President/CEO & Co-Founder, Boycom Cablevision, Inc.
Chairman of the Board of Directors, ACA Connects
Patty Boyers has always been the kind of person who sees what needs to be done, and does it. Raised on a row-crop farm in southeastern Missouri, she grew up accustomed to hard work and self-reliance. Her parents, she says, “knew how to do so much with so little, they could do anything with nothing at all.” She still uses her mother’s hoe and her father’s sharpening file in her large home garden. Boyers was studying journalism at the University of Missouri when her father fell ill, requiring multiple bypass surgeries. She returned home to the farm to help out.
Boyers was in love with a local plumber who “had big dreams about not being a plumber.” Steve Boyers had a small trencher and loved machinery — the bigger the better. The couple married and got into cable construction and custom road boring. They worked together — he as an equipment operator, she as a swamper and bookkeeper for Boyers Communications, contracting with telecom companies.
In the early 1990s, the Boyerses decided they wanted cable TV at home. The nearest cable operator wasn’t interested in crossing a national forest and dealing with the U.S. Forestry Service, which would have been necessary to deliver service to their area. The couple counted up neighbors, figured there were enough to support a small operation, and Boycom Cablevision was born. The process of obtaining that U.S. Forestry permit launched Boyers’ interest in the legislative process. “We learned real quick that you have to be politically active if you’re ever going to get a bureaucracy to do anything,” she says.
Getting into the cable business via construction was a different route than most new operators follow, and the Boycom founders had much to learn about the content side of the equation. “We heard about a brand-new association called the NCTC [National Cable Television Cooperative] being formed in Kansas City. Steve and I drove up and met with a young man named Frank Hughes. We were the poster child for what they were trying to do. Thirty years later, NCTC still provides Boycom with our linear content. We grew up with them.”
Boyers doesn’t see herself as a visionary entrepreneur, but as the practical one who turns big ideas into reality. “I have learned that the harder you work, the luckier you seem,” she says. That pragmatic approach has taken her to a variety of leadership roles, as president and CEO of Boycom, and as Chairman of the Board of ACA Connects, the trade organization for small and mid-size cable operators. She has testified before Congress twice on behalf of ACAC and her fellow small operators. “Leadership to me is coming alongside, and getting out in front,” she says. “I’ve signed on the backs of paychecks and on the front, so I have empathy with the people who work with us.”