By Ben Horvath, contributing reporter
For many landlords, negotiating a lease with a carrier or tower development company can be rather daunting. In an industry as specialized as telecom, evaluating a ground lease is, quite frankly, something the typical landlord doesn’t have the expertise to do. Enter Airwave Management. Since 2008, Steve Kazella, founder and president of Airwave Management, has been providing consulting services to cell site landlords in negotiations with wireless companies. His clients include municipalities, large hospitals and homeowners all across the United States and Canada.
“You name it, we’ve probably represented it. From farmers in Nebraska getting $100/month to sovereign Indian nations—landlords large and small, we’ve helped,” Kazella said. After 15 years in the wireless industry working in site acquisition, Kazella said he began Airwave Management when he noticed an “untapped market.” Many carriers and tower companies were being “heavy-handed” with their landlords, said Kazella, and, as Airwave Management’s slogan reads, it seeks to “level the playing field for cell site landlords.”
“I was getting a lot of calls from senior citizens and churches, people from the heartland of the country, who were getting $500 a month and were getting threatening letters about lowering their rent or the tower would be taken down, so we decided to advocate for the landlord,” Kazella said.
Among the services Airwave Management offers to its clients are evaluating leases, reviewing leases and working with landlords during site collocation or lease amendments. The company’s principals have been involved with more than 10,000 lease negotiations and bring to the table nearly 40 years of experience within the industry.
“We have an outstanding track record with them [landlords], and it’s just about giving them the truth about the valuation and what the lease is worth,” Kazella said. “We’ve gotten many referrals from other landlords.”
Although based in Lewiston, Idaho, Airwave Management has worked with a client list that spans the nation. Kazella said much of the company’s business is driven by landlords discovering them on the Internet, saying “Google’s been good to us.” Kazella said the company has about 20,000 visitors to its website each month, and that the company’s blog helps maintain Airwave Mangement’s reputation with landlords.
“We’ve answered over 1,000 blog questions from our readers over the years, and the search engines like that because they see there’s a lot of quality information,” Kazella said. “You spend some time on our blog posts, and landlords realize ‘they seem to know what they’re doing,’ so they’ll give us a call.”