By Alyssa Starr
In 1992, Sprint wanted to build a tower in Monument, CO, that would partially obscure the beautiful mountain views. The town’s jurisdiction opposed the tower, and someone from Sprint said, “What if we made it look like a pine tree so it would blend in?”
Larson Camouflage started out as a division of the Larson Company, which was a worldwide leader in developing artificial natural environments for zoos, aquariums, museums and theme parks. Larson Camouflage is proud of its heritage, with its first claim to fame as a pioneer in the wireless concealment industry. Larson developed and built that first monopine that would conceal the Sprint tower in Monument.
Since then, according to the company’s website, Tucson, AZ-based Larson has more than 3,000 site concealment projects located throughout the world, including monopines, monopalms, Saguaro cacti, slimline/cypress, DAS, monoelm, architectural, water towers, steeples and more. Larson’s attention to aesthetic detail and focus on product quality are cornerstones for leadership in the concealment industry.
Larson President Andrew Messing said that some of the biggest changes he is seeing in the industry are the proliferation of small cells, leading to adapting and developing new products for that market. While Larson creates standard products, they specialize in one-off designs in communities with aesthetic requirements, matching what currently exists and creating a structure with concealed equipment in a very small footprint. This also saves carriers and tower companies money so they don’t have to pay additional rent for occupying more ground space.
“We really specialize in designing custom poles,” Messing said. “We’ve done this for instance in New Orleans in the French Quarter where they’re pretty ornate. By working with our designers and creating unique ways to handle all of the equipment, we’ve been able to reduce the footprint substantially.”
Larson also has a focus on expanding the architectural side of the business. Messing said that one of the things the company does particularly well is architectural facades.
“That’s been a big push for us in the second half of this year. We’ve got a number of large projects made out of fiberglass that conceal the antennas,” he said. “They could be on a rooftop or it could be a stand alone tower like a monument or a faux water tower. We make water towers that look exactly like wood, but they are made out of fiberglass.”
Larson also just shipped a project that looks like a golf ball on a big tee, but conceals antennas. The company also had a request for an eight-sided concealed tower in Mesa, AZ for the spring training facility and a new “lampshade” design that fully conceals multiple antennas.
“No one would ever guess in a million years that it’s a cell tower; it’s just a big monument,” Messing said. “Our philosophy has always been, ‘If you dream it, we’ll build it.’ We love to consider ourselves the problem solvers from the very first product that we did—no one before had done a disguised product like that. Our philosophy still today is to come up with unique products that blend into the environment. That’s how we got into this business; it was to solve a problem.”
For more information, visit utilitycamo.com.