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CENIC Recognizes Corporate Partner GeoLinks for Serving the Research and Education Community in California

LA MIRADA, Calif. & BERKELEY, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CENIC is recognizing GeoLinks, headed by CEO Skyler Ditchfield, with the CENIC 2018 Innovations in Networking Award for Corporate Partnership.

Thanks to the commitment of Ditchfield’s team and their understanding of the importance of high-speed broadband for California research and education communities, and their strategy for reaching those with limited or no broadband access due to remote locations and challenging terrain, CENIC and GeoLinks have been able to move forward on numerous initiatives in support of these underserved communities.

Dozens of projects have been completed, are in progress, or are anticipated that will serve K-12 schools, the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) research sites, and public libraries throughout the state. Previously, a number of these sites were served at speeds of 1.5 Mbps or less. Most now have 50 to 100 times greater speeds as a result of these efforts.

CENIC President and CEO Louis Fox stated, “GeoLinks has become an important ally in our efforts to address broadband-access inequities in California. Together we are hard at work on public policy initiatives that, we hope, will bring more resources to California, and thereby bring the benefits of advanced networking to all Californians at their community anchor institutions – schools, libraries, health care, and research sites. CENIC looks forward to a long collaboration with Skyler and his team to ensure that California remains at the global forefront of innovation in research and education networking.”

Fox added, “As CENIC has historically focused on fiber-network deployments, I was skeptical at first about using fixed wireless, but GeoLinks has demonstrated that they can deliver gigabit speeds with symmetrical services to remote sites that have no access to fiber-optic networks. Even with the significant special construction necessary, they have delivered these services within 9 to 12 months, which is remarkable.”

GeoLinks’ fixed wireless network, ClearFiber™, uses carrier-grade equipment and provides telecom-grade broadband service with the same latency and jitter as fiber. GeoLinks is able to build solar- and wind-powered telecommunications facilities off the grid, resulting in rapid network deployment in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of fiber. ClearFiber uses FCC-licensed spectrum with redundancy at every level of hardware deployment.

“We analyze 50 years of regional weather patterns to determine the proper type of antenna, radio frequency output, and broadcast distance to ensure we receive 99.999% uptime on all of our links,” further explained GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “We also use this data to determine how much solar energy is needed for each individual site. As a standard, we engineer our sites to run for 25 days without sunlight to safeguard against extreme weather events. Furthermore, we also build in redundancy at every level, from our power equipment, to our routers, switches, and radios. We are also currently in the early stages of experimenting with wind energy. While solar power is typically low during storms, wind is high on mountain tops and can thus reduce the need for solar panel and battery load, ultimately reducing overall deployment costs.”

Recognized as thought-leaders in closing the digital divide, the GeoLinks leadership team proudly serves on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups including the Schools, Healthcare and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC), and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s (BDAC) Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group.

The CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards are presented each year at CENIC’s annual conference to highlight exemplary innovations that leverage ultra-high bandwidth networking, particularly where those innovations have the potential to transform how education and research are conducted or where they further the deployment of broadband in underserved areas. The CENIC conference will be held March 5 – 7, 2018, in Monterey, California.

About CENIC • www.cenic.org

CENIC connects California to the world — advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration, and economic growth. This nonprofit organization operates the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and individuals at other vital public-serving institutions. CENIC’s Charter Associates are part of the world’s largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California’s public libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, the Naval Postgraduate School, and USC. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California.

 

GeoLinks Recognized Globally as a Great Workplace

Innovative telecom company, GeoLinks, receives official great workplace certification from Great Place to Work®, the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. 

“Our founding mission is to offer the best company culture around—one that combines respect, collaboration and a ‘best idea wins mantra,’” said GeoLinks’ Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “We recognize that curating a productive and positive company culture starts from the top. We are thrilled that our employee survey results came back so positive. It reaffirms that our daily efforts and commitment to culture is meaningful both to our team members’ livelihood and to our bottom line as a company. Myself, and the entire leadership team, are 100% committed to further developing state-of-the-art advancements in the IT marketplace so the GeoLinks’ culture may one day be available to everyone.”

“We applaud GeoLinks for seeking certification and releasing its employees’ feedback,” said Kim Peters, Executive Vice President of Great Place to Work’s Certification Program. “These ratings measure its capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace – critical metrics that anyone considering working for or doing business with GeoLinks should take into account as an indicator of high performance.”

“According to our study, 91 percent of GeoLinks employees say it is a great workplace,” says Sarah Lewis-Kulin, Vice President of Great Place to Work Certification & List Production.

GeoLinks employees completed 58 surveys, resulting in a 90 percent confidence level and a margin of error of ± 2.41.

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About GeoLinks 

Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is a leading telecommunications company 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 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, construction, permitting, and more, GeoLinks does everything in-house, expediting installation periods nationwide. Boasting ultra-low latency, up to 99.999% 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 24/7 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 Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC), and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s (BDAC) Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group.

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, including Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. In the United States, Great Place to Work® produces the annual Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For®” list and a series of Great Place to Work® Best Workplaces lists including lists for Millennials, Women, Diversity, Small and Medium Companies and over a half dozen different industry lists.

Follow Great Place to Work online at http://www.greatplacetowork.com and on Twitter at @GPTW_US.

Silicon Valley in Ventura County

Camarillo– based GeoLinks finds success in providing internet to underserved


LOUD AND CLEAR—Skyler Ditchfield, CEO of GeoLinks, has grown his Camarillo-based internet provider into a multimillion-dollar business. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce. BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspaper

LOUD AND CLEAR—Skyler Ditchfield, CEO of GeoLinks, has grown his Camarillo-based internet provider into a multimillion-dollar business. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce. BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspaper

When Skyler Ditchfield was a child and his school banned sweets from the campus, he’d bring in candy to sell to his classmates.Even as a kid, the 36-year-old Camarillo resident had a knack for giving people what they wanted when the powers-that-be wouldn’t provide it.

Now he does the same thing for places that internet providers like AT&T have deemed too rural or remote for high-speed internet.

Ditchfield’s company, GeoLinks, began by providing fixed wireless internet connections to rural schools, hospitals, Native American reservations and other institutions using radio waves instead of cables and wires.

Ditchfield said that because large internet providers won’t run wiring to rural areas, thousands of people are being left behind in today’s fast-paced and interconnected world.

“We’ve brought internet into schools in communities that don’t have internet,” Ditchfield said. “These kids are usually in poor areas, being as rural as they are, and it’s giving them a real opportunity to utilize the internet at school, utilize state testing, have access to more educational materials and getting them included in what’s going on.”

As GeoLinks has grown, the company began moving into suburban and urban markets, competing directly with large corporations to supply internet to businesses and, to a lesser extent, homes across the state.

Now GeoLinks is expanding nationally. It’s the next logical step for Ditchfield, who uses his skills in business and technology to make GeoLinks run.

He spent most of his life working in telecommunications, including stints repairing computers in Ventura County and managing networks at the Silicon Valley offices of MCI Worldcom, where he helped clients like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

Seven years ago, Ditchfield founded GeoLinks with his cousin Ryan Hauf, who serves as chief technology officer.

As a hobby, Hauf set up a small wireless network to provide free internet access to about 40 people in Ojai. Ditchfield’s entrepreneurial mind saw the potential to make a profit.

“I said, ‘Do you want to make a business out of this and not make it a charity?’” Ditchfield said. “And he said yeah, so a month later, we were off and running and had three or four thousand dollars a month in billing.”

That’s peanuts compared to the $14.9 million the company says it earned last year. Ditchfield expects that amount to climb higher; GeoLinks has its eyes set on government contracts that are north of $170 million.

The company that began in Ditchfield’s weight room now has 49 employees and is looking for more to help fill the 38,000-square-foot building on Camarillo Ranch Road that Geo- Links moved into in July.

The office, once home to mobile game developer Zindagi Games, looks like a Silicon Valley headquarters. It features plenty of open space for the company to expand, as well as a gym, game room, full kitchen and indoor basketball court.

“We spend so much of our lives these days at work. You want to enjoy it, right?” said Lexie Olson, GeoLink’s director of marketing and communications. “For example, when I’m having a tough day, I like to take my lunch break in the gym. It promotes overall health, happiness and wellness, and we see increased productivity because of that.”

Olson, who was hired in June, said that while the amenities helped, the company’s success and family-like atmosphere convinced her to move from Los Angeles.

“I was attracted to the fact that there was a really cool, innovative startup in Ventura County that offered a really cool company culture,” she said.

Ditchfield said a healthy office culture contributes to a business’ success, but the customs of a successful business don’t come from an on-site gym or a stocked refrigerator in the kitchen.

“You don’t have to have this (facility and amenities) to build culture,” he said. “You have to have the right people and the right attitude and the right energy and leadership style. That’s where it all starts.”

It seems Ditchfield has found the right people; GeoLinks began to see the fruits of their labor in the past year. The company was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the United States in 2017, and this year Ditchfield was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce.

With this success, Ditchfield doesn’t want his employees to rest on their laurels. He said the company succeeds or fails together, so it’s important that everyone keeps working hard.

“We’re still a startup. We’ve still got to hustle and grind,” he said. “We shouldn’t be checking out at 4:45. If you’ve still got a project that needs to get done, stay and get it done because every dollar out of this company’s pocket is really a dollar out of each one of our pockets.”

GeoLinks Overcomes Thomas Fire Disaster With Help From Mimosa

Written by Mimosa Networks

8 of the Coolest Hidden Gem Companies to Work for in Southern California

Sure, we’ve all heard of the Googles, the Facebooks, the Nikes, and the Hiltons of the world — the “bucket list” companies that both millennials and baby boomers pine over. But what about those of us who don’t make it past the looming wall of HR, and instead, get lost amidst 10,000 other eager resumes floating in their online database? Are we destined to a mundane cookie cutter job that barely motivates us out of bed in the morning?

NO. Think bigger.

There are hidden gems hiding around every corner that are equally, if not COOLER companies to work for. Zoning in specifically on Southern California, check out the below “hidden gems” that might just actually be THE coolest places to work in Southern California. [Companies are listed in random order.]

72andSunny

Global Marketing, Advertising, and Design Company

Playa Vista, California

Photo provided by 72 and Sunny Facebook Page

This global marketing, advertising, and design company describes themselves as follows: “We’re makers and doers, idealistic, and uber-modern. We embrace difference, strive for generosity over egos, are culture-driven, and gif-sharing obsessed. We’re hell-Yes’ers!, perpetual learners and a sunny side-up kind of team. We’re looking for like-minded people to join our team, so get clicking!” With an animal-friendly office located in Playa Vista, 72andSunny provides Free Food Fridays, unlimited vacation days, and internal learning sessions, speakers, and events to inspire and enhance employee skills. The company even celebrates its own birthday by allowing employees to get away from their desks with the objective to try new things, meet new people, and celebrate its collective accomplishments. 72andsunny.com, @72andsunny

GeoLinks

Innovative Telecommunications Company

Camarillo, California

Photo provided by GeoLinks

Headquartered in Camarillo, GeoLinks is a leading telecommunications company nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voicesolutions. Ranked No.5 by category on Inc. Magazine’s 2017 Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America, GeoLinks was recently named a Top Innovator in Diversity and Inclusion alongside industry giants such as Nike and Intel. With a founding mission to cultivate the best company culture around — one that combines respect, collaboration, and a “best idea wins mantra” — the company recently moved into a 38,000 square foot office building fully equipped with an employee gym, basketball court, spacious kitchen stocked full of complimentary food and drinks, and a break room with shuffle board, pool tables, a retro jukebox, air hockey, foosball, and vintage arcade games. With local brewery Institution Ale Company located just steps away, happy hours and lunch breaks are encouraged to celebrate team wins, in addition to mid-day pickup basketball games, and frequent taco trucks. Offering employees a variety of free online training and education courses, it’s no surprise that the company is rated a remarkable 4.9-stars on GlassDoor.com. GeoLinks.com@GeoLinks_USA

COOLA

Organic Sunscreen + Organic Suncare Company

Carlsbad, California

Photo provided by COOLA

With celebrity fans including Jennifer Garner, Kerry Washington, Ryan Reynolds, and more, this 50-person operation based out of Carlsbad is quickly becoming a trendy house-hold name in the world of sunscreen. In-house, the company upholds a laid-back vibe where sandals and short sleeves are the everyday norm, dogs are encouraged, employees rock stand-up desks, surfboards adorn the walls, and bikes and paddle boards are available for everyday use. One other perk? Unlimited sunscreen. Coolasuncare.com@COOLA_Suncare

Idea Hall

Hybrid Marketing and Public Relations Agency

Costa Mesa, California

Photo provided by Idea Hall Facebook Page

Located in the city of Costa Mesa, Idea Hall is a hybrid creative agency that provides branding, PR, advertising, digital, and video services. Amongst a variety of benefits, the company offers a Wellness Reimbursement Program to employees that covers up to $200 per month for fitness classes, gym memberships, massages, chiropractors, etc. Around the office employees can enjoy giant darts, mini bowling, casual Fridays, a fully stocked kitchen, and an “Employee of the Month” parking spot and car wash. A firm believer in annual retreats, in 2017 the agency went to Disneyland where the day started with a private Q&A lead by one of Disney’s top producers, and evolved into Mickey ears and front line passes to all theme park rides. On top of all this, Idea Hall provides access to Franklin Covey (an online professional development database) for employees to participate in online courses to grow in their careers. ideahall.com@ideahall

Procore Technologies

Construction Project Management Software company

Carpinteria, California

Photo by © James John Jetel, Inc.

Nestled in a contemporary nine-acre campus on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean in Carpinteria, this Construction Project Management Software company believes in the power of openness, optimism, and ownership. Whether it’s by providing employees with the latest tech, catered lunches, onsite massage and haircuts, or a variety of fitness programs, they believe in going the extra mile to make their employees happy. Need to take a vacation? Procore provides value-driven paid time off with no accruals and no “use it or lose it” game playing. Employees also have the opportunity to take personal ownership in Procore through employee equity plans. Procore.com@Procoretech

Fidelitas Development

Full-service Marketing, Advertising, and PR agency

San Diego, California

Photo provided by Fidelitas Development Facebook Page

Fidelitas Development, a full-service marketing, advertising, and PR agency, is headquartered in downtown San Diego in a former Wonder Bread Factory—a recognized historic landmark. Also located directly above local Mission Brewery, Fidelitas employees can take advantage of cool perks like a fully-stocked bar, weekly team lunches, a nap room, and luxury seating from client 4Seating.com. Outside of the office, team members can enjoy work-from-home Fridays, unlimited time off, training programs, and transferrable certifications. Centered around its culture, Fidelitas remains focused on adding A-level players to its team that treats teammates like family. Fidelitasdevelopment.com@_Fidelitas

Promocodes.com

Coupon Codes and Deals Website

Santa Monica, California

Photo provided by Promocodes.com

Promocodes.com, a coupon codes and deals website providing verified offers from the nation’s top retailers, is headquartered in Santa Monica just steps away from the Third Street Promenade and a couple of blocks from the beach. Rocking a nautical office vibe (think wood floors, wood ceiling panels, beach-themed artwork, and a dramatic metal staircase), the company has a tiki bar and a gigantic rooftop where employees enjoy hosting frequent BBQs. Whether it’s sweating it out at their bimonthly company-sponsored spin class, or catching up at weekly office lunches, the company states that every single member of the Promocodes.com team is part of the family, and thus managers work hard to organize ample team bonding activities that everyone can enjoy. Promocodes.com@Promocodescom

MyCorporation

Online Legal Filing Services

Calabasas, California

Photo provided by MyCorporation Facebook Page

Work hard, play hard — that’s the MyCorp way. Located in Calabasas, the online legal filing services company is proud of their open floor layout that duels as the perfect stage for hosting employee talent shows and spontaneous musical karaoke announcements. Casual dress to work is always encouraged — AKA, dress up if you like, but Lululemon yoga pants and sneakers are cool too. In the summer employees head to “Camp MyCorp” for a week full of fun and festivities including picnic potlucks, team spirit dress days, and hula hooping (yes, hula hooping). The company also celebrates the winter holidays with the “12 Days of MyCorp” in December, kicking off the month with an epic holiday party that is hosted anywhere from Malibu Wine Safari to a local escape room. Stating “We’re pretty big on celebrations,” MyCorporation takes every opportunity to throw a party. From an employee anniversary, to a birthday, to a baby shower, the office hosts themed potluck team lunches as frequently as possible. MyCorporation.com@mycorporation

Best Businessmen of 2017: Featuring Skyler Ditchfield

Original Article

Who is the best businessman of 2017? Here’s a round-up of well known business leaders, as well as some you’ve never heard of, to mark 2017 as a year to remember among an elite circle of entrepreneurs and visionaries who are out there doing things right (and different)!

Originally Written by Leon Vogel – Independent Writer – Dec 29

Jeff Bezos

The 53-year-old founder and CEO of Amazon became the world’s richest man this year. His fortune increased by about $34 Billion in 2017 to take his net worth close to $100 Billion; which can be largely attributed to wise investment choices he’s made over the years: getting into ecommerce when an average retailer made $3000 in sales each year, AWS which now runs the likes of Netflix and Airbnb, his real estate insvestments in Washington and Texas which make him the 25th largest land owner in the US according to Land Report, his investments in Uber and Google, products like Kindle and Echo … the list is long.

His recent acquisition of whole Foods sent ripples across the retail sector and the company announced a $4.5 Billion content budget for Amazon prime video- the only company that spends more is Netflix. Apart from Amazon, of which he owns 16%; he also owns Blue Origins, a space exploration company and The Washington Post. Bezos is a visionary not only because he launched one of the most successful companies of this century but also because even after more than 20 years in business Amazon still functions like a startup- almost every month it gets into a new category in which it has no expertise.

The willingness to try triumphs over the fear of failure. In an age when authenticity is in short supply, Bezos has stuck to his vision of putting the customer first. The journey from a garage operation in 1994 to a wall street darling has been a spectacle to watch. According to professor Scott Galloway of NYU Stern, Amazon Echo will revolutionalize branding. With voice search technology present in millions of homes, Amazon aims to be your only retailer; and with billions of dollars in cash, it seems inevitable.

Submitted by — Abhishek Kumar

Danni Lin (B.S., M..S.)

Lin is the CEO of GREAT WINE Inc.. GREAT WINE, Inc., is a company which produces wine to start a new conversation about wine — what is your wine character or “vinotype?” Dani was a former Data Scientist at Microsoft.

Under Lin’s leadership, GREAT WINE now collaborates with Tim Hanni, MW (the first American who became Master of Wine), and myVinotype — a smart wine recommendation platform for wine-related businesses and connoisseurs to learn more about clients’ wine personalities. Launched in 2011, myVinotype first started as a website widget and a consumer survey. By 2016, the platform has launched an iOS app, and has become available in eight languages worldwide. All these features are supported by data analytics in order to be more client-oriented.

Like many, Danni Lin (B.S., M.S.) had experiences of going into a supermarket, and got lost in massive product lists and ads. She thought how knowledgeable she was in wine affected her likes and dislikes — until she had a conversation with Tim Hanni, MW. Hanni is one of the first Americans to become Master of Wine, and introduced Lin to the scientific concept of “vinotype,” i.e. wine preferences and sensory abilities of people.

Lin then transformed from a wine novice to a wine educator who encouraged consumers to speak their mind — what they really enjoy drinking and experiencing. Lin quitted her stable job at Microsoft. But with a strong financial background, analytical expertise, knowledge of advanced technology, and professional knowledge of wine, Lin is taking her business to the next level of growth and expansion worldwide through her extensive international experiences and connections.

It is Lin’s hope to introduce the traditions and innovations of Californian winemaking to more clients around the world. Here is a piece of advice from Danni: “Be ready to change for the market.” She said, “I think success lies in the willingness to change, both as a person or as a business. The market will tell you what it needs, and the key to success is to be ready to change — after all, taste does change over time! For example, when GREAT WINE is founded in 2015 in both the USA and China, it was one of the few companies in the industry that successfully caught the changing tides of the Chinese market. Chinese young professionals now prefer affordable wines with traceable origins, and stop chasing after high price tags. By introducing the possibility of comparing tea flavors of pu-erh and jasmine to wines, GREAT WINE carries the mission of introducing the traditions and innovations behind Californian labels to the global market.” GREAT WINE, Inc. is recognized as Best Wine Tasting Experience by Qminder. The company’s CEO, Danni Lin, is honored in 425 Business Magazine 30 under 30.

— submitted by Michella Chiu

Steve Casto

Casto is the founder of Omaha Financial Planners: In 2017, Steve Casto of Omaha Financial Planners created theSMART retirement system. SMART stands for the Strategic Machine Allowing Retirement Tranquility.Why is SMART so important today? It helps retirees maximize the value of their retirement income they receive from the money they’ve saved.Think of saving money for the future like climbing a mountain. Imagine being that poor misguided mountain climber who doesn’t pack the right stuff and doesn’t possess the skills to both climb to the top of the mountain and more importantly get back down safely.

Planning for retirement is a lot like that mountain climb. Before you retire you saved your money and that is called the accumulation phase. During retirement you climb down the mountain by taking money out of your retirement account and that’s called the distribution phase. It sounds simple enough but it’s not and that’s because the math changes dramatically at the top of the mountain.When it comes to managing your money during retirement, SmartMoney Magazine said the following: “The distribution phase of retirement, the time when you withdraw funds from savings, makesthe accumulation part look like child’s play.”

— Submitted by Bob Smith

Craig Wolfe

Wolfe is president of CelebriDucks. “I decided to start a whole new division of my company to make rubber ducks in America again. It was one of the most difficult things I ever attempted….like a brand new company. The rubber duck was invented in America and then the whole industry went overseas. I tried to get factories to do it right here and it was a disaster….but I persisted…..I even had to send the whole operation from Ohio to New York to try and make it work….Bottom line…finally, and it’s quite a story,…made it work! You can even watch them making rubber ducks at our factory in the Bronx that HGTV’s Home Factory shot there in the Made in America section on our website. How I survived all this is a miracle…But I did not stop there….I had the crazy idea to make rubber ducks that were also PVC free that would be the safest rubber ducks in the world for babies to teethe on…..oh wow….was that an ordeal….it had never been done with food and medical grade materials…..end result….it worked and not even China can do what we are doing in the USA! In the Made in America section on our website, you can see all the babies loving them!”

Phillip Cohen

Phil is the CEO and Founder of Cohen Architectural Woodworking in St. James, MO (not far from St. Louis). Phil is an amazing individual and worthy of a best businessmen of 2017 recognition.

What makes Phil special? Phil comes from hard beginnings. He was a drug addict and suffered from depression. His father committed suicide. Failing at many things Phil found himself on a small farm. He began making birdhouses and toy trucks out of wood as a means of rehabilitation. People liked them and started buying them. He got a business license and eventually started his own firm.

He transferred his skills into commercial work. Cohen Architectural Woodworking was born. Phil then started supplying many national companies such as Walmart with millwork and custom wood cabinetry. Today the company has a newly expanded facility that includes 54,000 square feet and some 80 employees. Cohen has clients in all 50 states.

Phil is also special with the hiring practices of the company. He believes in giving people a second chance, no matter their background, if they are willing to do the work. Cohen hires a lot of ex-felons and others who would not receive job offers from most corporations. Many of these ex-felons have turned into excellent employees. Some are now in management and executives with the firm.

Phil believes he got a second chance at life and is willing to help others turn their lives around. He maintains an open door policy and is always accessible to help any team member.

In addition to hiring practices, Cohen is involved in many charitable and social causes. From working with local schools, to establishing optional classes at no charge for employees and their spouses on a variety of topics, to offering an employee a $1,000 bonus when they buy their first home, Phil goes above and beyond to help the communities he serves.

For his contributions Phil was recently named the 2017 Business Person of the Year for the State of Missouri by the Small Business Administration. He also works hard to provide a safe workplace and recently won two safety awards for 100,000 work hours without an accident from a national trade association. In addition the company has won multiple awards for woodworking design.

— Submitted by Steve Turner

Skyler Ditchfield

Ditchfield is co-founder and CEO of Geolinks.com. Skyler Ditchfield currently serves as the CEO of GeoLinks, the fastest growing fixed wireless ISP in the country, and Inc. Magazine’s 2017 Inc. 5000 NO. 5 Fastest Growing Telecommunications Company in America. Under his leadership, Ditchfield has led the company to record more than 100% growth for six years straight, and is on track for a seventh. In 2017, Ditchfield spearheaded GeoLinks’ efforts in obtaining its status as a California Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) public utility, allowing the company to expand into the national marketplace. Furthermore, Ditchfield successfully completed the company’s first ever acquisition allowing GeoLinks to expand its service offerings. While not yet publicly announced, Ditchfield will close out 2017 with another massive acquisition under his belt, officially making GeoLinks the market leader in its’ space.

Aside from making what began as a two-person operation in 2011, into what is now a 65 employee (and growing) 8-figure company, Ditchfield is passionate about cultivating the best company culture around — one that combines respect, collaboration and a “best idea wins mantra.”

— Submitted by Lexie Olson

Sheldon Smith

Smith is the Founder and Executive Director of the Dovetail Project. He has developed an organization that works to give young African-American fathers — ages 17 to 24 — the skills and support they need to be better fathers for their children and better men in the Chicago community.

Smith designed the program based on his own experiences, which included being incarcerated as a teenager, furthering his education, finding employment, and becoming a father at age 20. Now at the age of 28, Smith has been named 2016 Top 10 CNN Hero and most recently a Steve Harvey Hero, Civic Leader for The Obama Foundation and named 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30.

The Dovetail Project’s 12-week curriculum includes workshops focused on teaching vital parenting skills and life skills. Over the course of the program, students receive training to finish their education and seek employment. Workshop facilitators also educate students on felony street laws — introducing life-saving methods to help them avoid conflict and incarceration.

To date, 337 young men in Chicago have graduated from the program since its founding in 2009.

— Submitted by LaQuita Washington

Rob Kosberg

Rob is the founder of Best Seller Publishing, the definitive leader in authority marketing and business growth strategies using a best selling book. Rob is recognized for his expertise in helping coaches, consultants, and entrepreneurs to Publish. Promote. Profit. (TM) with their own Best Selling books.

His Company has consistently yielded tremendous results for our clients, usually with immediate new opportunities for speaking engagements, free publicity and leads and sales.

Best Seller Publishing works with clients to:

• Write and Publish the ideal book that positions them as a thought leader in their field. We help to dial in the right audience, create the hook, title and table of contents before working with our award winning ghostwriting team.
• Then we create the cover, design the interior and exterior, format for digital and soft cover version and get ready for the promotion phase.
• Our next step is to promote our authors new book via press releases, paid advertising and massive social media exposure to create our next best selling author — GUARANTEED.
• We don’t stop there though. We now begin to book our new best selling author on TV, radio, blogs, podcasts and speaking engagements. All this is DONE FOR YOU service and it is all guaranteed.

BSP has published best selling books for former U.S. Ambassadors, Fortune 500 C — Suite executives, financial advisors, attorneys, dentists, doctors, chiropractors, hollywood stuntmen, environmental scientists, coaches, consultants, professional speakers and a dozen other industries.

— Submitted by Bianca Ramirez

Alex Doubet

Doubet (pronounced Doo-Bay), founder of Door, a tech-enabled flat fee brokerage that is disrupting the real estate industry.

Door charges homeowners a flat rate of $5,000, compared to the traditional 6 percent commission fee, for its brokerage services. Last year, home sellers saved an average of $15,000 under Door’s model.

Alex explained to The Dallas Morning News that the “idea came to him after his mother sold her two-story converted duplex… for $857,000 in the conventional commission way. She didn’t get so much as a thank-you note, much less a bottle of wine, from the two Realtors who pocketed a combined $51,400. “It was a bigger commission than the average household income in Dallas. It was nuts,” says Doubet, who has already been involved in several successful early ventures and a couple of real estate flips. “It was a presumptuous transaction. And that ticked me off.

Door’s commission on a $400,000 house would be $10,000 if it represents both the seller and buyer vs. $24,000 in traditional Realtor commissions. The more expensive the home, the greater the savings. The tipping point is a $168,000 sales price.”

Alex would be happy to discuss the flat fee brokerage model — and how Door is expanding into new markets, including Austin and Houston.

We have enjoyed amazing growth. We sold more homes last quarter than we did in the entirety of 2016. Our customer satisfaction is industry-leading with an NPS near 80. These are proof points that the market is beyond ready for a better way in real estate. The recognition that the rules are now different for sellers, and that buyers expect an altogether different experience really play in Door’s favor.

This was never about being a discount brokerage. This is about aligning the customer experience with the value delivered. Our innovation is in both process and technology. There just is not a way to improve customer experience with flat fees unless you look at it differently. We look at the world through the Seller’s and Buyer’s eyes, not as a traditional Realtor.

As a result, many of the industry’s leaders hate Alex for preaching the advantages of flat fee brokerage. Here’s the account from the San Francisco Business Times on his recent appearance at The Inman Connect real estate technology conference:

“Doubet’s comments drew harsh words from an audience member who questioned the legality of publicly discussing commissions.”

Alex began his career at US Road Sports (USRS), an endurance event company that owned over two dozen events with over 120,000 participants across the country. USRS was sold to Life Time Fitness in the beginning of 2014. At USRS, Alex was the Director of Finance.

Subsequent to USRS, he was the Chief Operating Officer and Junior Partner of Advantix Marketing, a search engine marketing and optimization agency and a member of the 2015 Inc. 5000 list.

— Submitted by Tim Livingston

Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

GeoLinks rebuilds sites with Mimosa gear as Thomas Fire burns in Southern California

Original Article

GeoLinks employees are literally putting out fires as they strive to replace damaged telecom sites throughout the area where fires are destroying homes and threatening lives in Southern California.

The company, based in Camarillo, which is in Ventura County, has been working around the clock since the Thomas Fire started on Dec. 4. At times, workers have used the fire extinguishers stored in emergency packs in company vehicles to douse hot spots they see along the way to fixing infrastructure.

As of Dec. 14, the GeoLinks team—some of whom have lost or damaged homes—had repaired 12 sites that were destroyed throughout Ventura and Ojai, accounting for more than 500 square miles of coverage area. The company uses licensed and unlicensed gear from Mimosa Networks.

“A lot of our employees live in these communities,” and they were evacuated, including one employee who was still working remotely even though he lost everything he owned, said GeoLinks employee Lexie Olson, who had to be evacuated in the middle of the night but whose home is still standing. “It’s something that is impacting our direct community in every way. It’s pretty intense.”

The company is in close communication with fire, police and National Guard teams so they know when it’s safe to go into a particular area for repairs. On Thursday, the fire took the life of a fire apparatus engineer from San Diego, the second death attributed to the blaze.

Olson estimated 40 GeoLinks people are out working in the field; the company employs about 60 and growing. In some cases, the GeoLinks gear was up and running and able to provide internet service to customers even before their electricity was restored, GeoLinks President Ryan Adams told FierceWirelessTech. That said, “we’re never going to put our employees in dangerous situations where we think they can get hurt,” he added.

Adams and CTO/co-founder Ryan Hauf were watching the situation as it started to unfold last week. “We felt it was our duty to assist folks,” to get back to normal as soon as possible, Adams said. “Our team has been working around the clock” with folks sleeping in the office and cars—but not for long. “We realize we have a responsibility as a telecommunications company to make sure that people have the ability to communicate.”

Adams said the service provider needed a workhorse and something that would support backhaul as well. “We’re big fans of the Mimosa brand,” he said. “We keep a really healthy stock of Mimosa equipment on hand.”

Mimosa’s gear works at 11 GHz licensed and 5 GHz license-free. Depending on the situation, a service provider could get Mimosa’s low-cost gear in the 5 GHz band out into the field right away, according to Mimosa co-founder and CMO Jaime Fink. Alternatively, if a client has more time, they can apply for a 11 GHz license, which may take three to four weeks per link.

Positioning itself as a disrupter going up against the “big four” carriers, GeoLinks was founded in 2011 and started offering fixed wireless internet to rural homes and people in the area who previously didn’t have access to high-speed internet, according to Adams. GeoLinks’ customers include residential and business customers; the company got its start in Ojai, which its where co-founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield was born and where many employees live.

Ojai, population around 7,461, has been particularly hard hit by the fires.

Knowing that the weather and conditions could change in an instant, they’re watching things closely. “Fortunately we have the best fire departments, we have the best rescue crews and first responders,” Adams said. “I can’t say enough about the way Ventura County has come together.”

Rural Service is Key to Bridging the Digital Divide

Original Article

Working with municipal stakeholders cuts costs, increases speed of rural deployments of the more than 30 million people in the United States without access to the internet, some 6 million of them are students, Skyler Dithfield, CEO of service provider Geolinks, told RCR Wireless News during the recent TC3 conference.

“I grew up with no internet in a rural area myself,” he explained. Once he was connected, access changed the way he approached his own educational experience. Years later, Ditchfield read an article about dozens of k-12 schools that were unconnected, had grant funding to fix the problem, “but no service providers stepped forward. We can do this,” he told himself.

Now Geolinks is one of the fastest-growing telecom companies in the country, according to the Inc. 5000 index. Specializing in rural connectivity, Geolinks provides service in Southern California and parts of Arizona.

In terms of deployment models, Ditchfield explained the benefits of working with government stakeholders to arrive at a cost-effective strategy with an emphasis on speed. “We’ve been working with schools, health care, libraries…how do we bring these different funding silos together?” By working with a cross-section of stakeholders, Geolinks arrived at a model where municipal assets can be leveraged to deploy “in one fell swoop. Right now it’s done on a bid-by-bid basis with all these different funding silos. It’s not cost effective to build the network in increments like that. We can come in and build the entire network, do it for a fraction of the cost, and much, much quicker.”

This is accomplished with a mixture of fiber and fixed wireless, including iterations like using TV white space—something being pushed by Microsoft. “It’s going to be conjoining those networks in the proper design and topology depending on the terrain, the density of housing, etc…to get not only a cost effective deployment, but also rapid.

So why is speed of deployment important? “We’ve got to get it done sooner rather than later. Every three or four years, we’re missing a generation of kids. The internet is going to give that opportunity to be the next great innovator. Think of all the advantages that’s going to bring to those people. We don’t lose a whole generation of children who miss out.”

To hear more from Geolinks, including the role of the 3.5 GHz CBRS band in delivering rural coverage, as well as the company’s focus on delivering multi-gigabit speeds using millimeter wave spectrum, check out this video interview.

How GeoLinks’ Flagship Product ClearFiber™ is Closing the Rural Broadband Gap AND Connecting Urban America

Original Article

Every Fall communication industry executives from around the world travel to Silicon Valley to attend the Telecom Councils’ TC3 Summit—a 2-day, working summit where companies who build communications networks come to discover innovation. This year’s title sponsor was GeoLinks, a leading telecommunications company and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voice solutions.

With the topic of “connectivity” taking precedence on this year’s agenda, GeoLinks’ CEO Skyler Ditchfieldtook to the main stage on day 1 in an address titled “Closing the Rural Broadband Gap.” Beginning by providing an overview of GeoLinks’ success in deploying high-speed broadband to businesses and anchor institutions nation-wide, Ditchfield discussed how closing the digital divide will ultimately require implementing a hybrid network that utilizes fixed wireless to deliver the last mile.

Audience members were particularly intrigued with Ditchfield’s innovative case studies surrounding GeoLinks’ fixed wireless product ClearFiber™, many declaring GeoLinks to be “the most impressive start-up to present at the summit.” Operating 100% in-house, Ditchfield explained how ClearFiber™ can deploy rapidly and produce low-latency, gigabit plus speeds at a fraction of the cost of fiber.

However, summit attendees also learned that GeoLinks is doing much more than just connecting rural communities with high-speed broadband. The telecom also has a growing footprint in the urban and sub-urban landscapes, giving larger carriers a true run for their money.

“It’s time for the public to know that there is another realistic option in the market apart from the big 4 carriers,” expressed Ditchfield. “GeoLinks provides enterprise-grade Internet and Hosted Voice solutions backed by round-the-clock, U.S. based customer support and an industry leading Service Level Agreement. In-house we have coined this ‘The GeoLinks Difference’—it’s our golden rule to treat you like we want to be treated. That, paired with our exceptional products and service offerings, has quickly led us to become the fifth fastest growing privately-owned telecom in America.”

Following his address at the summit, RCR Wireless Editor, Sean Kinney, sat down with Ditchfield to dig even deeper into all that GeoLinks has done, is doing, and plans to accomplish in the very near future in both the rural, urban and sub-urban landscapes. You can view the entire interview by tuning in to the below video.

50 Fastest Growing Private Companies 2017: Geolinks Building Broadband Access for Rural America

Original article by Helen Floersh

No. 2: GEOLINKS
Camarillo

CEO: Skyler Ditchfield

Growth Rate: 335%

It has been a big year for GeoLinks, the No. 2 firm on the Business Journal’s 2017 list of the Valley area’s Fastest Growing Private Companies.

Besides updating its moniker to reflect its long-term ambitions – the business-to-business internet service provider changed its name in June from California Internet to GeoLinks, which it described as being better aligned with its goal of expanding its services nationwide – the company also settled into its new, 38,000 square-foot Camarillo headquarters and hired its 50th employee. Finally, GeoLinks made the 2017 Inc. 5000, ranking No. 5 in the telecommunications category and coming in No. 604 overall.

“For a lot of people, what sets us apart is how we’re different from the big guys,” Ryan Adams, GeoLinks president, said. “We decided that we’re going to do what we thought was in the best interest of our clients, first and foremost.”

So far, that mindset appears to be working. Geolinks has managed to more than double its revenue year over year since 2014, when it saw $2.2 million in revenue. It generated $8.8 million last year, according to the firm, and is on track to outperform itself yet again in 2017.

“Telecommunications doesn’t necessarily have to be an ugly word,” Adams said. “For us, it’s really about enhancing the customer experience and evolving with our clients as well. That’s where the big guys have a hard time.”

GeoLinks envisions itself as one day being the premiere provider of high-speed internet to rural communities throughout California and beyond. While just 10 percent of all U.S. citizens lacked access to high-speed internet in 2016, the figure climbed to roughly 40 percent for those living in rural areas, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

“It’s not just a buzz-term that we use, it’s our passion: Bridging the digital divide, which means bringing high-speed internet to everybody no matter what geography,” Adams said. “Studies have shown that people who have access to high-speed internet are more inclined to make more money and better education. These things are very important to us.”

Rural boom

New state legislation that establishes funds for the deployment of broadband projects in rural areas puts GeoLinks on track to expand its California business substantially. Chief Executive Skyler Ditchfield, who founded GeoLinks in 2011 with his cousin and Chief Techonology Officer Ryan Hauf, was one of the lobbyists behind the September passage of AB1665, or the “Internet for All Act.” Ditchfield has been working with the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives and other organizations to establish contracts with public institutions.

The company was awarded more construction grants than any other internet service provider for California public schools and libraries for 2016 and 2017. Earlier this year, it received a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the California Public Utilities Commission, enabling it to form strategic partnerships with federal agencies such the Department of Education.

“Right now we’re working with all different types of organizations – private and public – to spread the GeoLinks name,” Adams said.

GeoLinks’ rapid growth is linked to three components, Adams added: an exceptional primary product, strong customer relations and a knack for recruiting and retaining top talent. From land procurement to equipment installation, GeoLinks performs every step of the process behind setting up a broadband network in-house, affording finer control over timetables as well as its relationships with clients. The company is able to send workers to sites more quickly than companies that contract with third-party suppliers for equipment-related services.

“People are used to a certain kind of relationship with their internet or telecommunications provider,” Adams said. “Whatever the big guys were doing, we were going to do the exact opposite, starting with our speed of deployment.”

To catch and keep exceptional employees who are fully invested in the company’s progress, GeoLinks has outfitted its headquarters with Silicon Valley-style amenities, such as an in-house gym, basketball court and full-service kitchen. Workers also have access to a personal chef and a wellness expert, he added.

“There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not absolutely delighted with the workforce we have here at GeoLinks,” he said. “We are all about not only the client experience, but also the employee experience.”

But material benefits are only one part of the firm’s strategy for building a standout team. GeoLinks’ managers take a “hands off” approach to employee oversight, minimizing micromanagement so that workers have the intellectual freedom to come up with new ideas that can move the company forward, Adams explained.

“We went out of our way to make sure this is a company that creates a culture of respect, without the ego,” Adams said. “We want all of our employees to feel like they have just as much of a stake in the company as anybody else.”