April Eads has been at Bristol Tennessee Essential Services for nearly 23 years, and it is not hard to see why we chose to honor her with the Versatility Award. Eads wears many hats, and the business development manager successfully juggles them all.
She started out in customer service, and then worked out in the field in engineering for three years before she took on her current role. She has a plethora of experience, first earning an associate’s degree from North East State in electrical technology before obtaining a Bachelor’s of Applied Science and Master’s of Science degree in engineering technology from East Tennessee State University. A Bristol local (she moved to the town as a junior in high school), she’s intimately familiar with the challenges of living in a rural environment.
“Even though we live in what some people would consider a smaller community, there’s over 500,000 people. Because we have these smaller communities, I can still be at Kingsport or Johnson City in a matter of minutes,” says Eads. “The community is wonderful, we’re very fortunate because we do have world class assets. We’re nestled in the hills of East Tennessee, but we’re so fortunate that we have these world class assets.”
And she’s certainly not exaggerating. BTES provides service to more than 33,000 customers in a 280-square mile service area. In 2005, the company began offering internet and cable TV services, and in 2006 the telephone services were fully operational. BTES now can provide 10Gbps to every business and home in its service area.
“We’re trying not to be a best-kept secret, because obviously we’d like to recruit new business to our industry,” Eads says. “When you think about east Tennessee, what comes to mind? I’m sure it’s not the connectivity that we have. We’re always trying to provide our customers with the service that they need and require.”
Eads’ job certainly keeps her busy. She works with new and existing regional industries to create jobs and capital investment, is on the phone with customers keeping all services running, works with the content providers on the cable side and runs all the contracts.
“I work with a lot of businesses, and it’s so important for us to keep both the electric and our cable and internet services on. That’s how we do business. It’s important to me that if they call, I’m available to assist them,” Eads says. As a certified economic developer, she works with all facets of the business. “I work with our business and industrial customers. On the flip side of that, on the cable side, I work with all of our content providers. I do the contracts and those kind of things,” she says. “I just love working with and for our customers. We have a great team here, it’s like a family.”
Not satisfied with just keeping her cable customers happy, Eads mentors students in the Bristol community in middle and high schools about their futures, emphasizing the importance of STEM. She’s also busy raising two children alongside her husband Tim.
– Mollie Cahillane