April 25, 2018
Tell us about Smithville Communications
Smithville Communications began nearly a century ago as Monroe County Telephone Company. The company provided phone services connecting the limestone quarries after an Indiana Bell engineer identified connectivity as critical to maintaining a safe working environment. In 1923, the Draper family bought the company and started servicing Smithville, Clear Creek, Stanford and Ellettsville in Monroe County. Fast forward to 1952, the company name changed to Smithville Telephone Company, Inc. After the death of my great grandfather in a car accident, the company was operated by my great grandmother and my grandfather.
Smithville Telephone Company quickly adopted new and emerging technologies, often with the help of loans from the old Rural Electrification Administration (REA). Money from the company’s revenue was always invested back into the business, a practice that continues to this day.
Patricia Earles became president upon the death of her mother, grandmother and father. She and my father, Bill Earles, jointly ran the company from 1974 until her death in 1998, during which they acquired a number of smaller companies. My father served as president from 1998 until 2003. Following his death, I took the helm of the company now known as Smithville Communication, Inc. My son Cullen H. McCarty represents the 5th generation to be part of our family business.
What is your biggest or most recent corporate accomplishment?
Our biggest accomplishment is a work in progress. We are changing our board, so some members will rotate off. We are also adding an advisory board with the expectation they will bring fresh, innovative ideas that will keep the company moving forward.
When you think about your company’s future, what, if anything, keeps you up at night?
What keeps me up at night is the uncertainty that comes with an ever-changing FCC and what feels like a lack of real, tangible interest in rural America.
What do you expect will be the major trends to affect the industry next year?
In this dynamic space, it’s tough to predict major trends. We have just started a streaming service, which is going well, and we are excited about what the future will bring.