The Hanson family have been in and around the telecommunications industry since 1951. The family’s involvement in telecommunications started with Wes Hanson in a small town in southwestern Minnesota, Clarkfield. Wes worked for an equipment salesman representing a company that produced early automated switchboards. His name was Wayne Caldwell. In addition to selling equipment, Wayne would buy and operate telephone exchanges. Wes started as a lineman for Wayne and progressed to be manager of several exchanges in southwestern Minnesota. Through the years, Wes learned the “ins and outs” of purchasing and rebuilding telephone exchanges. In 1957, Wes took the first step in venturing on his own and purchased a telephone company in Hanska, Minnesota. Over the next several years, Wes continued to rebuild other telephone systems while operating Hanska. During this time, the largest rebuild was in Clara City, where several farmer-owned telephone systems were combined to form Clara City Telephone Exchange Company.
It was during the rebuild of the Clara City telephone system that Wes became friends with the founder of the Variety Store Company, Gordon Yock. Over the years Gordon and Wes bought a telephone exchange together (Sacred Heart Telephone Company) and saw several new breakthroughs in how the company did business, most notably computerization of the billing system in 1971.
Because of Wes’s expanding interest in other areas, he no longer had a close relationship with Wayne Caldwell. However, this was to change in 1966, when Wayne decided to sell his last telephone exchange in Starbuck, Minnesota. Wayne’s desire was to sell his last exchange to Wes. However, for Wes to afford buying Starbuck, he needed to sell Hanska. In a three-way transaction, he sold Hanska, bought Starbuck, and made Clara City his permanent home.
In 1982, both Mark and Bruce joined, full-time, the family business. Up until that point they had worked summers with a construction crew rebuilding telephone systems for other companies. Following Mark’s and Bruce’s fulltime involvement with the Company, we experienced our first major “growth spurt”. We purchased telephone systems in Springfield, Minnesota (Western Telephone Company), Sanborn, Minnesota (Sanborn Telephone Company), three communities in Colorado (Haxtun Telephone Company), and Keystone, South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore Telephone Company). A year later, we purchased an exchange in Zumbrota, Minnesota (Zumbrota Telephone Company) as a family. We operated all of these exchanges, improving them to single party lines and upgrading services, until 1987 when we sold Western, Sanborn and Haxtun Telephone Companies.
Our next major “growth spurt” occurred when USWEST (now “CenturyLink”) chose to sell a number of exchanges in South Dakota. During the summer of 1994, we were successful in purchasing 4,100 access lines from USWEST. This was the birth of a new company, Ft. Randall Telephone Company, and the extension of a strong presence in South Dakota. If it had not been for Mt. Rushmore Telephone Company, we would have never been able to do what we did.
In 1997, we added 1,300 access lines to Ft. Randall through the purchase of lines in communities abandoned by one of the purchasers in the USWEST deal.
In 2002, the Company purchased several cable television systems in South Dakota and Nebraska. Adding 2,500 CATV customers.
In 2007, the Company made its largest acquisition, Telephone Service Company in Wapakoneta, Ohio.
Throughout 2006 to 2009, the Company continued to acquired cable television systems in Minnesota adding another 2,000 customers throughout the south-central part of the state.
In 2013, the Company acquired Middle Point Home Telephone Company in Middle Point, Ohio.
Through all of these acquisitions, we have seen tremendous challenges in new technologies and a transition in management from a single person to a family team. Our Company is the 55th largest telephone company in the United States out of about 950 companies.
Our history is marked by creating close relationships with people and developing loyalty through quality service for our customers. With determination, the owners and employees have created a great company. We believe this is just a “good start” not the end of a journey, and we look forward to you being a part of our future.