As a young girl, Mitzie Branon never thought that she would one day be running a company only a few mere miles from her childhood home.
Today she is the CEO of Yadtel Group, a local telephone, Internet and television provider.
Branon was raised on Courtney-Hunstville Road in Yadkinville. She attended Courtney Elementary School and anxiously awaited her family’s summer vacation to Atlantic Beach each year.
“I had a wonderful childhood,” Branon said. “While I was a kid I loved to go on family vacations. That was always the highlight of the year.”
Branon said the rest of her summer days were spent playing on the grounds of Steelman Milling Company, which was owned and operated by her father and grandfather.
“My summers were filled hanging out at the mill and playing while all the work was being done,” Branon laughed.
Branon later attended Forbush High School, where she was a tennis player and dabbled as a track team member. She put more emphasis on her studies, though, and went to UNC-Greensboro after high school.
Branon decided to study accounting at UNCG, a field that fascinated her in high school.
“I took an accounting class at Forbush, and I really liked it,” Branon said. “I’ve always liked math and numbers, but I liked the aspect of the number crunching and making things balance. I’ve always thought it was a neat job.”
Branon buckled down in college and focused on her studies. After four years she was walking away with her bachelor’s degree in accounting.
“I worked very hard while I was there and was fortunate enough to graduate magna cum laude,” Branon said. “That was quite an accomplishment.”
Branon went straight to the workplace after graduation and took a job at Partners National Health Plans, a HMO company in Winston-Salem. After two years she was ready to move on to the next phase of her life, which led her to Yadkin Valley Telephone in 1990.
“I started out in the accounting department,” Branon said. “I ran payroll, did accounts payable, accounts receivable and worked my way up into doing general ledger and things like that. When the accounting supervisor retired I got promoted to her position.”
In 2005, Branon was temporarily promoted to a general manager position for the Yadkin Valley Telecom department. Her superiors were so impressed with her work ethic that they decided to leave her in the position permanently.
While working as a manager, Branon started working more closely with the company’s board of directors and CEO. So when the time came for the CEO to retire he was quick to name his suggestion for his successor. It was something Branon never expected to happen.
“When I came here to the accounting department in 1990 I never even considered my job now as a possibility,” Branon said. “
Since becoming CEO, Branon has been named to several boards on a state level. She serves as chair to the NC Telecommunications Industry Association, sits on the boards for Cooperative Council of NC, NC Cooperative Coalition and Carolina-Virginia Telephone Membership Association. She was event appointed to the Microelectronics Center of NC Board by Gov. Bev Perdue.
“One really exciting thing for me in this position was that I was asked to testify in Washington, D.C. to a subcommittee for small business for healthcare and technology,” Branon said. “This was a committee of the House of Representatives, and the hearing was entitled ‘Broadband: A Catalyst for Small Business Growth.’”
Today, Branon oversees the company through the rapidly changing world of technology. Yadtel is currently in the process of providing fiber to every home in its service area, a goal Branon would like to see completed before she retires.
“The whole industry is in the middle of lots of changes,” Branon said. “When I came here we just offered telephone service, and that was it. Now we’ve grown into offering AT&T Wireless, Internet and our local television channel.
“While I’m here I would love to see the completion of the fiber to the home project and all of our customers have access to that service,” Branon continued.
Branon has a husband, Mitch Branon, and two children, Mason and Sydney. Mitch, a Yadkinville native, is a computer programmer for Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
Mason and Sydney are both in college now. Mason is in his fourth year at NC State University studying agricultural business management, and Sydney is a freshman at UNCG with plans to transfer to Western Carolina University in the fall.
“We’ve had the empty nest syndrome since both kids have gone off to school but we’re fine,” Branon said with a laugh. “It was pretty easy to get used to it. We found out it didn’t take us long to adjust.”
Branon said she enjoys working off her stress in the garden, trying out new restaurants in downtown Winston-Salem and taking in the latest movie at the theater.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.