William Bradford, President and CEO of United Communications, embodies the spirit of an entrepreneur. His drive and determination have allowed him to take a small, struggling telecommunications company and develop it into a thriving local provider with a bright future. In his ten years with the company, William has centered all of his energy on ensuring United is an involved, supportive community member that puts people first. In this spotlight, we’re taking a look at leader William Bradford to show what a driving force he’s been throughout our company’s growth.
The Journey: United’s Development Over the Years
After many years working in the telecom industry for other companies, William had a firsthand look at how the industry had grown and how much further it would need to go before it could support everyone who needed internet service. Knowing that his former boss, Gene Johnson shared his passion for making the internet more accessible, William approached him to discuss a potential opportunity to buy a small company in Tennessee—United Telephone Company. Gene came out of retirement, and the two began to invest their time and money into leveraging this company’s existing assets to transform it into a leader in rural fiber.
From the beginning, after they acquired the company, the team they inherited genuinely bought into the mission of what William and Gene wanted to accomplish. They were wholly committed to bringing improved internet service to their communities. William’s strong leadership skills became a guiding light for the team, showing them how a customer-centric philosophy could take them where they wanted to go.
“We worked hard to get better at customer service every day. We asked our customers how we were doing and used those answers to find ways to continually improve.” Over time, United was on track to be the leading customer service organization in the area—a goal the company has now achieved. “Every year, we have better customer service scores than the year before. It was a parallel approach that brought us here. We invested in the customer experience, the development of our team, and the fiber expansion. We’ve put every penny back into the business to give our customers the best experience.”
What William Loves About the Company He Helped Build
Internet and technology have long been William’s passions because he loves to step in as a problem solver for his customers. “I like a challenge. When you’re in this business, it takes a lot of team effort to provide service to customers, especially rural customers, because a lot can go wrong—weather and technology malfunctions, for example. But we’re problem solvers in this business. The team is good at what we do. We come in every day to a new challenge.” “If I ever come to work one day and feel like we’ve accomplished everything, it’s time to hang it up. But, to me, we can always be doing something better.”
His team has been behind him every step of the way, educating themselves about how they can best serve their neighbors. United’s core values attract employees who have a passion for taking care of others. “We have an incredible team and family-oriented culture. Everyone will drop anything to help a teammate or customer out. United is our name, and that’s one of our core values—we’re a united team.”
It’s important to William that his employees know how much value they add to the company and that they love being a part of United. “Every week, the management team gets together for a staff meeting. It’s neat to be a part of that because, each week, leaders recognize the team members who have done extraordinary work. And every week, we send thank you notes to those employees for the amazing work they do.” He went on to say, “We want all of our employees to feel like they can retire here. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on training, career paths, and embracing new technologies because we want our employees to grow with us and provide them with the opportunities to build a career here.”
Project UNITE: William’s Mission to Connect Middle Tennessee
It’s always been United’s mission to connect the unconnected and expand the local broadband network to serve rural areas. William took this mission a step further, adding a sense of urgency and clarity to the message. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, internet accessibility was vital, as millions were working, learning, and even visiting their doctors at home. William stepped in to increase the company’s impact by advancing Project UNITE, a platform that will forever change Middle Tennessee’s perspective on broadband accessibility.
Project UNITE is United’s mission to provide high-speed internet—fiber or wireless—to every under-connected home or business in Middle Tennessee with the support of Middle Tennessee Electric and through strategic partnerships with local communities, businesses, and government leaders.
“Project UNITE allows us to more easily talk about the achievements of our team within the communities we serve and more clearly communicate what we’re trying to accomplish. Eagleville is a great example. We’re just now completing construction there, and that will be 1,400 citizens of Rutherford County who have never had broadband before that will be getting it now,” said William. “We needed a spotlight internally and externally. We needed all of our employees to know how intentional we are about providing service to these markets, and Project UNITE was a great way to do that. We had to take a step back and communicate our mission clearly, showing communities how this initiative impacts them,” he added.
When asked what was in store for the platform’s future, William replied, “Project UNITE isn’t over until everyone has service.”
Learn More About United’s Mission to Connect Middle Tennessee
William Bradford is an exceptional leader who has never failed to put his employees’ and customers’ needs before his own. His years of dedication to the Middle Tennessee community have forever changed the landscape of broadband in the area, and we look forward to seeing what’s next in store for him.