Communications company Hargray aims to stay connected to customers.
THE TWO EXECUTIVES IN charge of getting the word out about Hargray’s services say that the homegrown company is boosting its commitment to the community even during the current economic downturn.
Andrew Rein is the vice president/general manager for Hargray residential sales and marketing and Chris McCorkendale is the vice president/general manager for Hargray business sales and marketing.
“The most important thing that we’re focusing on is a quality of service that exceeds their (customers’) expectations, that is reliable and on the cutting edge of technology today,” Rein said. “And if/when they (customers) do have a question or a problem, they want someone to fix it quickly, whether they’re working on the Internet or watching television.
“We want to optimize the customer experience, making sure that customer care is top-notch,” he said. In a business sector dominated by major corporations, Hargray continues to be relevant and competitive because it is local, McCorkendale said.
Business customers are looking to reduce costs and become more productive. “Communications is a huge part of day-today business operations,” he said.
“We have to be anticipating customer needs five to 10 years from now, providing access to the fastest underlying network to meet future bandwidth requirements.” As the need for more advanced business solutions continue to grow, keeping pace requires Hargray to spend tens of millions of dollars annually in improving its infrastructure. Building diversity and redundancy into the Lowcoun-try’s communication infrastructure is a critical factor in preparing for recovery from natural disasters as well.
“Despite the slowness in the economy we continue to move forward with those projects,” he said. Many of these projects and upgrades are made at Hargray’s expense and some in partnership with other public and private organizations.
“For example, we’ve been working with Beaufort County to provide the fiber optic connectivity necessary for them to place cameras at major intersections to enhance public safety and to manage and monitor traffic,” he said.
Among Hargray’s some 400 employees are about 125 technicians in the field. “We have an employee base that genuinely cares about the community,” McCorkendale said.
“It’s where we live,” he said, pointing out that employees volunteer for many charitable organization such as Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross. “They are involved because they are good community members,” he said. “It helps add to the strength of our organization.”
“We are a major employer and contributor to the local economy,” Rein said. Rein pointed out that Hargray is a major player in community events, everything from the Heritage and Beaufort’s Water Festival to tee-ball games and Wing Fest.
“In some cases, those events wouldn’t happen without us,” he said.
And Hargray’s Caring Coins, made possible by contributions from participating Hargray customers, has raised more than $1.3 million for local charities since the inception of the program in 2003.
Rein said that because technology and customer demands change so rapidly today, Hargray is “putting more fiber into the ground,” to ensure that its television and Internet services are “future-proofed.”
While the upgrades are expensive for the company, they make the network “more robust.”
Because the Hilton Head/Bluffton business communities are more hospitality and retail oriented, there are seasonal considerations, such as new activations, that require Hargray to be “nimble and responsive,” Rein said, staying on the leading edge of technology, offering WiFi capabilities for lap tops and PDAs for people who come to visit.
Hargray also offers businesses and resorts a less expensive cable “hospitality lineup” designed for their guests, because they don’t come to Hilton Head to watch 109 channels, but may still want to catch their favorite shows while on vacation.
“I think at the end of the day we want people to know we’re here for them and they can continue to rely on Hargray regardless of what their needs are,” Rein said.
“If we can save them money we certainly will,” McCorkendale said. “It results in a better satisfi ed, happier customer. We care about what’s important to our customers and community and do our best to do business locally from a dollars-and-cents perspective.”
For more information, visit hargray.com.
Prior to joining Hargray, Chris McCorkendale was the area general manager for Frontier Communications in Nebraska and Iowa, and was vice president of operations strategy and development for Commonwealth Telephone Enterprises, Inc. (CTE) in Pennsylvania.
Before entering the communications industry, McCorkendale served as an artillery officer in the U.S. Army for 10 years, holding a variety of command and staff positions in Europe, Southwest Asia and the United States. He continues to serve as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and the U.S. Selective Service System.
He holds an MBA from Troy State University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Missouri State University.
Andrew Rein serves as vice president and general manager of residential sales and marketing for Hargray Communications. Prior to assuming this position, Rein temporarily served as vice-president of finance while Hargray recruited its chief financial officer, Paul Sunu, who joined Hargray in July of 2008. Before joining Hargray, Rein was director, strategy and operations for Access Spectrum, LLC in Bethesda, Md., and an analyst at Dean & Co., a Washington, D.C.-based telecommunications strategy consulting firm. Rein holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University where he graduated summa cum laude with honors in 2000.
Leroy Harvey Sr. founded Hargray in 1947. In 2007, Quadrangle Capital Partners, a private equity fund focused on the media and communications industries, acquired Hargray from the Shepard and Harvey families. Data Publishing Co. Inc., Hargray’s directories publishing affiliate, was included in the deal.