Archive for month: October, 2017

Meet Lindsey Ditchfield — GeoLinks’ New Director of Employee Wellness and Company Culture

GeoLinks: Let’s start with the basics, what is your role at GeoLinks?

Lindsey Ditchfield: My role is to ensure the overall well-being and happiness of our employees by creating and maintaining a safe, fun, healthy, proactive, and interactive work environment. It is my goal to go above and beyond any expectations that people have about thinking of going to work while simultaneously promoting a healthy lifestyle by bringing healthy food and snacks into the workplace. Finally, I aim to bring departments together to promote employee collaboration by setting up events, in-office lunches, and different activities that promote synergy.

GeoLinks: What inspired you to take on this brand-new position?

Lindsey Ditchfield: For as long as I can remember I have always been passionate about health and wellness and have wanted a career that impacts people’s lives in a positive fashion. In my personal life, I consistently help friends and family by coaching them to make healthy lifestyle choices, mentoring them through difficult decisions, and helping them resolve conflict. I’m both grateful and thrilled that I get the opportunity to help the staff at GeoLinks learn to help themselves.

GeoLinks:  What fuels your passion for health, wellness, and company culture?

Lindsey Ditchfield: In addition to everything previously mentioned, I truly feel that this is my life’s calling. This passion started long ago on my personal journey to find health and wellness. I worked relentlessly to find a way to incorporate healthy foods, exercise, mental well-being, and overall positive influences into my life each and every day. I essentially gave myself a life overhaul and saw the drastic difference it made in both myself and everyone around me. I am excited and thrilled to be able to bring my knowledge and experience to the GeoLinks’ team and support their desire for happy and healthy living.


GeoLinks: Why do you think company culture is so important?

Lindsey Ditchfield: Work is such a big part of our lives. In fact, we typically spend more time at work then we do at home. It is my goal to change the stigma of dreading to come to work every day. If I can make people instead excited and eager to come to work, then I will feel I succeeded.

GeoLinks: Outside of work….where can we find you?

Lindsey Ditchfield: When I’m not at work, I’m with my husband and daughter. My family is what drives me. Both my husband and I strive every day to be a good role model for our daughter by leading by example. In our free time, we enjoy exercising in our home gym, going to the park, the beach, going on hikes, walks, or just enjoying time outside. At the end of the day, you’ll always find us at home watching Netflix and hanging out with our animals.

GeoLinks: What’s something that most of your coworkers don’t know about you?

Lindsey Ditchfield: I have a love for crystals and gems—you can find them throughout my home. They fascinate me, and I find them both beautiful and calming.

GeoLinks: What is your all-time favorite workout?

Lindsey Ditchfield: My favorite workouts are weight training and yoga. I feel like they naturally compliment each other.

GeoLinks: How do you think your role will have an impact on GeoLinks as a whole?

Lindsey Ditchfield: I believe that the team will both feel and be happier, ultimately making them more productive at work. The more staff feel appreciated, safe, and supported, the more their productivity, career longevity, and health will rise. This translates directly into staff taking fewer sick days and producing a higher quality of work.


GeoLinks: What’s your favorite healthy snack?

Lindsey Ditchfield: My go-to healthy snacks are fresh, organic fruits, nuts, and fresh veggies with nut butter. I also really enjoy freshly made green juices.

GeoLinks: Can you give us a sneak peek into some upcoming initiatives you will be working on?

Lindsey Ditchfield: My top initiatives are bringing healthy and affordable breakfast and lunch options into the building, making exercise classes available during the day, creating fun team bonding events, administering physical and mental wellness check-ins, and offering in-house chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapy sessions. Additionally, I am working on turning our company into a green office. From healthy soaps, cleaners, reusable dishware, and biodegradable paper items, I am ultimately attempting to eliminate plastic everywhere possible. In effect, each employee will have their own personal GeoLinks water bottle, and coffee/tea cup so we can cut out waste and reduce our footprint.

Parallel to the fun activities and nutrition, I am going to act as their safe space to come check in and just talk about how they’re feeling. From work life and home life, to feedback for the office, their peers, or their bosses, to being the space where they can bring new ideas to the table, I want every employee to know they will be heard.

Have you Heard of GeoLinks? If not, you will soon.

RCRWireless.com

Is it possible to disrupt the “big four” carriers? We say yes. California-based telecom company, GeoLinks, is doing just that, proving that even new players can substantially impact the industry as we know it. In the past six months alone GeoLinks has been asked to sit on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups including the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC), the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) Working Group, and WISPA’s FCC Advisory Board.

Founded in 2011, much of GeoLinks’ early success can be attributed to its flagship product, ClearFiber™,which provides customers truly redundant fixed wireless broadband. Boasting ultra-low latency, 99.99% uptime, sub 10ms jitter, and a 4-hour max response time, GeoLinks holds the industry’s best Service Level Agreement backed by in-house U.S. based customer support. GeoLinks’ ability to rapidly deploy Hosted Voice, Temporary and Event Circuits, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction has contributed to the company’s accelerated growth.

So, why all the recent recognition?

2017 has been a monumental year for the innovative Internet and Phone provider. From officially earning its status as a competitive local exchange carrier public utility to launching nationally, to building 37 custom towers—the majority solar and wind-powered—GeoLinks’ dedication to making industry advancements has propelled it to become the country’s second fastest-growing privately-owned Internet Provider.

Amongst its many accolades, GeoLinks was also the largest construction grant winner for California K-12 schools and libraries in both 2016 and 2017 enabling it to successfully connect 21 rural anchor institutions, and counting, with high-speed broadband. GeoLinks’ recognized passion and dedication to closing the digital divide has prompted company CEO, Skyler Ditchfield, to be a featured speaker at many high-caliber events including the upcoming 10th Annual TC3 Summit taking place Nov 1-2 in Silicon Valley.

“I recognize the skepticism and wireless anxiety that people have surrounding fixed wireless technology,” says Ditchfield. “People think that the technology is inherently flawed, when that’s just not the case. It is an ongoing challenge for our company to re-educate the market that the problem doesn’t lie in the technology itself. In fact, the technology has been around since the 60’s and is actively utilized by large companies in the New York Stock Exchange and Militaries around the world. The real problem falls with improper installation. That’s why, at GeoLinks, we decided to bring everything in-house. We’re general contractors, and from land procurement, to building the actual towers, to customizing network configurations, our team ensures that the technology is deployed properly. When deployed correctly, ClearFiber™ is the most effective and superior solution available on the market.

So, you’ve never heard of GeoLinks before? You can be assured that the thriving telecom will be a large player in the country’s evolving national broadband discussion in 2018 and beyond.

Hantheon Podcast: Award-winning Growth Through People — Skyler Ditchfield

https://player.fm/series/hantheon-leadership-podcasts/award-winning-growth-via-people-011

Join Skyler Ditchfield on the Hantheon weekly podcast series as he discusses his leadership in team-focused culture, and how it contributed to winning an INC Award for rapid growth. Find the podcast at https://lnkd.in/gz8kD-X

Skyler is the CEO at GeoLinks. GeoLinks is one of the fastest growing telecom businesses. And Skyler brought his team experience to bear in order to make this success happen. This is the next podcast in Hantheon’s weekly series on leadership. You can find the podcasts at https://lnkd.in/gz8kD-X And post your perspectives on Skyler’s podcast at Hantheon’s Discussion Forum. Here you can share ideas and connections. Find the Discussion Forum at https://lnkd.in/ga5265P

Connect America Fund Phase II, Auction Connect America Fund

Before the Federal Communications Commission
Washington, DC 20554
In the Matter of Connect America Fund Phase II Auction Connect America Fund
AU Docket No. 17-182 | WC Docket No. 10-90

REPLY COMMENTS OF GEOLINKS

California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”) submits these reply comments in response to comments filed on the Public Notice issued August 4, 2017 in the aforementioned dockets.

I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

GeoLinks is proud to service the largest coverage area of any single fixed wireless Internet service provider in the state the California. As the Company expands, it strives to reach unserved and rural areas within California and beyond, including schools, libraries and residential areas. GeoLinks provides these reply comments in response to comments filed on the proposed procedures to be used in the Connect America Fund II Auction (“Phase II Auction”) and to emphasize the Company’s goal to promote robust broadband deployment in unserved and rural areas across the United States.

II. DISCUSSION

A. The Commission Should Craft a Straightforward Process for the Phase II Auction That Encourages Participation from Small and Mid-Sized Service Providers

GeoLinks commends the Commission on its efforts to develop rules for the pre-auction process for the Phase II Auction. The Company believes that the Phase II Auction has the potential to ensure broadband deployment to some of the most remote areas of the country and further the Commission’s goals of connecting rural America to high-speed broadband access. However, GeoLinks agrees with the American Cable Association (“ACA”) that aspects of the auction processes proposed in the Public Notice, although potentially sound in some ways, may have the effect of turning off many serious bidders and enabling only larger interests to win bids at higher bid amounts. To avoid this outcome, the Commission must develop pre-auction rules that encourage “vigorous bidding by multiple providers, thereby driving prices lower to efficient levels.”

i. The Proposed Financial Qualifications Metrics Posed in the Public Notice Will Not Promote Robust Bidding in the Phase II Auction

The Public Notice proposes a five-point financial qualification assessment scale to help staff determine whether an applicant satisfactorily demonstrates its financial qualifications prior to the Phase II Auction. Specifically, the Public Notice explains that an applicant with a score of less than three points on this scale “would warrant a more in-depth review of the full set of financial statements submitted with the short-form application, as well as other information, to determine whether the application is qualified to bid the Phase II auction.” While GeoLinks agrees with commenters that the Commission is wise to seek to ensure that an applicant is financially qualified prior to participating in the auction process, GeoLinks echoes the concern of ITTA – The Voice of America’s Broadband Providers (“ITTA”) that the Commission’s current proposal is “overkill with respect to companies that have provided voice and/or broadband services for at least two years.” GeoLinks urges the Commission to recognize that these financial qualification metrics, as proposed, will preclude many small to mid-sized wireless broadband providers from bidding on Phase II Auction areas – providers that are well suited to serve far-reaching rural areas, generally at a lower cost than traditional, large providers.

As an initial matter, GeoLinks agrees with ITTA’s assessment that providers of telecommunications infrastructure routinely leverage debt to fund significant capital expenditures to expand and upgrade networks. For this reason, most telecommunications carriers that invest in their own networks would not clear the thresholds for at least the last two of the metrics proposed by the Public Notice. This is true not just for small and mid-sized broadband providers, but for many large providers, as well. Specifically, as the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (“WISPA”) points out, “every price cap carrier that is already receiving CAF support would fail the Commission’s test.”

GeoLinks agrees with WISPA that “if large, well-established price cap carriers cannot meet the Commission’s test, then it is highly probable that a vast number of potential smaller bidders would similarly fall short.” It seems clear that if the same providers that were eligible to receive multi-million-dollar CAF awards during the first phase of funding disbursement would now be ineligible to receive CAF awards during a subsequent phase, the proposed process warrants further review. In addition, as WISPA explains, such a process would have the effect of rewarding applicants that do not routinely reinvest capital in their own networks.

GeoLinks believes that a better metric for measuring whether a broadband provider possesses the requisite financial qualifications for initial consideration for Phase II Auction funding would be a showing in the short-form application that the applicant has provided voice and/or broadband services for at least two years. As ITTA explains, this measure was previously adopted by the Commission in the Phase II Auction Order to “provide assurance to the Commission that the entities that intend to bid in the auction have some experience operating networks or are otherwise financially qualified,” and to “provide the Commission with sufficient assurance before the auction that an entity has at a minimum level demonstrated that it has the ability to build and maintain a network.”

ii. The Commission Should Not Restrict the Use of Consultants Among Small and Mid-Sized Broadband Service Providers

The Public Notice seeks comment on procedures to prevent competitive harm that could occur from coordinated bidding. As part of this effort, the Commission specifically explains that the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has expressed concerns regarding employing the same third-party consultant as other applicants despite the requirement that an applicant “takes appropriate steps to ensure that any third party it employs for advice pertaining to its bids of bidding strategies does not become a conduit for prohibited communications to other covered entities unless parties to a joint bidding agreement.” While GeoLinks supports the goal to prevent waste, fraud and abuse of Universal Service Fund resources, the company agrees with the Rural Wireless Association, Inc. (“RWA”) that the Commission must be careful not to adopt restrictions that limit the ability of small and mid-sized carriers to rely on qualified consultants when participating in the Phase II Auction.

As an initial matter, small to mid-sized providers generally do not have dedicated auction experts in house. To be on equal footing with larger carriers that may have such internal personnel assets, it is important that small to mid-sized applicants be able to turn to third-party expert assistance (consultants, experts, and attorneys) in developing their Phase II Auction applications. Given the Commission’s stated goal of encouraging participation in the Phase II Auction from a broad range of providers, the Commission should recognize that there are likely to be far more applicants than consultants with the requisite expertise to provide effective counsel. In order for providers to get the expert advice needed to prepare an effective application at affordable rates, GeoLinks agrees with WISPA, ACA, and NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association that the Commission should allow applicants to “share the costs of a single expert” in order to “encourage greater participation by smaller entities and allow them to compete against larger providers on a more level playing field.”

In order to mitigate the uncertainty that such consultant sharing may cause, GeoLinks supports WISPA’s suggestion that the Commission “adopt a ‘safe harbor’ of conduct that will be deemed to not be a violation of the Commission’s anti-collusion rules.” Specifically, the Company believes that so long as the consultant does not advise another applicant bidding for the same census block group, there should be a presumption that safeguards have been established to ensure the consultant is not acting as a conduit for prohibited communications between or among bidders, pursuant to the Commission’s rules.

B. The Commission Should Craft Spectrum Policy to Benefit Eligible Phase II Auction Areas

As expressed in its opening comments, GeoLinks believes that the Phase II Auction presents an opportunity for the Commission to develop spectrum licensing policies specifically focused on unserved and rural areas. To meet the goals of the Phase II Auction Order, GeoLinks urges the Commission to allow Phase II Auction awardees the opportunity to obtain priority access to spectrum resources with which to serve these eligible areas. Specifically, GeoLinks urges the Commission to i) allow awardees to obtain spectrum resources sufficient enough allow robust point-to-multipoint (“P2MP”) services (for gigabit plus capacity) award these resources on either a “light licensed” or Part 101 basis, and iii) create spectrum license periods and renewal options that allow for investment in the equipment necessary to utilize them. New policies to this effect will allow wireless broadband providers flexibility in how they develop and design networks to meet the needs of the Phase II Auction eligible areas resulting in better application proposals and lower costs.

In addition to this forward-looking spectrum policy, GeoLinks urges the Commission not to create policy that could potentially hinder WISP participation in the auction process. In the Public Notice, the Commission proposes to require each applicant that intends to use radio frequency spectrum to submit information regarding the sufficiency of the spectrum to which it has access to aid the Commission in determining applicants’ capability to meet the public interest requirements of the Phase II Auction. As several commenters have observed, the Commission only proposes to subject applicants proposing to use spectrum to this requirement. As WISPA points out, “the Commission is not proposing to require an applicant proposing to use fiber to demonstrate that it has access to rights-of-way or utility poles for the 10-year CAF Phase II support term,” which, WISPA explains, is “in contravention to the Commission’s stated desire to have technology neutral rules that promote participation by a broad range of bidders.” GeoLinks agrees with WISPA’s suggestion that the Commission can remedy this disparity “by establishing a ‘safe harbor’ for any applicant proposing to use any licensed or unlicensed bands that historically have been used to provide the performance tier selected.”

Along a similar vein, GeoLinks urges the Commission to reject the Rural Coalition’s suggestion that it should require applicants proposing to rely on spectrum (and only those applicants) to submit propagation maps of their planned coverage areas as part of their shortform applications. This proposed requirement is similarly contrary to the Commission’s technology neutral goals but goes one step further to suggest that WISPs are not capable of designing a network utilizing existing spectrum resources despite the fact that most WISPs have been doing so, very successfully, for many years now.

Additionally, GeoLinks agrees with WISPA’s suggestion that the Commission should explicitly state that applicants may propose to use more than one spectrum resource to provide the services proposed in their application(s). GeoLinks has had success using licensed spectrum in the 6 GHz and 11 GHz bands for point-to-point wireless connections for a variety of users but has also broadly utilized spectrum in the unlicensed bands to provide service to its customers – primarily in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. In addition, GeoLinks is in the process of assessing new bands that it might be able to use for expanded service offerings (especially P2MP services). The band (or bands) an applicant will choose to utilize depends on a variety of factors including distance between connections, available licenses, building and subscriber density, equipment options, etc. Just as a traditional wired broadband service provider may use different network elements to deliver service, wireless providers do the same and should, therefore, not be precluded from using all the tools available to them to craft a proposed service solution for eligible areas.

III. CONCLUSION

In conclusion, GeoLinks urges the Commission to develop rules for the Phase II Auction in ways that will provide the greatest benefit to unserved, rural areas. Specifically, GeoLinks urges the Commission to avoid auction procedures that will place small to mid-sized wireless broadband providers at a disadvantage and create spectrum policy to benefit Phase II Auction areas.

Respectfully submitted,

GEOLINKS, LLC

/s/ Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer

/s/ Melissa Slawson, General Counsel/ V.P of Government Sales and Education

October 18, 2017

Footnotes that appear in the formal document:

1 Comments of American Cable Association, WC Docket No. 10-90 and AU Docket No. 17-182 (filed Sept. 18, 2017) (“ACA Comments”), at 5. 2 See ACA Comments at 6. 3 Public Notice at para. 58. 4 Comments of ITTA – The Voice of America’s Broadband Providers, WC Docket No. 10-90 and AU Docket No. 17-182 (filed Sept. 18, 2017) (“ITTA Comments”), at 2. 5 ITTA Comments at 4. 6 See ITTA Comments at 4. These metrics are: “(3) current ratio (i.e., current assets divided by current liabilities), where a ratio greater than or equal to 2 would receive one point; and (4) total equity divided by total capital, where a result greater or equal to 0.5 would receive one point.” Public Notice at para. 59. 7 Comments of Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, WC Docket No. 10-90 and AU Docket No. 17-182 (filed Sept. 18, 2017) (“WISPA Comments”), at v. 8 WISPA Comments at 22. 9 WISPA Comments at 22. 10 ITTA Comments at 2-3 citing Connect America Fund; ETC Annual Reports and Certifications; Rural Broadband Experiments, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 31 FCC Rcd 5949, 5985, para. 106 (2016) (“Phase II Auction Order”).11 Public Notice at para. 21. 12 Comments of Rural Wireless Association, WC Docket No. 10-90 and AU Docket No. 17-182 (filed Sept. 18, 2017) (“RWA Comments”), at 4-5. 13 See WISPA Comments at 4-5, citing Letter from Ross Lieberman (ACA), Michael Romano (NTCA) and Stephen Coran (WISPA) to The Hon. Chairman Ajit Pai, et al., AU Docket No. 17-182 and WC Docket No. 10-90 (filed Sept. 15, 2017). 14 WISPA Comments at 5. 15 See WISPA Comments at 5. 16 GeoLinks notes that if small to mid-sized wireless providers were given priority licensing access to sufficient spectrum for P2MP services in the 3.7-4.2 GHz or 6.0-6.4 GHz bands, the Company estimates that these carriers could deliver gigabit+ service at 1/10th the cost of fiber providers (or less). 17 See Public Notice at para. 37. 18 WISPA Comments at 14-15. 19 WISPA Comments at 15. 20 See Comments of the Rural Coalition, WC Docket No. 10-90 and AU Docket No. 17-182 (filed Sept. 18, 2017), at 19. 21 WISPA Comments at 15-16. 22 These new bands include TV White Spaces spectrum, which GeoLinks agrees with Microsoft Corporation should be added to the list of suitable spectrum bands in Appendix B of the Public Notice. See Comments of Microsoft Corporation, WC Docket No. 10-90 and AU Docket No. 17-182 (filed Sept. 18, 2017), at 4-5.

GeoLinks Makes Mogul’s Top 100 Innovators in Diversity & Inclusion in 2017

GeoLinks, Skyler Ditchfield

GeoLinks is a member of the SHLB Coalition, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) advocacy organization that supports open, affordable, high-capacity broadband connections for anchor institutions and their surrounding communities. Additionally, GeoLinks works with the Microsoft Whitespace Projects, pushing for more rural and urban wireless spectrum to ultimately drive up competition and lower industry costs which aligns with GeoLinks’ focuses to have a positive impact on the local economy.

Too see the full list visit: https://onmogul.com/stories/top-100-innovators-in-diversity-inclusion

GeoLinks Makes the Pacific Coast Business Times’ 50 Fastest-Growing Companies List

Original Source

GeoLinks Ranks No. 6 on the 2017 Pacific Coast Business Time’s Annual 50 Fastest-Growing Companies List with Revenue Growth Recorded at 340%.

CAMARILLO, CA (PRWEB) OCTOBER 03, 2017

GeoLinks, an industry-leading Internet and Phone provider, earned the No. 6 spot on the Pacific Coast Business Times’ (PCBT) 50 Fastest-Growing Companies list released Friday, September 22, 2017. Proudly serving the Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties, the PCBT’s annual list highlights the 50 fastest growing companies, both public and privately owned, across California’s Central Coast.

Ranked by revenue growth from 2014-2016, this year’s list highlights GeoLinks alongside other nationally recognized companies such as MindBody, Patagonia, Deckers Brands, Procore, and Sonos. While listed as No. 6 overall, GeoLinks took the No. 1 spot for fastest growing telecommunications company in this year’s round-up.

“This has been a monumental year for GeoLinks,” said GeoLinks’ CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “From officially earning our CLEC and public utility status in May, to rebranding and launching nationally in June, to making the Inc. 5000 list and being appointed to the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group in August, I’m excited to say that this is really just the beginning of our projected growth. As a locally founded company, this recognition significantly resonates with the entire GeoLinks’ team. Our first customers were in Ojai and Ventura. The vast majority of our staff lives locally. Our kids go to school throughout the Tri-Counties. Ultimately, we wouldn’t have achieved such accelerated growth without our community’s support. That being said, this is not only a big win for GeoLinks, but it’s a huge shout out to all of those who have believed in us along the way.”

Recording more than 100% growth in annual revenue for the past six consecutive years, and on track for its seventh, GeoLinks’ accelerated success also earned the No. 5 spot on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Telecommunications Company in America released in August of 2017.

The PCBT’s 50 Fastest-Growing Companies will be honored at an evening gala reception hosted at Santa Barbara’s new Moxi Museum on October 19th from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

For media inquiries or additional information, please contact Lexie Olson at lolson(at)geolinks.com.

About GeoLinks

Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is a leading Internet and Phone provider and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voice solutions. Ranked No. 5 by category on Inc. Magazine’s 2017 Inc. 5000 list of Fastest Growing Companies in America, GeoLinks delivers Enterprise-Grade Internet, Layer 2 Transport, Hosted Voice, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction expertly tailored for businesses and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

GeoLinks’ accelerated success is largely due to its flagship product, ClearFiber™, which offers customers fixed wireless on the most resilient and scalable network ever built. From land procurement, to construction, to permitting, and more, GeoLinks does everything in-house, expediting installation periods nationwide. Boasting ultra-low latency, 99.99% uptime, sub 10ms jitter, and a 4-hour max response time, GeoLinks prides itself on delivering the industry’s best Service Level Agreement backed by round-the-clock in-house customer support.

Recognized as a thought-leader in closing the digital divide, GeoLinks proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups including the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast(BPPC), and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s (BDAC) Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group.

GeoLinks using Silicon Valley-style office to attract employees

GeoLinks co-founders Skyler Ditchfield, left, and Ryan Adams in the lobby of the company’s new [Silicon Valley-style] headquarters in Camarillo.

Original Article

Ventura County telecommunications company GeoLinks hopes to lure tech talent to Camarillo with a new Silicon Valley-style office, tripling its workforce after doubling its revenue two years in a row.

The company inherited the 38,000-square-foot space — tricked out with an onsite gym, pool tables, a jukebox and arcade games by previous owner Zindagi Games — and added a kitchen stocked with healthy breakfast, lunch and snack options in the hope of filling it with around 100 additional staff.

Rebranded in June from its former name, California International, the internet service provider was “bursting at the seams” prior to the move, said CEO and co-founder Skyler Ditchfield.

“Once people kind of find out what we’re doing here behind the scenes and meet with us and speak with us, the facility kind of sells itself,” said President and co-founder Ryan Adams. “Our big focus is on our clients but also the culture. We want people when they walk through these doors not only to feel appreciated but to want to come in every single day.”

GeoLinks debuted at No. 6 on the Pacific Coast Business Times 50 Fastest -Growing Companies list in 2017, reporting prior year revenues of $8.8 million. It also ranked No. 640 on this year’s Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies.

The company has a few initiatives in the works to connect to local universities, as well as employing several graduates from Thomas Aquinas College, but “we’ll take talent, wherever it’s from,” Adams said, from project management, communications and sales employees, to more technical applicants.

Launched to serve rural broadband customers around Ojai, the company got its first real break in 2013 with the Lake Sherwood development contract south of Thousand Oaks. From there, it moved toward business-to-business services in the Greater Los Angeles market before launching its wholesale business selling to other ISPs, now around a third of its revenue.

By offering fixed wireless, rather than fiber or satellite, the company has also picked up state contracts for schools, hospitals and libraries in remote areas of California and other states. Since government grants from programs like the Internet for All Act and the Connect America Fund help cover upfront costs of installation, it joined a Federal Communications Commission advisory committee working group and the Schools, Health & Library Broadband Coalition to advocate for additional resources, including the use of “white spaces” frequencies proposed by Microsoft.

“We’re helping shape policy for how to expedite procurement of federal lands for internet services, and we’re pushing other agendas in terms of getting more spectrum freed up,” Ditchfield said. “Right now all the wireless spectrum is owned by all the cell operators. They have an abundance of it, but they’re hoarding it, and we really need that freed up to be able to connect these rural areas and low income houses.”

If company revenues and federal programs continue to grow, GeoLinks might look to open additional satellite locations for rapid deployment, like the one it already has in Santa Fe Springs serving Los Angeles customers. But the two Ojai-native founders said they would never want to uproot.

“Nothing beats Ventura County,” Adams said. “It doesn’t matter how many homes we worked that week, or if we worked over the weekend, there’s a certain energy in this building, and it’s contagious. I don’t feel like this is a job, even though there’s a lot of work that happens, to be a part of something that’s growing like this.”

The company brought on a director of corporate wellness and culture to help handle the transition from a 50-person operation to a much larger one, as well as adding fitness and nutrition programs.

Teambuilding through group activities, basketball games and yoga classes help introduce people to the leadership team, promote interdepartmental communication and enable regular wellness checks.

But it remains to be seen if the Silicon Valley approach will help it find the right talent.

Companies have to make sure they’re not focusing too much on the “soft perks” over things like time off, workplace flexibility, salary and stock options, said Maria Ballesteros-Sola, assistant professor of management at CSU Channel Islands.

“Perks come down to the underlying culture, and not the other way around,” she said, but added that “big conversations and big ideas can be generated at the water cooler and the conference room. If you have the foosball table, and people start playing to disconnect and re-energize, they might have the conversation to solve a problem or a new project.”

Early on, competitive salaries were tough to match, and raises to retain workers stretched the budget, Ditchfield said. But with the continued growth, the company has not only brought up salaries, but invested in sustainability initiatives like solar and wind at its relay stations, as well as considering onsite childcare options.

“One thing we talk about internally here is ‘what is our living wage?” Ditchfield said. “We don’t want to ever be paying anyone a level of pay that they’re suffering with. We want to get to a point where we have a minimum threshold of salary that we hire people on, and if there’s a job below that, we either need to automate it or consolidate it.”

And if there’s anywhere to promote work-life balance, Ballesteros-Sola said, it’s the Central Coast.

“It’s just imperative for us to do this organically to where we came from,” Ditchfield said.

• Contact Marissa Nall at [email protected]