WAPAKONETA — Telephone Service Company in Wapakoneta has met the cable needs of its customers for the past 125 years, adapting to changes in technology over the years.
In 1895, the business opened, and Dr. Franklin Crittenden Hunter solicited for the first telephone service in Wapakoneta and signed up 50 subscribers. The Wapakoneta Telephone Company was then formed on July 12, 1895, according to Lonnie Pedersen, TSC chief operating officer.
“The telephone industry is incredible in that the landline business grew for over 100 years before technology replaced landlines with cell phones,” Pedersen said.
When that occurred, the business became active in the internet, TV and fiber optics business and expanded its reach.
The company is an incumbent local exchange carrier that has evolved over the last 25 years to provide broadband for internet services and a regional fiber optic provider for internet and TV.
Jacob Hauss, F.F. Herbst Sr., Harry Fisher, Abe Kahn, L.N. Blume and Judge C.A. Stueve were the founders and first officers of the newly organized telephone company. The telephone office was located on the second floor of the building located on the southeast corner of Perry and West Auglaize Streets.
The communications service provider grew from that very first day and by 1899 listed 52 business and 69 residential telephone numbers. The monthly service rate for a business was $2.50 and for a residence was $1.50. The only long-distance service available was to St. Marys and Lima. Today the company services customers in Findlay, Lima, Wapakoneta, St. Marys and Van Wert.
The week before Labor Day in 1919, Wapakoneta Telephone Company broke ground at 6 Willipie St., which officially opened July 21, 1921. The company is at 2 Willipie Street today.
The company started off with six or seven employees and now has 41 employees, including technicians, customer service representatives and network engineers.
TSC services 25 school districts, providing broadband, internet and telephone services.
“Instead of using mechanical switches we used to use to process phone calls, we use computer technology,” Pedersen said.
Pedersen said the business has adapted by becoming a fixture in downtown Wapakoneta. He said the business is active in the Wapakoneta, Lima and Van Wert chambers of commerce and supports the school system.
“We have always been community minded, and that has not changed over the years,” Pedersen said.
Lonnie Pederson, Telephone Service Company chief operations officer, stands in his Wapakoneta office with telephones from the 1900s in the background.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.