Fourway.Net Celebrates Over Two Decades of Service
Family atmosphere contributed to inviting environment
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell
The old adage of “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” is certainly one adopted by father-and-son duo, Roland and Ryan Houin. The two have owned Fourway.Net in South Bend for over two decades. Roland started the Internet company as a dial-up Internet service decades ago, and has expanded over the years to become a successful, thriving business.
“We had AOL dial-up at our house and we could only go on it, like, one hour a week.” Ryan says. “It didn’t work all that great, so it started from that. [My father’s] thinking was, ‘Maybe I can just do it myself and save some money.’ After he started doing that, he ran into people in town that ran into the same problem, so he started to offer it to them too. He gained a network of people all over.”
After Roland brought back wireless Internet from a Motorola conference in the early 2000s, people went crazy for it. Being able to access the Internet without needing to have a phone line was important for many people, as well as many businesses. Suddenly, the Internet became much cheaper, and much more accessible. As the company grew, so did the need for employees. Ryan has been working there since the early 2000s, when he was in high school.
Today, he works as the operations manager, and he enjoys his job now just as much as he ever did. He recognizes the family atmosphere as the biggest contributor to happy, engaged employees. By having a smaller chain of command, the environment is much more intimate, and therefore much more inviting.
Ryan refers to it as a learning environment. He says the people are much closer, so they can easily get feedback from different people. While they all have a similar mindset, he says every employee has different strengths and different skills that help make it successful.
“Since it’s a family-run business, we’re more open to hearing people’s ideas, and we won’t chastise them or get mad at them. We have a lot of ideas over the years that have come from just regular employees,” Ryan says.
In addition to family, the company places a big emphasis on honesty.
“We try not to sugarcoat things. Several years ago, we made the decision to advertise what speeds people could expect to see most of the time. The most unique thing is how clear and blunt we are with our prices, what we offer, and what we do. We try to do that with our Internet support people, too. If someone calls in and we can’t provide them Internet service, we will say that.”
Fourway.Net provides service for the majority of Marshall County, St. Joe County, Kosciusko County, Elkhart County, Fulton County, and Stark County. They work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and then 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. If you would like a free site survey, you can reach them at 574-277-7720 or 800-733-0062. You can also visit them online at fourway.net.