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Farmers Mutual Telephone Co.--a telco that delivers.

More than 100 years ago, a group of farmers and merchants in rural Okolona, Ohio, recognized the need for telephone service. In 1904, they organized what is now called Farmers Mutual Telephone Co. (FMTC); and two years later, FMTC was incorporated.

What began as a phone service provider for a sparsely populated area, primarily comprised of small farms, FMTC has evolved with the times and remains committed to doing whatever it takes to provide service to its rural community. And the hundreds of customers served by FMTC will attest to that.

In 1986, area residents voiced displeasure when the postmaster retired and the U.S. Postal Service decided to discontinue a regular post office in Okolona. Responding to the community's concern, FMTC stepped in and became Okolona's post office. After making the appropriate arrangements, the company began installing cluster boxes, selling stamps and shipping parcels for customers.

"Our relationship with the community has been enhanced by the fact that the postal service is right down the street, and it has been a real convenience for the community," said FMTC's general manager, Eric L. Damman, who has worked for the company since 1983 and took over management in 1995 upon his father's retirement from the post.

FMTC's desire to be part of the community extends beyond offering telephone and postal service. The company also supports local programs and activities, participates in county-wide 911 projects, upgrades the town's water/sewer lines, and often goes beyond the call of duty to do neighborly things, like snow plowing. "It's like being in a close-knit family," Damman noted.

The company's ability to remain competitive and maintain steady growth can be attributed to its diligent efforts to add customers and increase calling areas, Damman said. The company's longstanding goal to provide state-of-the-art communications services for rural Okolona remains true today.

Over the years, the board, management and employees have worked together to enable the company to complete upgrades and maintain quality service. The company offers equal access, long-distance, DSL and wireless Internet service. FMTC also is in the process of adding fiber to the home.

All of these changes have impacted FMTC, its customers and the services it offers. The company has been resilient through the years, and remains focused on fostering development within the community. "Our members [customers] are the reason we are in business. [We] give them great service, and do it with a smile," Damman said.


NTCA extends its condolences to the family and friends of C.R. Tyson, a KanOkla Telephone Association (Caldwell, Kan.) board director who passed away in February. Tyson served on the board from November 2002 until the time of his passing. He was a longtime wheat farmer and cattle rancher and devoted community member.

By Jonah Arellano, NTCA Communications Assistant
COPYRIGHT 2007 National Telephone Cooperative Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Arellano, Jonah
Publication:The Exchange
Date:Aug 1, 2007
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