Congratulations! Welcome to 1 Tennessee...
On July 3, 2018, we filed articles of conversion with the Secretary of State, which formally converted Infostructure, Inc. (owned by the Warmath family) to 1 Tennessee Broadband, TV, and Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (owned by all of us who use the service(s) provided by our cooperative).
While your ownership in this organization is new, our company has a long history here in West Tennessee. Founded in 1964 as The Courier Chronicle Inc. by J. Frank Warmath, we consider this our family farm. This week, you became a part of that family. This decision didn't come quickly or lightly... it all started in early 2016 when we decided to walk away from our third major offer in as many years. Selling the family farm to a big corporate cable operator would have meant a large chunk of change, but when it came down to it, it just didn't feel right.
That's when we started to explore what we call "models for the future". Customer loyalty and engagement are important to us, as is attracting talented employees. Continuing rural broadband expansion as we have since 1999 was also a priority in our decision making process. As we made some much needed upgrades in 2017 that we had put off during the potential sale(s) process, we started to think about what we wanted this company to be in the future.
Early in 2018, we began to explore the benefits of becoming a cooperative. First and foremost, it means that our customers (you) will become stakeholders with real control and transparency, as well as a ensuring a lasting commitment to our communities. The move also opens up so many new paths forward for rural expansion, from grants and low-interest loans to tax exemption, which will allow us to serve more West Tennesseans who currently lack adequate access to these vital services.
At first, we thought this was crazy: private companies with strong businesses don't give up control and profits. But when it came down to it, we figured we've always done things a little differently - let's do it again!
Broadband and advanced communications are tools that cannot be underestimated in the ways they can change lives. Moving forward, it has become clear that our company, and our network, will be better off in the hands of the people who rely on it to make a living, educate themselves, and lead happy, fulfilling lives.
We are proud to have made this decision and so excited for what the future holds for the people and communities served by 1 Tennessee: Your Co-op.
Onward and upward,
Frank, John, and William Warmath