submitted by - David Lewis
In 1992, Rod Wallgren, David Lewis, and Stan Rice organized a group of independent telephone employees to promote marketing and public relations for the independent telephone industry in Kansas. At that time there were only about three companies in Kansas that had marketing departments and a total of six companies that were becoming market oriented.
Stan Rice sent letters to all of the independent companies in Kansas about starting a Marketing/Public Relations organization and having an organization meeting. United Telephone Cooperative hosted the first meeting at their headquarters on February 11, 1992. The attendees were: Rod Wallgren (Rural Telephone), Stan Rice (Pioneer), David Lewis (Southern Kansas), Gerald Washburn (Golden Belt), Jack Kuhlmann (Sunflower Telephone), and Craig Mock (United Telephone). Officers were appointed as follows: Stan Rice, Chairman; David Lewis, Secretary; and Craig Mock, Treasurer. It was a consensus of the group to name the organization PRIMO - which stand for Public Relations Independent Marketing Organization. There was and is lengthy discussions on whether the acronym is pronounced with a long or short "I". The group overwhelming endorsed pronouncing the Marketing/Public Relations Assistant, as David Lewis suggested, with a long "I".
The minutes of the first meeting states that the organization would promote Marketing/Public Relation and training for the participating companies in the state of Kansas. The organization will stress the importance of training our employees in customer relations and being prepared for the marketing environment that the telco's are now in. The organization will also share ideas of each telephone company on the marketing/public relation's strategies that they are doing and schedule seminars that will promote these areas. It was a consensus of the committee to charge $100.00 per company for membership, with the organization to meet quarterly for board meetings. The committee felt the organization should sponsor seminars on training programs at different locations throughout the state.
The first workshop that PRIMO conducted was in Salina on October 8-9, by Paul Hartman and was titles "Update on the industry-competitive environment-etiquette pertaining to service and technical representatives."
PRIMO has continued to grow in membership and in the number of attendees at their workshops and seminars that they sponsor. The group currently has around 20 companies involved including: Wamego Telephone Co., S & A Telephone Co., Inc., United Communications Assn, Inc., Moundridge Telephone Company, Sunflower Telephone Company, Golden Belt Telephone, KanOkla Telephone Assn., Inc., Haviland Telephone Company, Inc., Madison Telephone Co., Inc., Pioneer Communications, Blue Valley Telephone Company, Rural Telephone Service Company, Inc., The Rainbow Telephone Cooperative Assn., Tri-Country Communications, Inc., TCA, Inc., S & T Telephone Coop Assn., and Southern Kansas Telephone Company, Inc. This combined group has conducted at least one workshop a year. Workshops have covered such topics as Public Relations, how to write a market plan, promoting Economic Development, and Customer Service practices.
In 1994 PRIMO began a scholarship fund to support those attending the Goodland Technical School. The organization currently sponsors three $500.00 scholarships. The organization has also participated in the "Telecommunications Conference" sponsored by Fort Hays University. PRIMO recently sponsored a benchmark study for the independent telephone industry in Kansas. A total of 15 companies participated.