corporate development. " That was kind of the
genesis of ImOn becoming a provider to businesses in town. It was
done not so much through a lot of planning and thought, but 'Hey,
we're a community member here. How can we pitch in and help?' "
That community spirit is an important part of ImOn's makeup. The
company uses the fleet one day a month to deliver Meals on Wheels.
Employees get time off to work on volunteer projects. ImOn also provides
WiFi in many parks in its footprint. The idea is to make sure that employees
know that this job is personal and to treat customers like neighbors.
Marketing vp Lisa Rhatigan recalls the story of an elderly customer
whose cable box needed replacing. The woman was very upset because
the DVR included a recording of her husband being interviewed on the
news, and he has since passed away. " When the tech went out and realized
he couldn't save the DVR, he called the local station that had done
the interview and got her a DVD, " Rhatigan says. " No one asked him to
do that. It is just so indicative of the way people feel. " n
- Amy Maclean
July 2018
Cablefax: The Magazine
http://www.cablefaxmag.com

Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018

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Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018 - Cover1
Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018 - Cover2
Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018 - Contents
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