112 Years of History
Munising Telephone Company to Hiawatha Communications, Inc.
Brothers Matt and Clarence Langley established the Munising Telephone & Electric Company in 1896. Over time, this simple beginning has developed into a corporation that employs 46 people in four telephone companies across the Upper Peninsula. Following is a condensed history chronicling many of the changes that have taken place over the last 112 years.
The Langley brothers went about the process of erecting poles and stringing wire to local businesses and some residences for a few years, but the telephone business in its infancy was not much of a moneymaker. William R. Burns bought the phone company in 1905 but eventually decided to sell the company to expand his business interests elsewhere. Thus entered the Tidd family into the telephone industry with local Ford dealer William A. Tidd’s purchase of the business in 1919. The next day, after purchasing the business, W.A. Tidd persuaded local attorney Richard W. Nebel to purchase half of Tidd’s stock, which cemented the company’s dual family ownership that is still in existence today.
Richard W. Nebel passed away in 1967 and the Nebel stock transferred to his children, Nancy Nebel Palmer, Richard William Nebel, Mary Sue Nebel Hansen, and Charles E. Nebel. Son Charles E. Nebel is currently Chairman of the Board and son Richard Wm. Nebel serves as Treasurer of the company.
In addition, HCI owns and operates jamadots a provider of internet and long distance services and also maintains 50% ownership of PFN with Baraga Telephone Company (BTC). Both HCI and BTC realized a need for high speed optical transport throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, hence its existence. PFN now provides transmission services to 20 Upper Peninsula cities and is continuing its rapid network expansion. PFN's parent companies have in excess of 170 combined years of operational experience in bringing transmission services to the rural marketplace.
HCI has come a long way since 1896 and is poised to grow and expand in order to keep up with rapidly changing technology in the telecommunications field. It’s hard to image the technological developments that will come in the next 10, 20, or even 50 years, but history proves that our company has constantly evolved to keep up with current trends. The future carries new opportunities and exciting possibilities for HCI, its subsidiary companies, and all employees and customers.