Posted by Bill Osborne

Jim Richmond, Vice President, Marketing of C Spire spoke to the Rotary Club of North Jackson at the Club’s June 23, 2020, meeting. Mr. Richmond joined what was then Cellular South in South West Mississippi in 1991. He is a graduate of Mississipi State University. He serves on the Mississippi State University Foundation board and the boards of several Banks and financial institutions. He and his wife Jennifer have two daughters, one of whom is in Medical Schools at UMMC and the other is affiliated with Clinton Public Schools.

Richmond commented that C Spire is a heavy user of Online systems that permit many of its employees to work remotely even in “normal” times. He said that C Spire has multiple lines of business:

  • Wireless Division which was started in 1988 as Cellular South. Prior to entering the mobile communications business, the company had a landline business that was formed in 1950. The wireless division has footprints in Mississippi, Memphis, and Mobile. The company is convenience focused and is offering appointments, curbside service, and self serve web options available to clients. The wireless business unit is working on 5G service which is in progress. C Spire currently has some 5G sites in operation The company is the largest privately held wireless company in the US. 

  • Business Division with offices in Hattiesburg, Mobile, Birmingham, and several Tennessee cities.  It focuses on Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. The business division has customers in 38 states. It has a large variety of offerings, including VOIP, cloud data storage, premier hardware offerings, and acts as a consultant to its customers. The business division is highly ranked nationally as a premier service provider to its IT customers.

  • Home Division which was created in 2013,  provides service to 23 Mississippi cities and will expand to Alabama in July. It offers gigabit fiber, Mesh wifi, and has a dedicated blue shoe crew.

  • Other areas in which C Spire is involver are:

    • Health where the company launched a telehealth application for physicians to use in2019. This was expanded in 2020 to permit consumers to contact  UMMC to schedule a COVID-19 test. The best example of this application was when it was launched to use to schedule tests at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds in the Spring of 2020.

    •  The Tech Movement with

      • Basecamp Coding Academy

      • C3 Coding Challenge

      • Software Development Pathway

These are aimed at creating more people with coding and programming skills

  • C Spire is part of a Rural Broadband Consortium that is working to expand the availability of internet technology to rural areas

  • The Mission Network (Mississippi Optical Network)  is a network that connects research institutions in Mississippi with other similar institutions throughout the country. It offers 100-gigabit connectivity to participants.

  • C Spire Foundation

    • Founded to focus on STEM initiatives, education, digital literacy, and workforce development

    • Provided scholarship funding to the 8 Mississippi Universities

    • Supports numerous STEM activities in Mississippi to help increase the pursuit of computer science in the state. These include, for example,  the basecamp coding academy, the Mississippi Children’s Musem Science Fest, and The C Spire Coding Challenges

When COVID-19 struck, C Spire was prepared. The company already had plans in place to deal with hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Many of their representatives were already working remotely. Richmond said that his marketing personnel were already dispersed throughout their service area. The management team conducted daily update calls to check on personnel, network status, COVID trends, and other issues. C Spire has some 1705 employees so they had to make preparations for those not already doing so to work remotely. These update calls have now decreased in frequency to 3 days per week compared with the all-day calls on Saturdays at the beginning.

C Spire Cares is the initiative that the company has developed to help its costumers during the pandemic. The saying is that “our network has you covered.” People working from home, increased demand for video streaming service, etc had tested the network., but the network has performed. The company increased its access to streaming services by 50% to help its customers. 

CSpire developed Pop-up hot spots to allow students in underserved areas to continue schooling with the libraries and other access points shut down. The objective was to Keep America Connected. This program gave customers more time to pay bills and waived overage charges. During this time the business division representatives increased their consultant roles to their customers.

The company achieved sales records daily during the first part of the COVID shutdowns. It focused on increasing safety measures for employees and customers. At some locations, the installation representatives had to FaceTime the new customers and guide them through the installation of their new hardware.

CSpire also became internally focused during this period. They were concerned about the health of the employees. They initiate an internal Morning Show three or four days a week and also used direct emails to the employees and workplace posts. They also formed a safe return to the office team to plan for getting people back to their offices.

What’s Next?

  • Things are different now than they were before the pandemic struck.

  • C Spire will look for new opportunities. 

  • They will have a press conference on July 16 announcing the expansion of their home service into Alabama with service to begin in the fall.

  • The company will look for new initiatives in:

    • Health

    • Universities

    • Expanding its service area

We thank Richmond for his presentation and for the very good work that C Spire does. The following photo is from his Linked In profile: