Estacada company celebrates more than a century of service
Prior to the inception of the Estacada Telephone and Telegraph Company in 1905, there were only two phones in town.
The company, known today as Reliance Connects, gave customers the opportunity to have phones in their homes rather than use the ones at the Estacada Hotel and Estacada Depot.
More than 100 years after its formation, the company is still connecting local residents with the latest technology.
For Reliance Connects, this is a family effort. In 1925, Alva Smith purchased the majority of the company's stock, and the family's 90 decade relationship with the business began.
Today, Smith's great-granddaughter Brenda Crosby is Reliance Connects' president, and her children Brooke Wheeler and Scott Crosby and nephew Matt Day are also involved in the company's leadership.
Along with Estacada, Reliance Connects operates in several other Oregon locations, including Elkton, Antelope, Corbett and Haines. The company also serves customers in Nevada.
The Crosby family has watched the rapid evolution of the technology that is available to their customers.
"When I was young, the most important decision customers had to make was what color phone they would get. Now, there are so many different services," Brenda said. "We do a lot more with internet. A lot of people don't even want phone service."
The company is in the midst of a 10 year plan to connect customers with the option to upgrade to fiber internet, which offers a significantly faster speed than the copper wiring used with DSL connections. Several years ago, all customers within city limits received the option to upgrade, and the company is currently striving to provide the service to several areas outside of town.
"We're trying to connect as many people with fiber as possible," Scott said, noting that it's important to give customers options for the latest available technologies. "We try to hit a different area each year."
In May, Reliance Connect launched a new service called EZ Video, which allows customers to stream television from various devices.
Though today's digital age is an exciting time to be working in technology, it isn't always a straightforward process.
"It was simple before, but now we have internet and changing technology," Brenda said. "It's exciting, but it's scary too. Sometimes you have to change, and you always want to be sure you're changing for the better."
The family appreciates working in Estacada, where they all grew up.
"It's pretty incredible being part of a community like this. We do a lot with volunteering, and love being a part of that," Scott said.
"It's fun to help the community that you're a part of," Brooke added.
They also appreciate the relationships they've built in town.
"In Estacada, there's a real ability to know your customers," Matt said. "Someone called and wanted us to look at their shop. I said, let me call my cousin and we'll be right out."
There is a sense of community within Reliance Connects' employees, as well.
"There are employees that have been with the company for 30 plus years. People know that," Scott said.
The family is dedicated to serving the community for years to come.
"Being part of the family business and knowing we're in it for the long haul, we want to keep going," said Scott. "It's important for us to keep working together and keep the company going for the sixth and seventh generations."
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