Honoring Industry Leaders

Honoring Industry Leaders

There is no better way to wrap up a terrific RTIME meeting than by celebrating those in the rural broadband industry who have always gone above and beyond in the work they do for the companies they work for and the customers they serve. Frankly, it’s my very favorite time at the podium!

Today was special with a number of folks who have put their heart and soul into service who we were able to recognize our last morning…bright and early with a full room. I love the energy that now surrounds our Excellence Awards program and a deep appreciation to the NTCA Awards Committee for their volunteer efforts in selecting those to recognize.

Just a quick recap –

Andy Smith with CoBank , and exemplary member of our Associate Member Advisory Council, was the recipient of our Associate Member Outstanding Achievement Award for his years of contributions to AMAC, helping to develop EXPO Plus and being a tireless advocate for associate members within our organization.

Kurt Gruendling with Waitsfield and Champlain Valley, was recognized for Outstanding Marketing Achievement for his pioneering role in marketing, public relations and business development at WCVT for the past 23 years. He was also a wonderful tour guide for rural Vermont for me a few weeks ago and also does a great job pushing yummy Vermont edibles!

Jim Eaton with Pioneer Telephone Cooperative in Oklahoma was lauded for his 46 years in the industry guiding Pioneer in becoming a strategically diverse, multifaceted company. As the recipient of the Key Employee Excellence Award, he is someone we would all be honored to have on our staff.

The Special Achievement award went to Chad Larson with CTC in Minnesota. Chad has spent years and hundreds of hours supporting the Ronald McDonald House Motorcycle Rally and raised proceeds critical to supporting hundreds of families in Fargo as they care for sick loved ones. Not a dry eye in the room as Chad received his award and used his time to encourage support of these critical support programs.

Kirk Lehman, CEO at RTC in Indiana was recognized with our Management Innovation Award for the speedy work he has done implementing his vision for leadership by assembling marketing and sales departments and creating multiple new business lines for the company – preparing them to face competition head-on!

Our two Heroism Awardees, Jill Kohlhass with Madison Telephone in Illinois and Jeff Powell with NCTC in Tennessee, impressed us with their selfless action and quick thinking. We could all use a neighbor like these two fine individuals.

And then we came to our Lifetime Achievement Awards…

What a treat it was for me to present Rodney Renner with Golden West in South Dakota recognition for his 47 year tenure leading Golden West into a nationally recognized industry leader. Rod was key in having the coop live up to its founder’s vision of bringing advanced communications for rural South Dakota. He has also been a regular on coming out to DC to troop around Capitol Hill and has strongly supported all of NTCA’s policy efforts….and he’s a pretty terrific guy!

Last but never least, I had the chance to give a shout out to one of my favorite folks in the industry, Jim Dauby, CEO of PSC in Indiana as the Manager Life Achievement Award recipient. Jim served many roles in our industry but for me, most notably, was his tenure on the NTCA board. Jim was sitting around the table when I returned back to the association a decade ago and made me feel welcomed from the moment I walked into the door. He took a leadership role as we unified with OPASTCO and truly made our new association members feel welcomed from before day one. As I had the chance to note from the stage – we meet folks who are wise, folks who are smart, folks who are funny, folks who are kind, folks we would just like to spend time with…but seldom do they come wrapped in one individual like they do with Jim Dauby. He’s one of a kind in the best of ways.

I can’t wait to see the submissions made by companies looking to recognize those they work with in the year ahead and I already know it will be an honor to recognize those who serve and inspire.

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