Sunday, February 6, 2011

History of the Rich Hill Phone Company

  • History

  • In January of 1955, Ken Kern, a teacher at the Finley Engineering College in Kansas City, was looking for a business to invest in. That business turned out to be the Rich Hill Telephone Company which had been owned by Mr. & Mrs. A L Shopper since 1941. Mr.

    Kern asked a student at the college if he would be interested in going into partnership with him on this venture. That student was Raleigh Masur. A third partner, Mr. James Lamble, would also join them. Thus the name KLM was formed from the initials of their last names. Bill Turner of Pleasant Hill continued as manager of the Rich Hill exchange for a period of time.

    In 1956 a small mutual company at Papinville was acquired from Mr. Clyde Rapp. The Rapps had operated the switchboard from their home and continued to do so until the area was converted to dial service in 1961. A complete renovation of the system was started in 1958 and would also be completed in 1961. By this time the company had outgrew the original office at 111 S 6th St and construction was started on the present building at 616 E Park.

    Mr. Lamble resigned from the company in 1957. In 1959, the corporation bought the Metz and Richards exchanges from Mr. Charles R Spicer. The Spicers had owned the exchanges since 1938. Metz and Richards were converted to dial service in 1963. The KLM Corporation operated these exchanges as a separate partnership called the Missouri Union Telephone Company.

    Mr. Kern continued to teach until 1962, when he moved to Rich Hill and assumed the day to day management of the company. Raleigh Masur sold his shares in the corporation and partnership to Kenneth Kern on January 25, 1965.

    The Deerfield area near Richards was still a mutual exchange in 1971 with magneto service. Some customers petitioned the Missouri Public Service Commission for Bell service because they wanted dial. Mr. Kern made arrangements to rent some Stromberg equipment and by plowing cable “all winter”, the Deerfield area was converted to dial in six months (early 1972). That marked the end of crank telephones and the oh so familiar “Number Please”. Missouri Union Telephone Company was merged in to the KLM Telephone Company in 1973.

    On December 21, 1987 all four exchanges were converted to digital. KLM could now offer services we had only heard about on TV. Call waiting and touch tone would prove to be the most popular.

    Ken Kern died on February 10, 1990. His widow Cathy continued to operate the company until selling to the RBJ Corporation on December 23, 1992. This family oriented business is made up of the Copsey family with Evan and wife Jane having the honorable positions of President and Vice President. RBJ stands for Reese, Bruce and Jennifer with Reese taking the role of outside plant manager, and Bruce overseeing the office management.

    In 1999 the offices would again be upgraded with new central office equipment. This would allow you to choose your long distance company. By the end of 1999 internet service would also be offered to allow local access to our customers.

    In November 2007 the company would be purchased by American Broadband with Reese and Bruce staying on as local managers.

    Late October of 2008 the central office and remotes were upgraded with new switching equipment.

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