Member Spotlight- Home Communications, Inc.

Member Spotlight- Home Communications, Inc.

At Chamber Connections, hosted by Home Communications Inc. (HCI), Tina Anderson, the company’s Regulatory Affairs Manger, shared the fascinating history of this family owned business. Longevity is the name of the game here for HCI because they are celebrating 90 years this year!

And here’s how it all began …

Telephones first came to Galva in 1902 when a line was run from McPherson to the Adam Dielman store there in town. The switchboard was located in the back of the Ditch Café.

Then a bunch of farmers got together and purchased a 10 line switchboard. Ann and Joe English were employed to operate the switchboard, which was placed in their home. Thus the Galva Mutual Telephone Company came to be. And in January 1932 the Galva Telephone Company was incorporated.

Tina Anderson’s great-grandparents, Miles and Blanche Baldwin purchased the Galva Telephone Company in 1933 from the McGuire family. Miles work for United Telephone in Russell, KS in 1905, so had knowledge and experience in the telephone business. The telephone company was operated out of the Baldwin’s home and they ran the switchboard day and night. After Galva went to “cut to dial” the company moved to its current location at 211 S. Main Street. “Cut to dial” meant switchboards were no longer used and customers could dial direct to whomever they were calling without using the switchboard operator.

In 1950 Wayne and Irene Baldwin purchased the company after Miles passed away and the telephone company began to expand its footprint in the area. The Geneseo Exchange was purchased in 1952 and in January 1958 their service went to “cut to dial.” The New Gottland Telephone Company was acquired in 1963 and was incorporated with the Galva Exchange. In December 1973 Salemsborg Exchange was purchased which served Salemsborg, Smolan, Falun, and surrounding rural areas. After the cutover from the switchboard, the first incoming phone call was from Senator Bob Dole to recipient Governor John Carlin! In 1975 the company moved to private lines and there were no more party lines. Assaria Exchange was acquired in 1989 and this exchange served Assaria, Bridgeport, Mentor, and surrounding rural areas.

Their Roxbury Exchange was quite unique in that it was the last switchboard in the State of Kansas. It “cut to dial” in January 1977. The entire office’s contents and the switchboard are on display in the Abilene Museum of Independent Telephony.

The third generation of the Baldwin family to be a part of the business was Tina’s dad Robert Baldwin, his brother Lynn, and his sister Nancy Flaherty. The fourth generation includes Richard Baldwin, his sister Tina Anderson, and their cousin Chris Flaherty. And yes, there are several fifth generation family members involved in the operation!

Between 2010 and 2012, HCI became completely “fiber-to-the-home” for all of their customers. AND Home Communications Inc. expanded their service area even more. This expansion includes Canton and its surrounding rural area, Gypsum, southwest Saline County, Holmes and Water Well area in Saline County, and the McPherson Country Club area. HCI serves 621 square miles with 1,073 fiber route miles.

Home Communications Inc. is very involved and invested in their community and the schools, and Tina added, “That was something our grandparents started back in the day.” They also have been able to work with Foundation for Rural Service grant recipients to enable them to achieve specific projects. In 2019 the Canton Town Carnegie Library was awarded $5,000 by the Foundation to update technology facilities in the library with HCI matching that grant. In 2020 the Foundation awarded the City of Canton $5,000 to update and replace the playground equipment in their city park, and HCI matched that grant as well. Then in 2022 the Canton-Galva Grade School received a Foundation grant of $5,000 to provide all students with boogie boards and to update desktop charging stations. Again, HCI matched the grant.

In 2022 Home Communications Inc. was a national winner of the Smart Rural Community award. There were only five companies from across the U.S. selected as 2022 SRC Showcase Award winners and HCI was one of them. HCI was chosen based on their commitment and involvement in what they have done in the communities they serve.

Tina was asked what it meant to her personally to be involved with the company at a young age and to be a part of it at this point. She replied, “They asked me to come back here and I never thought I would because I grew up with it. You sit around the kitchen table and you’re a part of the family discussions. But as I’ve gotten older you realize the importance of that family connection and giving back into the communities where you’ve grown up … It’s been a great venture for me.”

And it HAS been a great venture. What started out as a small switchboard located in the home of Miles and Blanche Baldwin in 1933 and has expanded to a company that provides state-of-the-art fiber to home technology to customers in 621 square miles of Central Kansas. They provide telephone, broadband and television services, as well as security and surveillance to residential and business customers. They currently serve around 2,500 broadband customers. HCI also has duplex rentals, storage sheds, RV storage, and residential lots for sale in Galva. The office hours for Home Communications Inc., located at 211 S. Main in Galva, are Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. By visiting their website you can find out more regarding the technology services they provide to rural Central Kansas. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for company updates. And don’t miss out on seeing these photos taken at Chamber Connections hosted by Home Communications Inc.

Just part of the Home Communications Inc. staff. HCI has 21 employees, who bring 250 years of experience with them!