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The Start of Something Great
In 1992, Rod Wallgren, David Lewis, and Stan Rice organized a group of independent telephone employees to promote marketing and public relations for the independent telephone industry in Kansas. At that time there were only about three companies in Kansas that had marketing departments and a total of six companies that were becoming market oriented. Stan Rice sent letters to all of the independent companies in Kansas about starting a Marketing/Public Relations organization and having an organization meeting.
United Telephone Cooperative hosted the first meeting at their headquarters on February 11, 1992. The attendees were: Rod Wallgren (Rural Telephone); Stan Rice (Pioneer); David Lewis (Southern Kansas); Gerald Washburn (Golden Belt); Jack Kuhlmann (Sunflower Telephone); Craig Mock (United Telephone).
Officers were appointed as follows: Stan Rice, Chairman; David Lewis, Secretary; and Craig Mock, Treasurer. It was a consensus of the group to name the organization PRIMO - which stand for Public Relations Independent Marketing Organization. There was and is lengthy discussions on whether the acronym is pronounced with a long or short "I". The group overwhelming endorsed pronouncing the Marketing/Public Relations Assistant, as David Lewis suggested, with a long "I".
It was a consensus of the committee to charge $100.00 per company for membership, with the organization to meet quarterly for board meetings. The committee felt the organization should sponsor seminars on training programs at different locations throughout the state. The minutes of the first meeting states that the organization would:
- Promote Marketing/Public Relation and training for the participating companies in the state of Kansas.
- Stress the importance of training our employees in customer relations and being prepared for the marketing environment that the telco's are now in.
- Share ideas of each telephone company on the marketing/public relation's strategies that they are doing and schedule seminars that will promote these areas.
The first workshop that PRIMO conducted was in Salina, KS on October 8-9, 1992 by Paul Hartman and was titled "Update on the Industry - Competitive Environment - Etiquette Pertaining to Service and Technical Representative”.
In 1994 PRIMO began a scholarship fund to support those attending the Northwest Kansas Technical School in Goodland. The organization has also participated in the "Telecommunications Conference" sponsored by Fort Hays State University and sponsored a benchmark study for the independent telephone industry in Kansas.
Still Growing Today
PRIMO has continued to grow in membership and in the number of attendees at their workshops and seminars that they sponsor. PRIMO holds semi-annual educational conferences & business meetings for member companies to discuss emerging issues in the telecommunications industry. These conferences are open to all company employees. It’s a great opportunity to get valuable information in a short informal setting and a great way to build your network in our industry!
PRIMO conducts at least one workshop a year covering such topics:
- How to Market to the Younger Generation
- Latest in Industry Marketing Trends
- Marketing in a Rate of Return vs. Cost Based Telco
- CPNI Issues
- Developing Successful Marketing Campaigns
- Increasing Community Involvement
- Local Video Content
- Promoting Economic Development
- Excelling in Customer Service
- And much more!