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April 25, 2012

Patterson named Highland manager

Has served company since 1996

SUNBRIGHT —  The Highland Telephone Cooperative board of directors voted last Monday to make longtime telecom and Internet veteran Mark Patterson the cooperative’s new general manager.

    Patterson has served as interim GM at Highland Telephone since December. Since he became manager of Highland Communications in 1996, HTC’s Internet service has grown from a few hundred customers to some 10,000.

    “This is an exciting time to be in the telephone and Internet industry,” Patterson says, “and I’m ready to work with the board to lead this cooperative through whatever challenges and opportunities we face.”

    Jim Terry, the chairman of HTC’s board of directors, described Patterson as the “perfect fit” after the board’s announcement.

    “Mark was the obvious choice from the beginning,” Terry says. “He’s been in this industry most of his life and is knowledgeable enough to step right in and work with the engineers. We’re very excited to have him.”

    Even before coming to Highland, Patterson already had plenty of experience in the telecommunications industry. He spent six years in Knoxville as sales and service administrator for the southeast region of TDS Telecom. Before that he worked for 11 years in sales at Graybar, the industry-leading electrical and telecommunications distributor.

    One of the things that excites Patterson most about being manager is overseeing the fiber optic installation throughout the HTC service area. He sees the fiber build as both the cooperative’s biggest challenge and biggest opportunity. “There are so many moving parts in the project,” he says, “but when it’s finished we’re going to be offering Internet speeds that customers have never experienced before.”

    Twice with Highland Communications, Patterson oversaw the early phases of new technology — dial-up Internet in 1996 and DSL in 2003. He says those experiences have helped prepare him to continue serving existing members while adding new customers during the fiber rollout. A University of Tennessee graduate with a degree in business, Patterson is a quick learner and needs to be because the first HTC members will be cutover to the new fiber optic network this summer.

    The new executive says he plans to continue his hands-on, relationship-based management style. At Highland Communications he worked hard to get to know his employees and stay in tune with what was going on in their lives. But he admits that’s going to be tougher to do as he oversees the larger parent company. “It’s been a big adjustment because I’ve gone from knowing 10 employees to knowing 73,” he says.

    No matter how large the company might be, Patterson still plans to be visible and involved in projects.

    “I’ve always used the theory that you lead from the front,” he explains.

 

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