Phone Company Honored for Military-Employee Support
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2006 As a small, member-owned cooperative, Skyline Membership Corporation has always believed in treating its employees well.
“I know it’s probably cliché, but we look at ourselves as a family,” John Dixon, Skyline’s chief executive officer, said. “We value all employees, and we try to treat them the right way. They are what make this company function well and make it great.”
That caring attitude has attracted national attention to the small telephone company, based in rural North Carolina. Skyline is among 15 employers across the U.S. named as winners of the 2006 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The award publicly recognizes employers for exceptional support of employees who serve in the National Guard and reserves beyond the requirements of federal law.
Of Skyline’s 132 employees, two serve in the National Guard, Dixon said. Both employees have served tours in Iraq, and one also served in the first Gulf War, he said.
When Skyline’s National Guard employees are deployed, the company pays a differential to make up any difference between their military and civilian pay, Dixon said. The employees also receive full benefits, including retirement, and are considered for any promotion opportunities, he said.
Skyline is happy to support its employees who serve in the National Guard, because the company leaders value military service, Dixon said.
“Their service to this country allows all of the rest of us who are here at home to enjoy those freedoms that I think we all cherish but take for granted too often,” he said. “Someone that’s willing to do that deserves special treatment and consideration.”
Skyline is a member-owned telecommunications cooperative serving a rural, four-county area of northwestern North Carolina and a small community in eastern Tennessee. The company has about 37,000 telephone customers, 10,000Internet customers and 13,000 long-distance customers, Dixon said.
Receiving the employer support award is a great honor for Skyline and the surrounding community, Dixon said. “It’s not just the company, but the members in this community and the citizens that support this company that allow us to be able to do this,” he said. “We don’t have these policies on how we treat employees to receive this recognition; we would do it anyway. But it’s very gratifying to be recognized this way.”
Skyline and the other award recipients will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Sept. 21.