Longest running family business thrives in Alpine

In 2011 during an awards ceremony in Chicago, Alpine business owner Steve Neu was recognized as a cable television pioneer. In the photo, Cable TV Pioneers Association Chairman of the Board Mike Pandzik, Steve Neu, and Executive Director Les Read. 

Family-owned businesses play a crucial role in the economy, and some of the most successful businesses have been passed down in families from generation-to-generation. Mountain Zone TV Systems of Alpine is certainly one of them.

Owners Steve and Lawrence Neu of Alpine are proud of being a part of the longest running family-owned business in Alpine, which was founded in 1957 by their father Wallace I. Neu. Wallace, a native of Washington, served in the U.S. Army, and was stationed in Italy, where he met future wife and family matriarch Janett Giovanna Rogai. Wallace then finished his service at Fort Bliss in El Paso, and chose to raise his family of five children in the Big Bend.

“I was always associated with the business when I was growing up, working with my dad,” Steve said.

In 1956, Wallace started Mountain Zone TV Supply out of the family home, and opened a store that sold television sets, radios, and more. From 1957-2006 the business also built and maintained relays at 14 mountain locations in West Texas, and expanded into Mexico, serving 21 outlying towns and mining operations. Together with three other local businessmen, Wallace started Alpine TV Cable in 1961. Janett did bookkeeping and secretarial work, and was an outstanding salesperson, working for the company for 31 years.

In the 1980’s, the cable television industry made its mark nationwide. Steve called those the “Gold Rush” years, due to cable’s immense popularity and dramatic increase in revenue.

“At the time we started, cable TV was the mainstay of our business. It brought the most revenue,” noted Steve. “But as the years have gone by, a lot of our customers are a new generation, and they like to get their programming off of the internet where they can pick and choose which channels they want to watch.”

Eventually the business will migrate away from cable to online based programming.

“It was, in a lot of ways, not so much a business as a public service,” said Steve.  “When my father came here, he loved Texas, and he met the ranchers and cowboys, and liked their values. They basically coincided with his.”

After 64 years, the company’s future still looks bright, and while it looks towards the future, the slogan, “The Customer Comes First,” still has a special meaning because the Neu brothers know all their customers personally.

Said Steve, “We are constantly evolving and changing, and always finding ways to improve our product.”

Steve served seven years on the Texas Cable & Telecommunications Association advocating for all cable companies in Texas, and five years on the American Cable Association, now called American’s Communications Association, supporting small systems nationwide. He also made numerous trips to Austin and Washington from 1993 to 2005.

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