Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Interview by: Isaac Deitz-Green
Ralph Potts is the General Manager of Oberlins Cable Co-op, and has worked for the Co-op since its establishment in 1986. He has been a member of the Oberlin Community for nearly three decades. He is known as a hard worker and a good leader. He finds time to help out with the bread-and-butter functions of the Co-op, such as performing installs and answering phones, in between his official duties.
Q: Could you tell me a little bit about the Cable Co-op?
A: The Cable Co-op is a public utility, non-profit. Every nickel of revenue goes to operating the system: in paying the daily bills, programmer fees, electricity, just the everyday operating expenses. Anything left over gets put back in the system to upgrade or provide additional services.
Q: How did you get started?
A: Weve been in operation for 28 years. There was a group of citizens about thirty years ago that wanted to build a cable TV system here, but they wanted local control. Its not unusual since the community already had a city-owned power system, so its very similar to that type of operation, the only difference is were not a department of the city. We have a board of directors that are elected. They set policy, and I do the operation. We serve approximately 3,000 homes in the city of Oberlin, and about 60% of the surrounding New Russia Township area.
Our existence is a[n] example of sustainability.
Q: In what ways do you think your work with the Cable Co-op relates to the concept of sustainability?
A: Our existence is a[n] example of sustainability, because were small, because we started out from nothing. There were those that didnt expect us to last more than 5 years, but just the perseverance of the staff and the board, we were determined to make it work. With the help of the board and different people around town, they assisted us, and we made it work. Just our existence because were only one of a few left that have not been bought up by the bigger operators, thats just our sustainability. Thats what Oberlins all about.
The changes in technology and the services were going to be providing here soon will be a draw for new businesses to come in and generate some jobs, and keep Oberlins future a little bit brighter.
"I like the people I work with, I like the people I work for."
Q: What comes to mind when you think about the Oberlin community?
A: The community itself like I said Ive been here 28 years. I like the people; I like the people I work with, I like the people that I work for. The people that I work for are the people that walk in that door everyday, or call on the phone. Those are the people that I work for. Im not working for corporate America. I believe in who we are and what we are and what weve been able to accomplish over the years, and have high expectations for our not too distant future. I wont be around here forever, but when I do leave here, I want to be proud of what Ive done, and what the people that Ive worked with have done. When I turn the keys over to someone new, I want to be able to do that with pride, and I think Ill be able to do that. This community is very goodhearted, and I want to be included in that group.We laugh here everyday, we have a good time. Being small, when those people come through our door, theyre not just an account number, theyre not just a customer. We know them by their first name, 9 out of 10, because theyve been customers for a long time. And it happens all the time too. That person will come in the door and theyll want to talk to me personally because theyre having some financial issues and they cant pay their bill on time, and we work with people.
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