TDS Recognizes Amelia, Virginia Associate for 45 years of Service
TDS Telecommunications, LLC (TDS®) would like to recognize TDS Field Services Operations Assistant Cynthia O’Neal for her 45 years at the company.
“TDS makes a point to celebrate significant work anniversaries,” said Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Drew Petersen. “However, this anniversary is extraordinary as very few of our associates reach such an impressive milestone. Congratulations to Cynthia and thank you for your 45 years at TDS!”
O’Neal was born and raised in Amelia, Virginia. She started at TDS as a plant clerk when she was just 18 years old. This year, she celebrates her 45th year of working for the same company, TDS Telecommunications.
“My first day at TDS came in the middle of the biggest ice storm I’ve seen in my whole life in Amelia. When I walked in the door, the office was packed with field technicians from Wisconsin who were dealing with a huge power outage. Nobody in the town had any service, and I remember sitting there asking, what did I just get myself into? Luckily, things started looking up from there!” said O’Neal.
After the ice storm of 1978 cleared, O’Neal began to settle in as a plant clerk at the Amelia central office. In this role, she operated the step switch, wiring phone numbers to circle digits, and helping dispatch field technicians to service addresses.
“We obviously didn’t have computers at the time, so I would radio back and forth with the techs to make sure we had someone available to help the customers with service issues at their homes,” O’Neal said. “It doesn’t sound super exciting, but I always loved that part of the job.”
One of the technicians O’Neal worked with throughout her career is her former Amelia County High School classmate, Network Specialist Donald Morris. Starting at TDS just six months before O’Neal, Morris has been on the receiving end of countless dispatch calls from the central office. He’s been around to see the incredible value O’Neal has brought TDS for nearly five decades—both from a technical and overall office-morale standpoint.
“Cynthia has been an energizer bunny for as long as I’ve known her,” Morris said. “Not only has she kept TDS’ machines running smoothly, she’s also been a friend to everyone she’s crossed paths with. Our Amelia office wouldn’t have been the same without her all these years.”
In the last 45 years, O’Neal has seen four different telephone switches in the Amelia central office—the step switch, the digital central office (DCO) switch, the electronic digital switching system, and the current Metaswitch.
“I really loved the switch work, I just thought the programming was so fun,” she said. “I could hook somebody’s phone service up and do it quickly. Oftentimes, they’d still be in the parking lot after coming into the office, and I’d go out and tell them to go home and check for dial tone.”
Aside from her love for the work, it’s the people that have kept O’Neal at TDS for the past 45 years.
“To me, it’s just always felt like a big family here,” O’Neal said. “I’ve always lived by the saying that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s exactly how I’ve felt at TDS!”
TDS Manager of Field Services Al Schmeichel can attest to O’Neal’s vast knowledge and role as a key contributor to the company’s success.
“Cynthia is the cornerstone of our Amelia team,” said Schmeichel. “Throughout her career, she has fulfilled nearly every possible position in the Amelia office. As a result, her knowledge of the company is extensive—she knows every route and associated map in the exchange. Cynthia has seen just about every situation and solution in our industry throughout her remarkable career.”
“Growing up, I was always someone who loved the outdoors. I’d either be out playing games with my friends or indoors putting puzzles together. I never would’ve imagined a career in telecommunications, but I’m glad I found my home with TDS!” said O’Neal.
As part of her recognition, O’Neal was celebrated with a spotlight feature that was shared on the company-wide website where associates from around the company congratulated her on this amazing milestone.