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Hiawatha Broadband Chief, at Freedom to Connect: Small Broadband Companies Rock

in Broadband Data/Broadband's Impact/Recovery Act/Rural Utilities Service by

SILVER SPRING, Maryland, March 15, 2013 - Relationships between broadband providers and consumers can often be contentious. Gary Evans of the Minnesota-based Hiawatha Broadband Company, who spoke during the Monday afternoon session of the Freedom to Connect conference here last week, recounted how his simple business model has made Hiawatha a success.

Evans described himself as “a simple little fellow from South Eastern Minnesota," and said that this simplicity was part and parcel of HBC.

When interacting with customers at HBC, Evans believes that they should be viewed as friends of the company, not just customers. In what the HBC website calls, a business model that “focuses on service to the community and putting people before profit.” he said HBC has maintained a success story in Minnesota.

Evans said that his business model was simply to “do the right thing.” Some of the best ideas that HBC has adopted came from direct customer or employee feedback.

Key to this approach is to treat both employees and customers with the same concern that “they would treat Mom.” Still, Evans said he was proudest of the fact that “every one of our markets is larger today than it was when the network was built.” Prior to HBC, each market had seen population decline for six decades. Now, Evans boasted, each market has seen new and successful businesses develop over the last 15 years.

Evans agreed with fellow F2C speaker James Salter of Atlantic Engineering that rural America was still in dire need of help. By operating without any government funding, HBC has grasped what Evans categorizes as “great opportunities...one community at a time.”

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