Derek McKee says he knew at a young age he wanted to live and work right here in Greene County where he grew up. Today, the 1999 Linton-Stockton graduate is doing just that as co-owner of Hicom Inc.

Derek recently met with our Greene County CEO Trio to share the story his family-owned business. Hicom stands for Hiatt Communications— named after his grandpa, Ralph Hiatt, who started the telecommunications business in Lyons in 1989. Hicom Inc. offers telephone service, home and business alarm systems, along with surveillance cameras. Derek worked for the company when he was in high school and continued to do so while he studied telecommunications at Vincennes University. He and his cousins went on to take over Hicom Inc. CEO students learned about Derek's industry as he talked about the need to adapt to ever-changing technology. He shared how Hicom Inc. prides itself on service, explaining anyone can buy anything on the internet, but the internet doesn't always provide great customer service. Derek says they rely on repeat customers and word-of-mouth advertising and are on year 9 of increased revenue. He added that during the pandemic, they kept busy because of the increased need for people being technically set up to work from home. When it comes to the general business environment, Derek says, "We've got to have all different types of workers. Not everyone is meant to be a manager. If you don't have the desire to be in leadership, that's okay. This country doesn't operate if everyone is a manager. However, no matter what your role is, you can always be a leader by taking ownership in whatever you do."

As if Derek isn't busy enough co-owning Hicom Inc., he and his wife, Jessica, also own and operate “Mind If I Smoke? BBQ and Catering”. Derek says he enjoyed smoking meat as a hobby, then his friends and family started asking him to do it at special events. That's when Derek and Jessica decided to make a business out of it! Derek talked about the challenges of catering and says with both of his businesses, having a good reputation is a must, especially in a small community. Derek left students with this advice: "No matter what you do, be adaptable in business. What you do on the first day of your job and what you do on the last day when you retire are nowhere near the same. Things constantly change, so being adaptable is huge. Don't be afraid to take advice from people who have your best interest at heart. There are people who really do care about you and they're going to take the time to give you advice as someone you respect and love."

Thank you, Derek, for sharing you experience, stories, and great life advice with Greene County CEO!

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