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Paul Freude, retired CEO/GM of Paul Bunyan Communications wins National Lifetime Achievement Award

(Bemidji, MN) (April 30, 2014) –Paul Freude, the former CEO/GM of Paul Bunyan Communications, has won the Manager Lifetime Achievement Award from the NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association.

Paul worked for Paul Bunyan Communications for 27 years, including 20 as the CEO/General manager from 1993-2012. Under his leadership, cooperative members gained access to many new technologies, including wireless phone, Broadband high-speed Internet, an all-fiber to the home network, home security, and multiple television service offerings, many of which were available here in northern Minnesota long before most of the country.

In the fast moving industry of telecommunications, Paul steered the cooperative into many new successful business ventures during his tenure as CEO/General Manager. The overall annual revenues have gone from $4.86 million in 1992 to $51.19 million in 2011 while total assets have risen from $19.6 million to $136 million. This has also created over 100 additional full time positions at Paul Bunyan Communications, and over 200 jobs at subsidiary companies including Pinnacle and Cooperative Development

The cooperative has continued to expand to new areas, providing access to Broadband services for the first time to many.

"I first met Paul when I was elected to the Board of Directors back in 1996. He was knowledgeable, well prepared, and ready to lead. It was with Paul's guidance that we moved forward on investing on upgrading our network and expanding out to reach more consumers. The results have been amazing. It's incredible to think of the impact he has had on the lives of tens of thousands of people through his work. On top of all that, he is just a great person. He is my friend and a mentor. I am so proud, he is truly deserving of the Manager Lifetime Achievement Award," said Kathy Peterson, Paul Bunyan Communications Board President.

"Paul has been my boss, mentor, and friend for my entire 25-year career with Paul Bunyan Communications. I have a tremendous amount of respect and gratitude for Paul and the leadership he provided me, our Cooperative, and our industry as a whole. Our Cooperative is very well positioned to be a leading provider of advanced communication services for decades to come thanks to his work. I'm very happy our national industry has honored the impact he has had," added Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General manager.

"I have been blessed and honored to work under Paul for nearly 15 years. He leads by example and with great foresight. As our industry changed dramatically and many companies remained idle, it was Paul who guided our cooperative into expanding our network and growing our membership. We went from having no high speed Internet or PBTV customers in 1998 to over 15,000 customers for each service well before he retired. Paul Bunyan Communications was one of the first in the country to build a brand new network into an area that already had a network provider starting in 1998 with our Connect Bemidji project. That success led to continued expansion to Cohasset, Grand Rapids, Lake George, Cass Lake, rural Park Rapids, and that expansion continues to this day. It's been amazing to be a part of such success. We basically were on our own, literally breaking new ground in our industry and most importantly for our cooperative. Paul would be the first to tell you that he did not do it alone but success starts at the top and there is no doubt in my mind our cooperative is as successful as it is because of Paul's leadership. This is an honor well deserved. " Said Brian Bissonette, Paul Bunyan Communications Marketing Supervisor.

NTCA's national awards are voted on by the association's Awards Committee, comprised of NTCA members. NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield presented the awards during the Rural Telecom Industry Meeting & EXPO Awards Banquet and Entertainment on February 5.

Paul Bunyan Communications has the region's largest and fastest all fiber optic network which provides Broadband High Speed Internet Services, digital and high definition television services, and digital voice services. Paul Bunyan Communications is a cooperative owned by the members it serves.


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