07/02/2012 12:42 pm ET | Updated Sep 01, 2012

Facebook Pays Interns $75,000 -- Big Deal, So Do We

(June 26, 2012; Two Rivers, Wis.) -- Recently, the Facebook headlines were about the company paying interns, as well as some entry-level talent, $6,000 a month or about $75,000 per year. The news certainly caught our attention.

Facebook does a great job at grabbing attention. There’s nothing wrong with that – it has a popular product stemming from a great idea of a young entrepreneur who is now worth billions. Entrepreneurial savvy should be rewarded.

We decided to look into this a bit more because we knew something was missing from those headlines.

We Pay That Much

First – the conclusion we reached: we pay as much as Facebook for entry-level associates. Where are our national headlines! Now, the explanation.

Our company’s approach is to locate in and hire from smaller communities in more rural areas rather than in metro areas or the suburbs. HYDER Industries, and most of our affiliated companies, are headquartered in Two Rivers, WI. Based on cost of living data, it takes less than $30,000 annually for someone in Two Rivers to have the same quality of life that $75,000 would get them in Menlo Park, CA of Silicon Valley where Facebook is located. The cost of living index there is 226. Here in Two Rivers, the index is 89 (the national average is 100, of course).

We pay new entry-level associates about $30,000 in our Launch Pad program – and that’s for someone with no experience in our field of information technology. Launch Pad is more than an intern program – it’s a career development program on steroids. We seek out recent graduates and people from other industries who have an attitude and aptitude that fits our company culture.

We then coach them as we immerse them into our businesses for up to six months – looking for a career path that will satisfy them and help our companies grow and thrive. We’ve hired six Launch Pad associates in the last six months…and preparing to hire more.

That’s Real Life at a Real Value in Rural America

After starting Rural America Onshore Outsourcing, one of the HYDER companies, I soon realized how much experienced talent is out here in rural USA. They have the skills and knowledge to work at Facebook or any other large metropolitan company, but they prefer the lifestyle of places like Two Rivers where a long morning commute is considered anything over 5 minutes – and you probably get to enjoy a beautiful view of Lake Michigan on the way.

Two Rivers is a city of 13,000 where it takes me two minutes to walk across the bridge outside our front door to M&M Lunch where I get a huge serving of biscuits and gravy (3 whole biscuits cut in half drowning in home-made sausage gravy) with a soda for $6.50. For lunch or dinner, I might order hot roast beef on two slices of bread, covered in mash potatoes and slathered in beef gravy and that soda for $7.50. They even let me take the large soda glass with me back to work. Which reminds me, I have about a dozen of them I need to return.

We bought our headquarters building in 2011. It is 4,200 square feet right downtown, on the river just a couple hundred yards from the harbor, with eight boat slips (so we are technically an IT company and a marina) – for $170,000!

Median sale price of a home here is just under $80,000 while in Menlo Park it is $515,000. And we don’t suffer the bubbles and bursts of large metro areas. Home prices here have stayed pretty consistent through the recession.

The crime rate in Menlo Park is 22 crimes per 1,000 people. In Two Rivers, it’s 0.14 (and decreasing). Not only do we have little crime, more than half of them are solved. For the last five years, the crime clearance rate here has been above 50 percent compared to a national average of about 22 percent. That made me wonder about the last murder in Two Rivers. Nobody I asked could remember. After a little research, I found that it was in 2003.

And this isn’t the boonies. I can be at Lambeau Field to watch the Green Bay Packers in 30 minutes. The renowned Wisconsin Maritime Museum and a 1920s-style performing arts center are ten minutes away in our twin city of Manitowoc, population 35,000, and headquarters of the global crane and food service giant, Manitowoc Company and of AMEX traded Orion Energy.

The area has a great business mix. Lowe’s is 10 miles away. Walgreen’s is on the other end of downtown. Kurtz’s Pub and Deli, another great place to eat, is almost next door and has been run by the same family since 1904; that’s three generations. It’s three blocks to Schroeder’s Department store, which opened in 1891 and is now under its 4th generation of ownership by the same family.  

HYDER and our family of companies hope to join that list of long-term successful companies, so we pay competitive salaries to talented, skilled professionals who have decided to avoid the rat race so they can concentrate on serving customers.