From humble beginnings on a Minnesota farm to CEO of Cencom, Inc., Robert W. Bunke achieved his goals with vision, insight and steadfastness.
Rob Bunke began his career with Tri-County Electric Cooperative as an assistant stock clerk. He joined the Marine Corps during World War II and served through the Korean War. Discharged from military service, he returned to Rushford and his former employer, a move which led to the creation of the Fillmore County Telephone Co., now known as the Ace Telephone Association.
In 1951, Bunke was Ace’s first full-time employee. He later served as general manager and became executive vice president in 1975. Under Bunke’s leadership, Ace Telephone experienced steady growth and modernization. In 1967, the company acquired a CATV system and was providing cable service to two counties. Recognizing the growing need to provide consolidated engineering services, Bunke joined four of his colleagues in 1969 to form Central Communications, the predecessor of Cencom, Inc. He later became executive vice president and CEO.
Rob Bunke has played a prominent role in state and national associations, business, veterans, civic, church and sports organizations. He was president of the Minnesota Telephone Association in 1970 and vice-president of the Iowa Telephone Association in 1975. Likewise, he was an active member of USITA’s board of directors for 24 years, serving as secretary for nine years, on its Executive Committee and as president in 1979. During this time, he spearheaded the industry’s efforts with Congressional leaders on the need to revamp the Communications Act of 1934. USITA honored him in 1989 with its Distinguished Service Medallion.
He is a Bethel Bible teacher and a member of the Adult Christian Education Foundation’s Board of Directors. Bunke earned a Freedom Foundation Award in 1973 and the International B’nai B’rith Youth Service Award in 1979. He is listed in the 1978 “Who’s Who in America” and in the 1977 “Who’s Who in Industry and Finance.”