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By Riley Kaminer

Member Spotlight | Crown Castle

Read Time 3 Minutes

Business: Real estate investment trust and provider of shared communications infrastructure across the United States

Launched: 1994

HQ: Houston, Texas

Employees: 4,500+

Website: CrownCastle.com

Using the internet can feel magical. You grab a metal object out of your pocket, tap on the glass, and in a matter of milliseconds are presented with all the world at your fingertips.

None of that magic would be possible without people like Chris Carr. He’s the Fiber Sales Manager for South Florida at Crown Castle, the nation’s largest provider of communications infrastructure. Crown Castle’s assets include cell towers, small cell nodes, and fiber that connect people and businesses to the data they need.

Carr focuses on the fiber part of Crown Castle’s business, working together with his team of seven account executives to help solve his customers’ needs. Those needs can vary quite a bit considering the diverse range of clients Crown Castle works with – from K-12 and higher education institutions to large businesses and government agencies.

One of the things that makes Crown Castle stand apart, according to Carr, is “the fact that we own our own infrastructure.” That means that clients can see maps showing the exact route the fiber cables take to arrive at the client’s facility from the core network node. 

“Guaranteeing a physical route enables our customers to have an increased ability to design their assets and guarantee diversity,” said Carr. This diversity is important because it gives Crown Castle’s customers maximum flexibility. 

“Flexibility is crucial when needs are in flux like during Covid,” Carr explained. He also said that flexibility comes into play when dealing with restoration efforts after natural disasters like hurricanes. “Owning our assets lets us go out and restore service quicker than the competition.”

Security is increasingly important for Crown Castle’s clients, as our personal and professional lives become more digital than ever before. Carr said that the company plans to roll out additional security enhancements for clients, helping them thwart threats before they become an issue.

Carr moved to South Florida from upstate New York this past Spring and is bullish about the growth of our region’s economy. “It’s exciting to see familiar names that are moving down here,” he said. 

“It comes at no surprise to me that tech would be at the forefront of this growth,” said Carr. “This is a tremendous opportunity for South Florida as a whole. It’s going to turn into an incubator of best efforts across the country, in tech and all industries.”

Carr also enjoys mentoring ambitious young people in his industry. After graduating from college, Carr tried to make it as a professional golfer, but had to abandon his goals. But he said that while this “seemed like a failure 15 years ago,” it has actually “turned into a blessing.” He believes that this life path has led him to a career and company that he is passionate about, as well as enabled him to meet his wife and cultivate strong professional connections.

His advice to young people finding their path in life? “It’s important to stay committed to yourself and true to who you are. Take some initiative but also let things happen. Everything comes full circle.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Crown Castle & Lonnie Maier

Read Time 4 Minutes

Business: Crown Castle is the nation’s largest provider of communications infrastructure.

HQ: Houston

South Florida offices: 2 in Palm Beach County, 2 in Miami-Dade County, 1 in Broward.

No of Crown Castle employees in South Florida: About 400

Head of Sales, South Area: Lonnie Maier

Website: www.crowncastle.com

 

In this time of crisis, Crown Castle is certainly on the front lines too.

Crown Castle, a national, publicly traded company, provides the underlying infrastructure to cellphone providers, wireless carriers, businesses, governments and other entities that are deploying mission-critical networks.

Lonnie Maier is Head of Sales for Crown Castle’s fiber division in the Southeast region, including Florida, Georgia and Texas. “We provide custom-built networks to businesses hospitals, governments, and financial institutions. We provide the communications infrastructure for them to be able to connect their various offices to serve their employee base and customers,” she said.

Maier is responsible for about 1,700 customers. “My job is supporting my sales team, talking to customers, making sure that we have proposals in front of them and implementation plans for the sales we made. It is always about understanding our customers’ challenges and we’ll work together to offer them connectivity options.”

The sales leader has been looking at the big picture and connecting the dots to solve customer needs her entire career in telecom. Maier was promoted in 2019 to oversee the Southeast and recently celebrated her 10-year anniversary with Crown Castle (in 2017, Crown acquired FPL FiberNet, where she worked since 2010).

Maier is proud to work at Crown Castle.

“We understand – especially now – that the infrastructure everyone is dependent on is an essential part of your daily life. If we take good care of our employees we will be doing a better job of taking care of the customers who depend on our infrastructure.”

MANAGING DURING COVID

Maier, who was born and raised in South Florida, thrives on doing business face to face with her customers, some of whom she has had for 30 years.

With about 100 offices across the U.S., Crown Castle too has a face-to-face culture, but was quickly able to work remotely once COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Even so, Crown Castle was an early adapter in stopping employee air travel and moving to telework as the pandemic started its spread its the U.S., and Maier says, the 25-year-old company hasn’t missed a beat.

“Now that we are all virtual, it is all about coordinating WebEx meetings to talk to your customers and keep them posted,” said Maier. “It’s been great — you get to see people in their own environment. We have become more understanding as a leadership team, more nurturing.”

Crown Castle is also active in community service through its Connected for Good program; the company most recently serving meals to healthcare workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Maier has also always been passionate about community involvement, particularly economic development.

Maier retired from the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority board last year after serving 12 years. That’s when Michael Fowler of FPL gave her a call to suggest joining Palm Beach Tech. Since then, she has been helping Palm Beach Tech with content for meetings and initiatives and sometimes mentors small businesses. She’s also the membership chair on Palm Beach Tech’s board. Maier has also served stints on the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance’s board over the last 20 years.

‘WE AREN’T COMPETING, WE ARE COLLABORATING’

“Our governments are working closer together than ever before,” said Maier. “We are defined now as a South Florida Tech region and definitely work for the betterment.”

Maier says that mentoring and connecting startups to resources is a big need —  especially now. “Every day you turn on the news it is a bad news story. We have to focus on the assets and the support mechanisms in place to help our small businesses.”

Palm Beach Tech, the Research Park at FAU and FAU Tech Runway are all setting an example by helping these young companies stay focused and get resources they need, she said.

For example, she said Palm Beach Tech is asking the right questions — what does the community need? What do small businesses need? What do potential unemployed workers need? Then they look at the big picture and try to connect the dots to bring about solutions.

“We even had a virtual job fair. There are efforts in place that are really focused on who needs the resources the most. It is all about just keep going, don’t get frustrated, don’t get distracted … We are not going to lose hope,” Maier said.

“I feel that South Florida has a way of coming together.”

Pictured at top of post: Lonnie Maier and Crown Castle’s network operations team visit with FAU in 2019.

Member Spotlight | Crown Castle
Member Spotlight | Crown Castle & Lonnie Maier