By Glenn Scott
Advertiser Staff Writer
Oceanic Cable begins a gradual leadership change today as a new president, Nate Smith, takes over from longtime chief Don Carroll.
The 58-year-old Carroll, who has been with the company since 1966, will serve as chairman until he retires at the end of the year.
Smith, an American, has been president and chief executive officer of Sky Network Television, the seventh-largest publicly traded company in New Zealand, for the past nine years.
Carroll said yesterday that Smith also has extensive experience as a former division vice president with Time Warner, which is now part of Oceanics parent company, AOL Time Warner.
Company employees have known since last summer that Carroll planned to retire after a quarter century as president.
He said yesterday that he wanted to ensure an orderly transition, and he was pleased to be handing off the executive tasks to Smith, who helped grow Sky Network Television to a national company with 400,000 customers.
Carroll, of course, did the same for Oceanic. When he began 34 years ago, he was one of a half-dozen employees. Today, he said, the company employs 580 people and serves about 357,000 customers on all major islands except Kauai.
Under Carroll, the company has built up an industry reputation as an innovator, becoming the first U.S. cable operator to offer video-on-demand services and one of the first to employ significant amounts of optical transmission fiber.
Oceanic spokesman Kit Beuret said the companys innovations extend to its decision to adopt computer-controlled cable boxes, allowing for early use of interactive games and shopping, and its head start in offering high-speed Internet cable service.
"Don has always hired people who were visionaries," said Beuret, "and he was a guy who could always figure out how to make the technologies work."
Carroll said yesterday that he envisions a relaxing retirement in Hawaii and at the familys vacation home in Montana.