TelCom Construction Inc.
With the purpose of having quality people performing quality work, Mark Muller and Steve Brings founded TelCom Construction Inc. (TelCom) in 2000 with a small group of industry professionals. The teams’ combined experience in telephony outside plant utility construction is dedicated to building a better company based on providing a unique and positive customer experience. The business started in a backyard shed with seven employees and has now grown to eight locations with 350 employees across the Midwest and Southwest United States.
“We are primarily in telecommunications, cable TV, broadband and wireless markets, with some gas and power work under the utilities contracting head,” Muller explains. “We perform project management, turnkey bid projects and master service agreements to tier 1-2-3 communication companies, co-ops and independent companies that are in the broadband and wireless sector throughout the Midwest.”
In addition, divisions of TelCom perform reclamation of copper cable for recycling, technical services work and installation operations for wireline and wireless companies. “We set ourselves apart with accountability within our organization in order to provide a better service to our customers,” Muller continues. “We hold our entire team accountable for performance. The team embodies our core values of character, team work, passion and organization for results that are performance, quality and safety driven.”
With diverse capabilities, TelCom’s target markets are communications companies of varying size. The company offers master service agreements and project-based services for vendors, such as Century Link, TDS, AT&T, Verizon, co-ops and independent communication companies, as well as municipalities and renewable energy projects in the company’s wire line division. The company is licensed in 22 states throughout the country with branches in Omaha, Neb., Sioux Falls, S.D., Houston, Texas, Elko, Minn., Phoenix, Ariz., Kansas City, Kan., as well as company headquarters in Clearwater, Minn.
TelCom is currently working on a major project with Century Link in Omaha. Prism is a broadband product offering high-speed data along with other services. According to Muller, the region will see one of the first major implementations of the new product, which compares very favorably to the current service offerings in the area.
“This system build has been a large undertaking for us and Century Link,” he details. “It’s a broadband network they may choose to implement in other markets.”
The company is also performing 4G upgrades for a number of wireless communications service providers. TelCom has a division that works specifically in this sector. The crews are performing installations for independent groups and engineering groups that represent major service providers, such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.
“With a company like Verizon, they are looking at a multi-billion dollar investment over the next several years and AT&T is right there with them,” Muller elaborates. “This work will present us with a lot of opportunities in such a rapidly growing market. You have towers, the cellular connections and the newest trend is small cell applications, which a lot of people are not yet aware of. These companies are concerned about data speed. Everywhere you go, people are using a massive amount of bandwidth. In areas with larger populations, we are installing the small cell systems. We put antennas on buildings and existing structures and these antennas reallocate data to increase bandwidth. This is cutting edge for the wireless industry.”
The business also performs turnkey fiber upgrades as part of the wireless network between towers. “We are using our construction division capabilities, as well as cell tower technicians to offer turnkey solutions for upgrades for wireless companies,” Muller explains. “We are currently part of a project that is installing cellular data extension to remote areas of the Midwest. As part of an ongoing project, last year we worked on cell sites in five states to improve cellular data and to upgrade cell tower signals to 4G services. We had to replace all the antennas on the cell towers and perform other system upgrades.”
The company also offers rural utilities services (RUS) for rural areas, helping connect people to broadband in less densely populated areas. TelCom works with independent telephone companies throughout the country, providing turnkey communications services, system upgrades and maintenance. Current work for this division has grown throughout the Midwest.
TelCom self-performs approximately 70 percent of its work, with the rest subcontracted out to other contractors. Therefore, Muller says his company has utilized subcontractors for all aspects of work, depending on project size, specifications and location, but always making sure that quality performance in maintained.
“We always try to do as much in-house as we can,” he explains. “Right now our staff is at about 350 people. Depending on how much work we have, we run 200 to 300 additional personnel through our contracting partners. Part of what we do at our level is coordination, but we put a lot of resources into our jobs before reaching out to other contractors.”
Muller’s relationships with subcontractors are vital to the company’s success. Even more important is the company’s ability to forge relationships with clients. “The recent economic downturn was tough, but our relationships and positive word-of-mouth really helped us get through it,” he explains. “We have had a lot of energy and resources from early on, so we were able to overcome the obstacles. We are really proud of our team. Together, we have been able to build a nationally recognized company. We have kept our team employed with competitive benefits. The bottom line is that we want a happy team. We develop trust and friendships with our staff and our partners.”
Muller explains that as the need for TelCom’s services increases, the team is ready. “Only 35 percent of people in the United States have broadband in their homes,” he says. “As the demand for broadband service increases, we are prepared to meet the construction demand.”
With a vast amount of infrastructure growth and system upgrades slated across the country in the coming years, Muller and his team are looking ahead to new opportunities. “We will be expanding our broadband, wireless, gas and power markets,” he continues.
He projects a rate of growth of 14 to 20 percent each year over the next five years. Muller plans to continue to diversify the company’s services, always evolving to keep up with the market. “We are very good at evolving with the industry,” Muller notes. “Seeing what the customers’ needs are for the future is very important. That helps us maintain a five-year and 10-year plan for growth that capitalizes on our experience, quality reputation and financial capacity.”
With a broad line of services to offer and a strong dedication to customer service, TelCom Construction Inc. will continue to grow in the coming years, providing outstanding utility infrastructure services around the country.
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