19 POWER TO THE PEOPLE CHAPTER ONE Ray Clouse went hat in hand to Washington, D.C., to ask for a loan from the REA. REA loans typically supported distribution co-ops, not data processing centers. But instead of saying no, the REA administrators told Clouse he would need to receive a 10-year contract for IT services from every Member. Amid the near-constant transformation in computing, it was unimaginable that any customer would sign a contract guaranteeing that they would not change their technology vendor for 10 years. “It was a challenge, but it was a challenge that I really liked to take on,” says Clouse, a former programmer who, as it turns out, was also a born salesman. “There was nothing I enjoyed more at that time in my life than to go into the co-ops and convince them.” Ransom Knutson, a founding director of Consolidated Telephone and an incorporator of NCDC, was by his side when Clouse returned to Washington with the contracts — plus 10 extra from new Members. “We had everybody. We had electric. We had telephone. We had all of them,” says Clouse, still relishing the memory of the surprised reaction he received. Today’s rural electric and telecom managers can’t imagine a time when electric and telephone lines bypassed rural America or when technology for their billing, accounting and engineering functions wasn’t readily available. But today, Members of NISC know that they can receive better service from one of their own than they can from a huge software company that sells off-the-shelf products. Loyal electric and telephone cooperatives shaped the early history of NCDC and CADP. Now, joined by power utility districts, municipals, In a turning point for NCDC, Ray Clouse, NCDC Services Representative and then General Manager from 1979 to 1992, received 10-year commitments from Members, which enabled him to secure REA loan funds in 1982. continued on page 20