COLUMBUS — At Eagle Communications the focus is on flexibility, a corporate posture that allows Dan Staack and his Columbus colleagues to sit across a table from potential clients, learn their broadband needs and craft individualized business service packages aimed at fueling future business growth to include phone, internet, video and managed IT services.
“I love to go out and meet local businesspeople because we base decisions (for service packages) on what is best for the customers,” said Staack, senior account executive in Columbus for the Hays, Kansas-based broadband provider that offers high-speed internet services to commercial customers.
Eagle Communications inked a franchise agreement with the city a couple of years ago that allowed the company to install a fiber-optic network in Columbus and begin offering internet, video, data transport and telephone services through the broadband system.
“It’s really about tailoring service packages to fit the needs of individual local businesses,” Staack said. “More than anything, we’re local.”
The company made a move into the Columbus area in March 2014 when it purchased cable television and broadband systems serving nearly 30 Nebraska communities, including about 20 in the Columbus area, from Kearney-based USA Communications.
Eagle Communications offers both commercial and residential internet service in those communities, as well as rural areas near Columbus. Within the city limits of Columbus the company now targets commercial businesses. Once the broadband network is fully established in Columbus, the company may expand into the residential market.
“It’s about helping our businesses first because we want our communities to prosper,” Staack said.
Eagle officials say broadband projects can lead to an increase in local business start-ups because the network gives smaller companies the opportunity to compete globally over the internet. Fiber-optic networks also help bring new residents to communities.
Eagle Communications competes locally with companies such as Frontier Communications, Spectrum and Community Internet Systems Inc. (Megavision), which offer similar internet services for commercial customers.
“Competition is good for the communities,” Staack said.
Staack said Eagle Communications saw a great opportunity in Columbus and has received a tremendous response from the business community as the citywide, 100 percent fiber-optic network has taken shape over the last couple of years.
Eagle built its fiber-optic network in Columbus throughout the business community — all that is needed to serve additional customers is the construction of fiber service drops into a business.
The company has made connections with between 40 and 50 commercial customers so far, ranging from health facilities and manufacturers to small mom-and-pop businesses, and is partnering weekly with additional businesses for its fiber network.
“It’s exciting,” said Staack, noting the company’s work crews are busy expanding the network’s reach in the community.
The broadband provider is looking at establishing a storefront site in Columbus to give a better local presence and provide Eagle Technology Solutions services to the entire community.
“We’re keeping our eyes open,” Staack said.
Eagle Communications’ emphasis on flexibility extends to solutions for delivering local customer service and support and to a range of marketing solutions.
Eagle Technology Solutions offers help on a customer's internal network needs to include free site analysis. Services provided include network configuration and monitoring, managed firewall and anti-virus, cloud services and disaster recovery, remote support, PC repair, web design and more.
Many small businesses in the communities Eagle serves can’t afford the expense of employing a full-time information technology staffer.
The company wants to be a customer’s “trusted” IT partner, said Travis Kassing, a team leader for Eagle Technology Solutions.
“We’re here to solve problems, that’s our goal,” Kassing said.
That same adaptability to a business customer’s needs goes for Stefani Thompson, sales representative for Eagle Television. The company has approximately 12,000 TV viewers in the rural communities surrounding Columbus. Thompson also has the ability to place local business advertising in a much larger geographical area in Kansas, Colorado and Missouri.
“Our team of marketing professionals help (customers) every step of the way, crafting effective and affordable commercials to help them grow,” said Thompson.
Eagle’s marketing team films the commercial, which makes it very cost efficient to advertise on national TV networks while appealing to viewers spanning multiple states, said Thompson, adding that a local “ma and pa” flower shop in rural Nebraska can be sandwiched between national advertisers on networks such as ESPN and Fox.
“How neat is that?” she said.
Thompson said Eagle also offers marketing solutions for community event promotions and sponsorship opportunities.
Eagle Communications, a 100 percent employee-owned company that started in 1948, also operates cable TV systems and radio stations in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Colorado.