Many years ago, a young man left his new bride with his parents and hopped on the Missouri Pacific Railroad with some radio repair test equipment and headed for Jefferson City. This was April of 1946 and you ask why Jefferson City? Well, that is one for the books! His father, Raymond Waldo Towner was an insurance salesperson and he was having lunch at a restaurant when lo, and behold, the guy he was sitting next to at the counter said they were looking for a radio repair person at the Melody Shop in Jefferson City. So, Raymond started his son, Vernon on a course that has spanned 74 years.
Vernon got off the train, walked uptown to the Melody Shop, and started working on Radios. Not the ones we have today, but the ones that stand up and weigh 60 pounds. The ones where you see pictures of the family sitting around and listening to Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds. Vernon, having no car, borrowed one from the owners in order to make service calls to people’s homes since they could not bring their radio in.
Vernon, wanting his new bride to come to Jefferson City to be with him, found a room on Broadway Street only a few blocks from downtown so that he could walk to work. He was now ready for his wife, Laura, to come join him in the original Bed & Breakfast. Vernon’s mom, Etta, got them a car from the manager of the Firestone Store – a 1930 Desoto 4 door black sedan for a whopping $400.
Working at the Melody Shop, technology changed and in came something called a television. Now you could not only hear Orson Wells, but you could see him. This brought in all kinds of new opportunities for sales, service, and something called an antenna – the first “Cloud system,” which had to be installed in order to receive a TV channel all the way from St. Louis as neither Jefferson City nor Columbia had any TV broadcast stations. In 1959 an improved version of the Black & White TV was ushered in and we had COLOR!
Also in 1959 Charles E. Still Hospital (now Capital Region Medical Center) added Nurse Call Audio/Visual Intercom. This brought a need for a local person to install and repair them, so Vernon learned another new technology: installing wire, cable, and hardware to make this Nurse Call System work, which changed our business from Retail to Commercial.
Many years selling intercoms and paging systems saw changes Vernon never could have dreamed of. His son, Mark came to work full time in 1973 and they began selling phone systems. Technology changed this industry overnight with new competition and never-seen-before features and capabilities. Selling phone systems grew the business dramatically. The first phones worked on 50 pairs of wires and in no time at all were working on 2-4 pairs of wires. The change in technology over the years was astounding!
Communications continued to change, when in 2003 we began installing phone systems onto computer networks, effectively combining data and voice. Today this is old news and all our telephony elements have changed to the “Cloud.” These new technologies brought challenges, but ultimately improved our systems and made them much more affordable. Wireless or WiFi is the newest technology that will continue to explode as 5G comes in. Our beginning was radios that delivered its technology over the air waves, just as we are doing today with the communication devices we all use in our daily lives.
Vernon has since retired. Mark and his wife, Susan, have since retired. Their son, Ryan, has taken the reins and we look to him to run the company for the next 74 years, or at least until his daughters are ready to jump into the fray and learn the technological ropes of their forefathers.
Family First from the start.
Family First for the future.