V: Why did you decide to start a tower company?
M: Good question. Generally speaking, I have been interested in small business operation for a good part of my life. I’ve either started or bought into a half dozen enterprises over the last twenty years. Business ownership comes with a lot of risks and a ton of challenges, but it also offers rewards not always available when working for others. I’ve been fortunate to be married to a spouse that accepts the risks of business ownership with me and understands the commitment needed to make a business successful. Without that support, owning a business would be a whole other battle! Why a tower company? Success consists of a load of preparation so that when opportunity knocks, you are ready to open the door. That’s what happened with Heartland Solutions. An opportunity came up to start the business with a partner. I had been working in the wireless communications construction industry for over a decade, with experience in project management, accounting and operations management, so I thought that I was prepared. Wow was I wrong! I have to say – glad I did it. I’ve learned so much and continue to do so today.
V: What is unique about Heartland Solutions?
M: There is a depth of experience and knowledge of wireless communications infrastructure construction at Heartland like none that I have seen before. Those that have the knowledge here are anxious to share it. I think that is what makes us unique. From the Safety Department to our Civil / Electrical Division to our Tower Division, our managers have a high level of experience and knowledge of their craft. What is exceptional about Heartland is the dedication of our field and office managers and crew leaders to instruct daily to make our overall organization stronger. The basic fact that they are training is not unique. It is the success that they have due to their diligence and dedication to teaching that sets them and the company apart. I have to say that I’m impressed. I may not say that enough, but my hat is off to the teachers in this company.
V: What do you value most about our culture and vision that has been set forth for Heartland Solutions?
M: The first wireless construction company that I worked for had a 401k program that offered matching contributions. That company made a real effort to show its employees that they were valued. I have strived to pass that culture along at Heartland. We have a very strong 401k matching program and we offer to each participating employee access to retirement planning advisors. I believe that we have the ability to help each other and that this effort will come back to the company in motivated employees who see the value of their efforts.
V: To what do you attribute Heartland Solutions success over the years starting from 2007 to now?
M: It would be easy to say that living up to our mantra is the answer: Safety, Quality, Productivity. A lot of good companies with similar mantra’s have gone by the wayside, though, over the years. Safety, Quality and Productivity are crucial to the success of our company and have been the bedrock upon which we build the business. Perseverance, though, has to be the answer to your question. The business was started in 2007. By 2008, the country was in the midst of the great recession. Our customer base was small and growing, but when the economy tanked, our prospects withered up. We persevered. Heartland took work securing and maintaining homes among other projects until the wireless industry picked itself back up. The company has faced challenge after challenge after challenge – the latest being the Covid-19 pandemic. We have and continue to persevere by being innovative and flexible. We hire exceptional people that are not rigid in their thinking, but able to switch gears quickly. Once again — our success comes down to our people.
V: How does your company help the community where it is located?
M: Most of Heartland’s employees are from Indiana with the company directly employing over 70 people, full-time. We have been able to provide competitive wages and benefits to all employees. The community benefits as our employees buy and spend locally. Additionally, Heartland has been involved with Habitat for Humanity on multiple house building projects, with our employees volunteering their time and energy and the company donating the use of a boom truck to set struts. We are proud of being a Hoosier company and we utilize Hoosier suppliers, vendors and subcontractors whenever possible. The reach of our company, really, is phenomenal. We have over 400 suppliers and subcontractors, so you can quickly see how many people the company touches.
V: What professional achievement, for the company, are you most proud of?
M: There really are a lot of phenomenal things that our employees have done. Naming a few projects: DAS installation in the Detroit Marriott’s 72 floors, abutting the General Motors headquarters; Helping to bring capacity and coverage to multiple carriers in a very short window in 2012, when Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl; Constructing the largest renewable energy projects in Indiana on an EPA Superfund site (Kokomo, IN) and being a significant part of the 5G workforce for America. I am in awe of our workforce – coming up from a single crew to where we are today. I’m proud of our people – we set out to build up a civil division and now we can routinely construct 50+ rawland tower sites annually. What an achievement!
V: What are some qualities you look for in your employees on the field and in the office?
M: I’ve learned that technical skills can be taught, but integrity, diligence and team-mindedness are important ingrained characteristics that need to be there when a candidate lands at our door. Those that succeed within Heartland exhibit these qualities and are driven to be the best that they can be. They learn what it takes to be of the most benefit to their team, including what it takes to step up within the organization. So, yeah… integrity, diligence and team-mindedness.
V: What’s Heartland Solution’s goals for 2021? In the next five years? The next ten years?
M: This year, even though our company has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been fortunate. We all know people and businesses that have fared much worse. So, 2021… our annual sales goals and financial goals have been battered a bit in the first half of the year. Due to the efforts of Heartland’s management team, however, we have seen an up-tick in our projections and we’re confident that we can get back to a more solid platform. We often set five year goals that include financial and cultural segments. I have joked that we will be installing telecommunications satellites and lunar renewable energy farms in the not so distant future. With the speed of technological advancement, that may not be far off the mark! Five year goals… we expect to see continued steady growth, that follows the strong expectation for wireless infrastructure construction. We also expect to expand the business geographically as we follow key customers to other regions. Ten year goals… Well… pack your space suits.