It's a milestone for Minnesota Valley Television as they work to fill their new offices, in a building of their own, on Hwy. 212 just west of Granite Falls where American Family Insurance and Ron's Barber Shop were once located.
“The future looks good here,” says MVTV President Dan Richter standing outside the non-profit, member-owned, corporation's new offices and hinting at future milestones to come. “It's good for everybody; having everyone (customer service and network support) together... We made this move with expansion in mind.”
MVTV's offices had previously resided in the Danielowski Accounting offices in downtown Granite Falls. There their customer service center was also based, while network technicians worked mostly from MVTV's tower, two miles west of Granite Falls on Hwy. 67.
MVTV Plant Manager, Luke Richter explains the decision to move into now office space, saying “We took a look at where we were five years ago and the amount of changes and growth we've seen. Then we looked at where we want to be at 10 years. We knew we needed more space and we knew we wanted to bring the customer service side and the network side together. So far it's gone great. Having everyone together really increases communication and efficiency. Everything just moves quicker.”
As MVTV was discussing their expansion they began talking with Kyle Weber of Weber Construction who owns the building MVTV recently moved into. Weber had plans to renovate the building after the departure of American Family Insurance and Ron's Barbershop. “The building wasn't necessarily remodeled just for MVTV,” says Luke Richter. “I think the question was; how do we remodel these offices to attract a company like MVTV? And we helped Kyle along with that. So, the building was kind of updated with MVTV in mind.”
Another factor in mind, at least for MVTV that pushed the move, is their plan to roll out a new digital television service sometime early this fall. “The equipment just arrived a week ago,” said Luke Richter. “We're beginning our training with it now and hope to begin marketing it in early September.”
Though now MVTV is best known for their rural broadband internet service, their roots are based in television and most recently, in 2012, the entire TV service was upgraded to digital. Now in 2013 MVTV will offer a digital television service that is the first of it's kind. Members will have access to an encrypted service offering up to 40 channels, providing cable and satellite programming. “We will be capable of offering up to 60 channels, but it is our intent to provide services at the lowest possible cost to our members,” stated Operations Manager Tim Johnson in an earlier interview with the Advocate Tribune. No decision has been made as to the number of channels or which channels will be offered when the TV service is ready to transmit.
Page 2 of 2 - “What we do know now is that we'll be using a new set-top box. It is the first of its kind,” shared Johnson. A big advantage of the new set-top box is that it can be self-installed if a member currently has a UHF antenna.
“We fully researched and developed this. It is unique and one of a kind, but I'm sure we're creating a situation that will be duplicated,” said Dan Richter.
As far as internet service, MVTV is growing there too. “We're serving over 5,000 members now,” shared Johnson. He stated that there are 54 sites today, providing Wi-Max service. The internet service area covers over 20,000 square miles of southwestern Minnesota. “We'll be adding another dozen or so sites in 2013,” said Johnson.
With the expansion Luke Richter also said MVTV plans to add several positions and increase their workforce. As for the employees already at MVTV? “All our employees have voiced their opinion that it's much better to be together rather than apart. It's going to be really great out here.”