Matt Bracy has been climbing since ‘93 and said he has worked with some of the best around Chicago. He’s had a hand in everything from two-way and microwave to cellular and broadcast. Bracy eventually opened his own ‘mom and pop’ in Morris, IL, called it Broken Buzzard Towers, and has since been busy doing TIA inspections, repairs, and lighting (his real joy).
The tower industry holds its challenges for Bracy but not all of them are at 500 feet; one of the biggest is finding your niche.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work in a number of different areas in the industry, and believe that, as small as the industry is, it’s very difficult to find the niche that you’re comfortable in,” Bracy said. “For example, I spent 16 years doing cellular, but if I had wanted to get into mods or audits, it’s not as simple as jumping ship. You need experience to change paths in this field.”
One of the great joys of being in this business is also one of its downsides: travel.
“I love seeing different places, the people, the food, and the experience of traveling this great country,” he said. “But I don’t like being away from home, my family, friends. I don’t like missing life experiences or events that I should be a part of.”
The cost of doing business can also be daunting to a small tower company. Bracy said its expensive to stay in compliance with certifications and training although some are necessary such as Comtrain, RF awareness and OSHA. “But there are many that seem to me to be a little overkill, or altogether unneeded. A lot of the certs required are things that guys either already know and do satisfactorily or they don’t and their work/sites show it,” he said. “I was turning in sweeps when we were still using a Wiltron, and 10 years later they wouldn’t accept sweeps that weren’t done by a certified tester.”
Red tape can also get in his way before he climbs up the tower. Bracy said there are four or five tiers of people getting paid to “push paper or double check the stuff that’s already been reviewed, approved, certified, or completed.” To him it seems like a lot of money is leaving the pockets of the people who are actually building the sites, risking their lives, to the “desk jockeys” who have never seen a tower.
“I’m sure there are plenty of layers I’m unaware of that are necessary, but there are also plenty around that aren’t. And it costs me and my guys’ time and money when a site gets kicked back because the guy in picture audits didn’t see a snap in C sector,” he said.
In the end, Bracy said, towers are “nothing but fear and pain, masked by courage and humor. It takes its toll,” he said.
To reach Matt: [email protected]
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July 12, 2018