SECV gets new home
Jan 15, 2013 (The News-Item - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
NORTHUMBERLAND -- The new Service Electric Cablevision (SECV) facility along Route 11 north of the borough is a long time coming.
Most of the firm's 50 employees moved into the renovated and expanded former Danville Sales and Service building last month, consolidating an operation that was once spread out over three locations.
"It makes it very easy for me to manage everything," SECV general manager Dwight Walter said during an interview at the site last week. "I can interact better with all departments since it's all under one roof."
More than that, there is plenty of space in the 35,000-square-foot facility, including a garage with enough space to park 50 to 60 service vans and trucks, Walter said.
The new site offers the company a chance to improve customer service, he said, including a drive-through window where customers can pay their bills or drop off equipment.
Walters said SECV has "always been kind of split up."
"When we first started in Sunbury, our trucks were in a garage on Fifth Street while the office was on 10th Street. As we grew, we needed more room and that caused us to spread out," Walter said. "Now we have the ability to bring everything back together under one roof."
SECV, which serves the Sunbury, Danville and Bloomsburg areas, including the Shamokin-Mount Carmel area, began as Service Electric Company in Mahanoy City in 1948 as the nation's first cable television systems. Its corporate entities today includes operations in Lehigh Valley, Wilkes-Barre and New Jersey.
'Temporary' in Hamilton
SECV purchased the Point Township property in 2009 and had a construction plan in early 2011. Work on the facility began in October 2011.
Employees from the former office at Routes 61 and 890 in Hamilton just east of Sunbury moved to the new location Dec. 18, while field technicians currently using the former Dutch's Wholesale building along Route 61 a few miles east of the old SECV office will be housed at the new building by the end of January.
The Hamilton office was supposed to be SECV's home for just four years when it was purchased in 1994, Walter noted. The plan was to move to land the company had purchased along Route 487 in Elysburg.
"We ended up staying in the old (Hamilton) office for 18 years," he said.
The company still owns its property in Elysburg; it's the location of one of its relay hubs, similar to an electric utility substation.
Not only had SECV outgrown the Hamilton site, it was always under threat of small-stream flooding, which occurred there during Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.
"We were tired of getting flooded out," Walter said.
Longtime employee Lindy Mannello, current office manager, has been around for many of SECV's years of growth.
"We've certainly come a long way from the small half-double home on South 10th Street in Sunbury, when I started here," she said. "We aren't sharing computers or desks like at our old location, and we have room to grow."
The company also still has property on Mile Hill Road, Sunbury, the former location of its satellite dishes, which are now in Point Township. Mile Hill will remain as another relay hub location.
Danville studio stays
Employees of Service Electric's latest acquisition, CATV Inc., of Danville, will also soon move to the new complex, although still under the CATV name.
"The only thing that is not moving is the studio for their local station CCN Channel 8," Walter said. "They are fine in the downtown section of Danville, and we've recently put a new roof and added new equipment to their studio, including high-definition cameras."
However, SECV has the land to move that operation to Point Township as well if necessary, he said.
Walter noted the conference room at the new site is wired with a Smart HDTV with a camera for videoconferences, and the building has Internet access ports next to every power outlet.
The complex houses all of the fiber-optic systems for television programming, Internet and telephone system.
Some areas are still under construction, including a display case with company memorabilia, and an area highlighting its products.
"We will have a small area set up like a family room, with a TV and Internet set up so people can sit check out what we have to offer," Walter said.
The former trucking business provides the space needed to house the company's many service vehicles. The garage area includes automatic doors and a new heating and air conditioning system.
For customers, a drive-in window was installed at the front of the building where they can drop off payments or equipment, Walter said.
The lead contractor on the project was a Route 11 neighbor, Zartman Construction.
Walter declined to say how much it cost to construct the new complex, but called it "a good investment for the future."
He said the company tried to keep costs down and save money in the future by using "green technology" in its lighting and emergency power systems.
Also, Walter noted, "When we put the new roof on the garage, we made it strong enough to support solar panels if we want to go that route."
He said the project involved years of planning; the property was purchased in 2009.
He's aware customers will expect an increase in their cable bills to make up for the cost of the building, but he said the consolidated location will help the company control costs.
"With our new location, we are no longer paying to lease the Sunbury office building and will sell the garage on Route 61," Walter said. "We are saving wherever we can."
Besides, he said, costs for cable are mostly in the programming.
"I think WNEP will have more of an effect on (costs) than this building will," Walter said, referring to the Moosic TV station that staged a public battle with SECV last month during negotiations for a new contract between the two entities. "The programmers want more for the rights of their programs as we renew our contracts every three years, and there is always upward pressure for rates."
A 'thank you'
Walter believes employees are happy with their new home, and he hopes customers are, too.
"There has been a long wait for this by our employees," he said. "The company has provided us this great thank you for everyone's hard work."
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