By Ben Horvath, contributing reporter
When approached by wireless companies to lease property, many landlords, quite simply, do not have the expertise to fully protect their interests. Vertical Consultants, a company based in College Grove, TN, aims to protect these interests.
“Our mission is to work with property owners of all types across North America with regards to either assisting them when they’re approached to put a new telecom facility on their property, whether it be a cell tower, rooftop facility, or any other type of equipment,” Vertical Consultants President and Owner Hugh Odom says.
Odom got his start within telecom industry nearly 20 years ago, when he started working with AT&T in the late 1990’s. Here, he was responsible for the negotiations of leases with landlords. Odom says he noticed that many leases were one-sidedly advantageous to wireless companies.
“In the history of the telecom industry, carriers or telecom companies have had a great advantage of getting terms that are advantageous for them,” Odom says.
The reason for such lopsidedness, says Odom, was the relative lack of information available to landlords in the early days of the telecom industry. Many landowners did not understand, nor have the resources to understand, the negotiations of leases with large wireless companies.
“There was a huge difference in understanding between the two parties,” Odom says.
Odom founded Vertical Consultants in 2010 as a response to this perceived inequality.
“I saw an opportunity to provide services to the other side [landlords instead of the wireless companies], so that’s when Vertical Consultants was formed,” Odom says.
Odom’s company, a legal consulting firm, offers a variety of services in the representation of its clients. These services include the valuation of landowner’s property, the negotiations of contract terms, and the review of contracts between wireless companies and landowners.
With offices in Nashville, Atlanta, Houston, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Denver, Odom says Vertical Consultants serves landlords all across the nation. The company’s clientele, says Odom, is very diverse, as it serves individuals, corporations, and municipalities.
“Our business is very spread out, we work with everybody, like large entities such as Walt Disney or Mr. and Mrs. Smith in rural Kansas,” Odom says. “We also work with municipalities, we work with a lot of corporations, we work in a lot of different situations.”
Wireless companies were able to negotiate such advantageous deals in the early days of the industry, says Odom, because of the lack of information available to landlords at the time. As information has become more prevalent, landlords are becoming more informed regarding the valuation of their property, as well as other information that may be important in contract negotiations.
Despite this influx of information, however, Odom says that these landlords need representation on how to apply it. Vertical Consultants does so with legal expertise and trained experience.
“There’s a lot of information out there, but there’s also a lot of misinformation,” he says. “Even information that may be accurate, the trick is understanding it. I can read an entire informational book of how to go into a boxing ring and box, but if I go in the ring and the other guy throws a punch, I [wouldn’t] know what to do, I [wouldn’t] have that experience.”