By Ben Horvath, contributing reporter
For the CEO and founder of Stout Tower Services, Darren Stout, construction, quite simply, just comes natural. He has over 20 years of experience in heavy construction, including 10 years of experience within the telecom industry.
“It seems like construction has always been a part of my life,” Stout says. “Even as a kid, I can remember helping out my dad, who also did construction, on job sites and projects.”
Stout was introduced to heavy construction during his 8 years of military service in the Army, where he worked as a combat engineer NCO, helping to build roads, bridges, and foundations. He still speaks glowingly about his time in the military, as it enabled him to use his construction skills for an honorable purpose.
“My time in the military was very enjoyable, because I was able to do construction, one of my passions, while simultaneously serving my country,” Stout says.
After military service, Stout took his skills into the civilian world, where he helped construct infrastructure. He entered the wireless industry after his brother asked if he would like to start a company doing antenna co-location work.
“I was at a point where I thought I wanted to start something new, but still related to construction. And the wireless industry was, and still is, in a period of tremendous growth, so I figured ‘why not?’” Stout says.
After 6 years of this joint partnership alongside his brother and a family friend, Stout decided to strike out on his own and form a tower construction company independently. He founded Stout Tower Services in 2012.
“Obviously, I was extremely excited during this time, but I also realized how much responsibility I had,” Stout says. “All the details of running a business—bookkeeping, employee recruitment, getting the website up and running, safety and regulatory compliance—whatever it was, all that is your responsibility to take care of yourself, or to delegate it to others you trust.”
The company began by doing a few construction projects in its first two years—mostly raw land sites and co-location work. It provided services to carriers and tower development companies alike, with clients including GoGo, MasTec, T-Mobile and Verizon, among others. Throughout each and every project, Stout says he focused most on keeping good relationships with clients and ensuring that projects were completed on clients’ schedules.
“It’s a privilege when a company decides to reward you with a project, and I stress that to all our crewmembers and employees,” Stout says. “When clients see that you can deliver in a cost-effective manner, chances are they’ll be more likely to seek out your services in the future and hopefully word starts to spread in the industry.”
In 2014, Stout Towers added maintenance work to its catalog of services. Stout says 2014 was a year of steady growth, as the company brought on a handful of new hires. Currently, Stout Towers employs roughly a dozen crewmembers, comprised of tower and civil technicians, as well as a few office employees.
“We’re always looking for the right people to come on board, especially crew members. Quite frankly, it’s a tough job, and these guys know that,” Stout says. “A lot of guys don’t like the amount of travel involved in cell tower construction, and I can understand that. It makes it that much better, though, when we find people who are committed to the company.”
Stout Towers is based out of South Bend, IN, and primarily constructs towers throughout the Midwest region. However, they have worked in the south (Alabama and Georgia); out west, in Utah and Colorado; and as far east as the Philadelphia area.
“I’m excited about where we are now as a company,” Stout says. “If you had told me three years ago, when we started, that we’d be at this point down the road, I would have been very pleased.”