Back in 1999, when they were introduced to alpacas at the Ohio State Fair, Jeff and Marie Bradford never dreamed that the South American-bred animals would one day become their livelihood.
Fast forward to today. On a 200-acre property set among the rolling hills of Southern Ohio, Harmony Ridge Farms is home to both the Bradfords and more than 40 alpacas. The couple raises the alpacas, enters them into competitions, and sells both the animals and their fleece. Fibers from the Bradford’s alpacas end up in many finished products such as blankets, mattresses—and even as a lining for the ultimate blue jeans.
A Growing Business
The Bradfords rely on the Internet for virtually every aspect of their business: managing livestock purchases, registering for shows, organizing deliveries, and handling countless other business tasks. However, according to Marie, “The hilly, rural setting is perfect for the animals, but not so good for Internet access.”
Since Harmony Ridge Farms is located beyond the reach of cable or DSL, the Bradfords thought that dial-up was their only option for Internet access. But the clunky dial-up service quickly presented challenges. So when the couple learned about HughesNet® Business Internet service by satellite, they decided to give it a try.
HughesNet offers a full suite of services designed to help businesses like Harmony Ridge Farms thrive. The seven HughesNet Business Internet plans can also be customized to include private networks and backup solutions, and offer download speeds up to 5 Mbps—the fastest satellite Internet access available in North America.
“Set-up was easy,” said Jeff. “The installers were done within an hour.” Their new HughesNet service quickly enabled the couple to streamline communications with customers and suppliers, build a dynamic Web site, and create a presence at online livestock auctions.
As their business needs evolved, the Bradfords began to rely more and more on high-bandwidth applications, such as using streaming video to monitor online auctions. And as Harmony Ridge began to attract more interest through its Web site, the couple realized they needed higher speeds to expand their online capabilities. “Changing plans just took one phone call to Hughes and the next day we had faster speeds than ever before,” said Jeff.
In February 2009, after a blustery ice storm knocked out power and phone lines, the Bradfords’ HughesNet service came back quickly, and they were able to let family, friends, and business contacts know that all was well. It was seven days before the phone lines were back, but they were able to use their HughesNet service to continue operations.
Reliable Connectivity Makes All the Difference
“Running a business from a rural community is really tough, but over the past few years we’ve realized that a good Internet connection can make it a whole lot easier,” added Jeff. “We’re constantly reaching out to potential customers through email and inviting people to visit, so it’s really necessary that we have a reliable, high-quality connection. We’re glad we’ve found that with Hughes.”
Jeff’s advice for other small businesses? “If you’re trying to run on dial-up, you’re back in the dark ages. You need to get HughesNet and you need to get started now.”
Today, knowing that their HughesNet service is reliably taking care of their business Internet needs, the Bradfords are busy tending the farm—adding alpacas to their herd, attending competitions—and setting their sights on winning a few blue ribbons.