Father-Son Team Grow Tower Company, TowerKing Finds its Niche

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Grant Phillips still fondly recalls attending zoning hearings with his father as a young child, something that would inspire him to later join the family business. “I followed my father around really closely,” Phillips said. “We’re cut from the same cloth and we really are best friends.”

Similar to his son, Grant, Jim Phillips—the owner and founder of TowerKing—had a similar passion for radio technology as a child. Working as a gas station attendant, Phillips would sneak into the store after hours to play with the store’s two-way radio system.

Jim Phillips followed that passion and started his own company in 1987, developing towers for local FM stations to install broadcast equipment. Pager and radio companies began asking Phillips to lease space on his radio towers, which marked TowerKing’s birth into the mobile industry.

Founded in Defiance, Ohio—located some 50 miles southwest of Toledo—Phillips expanded his company across the Midwest and developed a steady presence across Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. 

Today, TowerKing owns and has developed sites in eight states in the Midwest and Southeast, and has sites in development in the western part of the United States.

TowerKing developed a niche working with local governments and municipalities to tailor public emergency systems to the community’s needs, something Jim and Grant’s passion for RF communications has enabled them to do.

Grant Phillips, who has taken on the lead managerial role at the company since his father retired in 2015, said the company’s ability to work closely with local governments to develop a system that fits their needs is something that differentiates them from other tower companies.

“We can sit at the table with local governments, especially counties who are integrating into their state’s networks, and can adjust the network, change the heights of towers and locations,” Phillips said. “We offer a little more involvement.”

Phillips said the biggest difficulty in the coming years for tower development companies, like TowerKing, is more stringent zoning regulations and requirements that have developed in recent years due to an influx of cell towers.

“Fifteen or twenty years ago, zoning was pretty easy,” Phillips said, as he recalled the zoning process for a recent cell tower that required a whopping eight public hearings. Phillips said TowerKing is able to meet tougher zoning requirements and regulations by building larger towers in less contentious areas, further away from the center of smaller towns and communities.

“I’ll build the tower on the edge of town where it’s out of the way,” Phillips said. “But we’ll build a big tower—ideally, around 340 feet—that will provide coverage to the whole community and can support big antenna loadings.”

By Ben Horvath

March 24, 2017   

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