VIKOR, a turnkey teleconstruction services company, is “in the people business first and the tower business second,” according to Founder and CEO Craig Snyder.
For the third straight year, VIKOR was featured on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in America, with 130 percent growth in the telecommunications industry. “Our customers have raised the bar on how they operate and we’re happy to raise the bar with them,” adds Snyder, attributing VIKOR’s success to his dedicated team.
VIKOR, previously Sioux Falls Tower and Communications, rebranded in 2019, after literally, outgrowing its name, with offices in Colorado, Montana, Utah, South Dakota and North Dakota. According to Snyder, the shift helped, “define our development as a large regional provider, without losing who we are.”
While the name changed, the company mission and vision have held steady, for 30-plus years, across 30-plus states. VIKOR builds and services the infrastructure that unites people across the nation and “elevates the industry for the betterment of everyone.”
At VIKOR, company culture is key. Snyder referenced Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, which inspired VIKOR’s focus areas for 2021. The VIKOR team acknowledges, there is always room for improvement and has a roadmap for continual growth. By attracting and hiring quality people and providing first-in-class training and development, VIKOR is able to deliver on customer value. Establishing trusted client relationships leads to organic growth and in turn, profits to further invest in their people, which Snyder calls, VIKOR’s “greatest investment.”
Sometimes, that investment is tangible. “Last year was our 30th anniversary. Philanthropy is a big part of VIKOR’s culture, so we launched our VIKOR Gives initiative. The company has set up a fund to allow each employee to donate to an individual or organization of their choice. If the employee chooses to put in their own money, the company matches their gift. In 2020, VIKOR donated more than $25,000 to nonprofits and Indviduals impacted by COVID, cancer, and other hardships,” says Mike Fowler, Director of Marketing & Business Development.
VIKOR’s core principles include “unity,” creating connection through communication, respect and service; “dedication,” advancing the industry by empowering the individual; and “elevation,” working with passion and being invested. “We want to develop human beings to become better human beings. We spend at least a third of our lives at work. We want to create opportunities for people to grow and develop from where they were when they started here,” says Snyder. “People, customers and the company – they have to all be in balance.”
A depleted workforce is often cited as a bottleneck to industry growth. To support the greater good, VIKOR established a partnership with the Southeast Technical College via the Wireless Infrastructure Technician program. “We help prepare students for careers as technicians within the eight-week program, helping to train the 5G workforce of the future. Thousands of individuals will need to enter the workforce to help deploy small cells nationwide,” says Snyder.
Fowler adds, “We also want to teach our people how to be better leaders, so for young men and women, we’re more than a job or a stop along the way. Most young people that come through our door don’t have a lot of experience and they need leadership training, working at dangerous heights and in challenging environments.”
This year, social distancing, ironically, brought the team even closer together during their annual winter training. VIKOR creatively utilized Zoom for staff meetings and safety training. “To keep engagement and maintain high quality, we hired a production company to assist our VIKOR training team with creating a virtual experience. Multiple camera angles were used, and awards were given in-between sessions to increase engagement,” says Snyder. VIKOR virtually trained six offices and does so each week.
By definition, VIKOR is a multi-criteria decision-making method developed to reach an ideal solution in highly complex situations. In an intensely technical work environment, VIKOR is no stranger to multi-faceted challenges.
The team collaborated with the National Park Service and a carrier, recently completing an upgrade to Yellowstone’s cell site on Mt. Washburn, the tallest peak in the park, with limited 3-month work windows, demanding weather and strenuous terrain.
VIKOR also installed Verizon small cells antennas in Sioux Falls, SD, certifying it as one of the first ten cities to go live with 5G, according to Snyder.
The company paves the way for wireless, outside city limits as well. “We’re building relationships with government offices who need an inside window into our industry. U.S. Congressman John Curtis (R-UT) conducted a site visit and climbing experience at a communications tower located in Moab, UT. The visit was held in Rep. Curtis’ Congressional District,” says Fowler. “The experience helped show first-hand the importance of wireless needs in rural areas and state and national parks,” echoed Snyder.
VIKOR wants to expand its footprint and add new service lines in 2021. “Placing fiber optic is one of those new service lines. It is how VIKOR looks to maintain growth and evolve. We’re looking at continuous 30-40 percent organic growth, year-over-year,” says Snyder.
Don’t get it twisted. Growth doesn’t mean saying “yes” to every prospect that comes across VIKOR’s desk. Being successful also requires saying “no” when necessary. Knowing and excelling in your wheelhouse is essential, explains Snyder.
Still, VIKOR keeps an eye out for opportunities, and always has. Early on, Todd Thorin, Director of Training, worked to create a full-body harness for tower climbers. He worked with DBI (now 3M) to create the prototype which was the precursor to the industry’s ExoFit™ harness. With safety permanently prioritized, VIKOR executives also helped found NATE (The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association).
The C-block auction might slow construction spend in 2021, but the long-term ramifications are positive and, “so long as wireless data use goes up year over year, wireless infrastructure will be the beneficiary,” Snyder says. VIKOR is “on the wave,” and will continue to stay ahead of the curve, thanks to “its people.”